Clyde Anderson Tolson (22 May 1900 – 14 April 1975) was Associate Director of the FBI, primarily responsible for personnel and discipline, not frontline crime-fighting. He is best known as the protégé of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
Life and careerEdit
Tolson was born in Laredo, Missouri; attended Cedar Rapids Business College, in Iowa, then was a War Department clerk. From 1919 to 1928, he was confidential secretary for the Secretary of War in three administrations, to Newton D. Baker, John W. Weeks, and Dwight F. Davis.
Tolson then was completing a B.A. degree at George Washington University in 1925, and a law degree in 1927. After initial rejection by the FBI, he was hired in 1927, seeing the opportunity as a stepping stone to a law practice in Cedar Rapids. After working in the Boston and Washington, D.C., field offices, he became the chief FBI clerk, then was promoted to assistant director in 1930.
In 1936, Tolson joined Hoover to arrest bank robber Alvin Karpis; later that year, Tolson was in a gun fight with New York City gangster Harry Brunette, and, in 1942, participated in capturing Nazi saboteurs on Long Island and Florida. In 1947, he was made FBI Associate Director, working in budget and administration.
In 1964, he suffered a stroke, remaining sickly the rest of his life. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him a gold medal for distinguished federal civilian service. In 1970, despite being too old for police duty and past retirement age, Director Hoover kept him employed in the FBI.
When Director Hoover died on May 2, 1972, Tolson was briefly the acting head of the FBI, but one day later he was replaced by acting director L. Patrick Gray, appointed by President Richard Nixon. Tolson left the FBI two weeks later, leaving W. Mark Felt in operational charge of the FBI.
Personally, Hoover described Tolson as his alter ego: they worked closely in the daytime, ate their meals together, and socialized in night clubs and went on vacation together. Their close relationship is cited as evidence of homosexuality, although FBI employees who knew them — such as Felt — claim that the relationship was merely fraternal.
When Hoover died, Tolson inherited his estate of $551,000 and moved into his house; he accepted the U.S. flag draped on Hoover's coffin. Tolson's grave is a few yards from Hoover's grave in the Congressional Cemetery.
- Associate Director Tolson's personnel records and copies of memoranda at FBI's FOIA Website
- NNDB - Clyde Tolson
- Spartacus Educational - Clyde Tolson
- NameBase - Tolson Clyde Anderson