On this day on 1st January

On this day in 1785 the first issue of The Times is published.  In 1785 John Walter's career as a Lloyd's underwriter in London was at an end. An increase in insurance claims arising from a hurricane in Jamaica had ruined his business. Close to bankruptcy, John Walter decided to look for a new form of business. While an underwriter at Lloyds he became aware of a new method of typesetting called logography. The inventor, Henry Johnson, claimed that this new method of typesetting was faster and more accurate because it allowed more than one letter to be set at a time. John Walter purchased Johnson's patent and decided to start a printing company.

John Walter came to the conclusion that he had to find a good way of publicizing his logography system. Eventually he came up with the idea of producing a daily advertising sheet. The first edition of the Daily Universal Register was published on 1st January, 1785. The newspaper was in competition with eight other daily newspapers in London. Like the other newspapers,it included parliamentary reports, foreign news and advertisements. John Walter made it clear in the first edition of the newspaper that he was primarily concerned with advertising revenue: "The Register, in its politics, will be of no party. Due attention should be paid to the interests of trade, which are so greatly promoted by advertisements."

After a couple of years John Walter had discovered that logography was not going to have the impact on the printing industry that he had initially thought when he started the Daily Universal Register . However, he was now convinced he could make a profit from newspapers. Especially when he was able to negotiate a secret deal where he was paid £300 a year to publish stories favourable to the government.

In 1788 John Walter decided to change the name and the style of his newspaper. Walter now started to produce a newspaper that appealed to a larger audience. This included stories of the latest scandals and gossip about famous people in London. Walter called his new paper The Times. One of these stories about the Prince of Wales resulted in Walter being fined £50 and sentenced to two years in Newgate Prison.

In January, 1803 John Walter's son, John Walter II, became the new proprietor of The Times. John Walter II decided he wanted to run a newspaper that was independent of government control. He began employing young journalist who supported political reform including Henry Crabbe Robinson, Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt and Thomas Barnes. The newspaper turned away from government minister's handouts and instead developed its own news-getting organisation.

John Walter II also introduced new technology into The Times. In 1817 he installed a steam-powered Koenig printing machine. This increased the speed that newspapers could be printed and by the end of the year, the newspaper was selling over 7,000 copies a day. In the same year that the newspaper obtained their steam-powered printing machine, Thomas Barnes became the new editor of the newspaper. Barnes was a strong advocate on independent reporting. In 1819 he published a several articles written by John Edward Taylor and John Tyas on the Peterloo Massacre. The Times criticised the way Lord Liverpool's government was dealing with those arguing for political reform.

After the massacre The Times began to argue for parliamentary reform. By 1830 the newspaper was constantly urging the Whig government to take action. The views of the newspaper and its editor, Thomas Barnes, had a great influence on public opinion. The government tax on newspapers meant that its price of 7d. made it too expensive for most people to buy. However, copies were available in reading rooms. In 1831 the Tory St. James's Chronicle claimed that "for every one copy of The Times that is purchased for the usual purposes, nine we venture to say are purchased to be lent to the wretched characters who, being miserable, look to political changes for an amelioration of their condition."

In Parliament the Tories complained about The Times campaign. In a debate that took place in the House of Commons on 7th March, 1832, Sir Robert Peel argued that the newspaper was the "principal and most powerful advocate of Reform" in Britain. After the 1832 Reform Act was passed The Times called it the "greatest event of modern history."

The Times also campaigned for the rights of trade unionists. In 1834 it became involved in what became known as the case of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The Times condemned the decision to prosecute six farmworkers at Tolpuddle for "administering illegal oaths". The Times also supported the demands that the men should be reprieved after they were sentenced to transportation for seven years.

In 1834 a group of Whigs purchased control of the Morning Chronicle. Thomas Barnes disagreed with the way the Morning Chronicle gave "slavish support to the government". Barnes had talks with the leaders of the Conservative Party and after they had agreed that they would not attempt to interfere with reforms introduced by the Whigs such as the 1832 Reform Act and the Tithe Act, he agreed that the newspaper would became a supporter of Sir Robert Peel and his new government.

Thomas Barnes remained editor of The Times until his death on 7th May 1841. John Walter II made the surprising decision to invite the twenty-three year old John Delane to take over the job. Unlike Barnes, Delane rarely wrote for the paper. Delane held liberal views on most issues, but believed it was the role of a newspaper to be independent of political parties. In 1852 he wrote that it is the "duty of the journalist is the same as that of the historian - to seek truth above all things". However, he added that The Times "owes its first duty to the national interests" and that the "ends of government were absolutely identical with those of the press".

John Walter
John Walter

On this day in 1854 Francis Place died at the Hammersmith home of his two unmarried daughters. Place was born on 3rd November, 1771 in a debtor's prison in Drury Lane, where his father worked as a overseer. After a short period at school, Francis was apprenticed to a leather-breeches maker. At nineteen he married and settled into a small house near the Strand in London.

In 1793 Place became involved in a strike. Place was identified as one of the leaders of the strikers and after the dispute was over he found it impossible to find work as a leather-breeches maker. While out of work Place read about the trial of Thomas Hardy, John Horne Tooke, and John Thelwall, the three leaders of the the London Corresponding Society.

Place became convinced that the most important thing that working men needed was the vote and despite the persecution of its membership, he decided to join the group. With their leaders in prison, Place was offered and accepted the post of Chairman. He held the post until 1797 when he resigned in protest against the violent tactics of some members of the organisation.

While out of work Place educated himself by reading books on history, law and economics. In 1799 he opened his own tailor's shop at 16 Charing Cross Road. He used part of his premises as a library of radical books. People came to his shop to read and borrow books and pamphlets by people like Tom Paine and Joseph Priestley. Place's library soon became a meeting-place for reformers.

In 1807 Francis Place helped Sir Francis Burdett in his campaign to represent the Westminster constituency in the House of Commons. The two men became close friends and over the next couple of years Burdett introduced Place to other radical figures such as Robert Owen, Jeremy Bentham, and Joseph Hume.

Place also met Joseph Lancaster who convinced him of the importance of providing children with a non-sectarian education. Place played an active role in promoting Lancastrian schools as he believed it provided the best opportunity of "promoting the happiness of the rising generation". Place also hoped that these schools would help to eradicate what he believed was harming the progress of the working class: "drunkeness, lax morals, bad manners and over population".

Although Place fathered fifteen children, he was deeply concerned about the growth in the British population. In 1822 he wrote and published The Principles of Population. People were shocked to read in the book that Place advocated the use of contraceptives. Place was labelled a "bold bad man" and even some Radicals shunned him after the publication of this book.

Place also gave help to Radical politicians in the House of Commons. He collected data on issues such as the Combination Acts and parliamentary reform and then passed it on to Sir Francis Burdett, John Hobhouse and Joseph Hume so they could promote the cause in Parliament. Between 1822 and 1824 Place collected eight volumes of statistics that he believed indicated that the Combination Acts should be repealed. Place argued that the repeal of the Combination Acts would lead to the disappearance of trade unions. Place achieved victory in 1824 but he was shocked when he discovered that one of the consequences of this was a rapid growth in the trade union movement.

After the repeal of the Combination Acts in 1824 Place turned his attention to parliamentary reform. He played a prominent in the agitation that resulted in the 1832 Reform Act. Upset by the limited scope of the reform he joined with John Cleave, Henry Hetherington, and William Lovett to form the London Working Men's Association in 1836. Two years later he helped draft the People's Charter that instigated the Chartist movement.

Place was a Moral Force Chartist and argued strongly against the use of violence to obtain the vote. When Feargus O'Connor replaced William Lovett as the unofficial leader of the movement, Place ceased to be involved in Chartist activities. After 1840 Francis Place concentrated his energies on organizing the campaign against the Corn Laws. He also spent a considerable amount of time writing his autobiography and a history of the 1832 Reform Act.

Francis Place by Samuel Drummond (1833)
Francis Place by Samuel Drummond (1833)

On this day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln gives his approval to the formation of black regiments. In January 1863 it was clear that state governors in the north could not raise enough troops for the Union Army. Lincoln had objected in May, 1862, when General David Hunter began enlisting black soldiers into the 1st South Carolina (African Descent) regiment. However, nothing was said when Hunter created two more black regiments in 1863.

John Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, and a passionate opponent of slavery, began recruiting black soldiers and established the 5th Massachusetts (Colored) Cavalry Regiment and the 54th Massachusetts (Colored) and the 55th Massachusetts (Colored) Infantry Regiments. In all, six regiments of US Colored Cavalry, eleven regiments and four companies of US Colored Heavy Artillery, ten batteries of the US Colored Light Artillery, and 100 regiments and sixteen companies of US Colored Infantry were raised during the war. By the end of the conflict nearly 190,000 black soldiers and sailors had served in the Union forces.

Fourth U.S. Infantry Detail, U.S. Colored Troops (1864)
Fourth U.S. Infantry Detail, U.S. Colored Troops (1864)

On this day in 1864 Alfred Stieglitz, the son of a wool merchant, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. Stieglitz was sent to Europe to complete his education and was studying at the Berlin Polytechnic in 1883 when he discovered photography. He switched from mechanical engineering to photo-chemistry and began taking photographs. Stieglitz took a keen interest in the history of photography and over the next few years became a leading authority on the subject.

Stieglitz returned to the United States in 1890 where he obtained a reputation as a photographer who liked to overcome technical problems. This including taking the first successful photographs in snow and rain. He also experimented with flash powder so that he could take photographs at night.

Stieglitz was the most influential member of the Club for American Amateur Photographers. A member of the the Camera Club he joined with Clarence White, Edward Steichen, Alvin Langdon Coburn, and Gertrude Kasebier in 1902 to form the Photosecession Group.

Stieglitz also edited the quarterly Camera Work(1903-17) where he passionately advocated that photographs deserved to be judged as works of art. Stieglitz opened the Little Gallery on Fifth Avenue, to promote the work of photographers such as Paul Strand and Edward Steichen. He also ran the Intimate Gallery (1925-29) and An American Place (1929-46). Alfred Stieglitz died on 13th July, 1946.

Alfred Stieglitz
Alfred Stieglitz

On this day in 1879 Edward Morgan Forster, the son of Edward Forster, an architect, and Marianne Thornton, was born in London. After an education at Tonbridge School and King's College, Cambridge, he spent a year travelling in Europe.

On his return to England in 1903, Forster taught Latin at the Working Men's College in London. He also joined with his friend, G. M. Trevelyan, to establish the Independent Review, a journal that supported the more progressive wing of the Liberal Party. Over the next few years the journal supported social reform and criticised the imperialistic foreign policies of the Conservative government.

Forster also became a member of the Bloomsbury Group that met and discussed literary and artistic issues. The group Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell, John Maynard Keynes, Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, David Garnett, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant.

Forster published his first novel, Where Angels Fear to Trend in 1905. This was followed by the Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908) and Howard's End (1910). Forster, also wrote Maurice, a novel about homosexuality, but decided to circulate it privately to prevent possible criticisms of his lifestyle.

As a pacifist Forster refused to fight in the First World War. Instead he worked in Alexandria for the International Red Cross. There was less disapproval of Forster's homosexuality in Alexandria and in 1917 he began living with an Egyptian tram conductor, Mohammed el Adl.

In 1919 Forster returned to England where he worked as literary editor for the left-wing newspaper, the Daily Herald. Two years later Forster moved to India were he worked as personal secretary for Maharajah of Dewas. These experiences resulted in his novel, Passage to India (1924).

When Forster returned to England he wrote essays and articles on a wide range of subjects, including a large number criticizing Nazism and Stalinism. A strong opponent of censorship, Forster gave his full support to the formation of the National Council of Civil Liberties and became its first president in 1934.

Forster did not write anymore novels after Passage to India but other books included the biography, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (1934), a collection of essays, Two Cheers for Democracy (1951) the libretto for the opera, Billy Budd (1951), Aspects of the Novel (1953) and a book on India, The Hill of Devi (1953). Edward Morgan Forster died on 7th June 1970.

Edward Morgan Forster by Dora Carrington (c. 1924)
Edward Morgan Forster by Dora Carrington (c. 1924)

On this day in 1895 John Edgar Hoover was born in Washington. His father, Dickerson Hoover, was a printmaker, but he had a mental breakdown he spent his last eight years in Laurel Asylum.

The death of his father dramatically reduced the family income and Hoover had to leave school and seek employment. Hoover found work as a messenger boy in the Library of Congress, but highly ambitious, spent his evenings studying for a law degree at George Washington University.

After graduating in 1917, Hoover's uncle, a judge, helped him find work in the Justice Department. After only two years in the organisation, Alexander M. Palmer, the attorney general, made Hoover his special assistant. Hoover was given responsibility of heading a new section that had been formed to gather evidence on "revolutionary and ultra-revolutionary groups". Over the next couple of years Hoover had the task of organizing the arrest and deportation of suspected communists in America.

Hoover, influenced by his work at the Library of Congress, decided to create a massive card index of people with left-wing political views. Over the next few years 450,000 names were indexed and detailed biographical notes were written up on the 60,000 that Hoover considered the most dangerous. Hoover then advised Palmer to have these people rounded up and deported.

On 7th November, 1919, the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, over 10,000 suspected communists and anarchists were arrested in twenty-three different cities. However, the vast majority of these people were American citizens and had to be eventually released. However, Hoover now had the names of hundreds of lawyers who were willing to represent radicals in court. These were now added to his growing list of names in his indexed database.

John Edgar Hoover decided he needed a high profile case to help his campaign against subversives. He selected Emma Goldman, as he had been particularly upset by her views on birth control, free love and religion. Goldman had also been imprisoned for two years for opposing America's involvement in the First World War. This was a subject that Hoover felt very strongly about, even though it was never willing to discuss how he had managed to avoid being drafted.

Hoover knew it would be a difficult task having Goldman deported. She had been living in the country for thirty-four years and both her father and husband were both citizens of the United States. In court Hoover argued that Goldman's speeches had inspired Leon Czolgosz to assassinate President William McKinley. Hoover won his case and Goldman, along with 247 other people, were deported to Russia.

Hoover's persecution of people with left-wing views had the desired effect and membership of the American Communist Party, estimated to have been 80,000 before the raids, fell to less that 6,000.

In 1921 Hoover was rewarded by being promoted to the post of assistant director of the Bureau of Investigation. The function of the FBI at that time was the investigation of violations of federal law and assisting the police and other criminal investigation agencies in the United States.

Hoover was appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation in 1924. The three years that he had spent in the organization had convinced Hoover that the organization needed to improve the quality of its staff. Great care was spent in recruiting and training agents. In 1926 Hoover established a fingerprint file that eventually became the largest in the world.

The power of the bureau was limited. Law enforcement was a stare activity, not a federal one. Hoover's agents were not allowed to carry guns, nor did they have the right to arrest suspects. Hoover complained about this situation and in 1935 Congress agreed to establish the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Agents were now armed and could act against crimes of violence throughout the United States.

John Edgar Hoover now set about establishing a world-class crime fighting organization. Innovations introduced by Hoover included the formation of a scientific crime-detention laboratory and the highly regarded FBI National Academy. Hoover appointed Clyde Tolson as Assistant Director of the FBI. In his book, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993), Anthony Summers claims that Hoover and Tolson became lovers. For the next forty years the two men were constant companions. In the FBI the couple were known as "J. Edna and Mother Tolson". Mafia boss, Meyer Lansky, obtained photographic evidence of Hoover's homosexuality and was able to use this to stop the FBI from looking too closely into his own criminal activities.

During the Spanish Civil War Hoover arranged for FBI agents to report on those Americans that fought for the Abraham Lincoln Battalion and George Washington Battalion. Hoover later wrote: "When a civil war broke out in that country in 1936, the Communists acted in line with the theory that the Soviet Union should be used as the base for the extension of Communist control over other countries. Soviet intervention in the Spanish civil war was twofold in nature. First, in response to directions from the Comintern, the international Communist movement organized International Brigades to fight in Spain. A typical unit was the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, organized in the United States... Many Communists throughout the world who answered the Comintern's call to fight in Spain were repaid subsequently by Soviet assistance in their attempts to seize power in their respective countries."

When the journalist, Ray Tucker, hinted at Hoover's homosexuality in an article for Collier's Magazine, he was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Information about Tucker's private life was leaked to the media and when this became known, other journalists were frightened off from writing about this aspect of Hoover's life.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt enjoyed a good relationship with Hoover. Roosevelt's attorney general, Robert Jackson commented, "The two men liked and understood each other." Roosevelt asked Hoover to investigate Charles Lindbergh, one of the leaders of the American First Committee. He willingly did so for he had been upset by Lindbergh's critical comments about the failures of the FBI investigation into the kidnapping and murder of his infant son. He also provided detailed reports on isolationists such as Burton K. Wheeler, Gerald Nye and Hamilton Fish.

Roosevelt wrote to Hoover thanking him for this information. "I have intended writing you for some time to thank you for the many interesting and valuable reports that you have made to me regarding the fast moving situations of the last few months." Hoover replied on 14th June, 1940: "The letter is one of the most inspiring messages which I have ever been privileged to receive; and, indeed, I look upon it as rather a symbol of the principles for which our Nation stands. When the President of our country, bearing the weight of untold burdens, takes the time to express himself to one of his Bureau heads, there is implanted in the hearts of the recipients a renewed strength and vigor to carry on their tasks."

Hoover persuaded Franklin D. Roosevelt to give the FBI the task of investigating both foreign espionage in the United States. This included the collection of information on those with radical political beliefs. After Elizabeth Bentley, a former member of the American Communist Party, provided the FBI with information about a Soviet spy ring in 1945, Hoover became convinced that that their was a communist conspiracy to overthrow the United States government.

When checked, much of the information provided by Elizabeth Bentley was found to be untrue. However, by intimidating the people that Bentley had named, the FBI were able to obtain the information needed to convict Harry Gold, David Greenglass, Ethel Rosenberg and Julius Rosenberg of spying.

Hoover believed that several senior officials in the government were secret members of the Communist Party. Unhappy with the way Harry S. Truman, responded to this news, Hoover began leaking information about officials such as Alger Hiss to those politicians that shared his anti-communist views. This included Joseph McCarthy, John S. Wood, John Parnell Thomas, John Rankin and Richard Nixon. Hoover was a great supporter of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), an organisation that relieved heavily on information provided by the FBI.

John Edgar Hoover was particularly concerned with the political influence that television and the cinema was having on the people of the United States. He encouraged the House of Un-American Activities Committee investigation into the entertainment industry and the decision by the major media networks to blacklist artists who were known to hold left of centre political views.

In June, 1950, three former FBI agents published Red Channels, a pamphlet listing the names of 151 writers, directors and performers who they claimed had been members of subversive organizations before the Second World War but had not so far been blacklisted. The names had been compiled from FBI files and a detailed analysis of the Daily Worker, a newspaper published by the American Communist Party.

A free copy of Red Channels was sent to those involved in employing people in the entertainment industry. All those people named in the pamphlet were blacklisted until they appeared in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and convinced its members they had completely renounced their radical past. By the late 1950s it was estimated that over 320 artists had been blacklisted and were unable to find work in television and the cinema.

Hoover became friends with Clint Murchison and Sid Richardson, became friends of J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was the start of a long friendship. According to Anthony Summers, the author of The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993): "Recognizing Edgar's influence as a national figure, the oilmen had started cultivating him in the late forties-inviting him to Texas as a houseguest, taking him on hunting expeditions. Edgar's relations with them were to go far beyond what was proper for a Director of the FBI."

Hoover and Clyde Tolson were regular visitors to Murchison's Del Charro Hotel in La Jolla, California. The three men would visit the local racetrack, Del Mar. Allan Witwer, the manager of the hotel at the time, later recalled: "It came to the end of the summer and Hoover had made no attempt to pay his bill. So I went to Murchison and asked him what he wanted me to do." Murchison told him to put it on his bill. Witwer estimates that over the next 18 summers Murchison's hospitality was worth nearly $300,000. Other visitors to the hotel included Richard Nixon, John Connally, Lyndon B. Johnson, Meyer Lansky, Santos Trafficante, Johnny Rosselli, Sam Giancana and Carlos Marcello.

In 1952 Hoover and Murchison worked together to mount a smear campaign against Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Party candidate for the presidency. Hoover and Tolson, also invested heavily in Murchison's oil business. In 1954 Murchison joined forces with Sid Richardson and Robert Ralph Young to gain control of the New York Central Railroad. This involved buying 800,000 shares worth $20 million.

In 1953 Hoover asked one of his senior agents, Cartha DeLoach to join the American Legion to "straighten it out". According to the journalist, Sanford J. Ungar, he took the assignment so seriously that he became national vice-commander of the organization: "DeLoach became chairman of the Legion's national public relations commission in 1958 and in that position and in his other Legion offices over the years, he exercised a great deal of influence over the organization's internal policies as well as its public positions."

DeLoach became an important figure in Hoover's FBI. This included working closely with Lyndon B. Johnson. It was DeLoach who arranged with Johnson, who was the Senate majority leader, to push through legislation guaranteeing Hoover a salary for life. DeLoach later recalled: “There was political distrust between the two of them, but they both needed each other." However, he denied that the two men worked together to blackmail politicians. In his book, Hoover's FBI (1995), DeLoach argued: "The popular myth, fostered of late by would-be historians and sensationalists with their eyes on the bestseller list, has it that in his day J. Edgar Hoover all but ran Washington, using dirty tricks to intimidate congressmen and presidents, and phone taps, bugs, and informants to build secret files with which to blackmail lawmakers." According to DeLoach this was not true.

In 1958 Clint Murchison purchased the publishers, Henry Holt and Company. He told the New York Post: "Before I got them, they published some books that were badly pro-Communist. They had some bad people there.... We just cleared them all out and put some good men in. Sure there were casualties but now we've got a good operation." One of the first book's he published was by his old friend, J. Edgar Hoover. The book, Masters of Deceit: The Story of Communism in America (1958), was an account of the Communist menace and sold over 250,000 copies in hardcover and over 2,000,000 in paperback. It was on the best-seller lists for thirty-one weeks, three of them as the number one non-fiction choice.

William Sullivan was ordered to oversee the project, claimed that as many as eight agents worked full-time on the book for nearly six months. Curt Gentry, the author of J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (1991) points out Hoover claimed that he intended to give all royalties to the FBI Recreational Association (FBIRA). However, he claims that the "FBIRA was a slush fund, maintained for the use of Hoover, Tolson, and their key aides. It was also a money-laundering operation, so the director would not have to9 pay taxes on his book royalties." Gentry quotes Sullivan as saying that Hoover "put many thousands of dollars of that book.... into his own pocket, and so did Tolson."

Ronald Kessler, the author of The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI (2002) DeLoach was involved in blackmailing Senator Carl T. Hayden, chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, into following the instructions of Hoover. In April 1962, Roy L. Elson, Hayden's administrative assistant, questioned Hayden's decision to approve the $60 million cost of the FBI building. When he discovered what Elson was saying, DeLoach "hinted" that he had "information that was unflattering and detrimental to my marital situation... I was certainly vulnerable that way... There was more than one girl... The implication was there was information about my sex life... I interpreted it as attempted blackmail."

FBI Special Agent Arthur Murtagh also testified that Cartha DeLoach was involved in the blackmail of politicians on government committees. He claimed that DeLoach told him: "The other night, we picked up a siuation where this senator was seen drunk, in a hit-and-run accident, and some good-looking broad was with him. We got the information, reported it in a memorandum, and by noon the next day, the senator was aware that we had the information, and we never had trouble with him on appropriations since."

Hoover and the FBI carried out detailed investigations into any prominent person who he thought held dangerous political views. This included leaders of the civil rights movement and those opposed to the Vietnam War. At the same time Hoover virtual ignored organized crime and his investigations into political corruption was mainly used as a means of gaining control over politicians in powerful positions. In 1959 Hoover had 489 agents spying on communists but only 4 investigating the Mafia. As early as 1945 Harry S. Truman complained how Hoover and his agents were "dabbling in sex life scandals and plain blackmail when they should be catching criminals".

J. Edgar Hoover received information that President John F. Kennedy was having a relationship with Ellen Rometsch. In July 1963 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents questioned Romesch about her past. They came to the conclusion that she was probably a Soviet spy. Hoover actually leaked information to the journalist, Courtney Evans, that Romesch worked for Walter Ulbricht, the communist leader of East Germany. When Robert Kennedy was told about this information, he ordered her to be deported.

The FBI had discovered that there were several women at the Quorum Club who had been involved in relationships with leading politicians. This included both John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. It was particularly worrying that this included Mariella Novotny and Suzy Chang. This was a problem because they both had connections to communist countries and had been named as part of the spy ring that had trapped John Profumo, the British war minister, a few months earlier. President Kennedy told J. Edgar Hoover that he "personally interested in having this story killed".

Hoover refused and leaked the information to Clark Mollenhoff. On 26th October he wrote an article in The Des Moines Register claiming that the FBI had "established that the beautiful brunette had been attending parties with congressional leaders and some prominent New Frontiersmen from the executive branch of Government... The possibility that her activity might be connected with espionage was of some concern, because of the high rank of her male companions". Mollenhoff claimed that John Williams "had obtained an account" of Rometsch's activity and planned to pass this information to the Senate Rules Committee.

John Edgar Hoover developed a close relationship with Lyndon B. Johnson. The two men shared information that they had on senior politicians. After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Hoover helped Johnson to cover-up the assassination and the Bobby Baker scandal. In an interview Cartha DeLoach gave in 1991 he claimed: "Mr. Hoover was anxious to retain his job and to stay on as director. He knew that the best way for the F.B.I. to operate fully and to get some cooperation of the White House was for him to be cooperative with President Johnson... President Johnson, on the other hand, knew of Mr. Hoover’s image in the United States, particularly among the middle-of-the-road conservative elements, and knew it was vast. He knew of the potential strength of the F.B.I. - insofar as being of assistance to the government and the White House is concerned. As a result it was a marriage, not altogether of necessity, but it was a definite friendship caused by necessity.”

William Sullivan was the FBI's third-ranking official behind Hoover and Clyde A. Tolson. Sullivan was placed in charge of FBI's Division Five. This involved smearing leaders of left-wing organizations. Sullivan was a strong opponent of the leadership of Martin Luther King. In January, 1964, Sullivan sent a memo to Hoover: "It should be clear to all of us that King must, at some propitious point in the future, be revealed to the people of this country and to his Negro followers as being what he actually is - a fraud, demagogue and scoundrel. When the true facts concerning his activities are presented, such should be enough, if handled properly, to take him off his pedestal and to reduce him completely in influence." Sullivan's suggested replacement for King was Samuel Pierce, a conservative lawyer who was later to serve as Secretary of Housing under President Ronald Reagan.

FBI agent Arthur Murtagh was involved in the campaign against the civil rights movement: "He was brought up in a culture... in that society there was a real sense of belief, a religious belief, political belief, that there was no such thing as equality between blacks and whites, and that's the way he viewed them... Hoover did so many things to discredit the civil rights movement that I hardly know where to start. In the first place, he put about the same emphasis... much more of the facilities of the Bureau toward keeping the Klan... keeping the blacks in place and let the Klan run wild. He was friendly with people in the South, and ... when a situation came up, he would always make his decisions in favor of the local people."

William Sullivan disagreed with J. Edgar Hoover about the threat to national security posed by the American Communist Party and felt that the FBI was wasting too much money investigating this group. On 28th August, 1971, Sullivan sent Hoover a long letter pointing out their differences. Sullivan also suggested that Hoover should consider retirement. Hoover refused and it was Sullivan who had to leave the organization.

The FBI under John Edgar Hoover collected information on all America's leading politicians. Known as Hoover's secret files, this material was used to influence their actions. It was later claimed that Hoover used this incriminating material to make sure that the eight presidents that he served under, would be too frightened to sack him as director of the FBI. This strategy worked and Hoover was still in office when he died, aged seventy-seven, on 2nd May, 1972.

Clyde Tolson arranged for the destruction of all Hoover's private files. A senate report in 1976 was highly critical of Hoover and accused him of using the organization to harass political dissidents in the United States.

John Edgar Hoover (1961)
John Edgar Hoover (1961)

On this day in 1914 Noor Inayat Khan was born in the Soviet Union. Noor was the great-great-great-granddaughter of Tipu Sultan, the eighteenth-century Muslim ruler who died in the struggle against the British. Shortly after her birth in Moscow the family moved to England and later settled in France.

After studying music and medicine Noor became a writer. Her children stories were published in Figaro and a collection of traditional Indian stories, Twenty Jataka Tales, appeared in 1939.

On the outbreak of the Second World War she trained as a nurse with the Red Cross. In May 1940 France was invaded by the German Army. Just before the French government surrendered she escaped to England with her mother and sister.

In England she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and trained as a wireless operator. While working at a Royal Air Force bomber station, her ability to speak French fluently brought her to the attention of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). After being interviewed at the War Office she agreed to become a British special agent.

Given the codename "Madeleine" she was flown to Le Mans with Diana Rowden and Cecily Lefort on 16th June 1943. She travelled to Paris where she joined the Prosper Network led by Francis Suttill. Soon after arriving a large number of members of the resistance group associated with Prosper were arrested by the Gestapo. Fearing that the group had been infiltrated by a German spy, she was instructed to return home. However, she declined, arguing that she was the only wireless operator left in the group.

Noor Inayat Khan continued to keep the Special Operations Executive in London informed by wireless what was going on in France. She also made attempts to rebuild the Prosper Network. However, it appears that the Gestapo already knew of her existence and were following her in an attempt to capture other members of the French Resistance.

After three and a half months in France Noor was arrested in October and taken to Gestapo Headquarters. She was interrogated and although she remained silent they discovered a book in her possession where she had recorded the messages she had been sending and receiving. The Gestapo were able to break her code and were able to send false information to the SOE in London and enabled them to capture three more secret agents landed in France.

Noor was taken to Nazi Germany where she was imprisoned at Karlsruhe. In the summer of 1944, Noor, and three other SOE agents, Yolande Beekman, Eliane Plewman and Madeleine Damerment, were moved to Dachau Concentration Camp. The four women were murdered by the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) on 12th September, 1944. In 1949 Noor Inayat Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

Noor Inayat Khan
Noor Inayat Khan

On this day in 1922 suffragette and political activist, Minnie Lansbury, dies as a result of her imprisonment. Minnie Glassman, the daughter of Jewish coal merchant Isaac Glassman, was born in Stepney in 1889. She became a school teacher and was active in the campaign for women's suffrage.

In 1913, Sylvia Pankhurst, with the help of Millie Glassman, Julia Scurr, Keir Hardie and George Lansbury, established the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELF). An organisation that combined socialism with a demand for women's suffrage it worked closely with the Independent Labour Party.

As June Hannam has pointed out: "The East London Federation of Suffragettes was successful in gaining support from working women and also from dock workers. The ELF organized suffrage demonstrations and its members carried out acts of militancy."

In 1914 Millie married Edgar Lansbury, the son of George Lansbury, the Labour Party MP for Bow & Bromley. Millie was a pacifist and opposed the First World War. In March 1916 Sylvia Pankhurst renamed the East London Federation of Suffragettes, the Workers' Suffrage Federation (WSF). The newspaper was renamed the Workers' Dreadnought and continued to campaign against the war and gave strong support to organizations such as the Non-Conscription Fellowship. In 1918 Millie was elected Assistant Secretary of the Workers' Socialist Federation.

In November 1919 Minnie Lansbury was elected to Poplar Council. The Labour Party had won 39 of the 42 council seats. In 1921 Poplar had a rateable value of £4m and 86,500 unemployed to support. Whereas other more prosperous councils could call on a rateable value of £15 to support only 4,800 jobless. George Lansbury proposed that the Council stop collecting the rates for outside, cross-London bodies. This was agreed and on 31st March 1921, Poplar Council set a rate of 4s 4d instead of 6s 10d. On 29th the Councillors were summoned to Court. They were told that they had to pay the rates or go to prison. At one meeting Millie said: "I wish the Government joy in its efforts to get this money from the people of Poplar. Poplar will pay its share of London's rates when Westminster, Kensington, and the City do the same."

On 28th August over 4,000 people held a demonstration at Tower Hill. The banner at the front of the march declared that "Popular Borough Councillors are still determined to go to prison to secure equalisation of rates for the poor Boroughs." The Councillors were arrested on 1st September. Five women Councillors, including Millie Lansbury, Julia Scurr and Susan Lawrence, were sent to Holloway Prison. Twenty-five men, including George Lansbury and John Scurr, went to Brixton Prison. On 21st September, public pressure led the government to release Nellie Cressall, who was six months pregnant. Julia Scurr reported that the "food was unfit for any human being... fish was given on Friday, they told us, that it was uneatable, in fact, it was in an advanced state of decomposition".

Instead of acting as a deterrent to other minded councils, several Metropolitan Borough Councils announced their attention to follow Poplar's example. The government led by Stanley Baldwin and the London County Council was forced to back down and on 12th October, the Councillors were set free. The Councillors issued a statement that said: "We leave prison as free men and women, pledged only to attend a conference with all parties concerned in the dispute with us about rates... We feel our imprisonment has been well worth while, and none of us would have done otherwise than we did. We have forced public attention on the question of London rates, and have materially assisted in forcing the Government to call Parliament to deal with unemployment."

While in Holloway Prison Minnie Lansbury developed pneumonia and she died on 1st January 1922. According to Janine Booth she had told friends " that imprisonment had weakened her physically, leaving her body unable to fight off the illness that killed her." Her father-in-law, George Lansbury said: "Minnie, in her 32 years, crammed double that number of years' work compared with what many of us are able to accomplish. Her glory lies in the fact that with all her gifts and talents one thought dominated her whole being night and day: How shall we help the poor, the weak, the fallen, weary and heavy-laden, to help themselves? When, a soldier like Minnie passes on, it only means their presence is withdrawn, their life and work remaining an inspiration and a call to us each to close the ranks and continue our march breast forward."

Minnie Lansbury
Minnie Lansbury

On this day in 1942, the Declaration by United Nations is published. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, supported by the representatives of 26 countries, published the Declaration by United Nations, a document that pledged their governments to continue fighting together against Nazi Germany and Japan during the Second World War.

This declaration was followed by a conference of Foreign Ministers in Moscow, in October, 1943 where discussions took place concerning a replacement for the discredited League of Nations.

Further talks took place at San Francisco between 15th April and 26th June, 1945. Delegates from fifty nations that had been at war with Germany, decided on the design and structure of this new organization. The conference drafted the United Nations Charter and it was signed on 26th June and ratified at the first session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in London on 24th October 1945.

The main differences between the League of Nations and the United Nations were the stronger executive powers assumed by the Security Council and the requirement that member states should make available armed forces to serve as peace-keepers or to repel an aggressor.

The Security Council had five permanent members, United States, the Soviet Union, China, France and Britain. Six other countries served two-year periods on the Council (this was increased to ten in 1965). Controversially, permanent members were given the power to veto decisions made by the Security Council. The other nations vigorously opposed the idea of the veto but it became clear that without such a favoured position the five major nations would not join the United Nations. The United States Senate ratified the United Nations treaty by a vote of 89 to 2 on 28th July, 1945.

Declaration by United Nations (1942)
Declaration by United Nations (1942)