A Modern Crusade Against Crime
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 16 Feb 1939, p. 243-255

Clegg, Hugh H., Speaker
Media Type:
Item Type:
The progress and evolution of criminal sociology. A brief history of law enforcement. The particular part that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) has played in its special sector of the crusade against crime. The Directorship given to J. Edgar Hoover at the age of 28; how he attacked the problem of crime. Some figures to show what he found. Some illustrative examples, using John Dillinger as anecdotal evidence. The story of Neil Maconolgue. The establishment of entry requirements for the F.B.I. Training of recruits. The F.B.I. National Police Academy. The Intelligence Division. The finger print identification bureau. The establishment of a scientific crime detection laboratory. A description of some of the equipment and how it is used. Examples of how this equipment has been used to solve crimes. The value of the study by scientific means of the evidence of crime. The necessity of co-ordination between law enforcement agencies in order that information concerning criminals and violators of the law might be available at one central clearing house. Calling for co-operation from citizens.
Date of Original:
16 Feb 1939
Language of Item:
Copyright Statement:
The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
Empire Club of Canada
WWW address
Agency street/mail address

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text
Thursday, February 16, 1939.
Chairman-The President, Mr. J. P. Pratt, K.C.

THE PRESIDENT: Gentlemen of The Empire Club: Through the courtesy and kindness of the Honourable J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States Department of Justice, at Washington, we are to have the privilege of hearing an address by his Senior Assistant, Mr. Hugh H. Clegg. Mr. Clegg is a Member of the Bar of the State of Mississippi. He holds a degree of Bachelor of Arts from Millsaps College, at Jackson, Mississippi, and the degree of LL.B. from the George Washington. University at Washington, D.C. Rather than pursue the career of Barrister he chose the vocation of a Peace Officer and joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He served in various administrative and other capacities in Atlanta, Georgia, Chicago and Washington, and seven years ago he was appointed Assistant Director, which office he holds today.

The officers of the Bureau are noted for their self sacrifice and devotion to duty, as well as for their splendid record in tracing criminals of the most serious type and bringing them before the Courts of Justice of the United States. I can assure you, Gentlemen, when Mr. Clegg has concluded his address you will agree with me that we are indeed indebted to Mr. Hoover and to Mr. Clegg. Mr. Clegg has chosen as his subject, "A Modern Crusade Against Crime." I have pleasure in introducing Mr. Clegg. (Applause)

MR. HUGH H. CLEGG: Mr. President, Mr. ConsulGeneral, Mr. Attorney-General, Distinguished Guests and Members of The Empire Club of Canada: I am very happy to be here and I am particularly pleased that I have the privilege of bringing to you a message of greetings from the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Honourable John Edgar Hoover. We, and I am sure my brother officers at this table would join with me, are particularly proud of the fact that here in our two great Commonwealths, the specialized interests of our citizenship are willing and, in fact, are permitted to meet together to give thought and study and consideration to a fundamental problem of government, that of law enforcement. Retrospectively, we learn that it has not always been thus, for when the world was emerging from chaos and black night, the weak were set upon by the strong, and the longest tooth, the sharpest claw and the most stubborn powers of resistance in combat were the important and dominating factors. There was a law that "the weak shall go to the wall and only the strong shall survive." That was the code upon which was predicated the so-called administration of justice of the day. It was a policy of exaggerated individualism, where the injured party was the investigator, the prosecutor, the jury, the judge, and, all too frequently, the executioner.

In the progress and evolution of criminal sociology, we have reached a point today where we recognize that every factor engaged in a programme of law enforcement must be manned by a personnel that has been carefully selected, that is well adapted and that has been carefully trained for the performance of their respective duties. We know our Judges must be learned in law, that they must possess that poise and dignity and bearing that befits their position. We know our prosecutors must be trained in law, must be vigorously alert to defend our property, our lives and our rights, but did you ever stop to think that the first step in any programme of law enforcement is the police or the investigation problem? Before your Judge is called upon to impose sentence in a criminal case, before your prosecutor has an opportunity to try a defendant, first the investigative bodies must solve the crime, and apprehend the criminal.

It is therefore equally logical, I believe, to say that those engaged in the business of enforcing the law should likewise be carefully selected, well adapted and adequately trained for the performance of their duties. We know you recognize that fact in Canada for you remember that it was in 1809 that the first organized police force in the history of the world was established in London, England, and the first organization of police agencies having jurisdiction over a rural area was the establishment of your own fine Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We are very happy in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to be able to co-operate with your Mounted Police, with your Provincial Police, and with your municipal law enforcement agencies. In fact, it might be said that when the law enforcement agencies of the United States and the law enforcement agencies of Canada are joined with the citizens of both nations, they are then actively engaged in a crusade against crime and criminals.

Philip of France and Richard, the Lion-Hearted, joined by the Kings of all Christendom, set about to rescue the sacred soil from the cruel Saracen. Joined by thousands of brave knights, actuated by deep religious impulses, motivated by the highest type of practical idealism, they set out to redeem the Holy Land that was trodden under foot by the enemies of the faith. The brightest pages of all history are those that reflect incidents and stories of such practical idealism such as the Crusades, the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the activities of people seeking liberty and independence, and the activities of those hardy pioneers who conquered the western plains. These situations are typical of such practical idealism.

I would like to discuss with you, because you are acquainted with the work in your own nation, and because I have been requested to do so, the particular part that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been playing in its special sector of this crusade against crime. Those of us who have the honour and pleasure of being a member of that organization, although knowing it was established in 1808, recognize it was in 1924 that the real foundation for this modern crusade began, for in that year the then Attorney-General of the United States, who is today a Justice of the Supreme Court of our nation, placed the shield and armour of authority on the shoulders of a young man, as Director of the F.B.I. That young man, the Honourable J. Edgar Hoover, then 28 years of age, was a native of the District of Columbia and, as they know there all too well, was not entitled to the privilege of voting. He was, therefore, peculiarly free from all political and other undesirable influences from which law enforcement should be completely divorced.

He attacked the problem in what appeared a logical manner, for first, he began a study of the forces of the enemy in our country, and here is what he found. He saw an army of crime and criminals parading by 4,600,000 criminals are in the line of march of the enemy, and every year they commit 1,500,000 major crimes in the United States of America. As this parade marches by we see in every battalion of 1,000 persons 303 that have marched down the same parade ground before, as evidenced by the fact that previously they have been convicted of a serious crime or offence. In every company of 100, there are 18 who have not yet reached voting age; 35 are less than 25 years of age, and 51 per cent are less than the age of 30. It marches by--and as it marches, every 39 minutes we might ask that the muffled drums sound signifying that a human life has been sacrificed as a result of criminal activity. Every 22 seconds, the muted trumpet can, in fact, blow, signifying that another serious crime has been committed in the United States. As this army of crime goes marching by it is marching down a highway that is being paved with $15,000,000 in American money every single year.

Now, let us examine just one or two examples from this Satanic army, as it goes marching by. The first example we shall examine under our microscope is Homer Van Meter, a member of John Dillinger's gang and far more clever than Dillinger ever hoped to be. We find him with forged credentials entering a little bank in South Dakota, representing himself as a National Bank Examiner from Washington. He was greeted most cordially by the President of the Bank, who desired to make a good impression on the so-called "big shot" from Washington. He introduced him to members of the staff, showed him the safety devices installed in the bank, exhibited the safety deposit vault where the money, securities and valuables were stored, and even invited the President of a rival bank, just across the street, to come over and meet the distinguished gentleman. They also gave a luncheon for him in the local hotel. Needless to say, within three weeks the bank was robbed of several thousands of dollars as an additional tribute to the cunning of that type of criminal.

Just three weeks later, in a little town of Indiana, this same criminal, with John Dillinger, drove up in front of the Police Department. Leaving Dillinger in the car, because his picture had been advertised too widely, he went into the police station and introduced himself to the Chief of Police in this small town. To the Chief he stated, "I represent the 'New Detective Story Magazine.' I have been commissioned by my editor to come here and write a story about the methods you have been employing that have been so successful in preventing kidnapping and bank robbery in this particular community. The Chief of Police gave his version of the proper administration of a police organization in a city of that size.

Now, at the end of a lengthy interview, Van Meter stated, "Now, we would really like to put on a drive on behalf of your department and see that you are furnished with the equipment and supplies that you really need. How well equipped are you in your need for firearms?" The Chief, with a show of pride, exhibited several wall cabinets, filled with machine guns, high power rifles and bullet-proof vests. It so happened that Dillinger's gang had been run out of an apartment and forced to abandon their arms and ammunition two nights before. The next morning they didn't need anything further; their supplies had been completely replenished.

There is another type of criminal. They are clever--"clever" is perhaps not the word, but they are possessed of that native, almost beast-like type of cunning. Such a man was Neil Maconolgue. He resembled in facial appearance quite a famous motion picture actor, and he actually made "personal appearances" at theatres, using the name of the actor. All the young ladies fell in love and they lost not only their hearts but their pocketbooks, as well, and Neil Maconolgue was sentenced to the penitentiary. But as is too often true, he was soon out again.

While an inmate of the penitentiary he had become acquainted with a number of his fellow convicts and he had studied their handwriting and also learned something of their financial status back home. As soon as he got out, he went to the families of his former fellow inmates and represented that he could get them out on parole if they would only make a contribution of an amount named, which always included practically all their savings and accumulations. He was convicted of this and again Neil Maconolgue went to the penitentiary. But he was soon out again. On this occasion when he came out he would go into a town where he had just read in the papers that a rather prominent, but not particularly wealthy citizen had just died. He would go to the railroad station and telephone the undertaker who was handling the funeral arrangements, something like this: "Mr. Undertaker, in the years of my youth the deceased befriended me. Now, at this, the moment of sadness and bereavement on the part of the family, I would like to repay that life-long indebtedness. I would like to arrange for a funeral much more elaborate and much more expensive than the family can afford. Being a modest sort of person I prefer to remain in the background, so I will send the remittance by messenger." A cheque for always six hundred to eight hundred dollars more than the total cost of the funeral arrangements was sent by messenger to the undertaker, and the balance in cash was returned by the undertaker to the criminal, and the cheque would be returned by the bank to the undertaker marked "No such account--"and again Neil Maconolgue went to the penitentiary.

And in and out and in and out, six other times but I won't bore you with those details. Finally, we find him an inmate of a penitentiary of the State of California. He had been in and out so frequently that the time had now come when he must do something very unusual to play upon the heart strings of our sobsister sentimentalists who are far more interested in the personal welfare of one criminal parasite than they are in protecting society as a whole from such an habitual crook. "Poetry ought to do the trick," he thought, "especially if I could write a poem about Mother-that would bring tears to the eyes." So he proceeded to write a poem, which was adopted by one organization as their official Mother's Day poem, written by that convict while in a penitentiary. A few verses, if I can remember correctly, go something like this:

I would like to send you a dewdrop,
Smiling in sweet repose,
As it sparkles, nestling in perfume, Deep in the heart of a rose.
And later on, when the trumpet calls,
And I trek to the great unknown,
She will meet me there, she will plead my cause, And I'll know that I'm not alone.
Then all my failure will be success,
The hardest work but play,
But if squarely the game of life I've played, That will be my Mother's Day.

"If squarely the game of life I've played?" I mention the fact that Neil Maconolgue was apprehended a few months ago by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at Atlantic City, New Jersey, and was again sentenced to the penitentiary, and when I recently left Washington, no report to the contrary having been received, he is likely in that penal institution today.

Since we have this type of criminal, as well as the bloodthirsty kill crazy type in the line of march against which we must wage our crusade, it is necessary to fix standards of enlistment. So, in 1924, Mr. Hoover established a qualification for all who wished to enlist under the banner of the F.B.I. Hereafter, he stated, all those wishing to join the organization must at the time of their appointment be between the ages of 23 and 35, must be possessed of a law degree from a law school of recognized standing, or else be an expert accountant. Those qualifications may seem high. If they are we are proud that they are high, because of the fact that the accomplishments these men have been able to make have justified the establishment of those standards. Ninety-five percent of all cases selected by the prosecution for trial, in spite of the hazards of jury trial, and in spite of varying types of prosecutive effort, result in convictions.

We are glad a crusade has an idealism of a practical sort. Therefore, we are proud of the fact that in a high percentage of cases we were able to establish the innocence of the party accused. There is an obligation on law enforcement agencies, not only to ensure the conviction of the guilty but also to protect and acquit the innocent.

These men, after selection, are carefully trained for fourteen weeks, and brought back once each year for a course of retraining in order to keep them up to date in the rapidly progressing art and science of law enforcement.

We also have, under the personal direction of Mr. Hoover, the F.B.I. National Police Academy, its purpose being to permit the designation of one selected representative from each law enforcement agency for training. They come to Washington for a period of twelve weeks, take a course of training, return to their Departments and give the benefit of their experience and training to the other members of their organization. We are happy to tell you that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sent a very fine, distinguished and able representative to one of the recent schools. At the present time in Washington the Quebec Provincial Police Department has a representative attending this school, and I have just been informed by your General Williams that he plans at an early date to send one of his representatives from your own Provincial Police Force to Washington for the purpose of taking this course of training. We are glad to welcome them and I am glad to tell you further, it is our very great pleasure to work with your own Provincial Police Department, under the leadership of General Williams, and also your own municipal police organization under Mr. Hoover's personal friend, General Draper. (Applause)

If we are to have a real crusade, we must have, of course, an Intelligence Division, so in the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, we have a finger print identification bureau, with more than 9,900,000 finger print cards that have been sent in by police agencies throughout our countries. There are ten prints on each card--99,000,000 individual finger prints, and no two of them have ever been found alike, unless made with the same finger of the same hand of the same individual. They come in to Washington at the rate of 5,000 a day, as the finger prints of arrested persons, and in addition to that, around 1,800 every day of law-abiding citizens who want their finger prints on file for personal identification purposes. We are great believers in environment and we don't place the finger prints of the law-abiding citizens alongside of those of criminals. We keep them in special cabinets, marked "Personal Identification," and in case they become victims of amnesia or are reported as unknown dead, it is possible to identify them by this means.

Also, we have established there a scientific crime detection laboratory. The same instinctive urge that has caused men to create new inventions and make new discoveries has caused those in the field of law enforcement to adopt and adapt these inventions and discoveries to the art and science of law enforcement. There, we have borrowed from the physician the ultra-violet ray for the purpose -of eliminating the criminal parasite. The ultra-violet ray will cause most substances to fluoresce with a different colour for each element. A prisoner or a criminal likes to communicate with a member of his gang. He goes into the cell and writes a letter to one of his fellow confederates outside the jail, and the letter, sent from the prison, may read something like this: "Dear Bill: Go down to the pool hall, see 'Gyp, the Blood,' get the $3.00 he owes me, and buy some cigarettes and send to me. It is awfully lonesome in jail with nothing to smoke."

And written between the lines is a secret message. It may be written with secret ink, with sweet milk, lemon juice, onion juice or an aspirin tablet dissolved in water. Written between the lines is this message: "Have the high-powered car and the 'Tommy-Gun' at the east gate next Thursday night at 10.30 p.m. That is the time to make a break from this jail." When placed under the ultra-violet ray that secret message will fluoresce, and shine like a neon light in a street sign.

Also borrowed from the physician is the X-ray machine. Just a few years ago, the late Vice-President, Charles Curtis, received a series of threatening letters. Shortly afterward he received an imposing looking package. I don't blame him for being afraid to open it. He called on Mr. Hoover to send one of his operatives who was qualified to handle explosives. He went to the VicePresident's Chambers and brought the package back to the laboratory. They made a fluorscopic study of the package. They took an X-ray photograph and found that it contained a beautiful hand-carved gavel sent by an admiring friend from his native Kansas. No conviction was obtained in that case but if that package had contained a bomb, it could have been studied in such a manner that the trigger arrangement would have been observed and the package opened without danger to the operative handling this particular device.

In this laboratory they make a study of handwriting, identification of bullets and identification of firearms. The identification of firearms is rather interesting. A bridge game was in progress in a little town in Dakota. It was the 4th of July and the only noise outside was the occasional exploding of a firecracker down at the fair grounds and the lazy drone of an aeroplane motor overhead. Suddenly one of the women in the bridge game screamed and blood was seen coming from a wound in her shoulder. She had been shot. The premises were searched but no suspect was found. No one was known who had a motive for shooting the lady. The police had the physician very carefully remove the bullet and it was sent to the technical laboratory of the F.B.I. in Washington. There, the experts know that the rifling on the inside of the barrel of every gun will leave distinctive markings on the bullets that go hurling through and no two guns leave identical marking on bullets. So, on receipt of that particular bullet it was studied and there was no other to compare favourably with it, and it was filed away.

Eight months before in a little town in Ohio, an attendant was cleaning up the bar of a German beer garden. He was getting ready to go home when suddenly he looked up into the end of the barrel of a gun held by a robber. The cash register was robbed and the beer garden attendant was killed, so he could not later identify the robber. The coroner, at the request of the police very carefully removed the bullet from the body. It was kept for eight months in the hope that a gun would be found in possession of some suspect, which would fire bullets with identical markings. No gun and no such suspect were found and eight months later that bullet was sent to our laboratory. Within four hours, telegrams went to Dakota and also to Ohio advising that the same gun that had injured the lady in Dakota had been used in killing the beer garden attendant in Ohio, a thousand miles away.

Investigation by police disclosed that a man was working in a rubber plant in Ohio. He had gone to his home in Dakota one summer on vacation and had taken an aeroplane ride over his home town. He was somewhat inebriated and to properly celebrate the 4th of July he had pulled the gun from his pocket and fired several shots. The noise of the explosion of the gun was drowned by the noise of the aeroplane motor but one of the bullets came down through an open window and struck the lady in the shoulder, and left its telltale trademarks which led to the subsequent conviction and life imprisonment of the criminal in Ohio for the crime committed there.

This shows not only the value of the study by scientific means of .the evidence of crime, but also the necessity of co-ordination between law enforcement agencies of the country, in order that information concerning criminals and violators of the law might be available at one central clearing house.

Now, in order for this crusade to be successful, it is necessary that law enforcement agencies co-operate. We are glad to salute the fine officials you have in Canada who give us unstinted, whole-hearted and intelligent co-operation. We are also glad that we can call upon the citizens through the local police of your Dominion to aid us from time to time, as many of you have done in the past. In any crusade against an enemy the support of the citizen is necessary. We want to enlist in behalf of your police and in our behalf, your support. The greatest job you can do as citizens is to prevent enlistments in the ranks of the enemy. For your boys and girls, you can see that they are furnished homes instead of hovels; that they are given games instead of guns; that in their schools they are given instruction not only in the professions and craftsmanship, but likewise in patriotism and in character. Yes, they should be taught sports, but sportsmanship should be recognized as even more important, and in our churches a little practice with the preaching all tend to establish the end toward which we are all striving.

You can see that our appropriating bodies do not adopt a penurious "penny wise and pound foolish" attitude when equipping these soldiers who are fighting the battle, not once each generation, but every day and every night and every hour of every day and every night, in defense of you and your homes, your rights and your lives.

With your co-operation and with your assistance in this crusade which we are waging, and which we must win, we shall win and then we shall have rescued these, our Holy Lands, from the enemies of the faith. Thank you. (Hearty applause)

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Clegg, on behalf of the members of The Empire Club of Canada, as well as on behalf of those Canadians, and those of your fellow citizens who have listened to the proceedings of this Club, we cannot say how much we have enjoyed your talk. It has been a revelation, Sir, to most of us, I am sure, although perhaps not to some of those at the head table today, to know that the tracing of the criminals and the recording of their activities have become such a scientific accomplishment. Not only, Sir, do we compliment you upon a wonderful address, but we thank you most cordially for having come and given us these words of instruction. Thank you very much.

The meeting is adjourned. (Applause)

Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

A Modern Crusade Against Crime

The progress and evolution of criminal sociology. A brief history of law enforcement. The particular part that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) has played in its special sector of the crusade against crime. The Directorship given to J. Edgar Hoover at the age of 28; how he attacked the problem of crime. Some figures to show what he found. Some illustrative examples, using John Dillinger as anecdotal evidence. The story of Neil Maconolgue. The establishment of entry requirements for the F.B.I. Training of recruits. The F.B.I. National Police Academy. The Intelligence Division. The finger print identification bureau. The establishment of a scientific crime detection laboratory. A description of some of the equipment and how it is used. Examples of how this equipment has been used to solve crimes. The value of the study by scientific means of the evidence of crime. The necessity of co-ordination between law enforcement agencies in order that information concerning criminals and violators of the law might be available at one central clearing house. Calling for co-operation from citizens.