Home News Stories 2012 July The Hoover Legacy, Part 3: Another Side of J. Edgar February 1938 Letter

February 1938 Letter

Letter from 1938, page 1
Letter from 1938, page 2
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Text of Letter


Federal Bureau of Investigation
United States Department of Justice
Washington, DC

February 12, 1938

Mrs. Courtney Ryley Cooper,
Hotel Winthrop,
New York City.

Dear Gen:

I received your fine letter, and had hoped so much that you would drop by Washington at least for a day, but I understand that you are not planning to do so but will return directly from New York.

Somehow or other, I regret more than ever that you didn’t stop off here. No doubt Ryley has told you of how he is feeling. I was never more surprised and stunned than I was yesterday when Clyde told me of his talk with Ryley. I immediately called him by phone and also saw him yesterday afternoon for a short while at the Mayflower, trying to make him see that he is just feeling bad and therefore his viewpoint was more or less colored through dark glasses. I apparently failed miserably because he left feeling that his job was done and that it would be all for the best if he just kind of faded out of the picture. Why he has taken this slant on things, I don’t know, and I still hope that it was merely a temporary indisposition of his general physical condition which made him feel so down and out mentally. Certainly, there is no real basis for him to reach any such conclusion. As I told him, of course if he was tired and weary of the great task which he has carried on and done, that was one thing, and I would be the last one to urge him to continue his interest and activity in it, but if it was because he felt that the job was done and that he was no longer needed, then that was an entirely different thing. The job is not done, as I know you realize it is not, and irrespective of the applause and acclaim and glory which come from time to time to us, I have never for one moment kidded myself into the belief that that is anything more than just the tinsel which can and will fade out and disappear very quickly if there be a cessation of accomplishments or any commission of mistakes.

The four of us have come along so marvelously through the pioneer stage of this great battle and in the face of great obstacles and disappointments and discouragements, that it just seems as if the bottom has fallen out of things when one listens to the way Ryley talked yesterday. I told him then that I just knew that if you were here he would not have the slant he did on things, because your common sense and good judgment would be able to straighten him out.

There is nothing much that I can say because I do think that you know exactly how I feel. I can’t always get that over to either Ryley or Clyde. Their temperaments are entirely unlike mine, whereas yours is more like mine. There, of course, have been tremendous and almost overwhelming worries pressing in on me the last two years, and particularly the last six months, and no doubt they have left their mark both on my enthusiasm and outlook. I have become terribly weary and terribly tired, but I had to keep going because nothing else was possible. I don’t lmow whether Ryley appreciates or realizes that situation, and of course it is not possible for me to try to explain it to him, because it can’t be explained—it is something one just has to feel. You felt it and understood it, and I can’t believe, and certainly hope that Ryley’s present state of mind is not a permanent one. It just seems like a terribly bad dream that is a nightmare from which one will suddenly awaken to realize that it has been a dream, and this is what I hope it turns out to be.

No doubt this sounds terribly rambling and gloomy to you, but that’s the way I feel and I can’t be any different.

I do hope that the trip to New York did you good, and that seeing some of the old faces was pleasant, but at the same time probably makes you yearn tremendously for the little house at Sebring.

With best regards and all good wishes, I am Sincerely,