Anyone who's seen Clint Eastwood's biopic J. Edgar, watched the fourth season of Boardwalk Empire, or is just familiar with history knows former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was paranoid. Especially when it came to prominent African-American leaders. Now, an old letter drafted by the FBI trying to goad Martin Luther King, Jr. has been discovered. 

The letter, which was published in the New York Times after Yale historian Beverly Gage found it, was written in the wake of King's "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. Observing that King was able to mobilize so many people with his words, Hoover was terrified. That fear led to close observation of King and his personal life, drudging up alleged instances of infidelity. The letter, which was reportedly accompanied by tapes of the infidelity, was an attempt to blackmail King into killing himself.


Pretty pathetic work, to say the least.

Although the unsigned letter was written (poorly, albeit) from the perspective of a fellow African-American, King and his advisers deduced that it was the FBI's work. 

The conclusion, other than the fact that "filth," "filthy," "and "abnormal" were used far too much, is that paranoia is a scary thing when powerful people wield it.

[via Vox and New York Times]