History Mysteries > Jimmy Hoffa
James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa (February 14, 1913 – disappeared July 30, 1975) was an American labor union leader and author who served as the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union from 1958 until 1971. He vanished in late July 1975 at age 62.
Hoffa was a union activist from a young age, and was an important regional figure with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union by his mid-twenties. By 1952, Hoffa had risen to national vice-president of the IBT, and served as the union's general president between 1958 and 1971. He secured the first national agreement for teamsters' rates in 1964. Hoffa played a major role in the growth and development of the union which eventually became the largest (by membership) in the United States with over 1.5 million members at its peak, during his terms as its leader. Hoffa was a fervent civil rights supporter.
Hoffa became involved with organized crime from the early years of his Teamsters work, and this connection continued until his disappearance in 1975. He was convicted of jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud in 1964, in two separate trials. He was imprisoned in 1967 and sentenced to 13 years, after exhausting the appeal process. In mid-1971 he resigned as president of the union, an action that was part of a pardon agreement with President Richard Nixon, to facilitate his release later that year. Nixon blocked Hoffa from union activities until 1980 (which would have been the end of his prison term, had he served the full sentence). Hoffa, hoping to regain support and to return to IBT leadership, unsuccessfully attempted to overturn this order.
Hoffa vanished in late July 1975, having last been seen outside the Machus Red Fox, a suburban Detroit restaurant. He was declared legally dead in 1982. His disappearance gave rise to many theories as to what happened to him.
A collection of papers related to Hoffa is cared for by the Special Collections Research Center of The George Washington University. The collection contains a variety of materials, including newspaper and magazine articles, trial transcripts, copies of congressional hearings, and publicity materials.
Hoffa's critics say that he enriched himself at the expense of the teamsters. Hoffa's defenders claim that he should be remembered for his "dedication as an American labor leader for more than 40 years, as well as for his widely recognized accomplishments on behalf of teamsters and all working people in America..."
Hoffa disappeared at, or sometime after, 2:45 p.m. on July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Restaurant at 6676 Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Township, an affluent suburb of Detroit. According to what he had told others, he believed he was to meet there with two Mafia leaders: Anthony Giacalone and Anthony Provenzano. Provenzano was also a union leader with the Teamsters in New Jersey, and had earlier been quite close to Hoffa. Provenzano was a national vice-president with IBT from 1961, Hoffa's second term as Teamsters' president.
Hoffa arrived first, around 2:00 in the afternoon, but after waiting nearly 30 minutes, none of the other members arrived. Annoyed, he called his wife and said that he was going to wait a few more minutes before giving up. This was the last time that she ever spoke with her husband. Hoffa was last seen by a truck driver who claimed to have seen Hoffa in a maroon 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham that pulled out of the restaurant parking lot and almost hit the driver's truck. The truck driver, who had been making deliveries in the area, pulled up next to the car and immediately recognized Hoffa sitting in the backseat behind the car’s driver. The truck driver also noticed a long object covered with a gray blanket on the seat between Hoffa and another passenger. The truck driver thought it was either a shotgun or a rifle. He did not get a good look at anyone else in the car.
When Hoffa did not return home that evening, his wife then reported him missing. Police found Hoffa's dark green 1974 Pontiac Grand Ville, unlocked, at the restaurant, but there was no sign of Hoffa or any indication of what happened to him. Extensive investigations into the disappearance began immediately, and continued over the next several years by numerous law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. The investigations did not conclusively determine Hoffa's fate. For their part, Giacalone and Provenzano were found not to have been near the restaurant that afternoon, and each denied he had scheduled a meeting with Hoffa.
Hoffa was declared legally dead, and a death certificate was issued, on July 30, 1982, seven years after his disappearance. His disappearance has given rise to many rumors and theories as to what happened to him.