Hiss, Alger

   Born and educated in Baltimore, Maryland, Alger Hiss went to Powder Point Academy, Johns Hopkins University, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1929. He worked briefly as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes before joining a Boston law firm in 1930. In 1933, he became an attorney with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and then with the Justice Department before joining the State Department in 1936. Working with Dean Acheson and Edward Stettinius Jr., Hiss was executive secretary at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in 1944, became director of the Office of Special Political Affairs in 1945, attended the Yalta Conference, and was secretary general at the United Nations organizing conference in 1945. In 1947, he became president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a body that exemplified the liberal establishment targeted by Senator Joseph McCarthy and his allies.
   In 1948, in testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), Time magazine editor and former communist Whittaker Chambers accused Hiss of having been a member of the Communist Party of the United States of America. In a dramatic HUAC appearance, Hiss confronted Chambers and denied the charges. Hiss sued Chambers for libel, and Chambers further accused him of passing secret documents to the Soviet Union during the 1930s. Chambers produced microfilms that he had concealed in a pumpkin on his Maryland farm that included State Department material written or copied by Hiss. Because of the three-year statute of limitation on espionage, Hiss was indicted by a grand jury in December 1948, not for spying but for perjury during HUAC testimony. His first trial in July 1949 resulted in a hung jury. A second trial in January 1950 resulted in conviction. His appeal failed, and he was imprisoned from 1950 to 1954.
   Hiss’s conviction was enormously damaging to Harry S. Truman’s administration and the Democratic Party. While senior politicians like Acheson and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter stoutly defended him, Republican politicians like freshman congressman and HUAC member Richard M. Nixon insisted on pursuing the charges and in doing so helped raise his own national profile. The outcome of the trial helped lend sustenance to the charges later made by McCarthy and cast doubt on the loyalty of a generation of politicians. Although Hiss continued to protest his innocence, evidence from the Soviet archives after the end of the Cold War convinced many historians that he had indeed committed espionage.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hiss,Alger — Hiss (hĭs), Alger. 1904 1996. American public official. Accused of espionage at the height of the Communist scare, he was convicted of perjury (1950) in a controversial case. * * * …   Universalium

  • Hiss, Alger — born Nov. 11, 1904, Baltimore, Md., U.S. died Nov. 15, 1996, New York, N.Y. U.S. government official. He attended Harvard Law School and clerked for Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. He worked at the U.S. State Department in the 1930s, attended the… …   Universalium

  • Hiss, Alger — (1904–1996)    The fate of Alger Hiss continues to intrigue and divide American political opinion more than 50 years after his conviction for perjury for lying about his role as a Soviet agent. Hiss was one of the most brilliant New Dealers of… …   Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence

  • Hiss, Alger — (11 nov. 1904, Baltimore, Md., EE.UU.–15 nov.1996, Nueva York, N.Y.). Funcionario público estadounidense. Estudió en la escuela de derecho de Harvard y trabajó como escribiente con Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. En la década de 1930 ocupó un cargo en …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Alger Hiss — (* 11. November 1904 in Baltimore, Maryland; † 15. November 1996 in New York City) war ein amerikanischer Rechtsanwalt und US Regierungsbeamter, den man nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg der Spionage bezichtigte. Wegen der Verjährung konnte man …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alger Hiss — Alger Hiss, né le 11 novembre 1904 à Baltimore (Maryland) et mort le 15 novembre 1996, est un fonctionnaire du département d État américain. Il participa à la fondation de l Organisation des Nations unies. Il fut accusé en 1948 d avoir été un… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Alger Hiss — Alger Hiss. Alger Hiss nació en Baltimore, Maryland el 11 de noviembre de 1904. Oficial del Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos, fue convicto dos veces de perjurio por negar que había entregado secretos del gobierno a los rusos. Murió el …   Wikipedia Español

  • Alger Hiss — Infobox Person name = Alger Hiss image size =300px caption =Alger Hiss testifying birth name = birth date = Birth date|1904|11|11 birth place = Baltimore, Maryland, USA death date = Death date and age|1996|11|15|1904|11|11 death place =Lenox Hill …   Wikipedia

  • Hiss — may refer to: * An onomatopoeia for a type of noise comparable to white noise, such as the release of air brakes, or a noise made by snakes. * Tape hiss, high frequency noise present on analogue magnetic tape recordings * Electronic circuit hiss …   Wikipedia

  • Alger Hiss — nació en Baltimore, Maryland el 11 de noviembre de 1904. Oficial del Departamento de Estado de EEUU, fue convicto dos veces de perjurio por negar que había entregado secretos del gobierno a los rusos. Murió el 15 de noviembre de 1996 y escribió… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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