Alger Hiss

(redirected from Hiss Case)
Alger Hiss
BirthplaceBaltimore, Maryland, United States
EducationBaltimore City College high school Johns Hopkins University Harvard Law School

Hiss, Alger

(ăl`jər), 1904–96, American public official, b. Baltimore. After serving (1929–30) as secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell HolmesHolmes, Oliver Wendell,
1841–1935, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1902–32), b. Boston; son of the writer Oliver Wendell Holmes.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Hiss practiced law in Boston and New York City. He then was attached to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (1933–35) and to the Dept. of Justice (1935–36). He entered the Dept. of State in 1936 and rose rapidly to become an adviser at various international conferences and a coordinator of American foreign policy. In 1947, he resigned his government post to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In Aug., 1948, Whittaker ChambersChambers, Whittaker,
1901–61, U.S. journalist and spy, b. Philadelphia. He joined the U.S. Communist party in 1925 and wrote for its newspaper before engaging (1935–38) in espionage for the USSR. He left the party in 1939 and began working for Time magazine.
..... Click the link for more information.
, a magazine editor and former Communist party courier, accused Hiss of having helped transmit confidential government documents to the Russians. Hiss denied these charges; since, under the statute of limitations, he could not be tried for espionage, he was indicted (Dec., 1948) on two counts of perjury. When he was first brought to trial in 1949, the jury was unable to reach a decision. At a second trial Hiss was found guilty (Jan., 1950) and sentenced to a five-year prison term. His trial created great controversy; many believed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had tampered with evidence in order to secure a conviction. Hiss was released from prison in Nov., 1954, his term shortened for good conduct. In 1957 he wrote In the Court of Public Opinion, in which he denied all charges against him. Hiss maintained his innocence to his death; Soviet files made public in 1995 convinced most observers that he had been guilty, but controversy lingers.


See W. Chambers, Witness (1952, repr. 1983); R. Seth, The Sleeping Truth: The Hiss-Chambers Affair Reappraised (1968); A. Weinstein, Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case (1978).

Hiss, Alger (1904–)

imprisoned for perjury during espionage hearings. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1247]
See: Perjury

Hiss, Alger

(1904–  ) lawyer, government official; born in Baltimore, Md. A lawyer who had clerked with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, he went to work for President Roosevelt's New Deal, eventually joining the State Department. He rose rapidly in the State Department (1936–45), going with President Roosevelt to Yalta. He was President of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace (1945–49) when Whittaker Chambers accused him of having been a spy for the Russians. Convicted of perjury in 1950, he went to prison for four years, writing and lecturing in his own defense afterward. In 1992 a Russian with access to Soviet files announced that Hiss had never been a Soviet agent, but this seemed unlikely to put a complete end to the controversy that had surrounded Hiss since 1948.
References in periodicals archive ?
Farrell rightly observes that the Hiss case had a galvanizing effect on the budding conservative movement, bringing together "[Senate Republican leader] Bob Taft's Old Guard, young literati like William F.
From the controversial Hiss case, through the Eisenhower presidency, the turbulent 1960s, Nixon's consequential presidency, and his prolific postpresidential writings, Nixon either was at the center of events or providing erudite commentary on world affairs.
Yet the Hiss case has been frequently misrepresented, when it is remembered at all.
If, as the authors tacitly contend, the provenance and reliability of Cable 1822 as 'closing' the Hiss case is a given, the case ought to be capable of being readily articulated in a normal scholarly way.
McCarthy would use the Hiss case when claiming that the State Department was "thoroughly infested" with communists.
Roosevelt's decisions to intern Japanese-Americans and to try a group of Nazi saboteurs by military commission received broad public support and the sanction of the Supreme Court; in 1949-50, after the Communist takeover of China, the Soviet atomic tests, the North Korean invasion of South Korea, the Alger Hiss case, and the atomic spy cases, all of the measures to curb communist activity had enthusiastic support.
He has written articles on his father, conducted interviews with him, written reviews of books about the Hiss case, and even written two books of his own on the subject.
Nixon and the Alger Hiss Case, made his reputation as an investigative reporter for the National Guardian.
Societies bent on embalming their heritage can be even worse, fighting endlessly over the Confederate flag and retrying the Alger Hiss case every few months.
One of the most unusual landmarks is the pumpkin patch in Westminster, Maryland, made famous during the Alger Hiss case of 1948-49.
The Alger Hiss case is atypical of the rest of the collection, since the criminal action of the accused involved espionage rather than direct personal injury.
For years, the Alger Hiss case has commanded the attention of scholars because of its impact on the politics of the World War II era.