56 Facts About Alger Hiss


Alger Hiss was an American government official accused in 1948 of having spied for the Soviet Union in the 1930s.


Alger Hiss categorically denied the charge and subsequently sued Chambers for libel.


Alger Hiss himself maintained his innocence until his death in 1996.


Alger Hiss was one of five children born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Mary "Minnie" Lavinia and Charles Alger Hiss.


Shortly after his marriage at age 24, Charles Alger Hiss entered the business world and joined the dry goods importing firm Daniel Miller and Co.


Alger Hiss was two years old at the time of his father's death, and his brother Donald was two months old.


Shocked, Alger Hiss resolved to devote the rest of his life to restoring the family's "good name".


Alger Hiss learned to compartmentalize and to seek out paternal surrogates.


Alger Hiss attended high school at Baltimore City College and college at Johns Hopkins University, where he was voted "most popular student" by his classmates and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.


Alger Hiss served for a year as clerk to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.


In 1933, he served briefly at the Justice Department and then became a temporary assistant on the Senate's Nye Committee, investigating cost overruns and alleged profiteering by military contractors during World War I During this period, Hiss was a member of the liberal legal team headed by Jerome Frank that defended the Agricultural Adjustment Administration against challenges to its legitimacy.


Alger Hiss was not fired, but allegations that during this period he was connected with radicals on the Agriculture Department's legal team were to be the source of future controversy.


Alger Hiss "badgered" DuPont officials and questioned and cross-examined Bernard Baruch on March 29,1935.


In 1947, Baruch and Alger Hiss both attended the burial of Nicholas Murray Butler.


From 1939 to 1944, Alger Hiss was an assistant to Stanley Hornbeck, a special adviser to Cordell Hull on Far Eastern affairs.


In 1944, Alger Hiss was named Director of the Office of Special Political Affairs, a policy-making entity devoted to planning for post-war international organizations.


Alger Hiss served as executive secretary of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, which drew up plans for the future United Nations.


In February 1945, as a member of the US delegation headed by Stettinius, Hiss attended the Yalta Conference, where the Big Three, Franklin D Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill, met to consolidate their alliance to forestall any possibility, now that the Soviets had entered German territory, that any of them might make a separate peace with the Nazi regime.


Alger Hiss drafted a memorandum arguing against Stalin's proposal to give one vote to each of the sixteen Soviet republics in the United Nations General Assembly.


Alger Hiss was Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, which was held in San Francisco from April 25,1945 to June 26,1945.


Alger Hiss later became full Director of the State Department's Office of Special Political Affairs.


In late 1946, Alger Hiss left government service to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he served until May 5,1949, the end of the presidential term to which he had been elected, when he was forced to step down.


Alger Hiss had been studying the FBI's files for five months, courtesy of J Edgar Hoover.


In both cases, the FBI decided that Alger Hiss was the likely match.


Alger Hiss said that in the mid-1930s he had sublet his apartment to this "Crosley" and had given him an old car.


Chambers's statements, because they were made in a Congressional hearing, were privileged against defamation suits; Alger Hiss challenged Chambers to repeat them without benefit of such protection.


Chambers retaliated by claiming Alger Hiss was not merely a communist, but a spy, a charge he had not made earlier; and, on November 17,1948, to support his explosive allegations he produced physical evidence consisting of sixty-five pages of re-typed State Department documents, the last of which was dated April 1,1938, plus four notes in Alger Hiss's handwriting summarizing the contents of State Department cables.


Alger Hiss initially denied writing the note, but experts confirmed it was his handwriting.


Alger Hiss recounted meeting Hiss at a party in 1935.


Massing described how Alger Hiss had tried to recruit Noel Field, another Soviet spy at State, to switch from Massing's ring to his own.


Senator Joseph McCarthy made his famous speech at Wheeling, West Virginia, two weeks after the Alger Hiss verdict, launching his career as the nation's most visible anti-communist.


On 22 March 1951, Alger Hiss was sent to a maximum security federal facility.


Alger Hiss was released from prison on November 27,1954.


Alger Hiss separated from his first wife, Priscilla, in 1959, though they remained married until her death in 1984.


On November 11,1962, following Richard Nixon's failed 1962 bid for governor of California, Hiss appeared in a segment titled "The Political Obituary of Richard M Nixon" on the Howard K Smith: News and Comment show on ABC television.


The state's Supreme Judicial Court overruled its Committee of Bar Overseers and stated in a unanimous decision that, despite his conviction, Alger Hiss had demonstrated the "moral and intellectual fitness" required to be an attorney.


Alger Hiss was the first lawyer ever readmitted to the Massachusetts bar after a major criminal conviction.


In 1988 Alger Hiss wrote an autobiography, Recollections of a Life, in which he maintained his innocence.


Alger Hiss fought his perjury conviction until his death from emphysema on November 15,1996, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, four days after his 92nd birthday.


In 1929, Alger Hiss married Priscilla Fansler Hobson, a Bryn Mawr graduate and grade school teacher.


In 1952, former US Ambassador to France William C Bullitt testified before the McCarran Committee that in 1939, Premier Edouard Daladier had advised him of French intelligence reports that two State Department officials named Hiss were Soviet agents.


In 1950 Weyl had been interviewed by the FBI and had told them that in 1933 he had belonged to a secret Communist Party unit along with Harold Ware and Lee Pressman and confirmed that Alger Hiss had been present at some meetings held at Ware's sister's violin studio.


The FBI, with superior resources, was searching for the typewriter, which the Alger Hiss family had discarded some years earlier.


Nevertheless, Schmahl was able to track it down first, and the Alger Hiss defense introduced it with the intention of showing that its typeface would not be a match for that on the FBI's documents.


In 1976, Hiss called ex-FBI official William C Sullivan, who recounted in his 1979 memoir:.


In 1948, when the Alger Hiss trials started, Field and his German wife were still living in Switzerland.


In public, Field continued to maintain Alger Hiss was innocent and, in 1957, wrote Alger Hiss a letter calling Hede Massing's dinner party story "the false testimony of a perjured witness" and an "outrageous lie".


Alger Hiss did attend Yalta and then traveled to Moscow with Secretary of State Stettinius.


Lowenthal argued that had Alger Hiss really been a spy, the GRU would not have mentioned his real name in a coded transmission, since this was contrary to their usual practice.


At an April 2007 symposium, authors Kai Bird and Svetlana Chervonnaya postulated that, based on the movements of officials present at Yalta, Wilder Foote, a US diplomat, not Alger Hiss, was the best match for ALES.


Mark disputes that Foote was ALES, arguing that Foote was never shown to be associated with the communists or any foreign intelligence services; Alger Hiss was the "one possible candidate" who could have been ALES, Mark contends.


Gordievsky went further and claimed that Alger Hiss had the codename identity of "ALES".


Russian archivists responded by reviewing their files, and in late 1992 reported back that they had found no evidence Alger Hiss ever engaged in espionage for the Soviet Union nor that he was a member of the Communist Party.


Kobyakov stated that Alger Hiss did not have a relationship with SVR predecessor organizations, although Alger Hiss was accused of being with the GRU, a military intelligence organization separate from SVR predecessors.


In 2007, Svetlana Chervonnaya, a Russian researcher who had been studying Soviet archives since the early 1990s, argued that based on documents she reviewed, Alger Hiss was not implicated in spying.


The authors attempted to show definitively that Alger Hiss had indeed been a Soviet spy and argue that KGB documents prove not only that Hiss was the elusive ALES, but that he went by the codenames "Jurist" and "Leonard" while working for the GRU.