Hiss

Hiss

[his]
Hiss, Alger, 1904-96, American public official, b. Baltimore. After serving (1929-30) as secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, 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 Chambers, 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).

(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 Yalta Conference (1945) as an adviser to Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, was briefly secretary-general of the fledgling UN, and served as head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1946–49). In 1948 Whittaker Chambers testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that Hiss had been a fellow member of a communist spy ring in the 1930s. When Chambers repeated the charge in public, unprotected by congressional immunity, Hiss sued him for slander. In a federal grand-jury investigation of the case, both Chambers and Hiss testified; Hiss was later indicted on two charges of perjury. His first trial (1949) ended with a hung jury; at his second trial (1950) he was found guilty. He was released from jail in 1954, still protesting his innocence. In 1996 the release of secret Soviet cables intercepted by U.S. intelligence during World War II provided strong evidence of Hiss's guilt. The Hiss case seemed to lend substance to charges by Sen. Joseph McCarthy of communist infiltration in the State Department; it also brought national attention to Richard Nixon, whose hostile questioning of Hiss during the HUAC hearings did much to establish his reputation as a fervent anticommunist.

Learn more about Hiss, Alger with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(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 Yalta Conference (1945) as an adviser to Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, was briefly secretary-general of the fledgling UN, and served as head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1946–49). In 1948 Whittaker Chambers testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that Hiss had been a fellow member of a communist spy ring in the 1930s. When Chambers repeated the charge in public, unprotected by congressional immunity, Hiss sued him for slander. In a federal grand-jury investigation of the case, both Chambers and Hiss testified; Hiss was later indicted on two charges of perjury. His first trial (1949) ended with a hung jury; at his second trial (1950) he was found guilty. He was released from jail in 1954, still protesting his innocence. In 1996 the release of secret Soviet cables intercepted by U.S. intelligence during World War II provided strong evidence of Hiss's guilt. The Hiss case seemed to lend substance to charges by Sen. Joseph McCarthy of communist infiltration in the State Department; it also brought national attention to Richard Nixon, whose hostile questioning of Hiss during the HUAC hearings did much to establish his reputation as a fervent anticommunist.

Learn more about Hiss, Alger with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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, white noise present at low level in all electronic circuits

People

  • Alger Hiss, a U.S. State Department employee and alleged spy for the Soviet Union
  • Donald Hiss, younger brother of Alger Hiss
  • King Hiss, the villainous king of the Snake Men in Mattel toyline Masters of the Universe
  • Mike Hiss, a former driver in the USAC Championship Car series
  • Sir Hiss, Prince John's fictional sidekick in the 1973 animated Disney movie Robin Hood

Acronyms

  • Honda Ignition Security System

See also

Search another word or see hisson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature