Term Paper Resource Guide to Twentieth-Century United States History

By Robert Muccigrosso; Ron Blazek et al. | Go to book overview

56.

Alger Hiss Trials (1949–1950)
In 1948 ex-communist Whittaker Chambers testified to the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) that during the 1930s he had received secret government papers from Alger Hiss, a State Department official, and had transmitted this material to the Soviet Union. The statute of limitations precluded charges of treason, but the government brought Hiss to trial in 1949 on charges of perjury. That trial resulted in a hung jury; a second trial, undertaken in large part through the prompting of Congressman Richard M. Nixon, resulted in a guilty verdict. Hiss served more than three years in prison but maintained his innocence up to his death in 1996.
Suggestions for Term Papers
1. Compare the arguments for and against the guilt of Alger Hiss.
2. Discuss the role of Richard Nixon in the Hiss trials.
3. Compare the pretrial careers of Hiss and Chambers.
4. Analyze Chambers’ transformation from communist to anticommunist.
5. Discuss the origins and activities of HUAC.

Suggested Sources: See entries 52, 57, and 58 for related items.


GENERAL SOURCES

Busch, Francis X. Guilty Not Guilty? An Account of the Trials of, The Leo Frank Case, The D.C. Stephenson Case, The Samuel Insull Case, The Alger Hiss Case. Buffalo, NY: W. S. Hein, 1998. Examines the evidence and the conclusions in four notable cases. From the publisher’s Notable American Trials series.

Chambers, Whittaker. Odyssey of a Friend: Whittaker Chambers’ Letters to William F. Buckley, Jr., 1954–1961. New York: Putnam, 1970. Interesting compilation of correspondence between Chambers and Buckley; treats politics and government, communism, Alger Hiss, and other topics.

Fisher, David. Hard Evidence: How Detectives Inside the FBI’s Sci-Crime Lab Have Helped Solve America’s Toughest Cases. New York: Simon&Schuster, 1995. Discusses how the lab has helped solve crimes

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