Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents

By Richard Nixon; Rick Perlstein | Go to book overview

5.
“The Hiss Case—A Lesson for the
American People” (January 26, 1950)

In this epochal 1950 special order House speech Nixon
didn't just narrate the Hiss case. He fixed it as a moral-
ity tale not merely about the struggle against Commu-
nism, but about the arrogant fecklessness of the eastern
Establishment, more concerned for their status than for
the safety of the nation. It was an argument about so-
cial class: “The tragedy of this case is that men like
Alger Hiss who come from good families, are graduates
of our best schools, and are awarded the highest honors
in Government service, find the Communist ideology
more attractive than American democracy.”

Two weeks later, Senator Joseph McCarthy bor-
rowed extensive passages of Nixon's speech outright in
his famous address in Wheeling, West Virginia, in
which he stole from Nixon the title as the nation's most
prominent “Red” hunter.

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have imposed upon the membership by asking for a special order for the purpose of addressing the House. I have done so on this occasion because I feel that I have a solemn responsibility, both as a member of the Committee on Un-American Activities and as a

-19-

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