The Trial of Alger Hiss

By Strout, Richard L. | New Statesman (1996), November 29, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Trial of Alger Hiss


Strout, Richard L., New Statesman (1996)


The trial of Alger Hiss was different in many ways from anything that could happen in Britain. The judge did not wear a wig; the lawyers were allowed greater freedom than British procedure permits. In the courtroom on the thirteenth floor of a skyscraper you could hear the distant hum of New York traffic. But the difference was deeper than this. The trial was conducted in a society that has suddenly found itself one of the world's two super-powers, that is acutely conscious of spies and plots and that has seen the isolationism of twenty-five years ago translated in many breasts into a fear of the dark unknown of Communism.

The deadlock of the Hiss jury in some degree symbolised a deeper national conflict. But before testing the trial for its soundness as allegory it should be said that it was first-rate drama. Who was the liar, the tall, spare, boyish-looking Hiss, who till recently was $20,000-a-year president of the Carnegie Peace Endowment, or Chambers, that rotund and melancholy man, until recently a $30,000-a-year senior editor of fine?

There were at least two incidents of high drama. One was the confrontation scene. Last August Chambers had gone before the House Un-American Activities Committee to charge that certain prominent Washington officials had been, like him, members of a Communist group in the Thirties. He charged that Hiss, then in the State Department, was one. Hiss denied ever knowing Chambers. The Committee brought the two men together in New York. The transcript of that scene is as fascinating as anything in print. Hiss, after some questions about Chambers' new artificial teeth, calmly placed him as "Crosley", a cadging free-lance writer with whom he had had dealings a decade before. Chambers, on the other hand, insisted that the families were intimate, that they had met weekly for five years up to 1938, and that they were all secretly Communists together. The two men's wives supported their respective husbands. One side was lying-which?

The second big scene came last November. Chambers suddenly produced dozens of typed memoranda summarising confidential State Department documents of the Thirties and charged they had come from Hiss after being typed out by Mrs Hiss. More, he led agents to his Maryland farm where he had hidden microfilms of other secret documents in a hollowed-out pumpkin. Several were in Hiss's handwriting.

Up to this time the affair had seemed to many like an ugly hoax, but this new evidence caused doubts. Hiss was unshaken. He left the Carnegie Foundation (it was later revealed) under the pressure of John Foster Dulles, one of the directors. At the same time Chambers left Time. Chambers was destroying himself and his adversary.

The statute of limitations on espionage charges made it impossible to initiate prosecutions on that count, so the Government brought its suit against Hiss on a perjury indictment. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Trial of Alger Hiss
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.