Alger Hiss Trial

By Michelle Zhang

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Alger Hiss. Wilsons Almanac. 12 Feb. 2007 <http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/book/jan21.html>.


In August of 1948, a man by the name of Whittaker Chambers (a former Communist) accused Alger Hiss, a high ranking officer in the State Department, of working with the Soviets during WWII. Chambers also said that Hiss showed him documents that he had stolen and leaked on to the Soviets. After these accusations were made, Hiss willingly went before the HUAC and denied the actions he was accused of. In front of a grand jury in 1949, Hiss was charged with two accounts of perjury, but he could not be indicted because of the statute of limitations. Two government officials testified for Hiss, associate justices in the Supreme Court, but the jury couldn't reach an agreement. This case and trial was the HUAC's most infamous moment and is probably the most memorable event in the committee's history.

Later that year, new evidence was found and Hiss found himself on trial again. The prosecution claimed that Hiss used a typewriter to copy 42 government documents, which he had supposedly leaked on to the Soviet Union. On January 21st, 1950, the grand jury found Hiss guilty of those two charges of perjury, and was sentenced to five years in jail. Though after almost 4 years, Hiss was let out on parole. He maintained that he was innocent the entire time and had not done any of the things he was charged of, and kept saying he was not guilty until his death on November 15th, 1996.