Donald Hiss

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Donald Hiss
Donald hiss arrives to testify before grand jury.jpg
Born(1906-12-15)December 15, 1906
DiedMay 18, 1989(1989-05-18) (aged 82)
Education Johns Hopkins University
Harvard Law School
Occupationlawyer, government official
Employer Agricultural Adjustment Administration (19331935), U.S. Department of State (19361945), Covington & Burling (1945–1976)
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Catherine G. Jones (19291996)
RelativesBosley Hiss, brother
Alger Hiss, brother
Anna Hiss, sister

Donald Hiss (December 15, 1906 May 18, 1989), AKA "Donie" [1] [2] and "Donnie", [3] was the younger brother of Alger Hiss, who in 1948 was accused of spying for the Soviet Union, and who, in 1950, was convicted of perjury before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

Alger Hiss Alleged Soviet agent and American diplomat (1904–1996)

Alger Hiss was an American government official who was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1948 and convicted of perjury in connection with this charge in 1950. Before he was tried and convicted, he was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department official and as a U.N. official. In later life he worked as a lecturer and author.

House Un-American Activities Committee Investigative committee of the US House of Representatives during the Red Scare

The House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. The HUAC was created in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Fascist or Communist ties. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security". When the House abolished the committee in 1975, its functions were transferred to the House Judiciary Committee.


Early life

Donald Hiss was born on December 15, 1906, in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and the Harvard Law School. [4]

Johns Hopkins University Private research university in Baltimore, Maryland

The Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named for its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins. His $7 million bequest —of which half financed the establishment of Johns Hopkins Hospital—was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States up to that time. Daniel Coit Gilman, who was inaugurated as the institution's first president on February 22, 1876, led the university to revolutionize higher education in the U.S. by integrating teaching and research. Adopting the concept of a graduate school from Germany's ancient Heidelberg University, Johns Hopkins University is considered the first research university in the United States. Over the course of several decades, the university has led all U.S. universities in annual research and development expenditures. In fiscal year 2016, Johns Hopkins spent nearly $2.5 billion on research.

Harvard Law School law school in Cambridge

Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1817, it is the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. It is ranked first in the world by the QS World University Rankings and the ARWU Shanghai Ranking.


Early career: government

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr circa 1930-edit.jpg
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

In 1932, he was a law secretary to Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes of the United States Supreme Court. From 1933 to 1935, he was employed by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration of the United States Department of Labor. [4] In 1934, he was also attached to a special U.S. Senate committee investigating the munitions industry. In 1935, he was employed as a special attorney by the United States Department of Justice.[ citation needed ]

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. American judge

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932, and as Acting Chief Justice of the United States in January–February 1930. Noted for his long service, concise and pithy opinions, and deference to the decisions of elected legislatures, he is one of the most widely cited United States Supreme Court justices in history, particularly for his "clear and present danger" opinion for a unanimous Court in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States, and is one of the most influential American common law judges, honored during his lifetime in Great Britain as well as the United States. Holmes retired from the court at the age of 90, making him the oldest justice in the Supreme Court's history. He also served as an Associate Justice and as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and was Weld Professor of Law at his alma mater, Harvard Law School.

United States Department of Labor U.S. Department that regulates the workers rights and labor markets

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, reemployment services, and some economic statistics; many U.S. states also have such departments. The department is headed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

United States Department of Justice U.S. federal executive department in charge of law enforcement

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a federal executive department of the U.S. government, responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice in the United States, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries. The department was formed in 1870 during the Ulysses S. Grant administration.

On September 18, 1936, he was appointed an assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State and worked in the State Department throughout World War II. In 1945, he joined the law firm of Covington & Burling. [5]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Covington & Burling LLP is an international law firm with offices in Beijing, Brussels, Dubai, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, and Washington, DC. The firm advises multinational corporations on significant transactional, litigation, regulatory, and public policy matters. {{Citation needed}}

Hiss Case

Alger Hiss, brother of Donald Hiss, circa 1950 Alger Hiss (1950).jpg
Alger Hiss, brother of Donald Hiss, circa 1950

On August 3, 1948, Whittaker Chambers included the name of Donald Hiss along with his brother Alger and more than half a dozen other former Federal officials as members of the Ware Group and of the Communist Party when testifying under subpoena to HUAC. [6]

Whittaker Chambers Defected Communist spy

Jay Vivian Chambers, known as Whittaker Chambers, was an American editor and former Communist spy who eventually denounced his Communist spying and became respected by the American Conservative movement during the 1950s.

The Ware group was a covert organization of Communist Party USA operatives within the United States government in the 1930s, run first by Harold Ware (1889–1935) and then by Whittaker Chambers (1901–1961) after Ware's accidental death on August 13, 1935.

On August 7, 1948, Chambers stated to the committee, "I can give you the general impression. He was much less intelligent than Alger. Much less sensitive than his brother." [6] [7]

Hiss retained Nebraskan Hugh Cox as counsel. Cox was famous as Thurman Arnold's chief deputy," as an early partner at Root Clark & Bird [8] (later Root, Clark, Buckner & Ballantine; later Dewey Ballantine, later Dewey & LeBoeuf) and fellow attorney with Hiss at Covington & Burling, where he was called the "perfect advocate" [9] ) during the Hiss-Chambers Case." [10] [11] [12]

On August 13, 1948, like his brother and Harry Dexter White, Hiss denied the allegation, stating:

I flatly deny every statement made by Mr. Chambers with respect to me. I am not, and never have been, a member of the Communist Party or of any formal or informal organizations affiliated with, or fronting in any manner whatsoever for, the Communist Party. In fact, the only organizations and clubs to which I have belonged are the local Y.M.C.A., the Miles River Yacht Club of Maryland, the old Washington Racquet Club, the Harvard Law School Association, the American Society of International Law, and college fraternities and athletic clubs.
I have no recollection of ever having met any person by the name of D. Whittaker Chambers, nor do I recognize his photograph which I have seen in the public press. I am not and never have been in sympathy with the principles of the Communist Party ... I have never known that man by the name of Chambers, Carl, or any other name...
If I am lying, I should go to jail, and if Mr. Chambers is lying, he should go to jail." [6] [7]

Unlike his brother Alger, Donald was never indicted. [5] [13] [14]

Later career: private law

Dean Acheson. Dean G. Acheson, U.S. Secretary of State.jpg
Dean Acheson.

Donald Hiss spent the remainder of his career in private law practice with Covington & Burling. His expertise lay in international trade and tariff law. [5] He taught international law at Catholic University and at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. [5]

He retired in 1976. [5] [13] [15] Dean Acheson, who famously defended the reputation of Alger Hiss, was also a member of Covington & Burling.


Hiss died of lung cancer on May 18, 1989, in St. Michaels, Maryland. [4] [5] [13]

See also

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  1. Marbury Jr., William L. (1981). "The Hiss-Chambers Libel Suit". Maryland Historical Magazine. 70 ("Donie") (1): 74 (Georgetown), 76 (UN job). Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  2. Marbury Jr., William L. (1988). In the Catbird Seat. Maryland Historic Society. p. 261. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  3. Weinstein, Allen (1977). Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case. Random House. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  4. 1 2 3 Fowler, Glenn (May 20, 1989). "Donald Hiss, 82, Ex-U.S. Official And Lawyer in Washington Firm". The New York Times . Retrieved 2008-06-28. Donald Hiss, a retired Washington lawyer and Government official, died of lung cancer Thursday at his home in St. Michaels, Md.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Donald Hiss Dies at 82; Trade, Tariff Law Specialist". Washington Post. May 19, 1989. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. New York: Random House. pp. 418, 469, 543, 552, 568–571 (quote 570), 576 (testimony 576–577), 624, 633fn, 646, 689, 765. LCCN   52005149.
  7. 1 2 "Hearings regarding Communist espionage in the United States Government. Hearings". Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  8. Meyer, Martin (1968). Emory Bruckner. Harper & Row. p. 141. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  9. "A Brief Historical Note". Covington Burling. 2006. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  10. Wing, Ky P. (2006). Competition Rules for the 21st Century: Principles from America's Experience. Kluwer Law International. pp. xxi. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  11. Marbury, William L. (1981). "The Hiss-Chambers Libel Suit". Maryland Law Review. University of Maryland - Francis King Carey School of Law: 83. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  12. Gesell, Gerhard A. (August 1984). My 'Jealous Mistress': 1932–1984 (PDF). (unpublished memoir). p. 32. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  13. 1 2 3 "Donald Hiss, Brother of Alger, Was Accused of Spying". Associated Press. 20 May 1989.
  14. "Donald Hiss, 82, Brother of Alger, Was Accused..." Orlando Sentinel. May 22, 1989.
  15. "Donald Hiss, 82; accused as a spy with brother Alger". Chicago Sun-Times. May 21, 1989. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013.

Further reading