born Nov. 11, 1904, Baltimore, Md., U.S.
died Nov. 15, 1996, New York, N.Y.
U.S. government official.
He attended Harvard Law School and clerked for Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. He worked at the U.S. State Department in the 1930s, attended the Yalta Conference (1945) as an adviser to Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt , was briefly secretary-general of the fledgling UN, and served as head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1946–49). In 1948 Whittaker Chambers testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that Hiss had been a fellow member of a communist spy ring in the 1930s. When Chambers repeated the charge in public, unprotected by congressional immunity, Hiss sued him for slander. In a federal grand-jury investigation of the case, both Chambers and Hiss testified; Hiss was later indicted on two charges of perjury. His first trial (1949) ended with a hung jury; at his second trial (1950) he was found guilty. He was released from jail in 1954, still protesting his innocence. In 1996 the release of secret Soviet cables intercepted by U.S. intelligence during World War II provided strong evidence of Hiss's guilt. The Hiss case seemed to lend substance to charges by Sen. Joseph McCarthy of communist infiltration in the State Department; it also brought national attention to Richard Nixon , whose hostile questioning of Hiss during the HUAC hearings did much to establish his reputation as a fervent anticommunist.