Criminal Trials: Hiss & the Rosenbergs

Topics: Communism, United States, Alger Hiss Pages: 2 (558 words) Published: April 29, 2009
The Hiss and Rosenberg trials were very politically convenient for the federal government. The trials were politically convenient because the federal government finally provided proof that there was something to fear and that “communist infiltration” and “espionage” was real. During the time there was a "culture war" going on in America because of the current “Cold War”. Throughout the “culture war” fear of treason, terror, and espionage threats was one of the ways that the government supported “anti-communist” feelings. Anti-communism became evident throughout the nation with the Hiss and Rosenberg trials, the main causes of the hysteria. This hysteria in history can be compared to the hysteria happening today known as “anti-terrorism”.

On May 1949 Alger Hiss was convicted and tried in court for perjury. Alger Hiss was accused for passing government documents to Soviet agents in the late 1930’s. At this time the hysteria of anti-communism began to take place. It seemed that the federal government wanted to set an example of what will happen if you support communism and to prove at this point that “communist infiltration” was indeed evident. Another important factor about the Alger Hiss trials was that there was evidence of government misconduct during the trials. For example the “FBI had conducted illegal surveillance of Hiss before and during the trials, including phone taps and mail openings. Also that the prosecution had withheld from Hiss and his lawyers the records of this surveillance, none of which provided any evidence that Hiss was a spy or a Communist”(wikipedia). This type of action done by the FBI represents the manipulation by the federal government in informing the country that communism is everywhere and we most abolish it at any cost in which is part of the hysteria.

On June 1950 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted and tried in court for espionage. Julius was convicted because of his previous “membership in the Communist Party”. Ethel...
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