The American Scholar

The Mystery of Ales

continued, page 3 of 4


Henry Wilder Foote, born in 1905, came from a long line of New England theologians farmers, sea captains, and newspaper publishers. Nearly all American Footes trace their lineage back to one of three English ancestors: Nathaniel Foote of Colchester, who emigrated to Watertown, Massachusetts, in about 1630; Pasco Foote, who landed in Salem, Massachusetts, shortly after 1630; and Richard Foote, who left Cornwall at about the same time and settled in Virginia.

Wilder Foote, a descendant of Pasco Foote, was the product of a then nearly 300-year-old, and still undimmed, commitment among a number of old New England families to egalitarianism and social justice. With its roots in both Puritan opposition to imposed religion and strong support for the American Revolution, this tradition was within the Foote family strengthened by a long record of observant Unitarianism, and often manifested itself as support for idealistic and sometimes anti-establishment causes.88

Foote’s family still speaks with pride of Caleb Foote, a young Revolutionary War naval officer who escaped from a British prison ship off the coast of South Carolina only to die soon after of consumption. His grandson and namesake, Caleb Foote (1803–1894), was the son of a sea captain and rose to become owner and editor of the Salem Gazette and Mercury. His own grandson, Henry Wilder Foote II (1875–1964), a Unitarian minister, historian, and compiler of hymn books who was also father of Wilder Foote, the diplomat, wrote in his Harvard College “Fiftieth Anniversary Report,” in 1947: “In religion, politics, and the field of social reform, I am still an ‘unrepentant liberal,’ profoundly concerned that we may leave to our children and grandchildren a better world than the torn and distracted one we have known.89

Wilder Foote went to Harvard, like his father and many Footes before and after him, and graduated in 1927. That fall he went abroad to travel and study informally in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. Late in 1928 Foote returned to America and on October 22 married Marcia Noyes Stevens, the daughter of a founding editor of The Christian Science Monitor. That autumn he got a job as a staff writer for the Associated Press in Boston. In 1931, he was still with AP, serving as a night editor. But sometime that year he quit and moved to Vermont, where he bought three weekly regional newspapers, which he edited and published for nearly 10 years.

When Foote took control of his main weekly, the Middlebury Register, it was a self-described Republican newspaper. Foote soon changed its affiliation to Independent. Through the late 1930s, as the specter of fascism threatened Europe, Foote became active in organizations like the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), a lobbying group chaired by William Allen White, the well-known Republican newspaper editor from Kansas.90 A Vermont chapter of the CDAAA formed in the summer of 1940. Foote’s membership in the group marked him as an ardent interventionist. According to his son, also named Wilder Foote, his father was a staunch admirer of Franklin Roosevelt. “My father was a lifelong Democrat of a liberal bent,” says the junior Foote. “He was a strong supporter of FDR and the New Deal. His international views were definitely of a worldly nature, as he had been a [retrospective] supporter of Wilson’s attempts to make the League of Nations a viable entity. He believed strongly that international recognition and cooperation was essential to world order instead of world chaos.”91

In early 1941 Foote weighed in on the controversial debate over Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease Bill. He vigorously defended the bill and attacked its critics for aligning themselves with American “money powers” that included the “appease Hitler element of big business.” Such a stance — after the Stalin-Hitler pact of 1939 and before the June 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union — indicates that Foote was not following the Communist Party line of the moment.

Foote’s language shows him to be a man of the democratic left. He wrote that “plain people” wanted peace, but they also wanted to continue the “unfinished work of democracy.” This could only happen by “facing unpleasant facts and acting to defend their rights and win their future from their enemies with promptness and resolution and the irresistible strength given to a people both united and free.”92

Recall that the Air Force historian Eduard Mark dismissed Foote as an unlikely candidate for Ales because, throughout the 1930s, “he rusticated in the farther reaches of New England.”93 However, Foote was a cosmopolitan, an intellectual, and an internationalist. In fact, a well-connected journalist like Foote might have been of interest to the Soviets — even in Vermont. Soviet intelligence placed a premium on the recruitment of journalists whose work and broad contacts made them natural conduits of both information and influence and could with time serve as an introduction into government service.94

In November 1941, just before Pearl Harbor, Foote moved to Washington, D.C., to serve as an information officer with the Office of Emergency Management. By then, Foote was well known in Vermont. When U.S. Senator Warren R. Austin of Vermont read in the newspapers of Foote’s departure, he wrote him a note welcoming him to Washington and telling him that “the latch string is out here” any time he cared to visit his Senate office.95 The president of Middlebury College wrote to Foote that everyone regarded “your impending departure as little short of a great set-back, almost a calamity for Middlebury.”96 Soon the college awarded him an honorary degree.

In 1942 Foote transferred to the Office of War Information (OWI), where he became its news bureau liaison officer. Among his other responsibilities, Foote was supposed to be in communication with William “Wild Bill” Donovan’s Office of the Coordinator of Information — the predecessor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). A short time later, he was promoted to chief of the Lend-Lease and Combined Boards Section of the OWI. This job gave him access to information throughout the War and State Departments on lend-lease issues, a topic of prime interest to the Soviets, who were in desperate need of military supplies throughout much of the war.

By the end of 1943, Foote was promoted again, this time to head the foreign information programs (Lend-Lease). Though he maintained an office at OWI, he spent most of his time working for Edward Stettinius, who was running the Lend-Lease program. Stettinius took a liking to the affable Foote and valued his ability to draft speeches and memos. On February 14, 1944, Foote quit his position at the OWI to become a special assistant to Stettinius, who was now the Foreign Economic Administrator.

In the autumn of 1944, Secretary of State Cordell Hull sent Foote to Britain, France, Italy, and North Africa to gather “first-hand information on the part played by Lend-Lease and reverse Lend-Lease in allied war operations.”97 Secretary of War Henry Stimson armed him with a letter of introduction specifying that he was “authorized to obtain all types of classified as well as unrestricted information material in this field.”98 Throughout these assignments, Foote served as a high-level government reporter. As such, he had access to plenty of military secrets and sensitive diplomatic information.

When Stettinius was elevated to secretary of state, Foote once again followed his patron. On December 2, 1944, The New York Times reported that “Wilder Foote . . . will come into the [State] department with high rank.” On January 24, 1945, he was formally promoted to be an “Assistant to the Secretary of State.”

In many respects, Foote fits the profile of Ales better than Hiss does. Like Hiss, he followed the Ales itinerary from Yalta to Moscow to Mexico City and finally to the San Francisco conference.99 But unlike Hiss, he was still in Mexico City when the March 5 cable says that Ales was there. He had access to high-level information from the time he joined the government in 1941. The Soviets would have been particularly interested in an official whose expertise on Lend-Lease issues was of vital interest to their war effort — not to mention one who became an assistant to the Secretary of State in charge of drafting the secretary’s, and sometimes the president’s, speeches.100

Foote was present at many of the Yalta meetings, often sitting immediately behind President Roosevelt and Secretary Stettinius, who relied upon him to take handwritten notes in the black notebook. Foote was also the principal writer of the joint communiqué issued at the conclusion of the conference.101

In July 1945 Foote left the State Department to follow Stettinius to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. When Stettinius resigned in June 1946 from the UN job, Foote became an assistant to his successor, Warren Austin.102 In August 1947, Foote left to become director of the UN Secretariat’s Press and Publications Bureau. He was one of the top 15 Americans serving in the UN’s Secretariat. Throughout the 1950s, Foote continued to work as a top aide to both the Secretary Generals Trygve Lie and Dag Hammarskjöld, working out of the UN Secretariat offices on the 38th floor. He traveled widely with Secretary General Lie and became the United Nation’s public spokesman and ardent advocate. He wrote a friend that he regarded the UN as his “cause.”103

Foote retired from the United Nations in 1960 at the relatively young age of 55. He told friends that he was moving to Maine where he wished to write and fish. At his retirement party a French diplomat toasted him as “a very human person and very much liked by everyone.”104 Hammarskjöld wrote him a parting note that read, “You must regard yourself always as a member of the Secretariat family.”105 After Hammarskjöld’s death in an airplane crash in Rhodesia, Foote edited a collection of Hammarskjöld’s papers. By then Foote was friends with such prominent journalists as Walter Lippmann, C. L. Sulzberger, and Henry Brandon. He died in relative obscurity in 1975.

Still, could Wilder Foote be Ales? We have no unambiguous answer to that question, so we decline to do what others have done when they rushed to identify Hiss as Ales. Nevertheless, we have turned up a considerable amount of additional information that suggests Foote fits the Ales profile.


Foote, and not Hiss, fits the profile in one other critical way. In September 1945 — about five years before the NSA learned of the spy code-named Ales — Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk in the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, defected to Canadian authorities. In his initial debriefings by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Gouzenko claimed to know that “an assistant to an Assistant Secretary of State under Mr. Stettinius” was a Soviet spy. When he was interviewed by the FBI, the bureau’s agents reported this somewhat differently: “Gouzenko stated he did not know the man’s name but that he had been told that an Assistant to Stettinius was a Soviet spy.”106

If we accept Gouzenko’s information as accurate, the number of possible candidates is greatly reduced, since Stettinius had only a handful of direct assistants, whereas there were many assistants working for the six assistant secretaries in 1945.107 When Hiss joined the State Department in 1936, his job title was indeed “Assistant to the Assistant Secretary Francis B. Sayre.” But this job title ended in the summer of 1939, when Hiss switched to the Far Eastern Division, and in 1944–45 his title in the State Department was deputy director — and beginning in March 1945 he was listed as director of the Office of Special Political Affairs (SPA). Although he certainly interacted with the secretary, he would never be described as an assistant to Stettinius. Furthermore, nowhere in the Russian archives is Hiss described as an assistant; he is always referred to by his title of deputy director and then director of SPA and/or secretary general of the San Francisco conference.108 By contrast, Foote always appears in the U.S. archival records with the title “Assistant.” The Soviets also always described Foote in their Russian-language Yalta records and public releases as “Assistant to the Secretary of State.”109 Stettinius himself demonstrates the point in his 1949 book, which was already available to the FBI by the time of their early 1950 investigation of Ales’s identity. Stettinius listed “the State Department experts” who traveled with him to the Yalta conference as follows: “H. Freeman Matthews, Director of the Office of European Affairs, Alger Hiss, Deputy Director of the Office of Special Political Affairs, and Wilder Foote, Assistant to the Secretary of State.”110

A few documents of American origin do pop up in the Russian archives, suggesting that the Russians had a source or leak of some kind coming right out of the immediate office of Secretary of State Stettinius.

Russian files contain some evidence that there was substance to Gouzenko’s allegation that this “assistant” was passing information to the Soviets. On March 19, 1945, a memo from Stettinius titled “Preliminary Proposals on the Organization of the Conference in San Francisco” was “handed over” to Ambassador Gromyko. It looks as if whoever passed along the double-spaced memo typed on the bottom of its last page a single-spaced paragraph unrelated to the subject of the memo. This paragraph reads: “On the secret agreement between USA and Holland for providing the USA naval and aviation bases in the Dutch West Indies, Holland has received from the USA a loan of 175 million dollars, consisting of 100 million for Holland and 75 million for Dutch Indies.”111

The paragraph is consistent with Gouzenko’s allegation and also fits the description of Ales in Venona 1822 as someone who provided mostly military information. Moreover, on June 23, 1945, at the close of the San Francisco conference, Ambassador Gromyko received “Materials sent from the Office of Stettinius,” including a cover memo on the secretary of state’s letterhead dated June 23, 1945, and an “attached paper” titled “Notes for the Honorable Edward R. Stettinius Jr. at the meeting of the four presidents with the International Secretariat, Saturday, June 23, 12 Noon.” Together with these two documents, Gromyko obtained a one-page light copy of an untitled document typed on the same paper as the previous two but in obviously different typeface. In its upper-right corner, there is penciled in Russian the words: Draft of Stettinius’s statement at the meeting of the Governing Committee 23 – VI – 45. The draft addressed a topic of top concern to the Soviets: whether the Provisional Polish Government of National Unity would sign the UN Charter.112

Moreover, evidence from the Moscow archives demonstrates that the Soviets received leaked confidential reports from within the Office of War Information on the subject of lend-lease. A first secretary in the Soviet Embassy in Washington reported on March 9, 1943: “Recently I received a confidential report on [the data on U.S. public opinion] from the Intelligence Department of the Office of War Information. . . . This information was reported to me through an intermediary by an employee of the said Department.”113 And again, on July 14, 1943, Soviet Ambassador Gromyko cabled Moscow: “I can inform you about the opinion currently unofficially expressed in Washington government circles and, in particular, by some officials of [the] Lend-Lease Administration. . . . 1) The cost of US supplies to different countries . . . will never be reimbursed, and the United States won’t request this reimbursement, including from the Soviet Union. . . . 2) . . . there will be a differentiated approach to different countries, depending on the extent of their participation in the fight against the AXIS. . . . The Soviet Union would of course be the first among nations that should not reimburse the cost of the supplies received from the USA.”114 This information was of intense interest to Moscow — and it came from someone inside the Lend-Lease Administration. Foote had access to these reports and so might have been the source — whether or not he was in fact Ales.

Still more, the leads in Russian files continue into the early Cold War period. We now know from archival files in Moscow that the Soviets had a very good source (or sources) at the UN Secretariat and probably in Trygve Lie’s immediate circle.115 The so-called Molotov private-files collection, only recently declassified in Moscow, has produced a wealth of 1951 and 1952 reports flowing to Vyacheslav M. Molotov, Stalin’s longtime foreign minister, from the heads of all the Soviet intelligence services.116 In one of these reports, dated September 19, 1951, the head of the Soviet Committee of Information tells Molotov that six days earlier in New York there was a conference of the leading officers of the UN Secretariat, presided over by Lie, devoted to drafting new guidelines on the secretariat employees.117 This and similar reports could only have come from a source in Lie’s inner circle.118

The Soviet source in the Lie office is not named in any of the released Molotov personal-file documents, but we do know from an FBI report that Lie himself, describing the workings of his office, confirmed the existence of an inner circle. Lie met twice a week with “about 18 officials of the United Nations,” and more frequently than that with a smaller group he called his internal cabinet. Lie also told the FBI that Wilder Foote was one of these cabinet members, calling Foote “a very close advisor.”119

Even if on closer scrutiny one of these avenues led to Wilder Foote, would this take us any closer to matching Foote with Ales’s profile in Venona 1822 and the March 5 cable? Recall once again that Ales was someone who “since 1935 has been continuously working with the NEIGHBORS” and who, according to Ruble’s report in the March 5 cable, was “fully aware that he is a Communist, [and] is underground.” Recall, too, that “for some years past he has been the leader of a small group of the NEIGHBORS’ probationers, for the most part consisting of his relations [relatives].” To see if Foote might fit these parts of Ales’s profile, we went through dozens of Communist Party USA files from the late 1920s to the 1930s, as well as through U.S. government files to see if Foote appeared in any of the investigations of the early Cold War era.

As far as relatives are concerned, we can only say that we have no evidence of Foote “working” with any of his relatives. The family numbered in the thousands, some of whom were government officials and officers in the military.120 The family also had many in-laws, one of whom once visited Russia with Hal Ware, a communist agrarian expert who according to Whittaker Chambers allegedly organized a secret Communist Party cell in Washington, D.C., in 1933–1934. In 1936, Constantine Oumansky, then an official at the Soviet Embassy in the U.S. (and later an ambassador) described this in-law (then at the Resettlement Administration) as “our long-term friend, . . . Roosevelt’s ardent admirer, . . . who, however, possesses lots of useful contacts and has several times rendered me this type of services.” Oumansky specifically mentioned that this individual used to tell him “about his conversations with Hull [. . . ] and Moore” of the Department of State.121

Although — as with Hiss — we could not find any record that Foote had been a member of the Communist Party, we did learn that the Foote family’s long commitment to nonconformity, idealism, and social justice had led one Foote family blood relative who was a contemporary of Wilder Foote’s to an active interest in communism.

His second cousin, Richard Linn Edsall (1905–1967) became a Communist Party member in the early 1930s, during the Depression and the rise of European fascism. The son of David Linn Edsall, a famous physician and biomedical researcher who was dean of both the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health,122 Richard Edsall inherited his father’s strong democratic ideas. David Edsall criticized the lack of “intellectual freedom in the medical course,” as well as “in almost any other form of professional education in this country,” and advocated what he called “a spirit of independent interest.” In about 1935, Richard Edsall took a leave from his Boston advertising agency to organize office workers for the Congress of Industrial Organizations. He evidently also belonged to a number of Communist Party mass organizations.123

During World War II Richard Edsall took into his Cambridge, Massachusetts, house a European Communist family — Ernst and Corolla Bloch, who stayed with the Edsalls for several years. (Ernst Bloch was a prominent Marxist philosopher whose writings were a key influence on the development of the liberation theology movement of the 1960s.)124 After the war, Richard Edsall was one of many American participants in a number of Soviet-supported causes, such as the Independent Citizens Committee of Arts, Science and Professions (1946) and the Progressive Citizens of America (1947). In 1948 he was active in Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party.125

In 1952, Herbert Philbrick, an FBI informer later famous as the author of I Led Three Lives, a book that became both a movie and a television series, described Richard Edsall, in Congressional testimony that didn’t actually mention Edsall’s name, as an important member of a “pro-4” group in Boston. (“Pro” referred to cell whose members were “professionals.”) By that time, however, Edsall was beyond the grasp of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The year before, on June 4, 1951 — the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the guilty verdict in the trial of 11 Communist Party leaders convicted of conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government — Richard Edsall left the United States and permanently resettled in Canada.126

We found no mention of Wilder Foote in Communist Party USA files in Moscow, but did turn up information that even the state of Vermont, one of only two states so rock-ribbed in their conservatism that they voted against Roosevelt in 1936, was not devoid of Communists in the 1930s. Vermont had a local Communist Party section that by mid-1935 numbered more than 70 members, including three intellectuals.127

In American files we found that repeated investigations of Foote began in June 1941 — a full six months prior to his government employment128 — and that he had a thick FBI file. When we first saw this file, it was heavily redacted, but some months later, we discovered unredacted copies of many of the FBI reports in Foote’s Civil Service Commission (CSC) file at the National Archives.129 This is what we have learned from those files:

Accusations in Foote’s FBI file, collated in the early 1950s, suggest that some employees of his newspapers were Communists or associated with a “radical group at Middlebury” during the time they worked for him.130 The FBI reported that a former employee of Foote’s had been expelled from Middlebury College “for Communist Party tendencies.”131 We now know that this employee was Vonda Wolcott, the wife of Harold Bergman; in fact, it was he who had been expelled from Middlebury for his alleged Communist activities. Foote remained friends with Bergman and Wolcott long after he left for Washington. Indeed, after the war they socialized in Washington when Bergman worked for the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.

Both the FBI and CSC investigations revolved around Wilder Foote’s various associations. This can be shaky ground, of course, but it can suggest how a particular person might have been introduced to certain ideas or activities. The history of Soviet espionage groups in the 1930s and ’40s (most notably the Cambridge Five) suggest the importance of college associations in introducing left-wing ideas that sometimes led to the world of Soviet espionage.

At Harvard, Foote made several lifelong friendships that are interesting in this context. During his time there, he was assistant managing editor of The Harvard Crimson. The managing editor of the paper was Frederick Vanderbilt Field, and a member of its editorial staff was Joseph Fels Barnes. The three young men became friends, and their friendships lasted through the 1930s and ’40s, when both Barnes and Field held strongly left-wing political views. Upon graduation, all three traveled to Europe. Field went to London for postgraduate study at the London School of Economics and returned to the United States in 1928. In London, Field’s life was “turned to the left.”132 Barnes also went to London to complete his education, then on to continental Europe — and later to the Soviet Union. Like many other young educated Americans of his generation in the late 1920s, Foote, as mentioned earlier, went to Paris, Berlin, and Vienna in the autumn of 1927. In those places at that time, many such expatriates, however apolitical their reasons for being there, were exposed to leftist ideas. Beginning in 1925 all three cities had important outposts of the Comintern Department of International Communication (known as OMS), which served as a kind of worldwide collective recruiter of supporters of Communist ideas; Russian intelligence operatives were particularly active in those cities.

In 1953 Foote was closely questioned about his European travels before a hearing of the International Organizations Employees Loyalty Board of the U.S. Civil Service Commission. (As we shall see, this loyalty board had opened a full-scale investigation of Foote.) Foote testified that he had spent the Christmas of 1927 with Barnes and his mother in London. He saw Barnes again in the spring of 1928 in Vienna, where Foote spent five weeks. Foote told the Loyalty Board that in Vienna their “associations were merely with the young Social Democrats of Austria, who were firm enemies of Communists as well as of the Fascists.”133 Foote explained that after this European sojourn, “their ways parted,” but he acknowledged that Barnes stopped by “once or twice” to see him in Vermont: “Barnes was driving through, stopping by for a half hour’s talk, for a cup of coffee, or something of that sort. I would say twice, that I can remember.”134 He also saw Barnes in London in late 1945 or early 1946, and again at the United Nations in the late 1940s.135

Similarly, Foote maintained his friendship with Field after leaving Harvard. In the late winter of 1928, while studying German, Foote met Field in Berlin. Later, he told the Loyalty Board hearing that he had seen Field “sometime during the 1930’s.” However, he downplayed the friendship, saying he just had an occasional “drink with him at the Harvard Club,” while “on a quick visit to New York from Vermont.” Despite these contacts, Foote denied being aware of Field’s political views: “I was not aware of any Communist sympathies or activities on the part of Field until some time after the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939.” Foote also downplayed his encounter with Field at the 1945 San Francisco conference: “I went up and spoke to him, as I would do . . . with hundreds of correspondents . . . regardless of political differences.”136

Foote’s friendships with Barnes and Field were bound to make him suspect in the eyes of the FBI. Field himself claimed in his memoirs that he was a Party member — although Russian files describe him not as a member but as being only “very close.”137 Barnes is similarly described in a mid-1934 report to the head of the foreign intelligence arm of the Soviet security service, the OGPU, following Barnes’s three-month stay in the Soviet Union. The FBI believed that both men were in some contact with Soviet intelligence during the 1930s and ’40s. According to Russian files, Field was “generously donating money to several organizations close to” the Soviets.138Documents show that he was in contact with various Soviet representatives in the United States beginning in early 1935.139 Field had recorded contacts with Constantine Oumansky, a Soviet Embassy official and then ambassador, who from 1938 to 1940 doubled as an informal representative of both the NKGB and the GRU intelligence services; some of these interactions amounted to “active measures” on behalf of the Soviet Union.140 Still, what we know does not prove that Field was a full-blown Soviet agent.141

Barnes spent eight months in 1928 in the Soviet Union studying Russian. In early 1931, he returned to the Soviet Union, writing for The New York Herald Tribune; he said his intentions for going there were to master his Russian and “to see what was going on.”142 In late 1933 Barnes became secretary of the American branch of the Institute of Pacific Relations, and in this capacity he visited the Soviet Union in the spring of 1934 along with the institute’s general secretary, Edward Carter.143 The Soviets regarded both men as “highly left-wing” and reported the opportunity to Arthur Artuzov — then head of OGPU’s foreign intelligence and soon deputy head of the intelligence directorate of the Red Army General Staff — with a note that “this organization may be useful to us, and in particular may be useful in your work.144 In the late 1930s, Barnes returned to Moscow as the Herald Tribune bureau chief.145

From our reading of Foote’s FBI and CSC files, it looks likely that Barnes played some role in Foote’s getting into government service. In the fall of 1941, Foote wrote to Barnes “asking about the possibility of a job in the Overseas Office for the Coordinator of Information.” Foote knew that Barnes had been appointed to the New York office of this nascent, prewar intelligence organization headed by William Donovan. The New York Times had run a short news story on July 9, 1941, reporting Donovan’s appointment — and it is telling that the first federal government job Foote applied for was with a precursor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).1146 “[Barnes] sent me an interim reply,” Foote said, “indicating there might be something later. In the meantime, Robert Horton, then Director of Information for the Office of Emergency Management, and a Vermonter himself, called me to Washington, D.C., and offered me a job on his staff which I accepted.”147 Interestingly, Foote listed Barnes as one of his references.148 All of this explains why the FBI later investigated Foote’s relationship with Barnes and Field.149

However, a direct participant in Foote’s being hired by the government, Henry Paynter, told the FBI a different story: “I recruited Wilder Foote into government service on the recommendation of my dear friend John Milton Potter who became very attached to Foote at Harvard.”150

In 1942, NKGB foreign intelligence targeted Barnes for recruitment.151 But this must not have happened, since in October 1944, Barnes was named in a Venona cable as a good source of information for NKGB operative Vladimir Pravdin, “without signing him up.”152 By that time, Barnes had been forced to resign his position as chief of the International Press and Radio Bureau of OWI’s overseas branch, headquartered in New York.153 It is noteworthy that Barnes’s Soviet contact, Pravdin, was present at the San Francisco conference in a journalistic capacity.

That Foote had such a history of friendship with Harvard classmates like Barnes and Field should not, of course, be interpreted as evidence of guilt. Critics may charge that we are somehow convicting Foote with the same “guilt-by-association” tactics used throughout the McCarthy era. We can only respond that having identified an individual who matches the Ales itinerary, we are compelled by logic to assemble as full a biographical portrait as possible of him. What are the threads of this man’s life story? What were his politics? And yes, with whom did he associate? Do his associations convict him? No. But they help to answer the question of how plausible a candidate he may be for Ales. If Foote is Ales, readers will naturally ask if he knew men or women who viewed the Soviet Communist “experiment” with sympathy. Both Barnes and Field fit this description for at least part of their careers. Foote’s friendship with these men, dating back to student days and carried through for more than two decades, suggests that he was not merely “rusticating” up in Vermont, but that he had contacts who conceivably might have served to introduce him to the Soviets and who at a minimum would help bring him into government service in Washington.



88. See, for example, Mary Wilder Tileston, editor, Caleb and Mary Wilder Foote, Reminiscences and Letters (Boston, 1918); Tileston, Mary Wilder (Foote), Amelia Peabody Tileston and her canteens for the Serbs (Boston, The Atlantic Monthly Press, [c1920]. Amelia Tileston, the daughter of John Boies Tileston and Mary Wilder Foote Tileston, was a tireless worker for the relief of the poor and unfortunate of Serbia during and following World War I, until ill health ended her life in 1920. In more recent times, another member of the Foote clan, Dr. Wilder Tileston (a physician and a grandson of Caleb Foote and Mary Wilder Foote) was an active proponent of contraception and figured in a Supreme Court case upon which the landmark 1965 Griswold decision, in part, depended. (Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965).

89. “Notable American Unitarians: Henry Wilder Foote, Minister, Scholar, Hymnologist.” See also

90. Waldo H. Heinrichs Jr., “Waldo H. Heinrichs, George D. Aiken and the Lend Lease Debate of 1941,” Vermont History, 69, Summer/Fall 2001, p. 274.

91. Wilder Foote II e-mail to Kai Bird, 11/16/2005.

92. Waldo H. Heinrichs Jr., Op. Cit., pp. 277–278.

93. Eduard Mark, Op. Cit.

94. One widely known example is Kim Philby. Recruited in London in 1934, he at the time was unemployed, but in the eyes of his Soviet recruiters he had the assets of an “impeccable bourgeois family” background (as Philby himself later expressed it) and a degree from Trinity College, Cambridge. In the summer of 1935, Philby was hired by the Times of London, a job that in 1940 led to recruitment by the Secret Intelligence Service.

95. Sen. Warren R. Austin ltr. to Wilder Foote, 12/1/41. Wilder Foote private papers.

96. Paul D. Moody ltr. to Foote, 11/13/41. Wilder Foote private papers.

97. Cordell Hull ltr. to Wilder Foote, Sept. 8, 1944. —RG 59, Decimal File 1940–44, 103.916902/9–844 Box 115, NA, College Park, MD.

98. Henry Stimson ltr. to Wilder Foote, undated, circa September 1944. Folder: Correspondence with Wilder Foote, Oscar Cox Papers, Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library; Box 2009; Wilder Foote’s “Assignment of Special Mission to London” indicated in Name Card Index, State Department Decimal Files 1945–49, Box 2009; however, the document (500.CC (PC)/8-2545) is missing.

99. Wilder Foote accompanied Stettinius throughout his early 1945 trip abroad: They left the U.S. on January 25, 1945, attended the Yalta conference from Feb. 3–11, flew to Moscow on Feb. 12, flew to Cairo on Feb 14, and then spent February 20–March 8, 1945, in Mexico. Stettinius and his party—minus Hiss and Matthews—were in Havana, Cuba on March 9, 1945 and arrived back in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 1945. Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., ITINERARY, December 1, 1944– June 27, 1945. The Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State (Web site).

100. April 8–14, 1945: “Wednesday afternoon Mr. Foote asked if he could “send the draft of the President’s message for Saturday night to the White House….” “Thursday night (April 19) I asked Mr. Foote, my Assistant for Drafting, to take copies of the President’s speech and my own two speeches to the White House for approval. . . . Dr. Bowman . . . thought the draft for the President was first-rate and President Truman would be pleased with it.” RG 59, Record of Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, Entry 667, Box 01, NA, College Park, MD.

101. Edward Stettinius, Roosevelt and the Russians: The Yalta Conference, Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1949, pp. 103 & 279.

102. Oral History interview of Joseph E. Johnson, in 1944–47 Acting Chief and Chief, Division of International Security Affairs of the Department of State. Truman Memorial Library.

103. Wilder Foote ltr. to Andrew W. Cordier, 12/16/60, Wilder Foote private papers.

104. “Translation of excerpt from French intervention in A.M. meeting in Fifth Committee,” 11/3/60, Foote private papers.

105. Dag Hammarskjöld to Wilder Foote, 12/15/60, Foote private papers.

106. “Guzenko was questioned carefully regarding the possible identity of the individual in the Department of State under Stettinius who is a Soviet spy. Guzenko stated he did not know the man’s name but that he had been told that an Assistant to Stettinius was a Soviet spy. This information came to him in the following manner: After the arrival of Kulakov in Ottawa in the Summer of 1945, . . . Kulakov informed Guzenko . . . that he had learned in Moscow that an assistant to Stettinius, then the United States Secretary of State, was a Soviet spy. Guzenko pointed out that this information would necessarily come to Kulakov’s attention prior to May 17, 1945, because Kulakov left Moscow for the United States and Canada on that date. He stated that he did not ask for the name of this individual because Kulakov would have suspected his motives, since it involved an individual who was not being run by Colonel Zabotin.” Amy Knight, How the Cold War Began: The Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 2005, p.61

107. Amy Knight, How the Cold War Began, p. 3.

108. Krymskaia konferentsia rukovoditelei treh soyuznyh derzhav— SSSR, SShA i Velikobritanii. 4–11 fevralya 1945 g. Politizdat, 1979. [The Crimean Conference of the Heads of Three Allied Powers—USSR, USA and Great Britain. 4–11 February 1945.]; Konferentsia Ob’edinennyh Natsii v San Frantsisko (25.04–26.06 1945 g.) Sbornik dokumentov. Politizdat, 1980. [The Conference of the United Nations at San Francisco (25 April–26 June, 1945.) Compilation of Documents. Politizdat, 1980.]; AVP RF, fund 0129, descry. 30b, Por. 335, file 2, vol.2, pp. 65, 66 and in other 1944–45 files.

109. AVP RF, fund 057, descr. 28v, Por. 458-a, file 1, p. 63; Ibid., fund 06, descr. 7, Por. 44, file 688, p.8; Pravda, 15 February 1945.

110. E. R. Stettinius. Op. Cit., p.30.

111. Stettinius’s memo ends with the sentence, “Stettinius stated that it may be advisable to create here, in Washington, an unofficial governing committee of the representatives of the Great Powers with the purpose of drafting the questions relating to the conference’s procedures and organization prior to the conference’s opening.” AVP RF, fund 0129, descr. 29, Por. 172, file 45, pp. 96–98.

112. AVP RF, fund 0192, descr.12, Por. 88, file 32, pp. 114–117.

113. V. Bazykin, VOKS representative and First Secretary, SU Embassy, Washington D.C., to V.S. Kemenov, VOKS chairman, Moscow, 9 March 1943, No 26/s. GARF, fund 5283 [VOKS collection, secret file keeping (“spetsial’naja chast”)], description 2a, file 12, pp. 143–149.

114. Andrey Gromyko, Soviet Minister Plenipotentiary in U.S. to Dmitry Chuvakhin, Deputy Head, U.S. Department, NKID, 14 July 1943, p. 34–35. AVP RF, fund 0129, descr. 27, folder 149, file 9, pp. 32–35.

115. RGASPI, fund 82, descr. 2, file 1041 [This and the following cited files are titled: “Concise reports (Russian “raportichki” is diminutive of “reports,” that is little reports) on the issues incoming to the MID USSR in the name of V. M. Molotov with his notes.” This file is vol. 2 (last), July–December 1951, pp.133–283; p. 193, Zorin/KI, 19/IX/51.]

116. "Concise reports (Russian “raportichki,” that is “little reports”) on the issues incoming to the MID USSR in the name of V.M. Molotov with his notes” in: RGASPI, fund 82, descr. 2, files 1041, 1042, 1043.

117. The report went on, “At the UN Secretariat they believe that the new draft has become a result of Austin’s letter to Trygve Lie which emphasized the need to purge the UN apparatus from left elements. The UN Secretariat has already prepared about 1,000 cases of UN employees with doubts in their loyalty to the USA. On Trygve Lie’s assignment, the UN Secretariat has also drafted the General Assembly’s decision which would allow the General Assembly to admit new members without recommendations of the Security Council.” RGASPI, fund 82, descr. 2, file 1041, p. 193.

118. The reports continue into 1952, including July 23 and 24, September 14 and 20, 1952. RGASPI, fund 82, descr. 2, file 1043, pp. 261, 262, 333.

119. FBI Wilder Foote file, NY 3/25/06 report, Results of Investigation, pp. 12- 14.

120. Footes who were serving in the military during the 1930s and 1940s include: a Robert G. Foote in 1944 was apparently posted to Moscow: “Requests to advise that he [Foote] has been assigned to duty in the office of the Senior Naval Member, Military Mission in the Soviet Union.” [Confidential Name File, Oct. 14, 1944, 102.502/10-1944 and “authorization is granted…” Dec. 30, 1944, 102.5/12-2144, RG 59, State Department Decimal Files, NA]; Walter A. Foote, who according to Name File card July 3, 1942, 119.259/1a 177 “1 set of Brown Code number 529 being entrusted to Walter A. Foote. . . . Also certain alphabet strips and key tables; C-1 Code Book Number 259 and C-1 Cipher Tables numbers . . . entrusted to Walter A. Foote.” On October 6, 1939, Lt. Commander Ovid Clemmons Foote, Medical Corps was married in Washington, D.C. The Washington Star noted that Ovid Foote’s brother, Rear Admiral Percy W. Foote “was his brother’s best man.” [Washington Star, October 6, 1939] Lt. Commander Ovid Foote was a medical doctor and he died in a car crash in Philadelphia in October 1940. Ovid Foote had two sons: Ensign Ovid C. Foote Jr., U.S. Navy Reserves, and Edward Potter Foote, a cadet at West Point. [Washington Star, Oct. 20, 1940] All these Footes were probably distantly related to Wilder Foote, but there is no evidence that they knew each other.

121. Oumansky to the People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov, AVP RF, fund 0129, description 19, Por. 133, file 1 (381), p.60.

122. “Pioneer in Modern Medicine: David Linn Edsall of Harvard,” Aub, M. D., Joseph C. and Ruth K. Hapgood.

123. Richard Edsall’s involvement with left-wing activities followed his disengagement from formal religious life (he had become an Anglican monk after graduating from Harvard in 1926).

124. See Encyclopaedia Britannica , Bloch, Ernst: German Marxist philosopher, author of Philosophie der Hoffnung (“The Philosophy of Hope”).

125. The activities of these organizations are discussed at great length in Soviet VOKS files, including memos of meetings with Richard Edsall’s associate in these causes, Harvard astronomer Professor Harlow Shapley. [For example, GARF, fund 5283, descr. 22s, file 83.]

126. Kai Bird phone interview with Richard Edsall’s son, Tom Edsall, April 12, 2007. In Canada, Edsall married another Communist Party member named Agatha Chapman, a Canadian economist also from a Patrician background. Agatha Chapman was born in 1907 in England to a Canadian mother and a father who spent many years as a Judge of the High Court of India. Her great-grandfather was Sir Charles Tupper, sixth prime minister of Canada, and one of her great-uncles was a lieutenant governor of Manitoba. (See “Agatha Chapman (1907–1963),” by Judith A. Alexander. (Copyright Board of Canada; posted 2/1/96.) In 1946, Chapman, who belonged to a Marxist study group, was implicated in the Igor Gouzenko affair by the testimony by one Kathleen Wilsher, who claimed that Chapman had been a secret GRU contact; this led to her arrest and trial. Although eventually acquitted, Chapman lost her job and felt compelled to leave Canada for Great Britain. (She married Edsall upon her return to Canada.) The Gouzenko affair deeply impacted her life, and arguably contributed to her early death (she died in the sixties in a fall from her apartment window, an apparent suicide). See also Amy Knight, Op. Cit., p. 184.

127. Jack Wilgus, Vermont Section Organizer, to CC CP USA, July 5, 1935. Russian State Archive of Social and Political History [RGASPI], fund 515 (CPA), descr. 1, file 3201, pp. 40-42. Jack Wilgus, the Vermont section’s very active organizer, was himself the member of a prominent family; Wilgus made special efforts to reach out to middle-class Vermonters, often appearing at Rotary Club lunches around the state as a speaker. Since Foote in his Vermont life had himself, as he told the FBI, been a Rotarian, this sets up the intriguing possibility that Foote’s and Wilgus’s paths may have crossed during the 1930s.

128. United States Civil Service Commission, Investigations Division, Report of Investigation, July 14, 1944, provides details of Foote’s being “investigated at Middlebury, Vermont, June 27, 1941. RG 478, Records of the Office of Personnel Management Civil Service Commission/Office of Federal Investigations Oversize Personnel Security Investigation Files, 1928–82, FOOTE, Wilder (1944–1953), NA, College Park, MD.

129. Ibid.

130. Wilder Foote FBI file, 3/4/53 SAC New Haven to FBI Albany.

131. Wilder Foote FBI file, “Results of Investigation,” 3/10/53, Albany FBI Bureau.

132. From Right to Left. An Autobiography. By Frederick Vanderbilt Field. Westport, Connecticult, 1983—reviewed in The New York Times, October 16, 1983: “. . . postgraduate year at the London School of Economics. There, touched by the famous goad, Harold Laski, his life turned, as had many others under the same influence, to the left.” Back in the United States by Presidential Elections 1928, Field “moved to the Socialist Party.”

133. Ibid., Fourth U.S. Civil Service Regional Office, Washington, D.C., “Interrogatory,” Mr. Wilder Foote.

134. Ibidem.

135. An Informer who served at the U.S. Mission at the UN gave a written statement to the FBI, which said of Foote: “Another close friend of his was [Joseph Barnes] who was formerly with the OWI and who was a classmate of [Wilder Foote] at Harvard University. [Barnes] to my knowledge, was not employed by the U.S. Mission, however, he spent considerable time at the Mission and had numerous conversations with [Wilder Foote]. I have heard from persons at the Mission . . . that [Barnes] was a member of the Communist Party. [FBI New York report, 3/ 25, 1953, p. 3, in Wilder Foote FBI file, Op. Cit.]. In 1953 an un-named source told the FBI: “Another close friend of [Foote’s] was [Barnes] who was formerly with the Office of War Information and who was a classmate of Wilder Foote at Harvard University. . . . I have heard from persons at the Mission, whose names I cannot recall, that [Barnes] was a member of the Communist Party.” [New York FBI report, 3/25/53, Foote’s FBI file.]

136. FOOTE, Wilder (1944–1953) Civil Service Commission file, Op. Cit., “Interrogatory”, NA, College Park, MD.

137. In a December 20, 1940, letter filed by Comintern Marti Secretariat, Field is listed among “prominent Americans (non-Communists) who would write effective brochures explaining and defending the peace policy of the Soviet Union.” RGASPI, fund 495, descr. 14, file137, pp. 75–76. F.V. Field was discussed by a Soviet operative as “one of the people close to the [Communist] Party” as late as August 1950. From V. Makarov’s diary, 24 August, 1950, No. 470: Record of conversation with Jessica Smith, 16 August 1950. GARF, fund 5283, descr. 22s, file 205, p. 113.

138. Constantine Oumansky, Washington to Smirnov (VOKS, Moscow), 28 Sept. 1937. GARF, fund 5283, descr.1a, file 325, p. 31. The latest discovered record of Field’s generous donation to Soviet causes is dated May 5 1951. From the diary of Olifirenko, 5 May 1951, GARF, fund 5283, descr. 22s, file 268, pp. 95–96.

139. The earliest discovered record is reference of M. G. Galkovich, SU Consul General in San Francisco, on the Japanese–American relations, 25 May 1935. AVP RF, fund 0129, descr. 18, Por. 131, file 367, pp. 45–54.

140. For instance, Ambassador Oumansky to Deputy People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs S. Lozovsky, 4 May 1940, describing Oumansky’s reliance on Edward Carter and F. V. Field in exposing a New York Times “fraud” used to expose Soviet plans Re China. AVP RF, fund 06, descr. 2, Por. 23, file 292, pp. 64–70.

141. Theoretically, Field could have served as his college friend’s intermediary to the Soviets some time in mid-1930s— in a similar way that he once allegedly approached his other Harvard classmate Laurence Duggan. According to the FBI records, on December 10, 1948, Duggan told FBI agents that in 1930s he was approached by F. V. Field “to assist the USSR or the Comintern— precisely which, Duggan could not recall.” [McLean, Memorandum re Laurence Duggan, Op. Cit. Sam Tanenheus, Whittaker Chambers. A Biography. The Modern Library, 1997, p. 329.] F. V. Field would vehemently deny the occasion.

142. Joseph Barnes, Oral History Interview, Columbia University. [Grace Jeff Kisseloff]

143. Soviet contacts with the Institute of Pacific Affairs date back to the late 1920s. According to Russian files, in 1929, Vladimir Romm attended, as unofficial observer, the I.P.R. conference in Kioto (Japan). On his return to Moscow, he made an official report on his impressions. Romm had been a long-term operative of Soviet military intelligence; in September 1927–July 1930, he operated under the cover of TASS correspondent in Tokyo. GARF, fund 5283, descr.1a, file 291, pp. 4–6, 14; AVP RF, fund 0129, descr. 17, Por. 129, file 344, pp. 22–23, 24–28.

144. A. Ya. Arosev to the Member of OGPU Collegium Comrade Artuzov, 17 June 1934. GARF, fund 5283, descr.1a, file 254, pp. 23–24.

145. Edward C. Carter to the Hon. Sumner Welles, State Dep., Wash., D.C., Aug 13, 1941 (Copy for the Soviet Ambassador C. Oumansky): “At the suggestion of Charles C. Burlingham, Judge Thomas D. Thacher, Joseph Barnes, Dr. Henry B. Sigerist and others, I have accepted the chairmanship of a preparatory committee to organize an American Committee for Medical Aid to Russia. . . . ” AVP RF, fund 0192, descr. 8, Por. 57, file 11, p.140.

146. Barnes later moved to the OWI but was forced to resign in January 1944. See Thomas E. Troy, Donovan and the CIA, Op. Cit., p. 208. In 1948/49 Joseph Barnes would become P.M. co-owner and editor [NY FBI cable to FBI HQ, 5/12/53, Foote FBI file.]

147. RG 478, Records of the Office of Personnel Management, Civil Service Commission/Office of Federal Investigations. Oversize Personnel Security Investigation Files, 1928–82. FOOTE, Wilder (1944–1953), “Interrogatory.” NA, College Park, MD.

148. Wilder Foote Personal History Statement, November 3, 1941, NARA RG 478, Records of the Office of Personnel Management, Civil Service Commission/Office of Federal Investigations. Oversize Personnel Security Investigation Files, 1928–82. FOOTE, Wilder (1944–1953), “Interrogatory.”

149. Barnes later became foreign editor of the New York Herald Tribune, and when accused of being a Soviet agent, he denied it under oath. An April 1942 Soviet document indicates that Barnes was vetted for recruitment, but this apparently never happened. John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, two scholars who have written extensively about the Venona cables, have concluded that Barnes—although he was the kind of left-wing journalist who viewed the Soviet political experiment sympathetically—was probably not a knowing agent of the Soviet Union. [John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, p. 241.]

150. Paynter was a journalist, formerly of the Associated Press/NYC; in 1940 he authored a series of articles in PM Magazine linking James D. Mooney to Nazi propaganda in America. JEH to Chief, Investigative Division, U.S. Civil Service Comm-ion, 5/19/53,pp. 1-2; NY FBI cable to FBI HQ, 5/12/53, in Foote FBI and CSC files, Op. Cit.

151. In an April 1942 NKGB “orientation” we read: “In her recent report, the source ‘Lira’ mentioned among the radio commentators she knew the name of Joseph Barnes who has been appointed by the President to work as a radio commentator at the ‘Ratsiya’ committee. Our source ‘President’ is also familiar with Joseph Barnes, so we got down to his detailed vetting in view of his possible use.” SVR document declassified in 1994 for release to Alexander Vassiliev, Allen Weinstein’s co-author.

152. Venona 1433–1435 NKGB New York to Moscow, 10 October 1944.

153. Thomas F. Troy, Donovan and the CIA: A History of the Establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency, Aletheia Books, University Publications of America, Inc., 1981, p. 208.

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