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Bresci, Gaetano (11 November 1869–22 May 1901), silk weaver and regicide, was born in Coiano, Italy, the son of Gaspero Bresci, a peasant/artisan, and Maddalena Godi. At age eleven Bresci was apprenticed to learn the art of silk weaving; he later attended a Sunday school to acquire a specialized trade. While still a youth, Gaetano participated in an anarchist group. First arrested for disturbing the peace in 1892, he was subsequently confined to the penal island of Lampedusa for more than a year for his role in organizing a strike. Now identified as a “dangerous anarchist,” Bresci had difficulty securing employment....

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Childs, Morris (10 June 1902–02 June 1991), Communist official and American intelligence double agent, was born Moishe Chilovsky in Kiev, Ukraine, the son of Joseph Chilovsky, a cobbler, and Anna Chilovsky. Joseph Chilovsky, a Jew, fled Tsarist oppression, arriving in America in 1910; he sent for the rest of his family late the next year. (In 1926 the spelling of their name was Americanized, and Morris became a naturalized citizen the following year.) In 1916 Morris went to work as an apprentice in his father's business; then he became a milkman. In 1919 he joined the Communist party in Chicago. Twice arrested for participating in street demonstrations, he soon became a protégé of future party leader ...

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Cvetic, Matthew C. (04 March 1909–26 July 1962), anti-Communist and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) "confidential informant", anti-Communist and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “confidential informant,” was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Frank Cvetic and Barbara (maiden name unknown), who had emigrated from a Slovenian village in 1890. His father, after some travail, earned a comfortable living as a small businessman; his ventures included renting out a former hotel and running gas stations. Cvetic graduated from St. Mary’s parochial school, spent two years at St. Vincent’s College Preparatory School, and in 1927 completed a two-year course of study at Curry Business College in Pittsburgh. During the early 1930s he rounded out his education with mail-order courses in penology from the Seattle-based International School of Criminology....

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Digges, Thomas Attwood (04 July 1742–06 December 1821), gentleman, confidential agent, ne'er-do-well, and novelist, gentleman, confidential agent, ne’er-do-well, and novelist, was born in Warburton, Maryland, the son of William Digges and Ann Attwood, the owners of “Warburton Manor.” Digges was sent abroad to be educated. Family tradition holds that he attended Oxford University, but his Catholic faith and the absence of his name in university records make this unlikely. In 1767, after being disowned by his family for reasons that are not known, Digges purportedly went to live in Portugal, where he stayed until 1773 or 1774. In a subsequent letter to ...

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Dunbar, Moses (14 June 1746–19 March 1777), first civilian executed in the state of Connecticut for the crime of treason, was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, the son of John Dunbar, a Congregationalist minister, and Temperance Hall. Dunbar’s father embedded in his children strong religious beliefs. However, these beliefs caused Moses in later years to end his relationship with his father. Little is known about Dunbar’s educational background. When he was fourteen years old, his family moved to Waterbury, Connecticut, and perhaps there he obtained his early education....

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Field, Noel Haviland (23 January 1904–12 September 1970), government official and alleged traitor, was born in London, the son of Herbert Haviland Field, a prominent American biologist, and Nina Eschwege Field. Herbert Field was descended from a long line of New England Quakers; his English-born wife was partly of German descent. During World War I, responding to anti-German feeling, the Eschwege family anglicized their surname; henceforth Herbert Field's wife was known as Nina Foote Field. The Field family, which grew to include three other children, lived in Zurich, where Herbert Field directed the Concilium Bibliographicum, an international institute that compiled scientific bibliographies. During the war the elder Field organized a Quaker-sponsored food-relief program, and his efforts attracted the attention of U.S. president ...

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Hale, Nathan (06 June 1755–22 September 1776), martyr of the American Revolution, was born in Coventry, Connecticut, the son of Richard Hale and Elizabeth Strong, successful farmers. A sickly infant, he barely survived his first year, but as he grew he became an outdoorsman and a powerful athlete. He enjoyed reading, and his father decided to prepare him for the ministry, first by hiring Rev. Joseph Huntington to tutor him and then by sending him in 1769 to Yale College. At Yale he was widely admired by his teachers and fellow students. Dr. ...

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Hiss, Alger (11 November 1904–15 November 1996), government official convicted of giving false testimony about Soviet espionage, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, Charles Alger Hiss, a dry-goods importer, killed himself when Alger was two. His mother, Mary Lavinia Hughes Hiss, raised Alger and four siblings with the support of her husband's family. Hiss attended Baltimore public schools and Powder Point Academy in Massachusetts. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1926 with an exemplary record. Similar success at Harvard Law School led to his selection in 1929 as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice ...

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Lafayette, James (1748–09 August 1830), patriot spy, also known to history as James Armistead, was born in slavery; little is recorded of his parentage or early life except that he belonged to William Armistead of New Kent County, Virginia. In the summer of 1781 James was attending his master while Armistead worked as a commissary in Richmond, supplying patriot forces under the command of the ...

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Richardson, Ebenezer (1718–?), Loyalist, customs official, and informer, was born in Woburn, Massachusetts. Almost nothing is known of his parentage or early life, but he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, by the beginning of the 1750s. He earned the dubious distinction of breaking out of jail in both Boston (1751) and Cambridge, Massachusetts (1753), in the latter case his offense being the procurement of stolen tools for his brother. Around 1754 he also became involved in a scandal in which he accused the Reverend Edward Johnson of Woburn of fathering a bastard child by his wife’s sister. It was later suggested that the child was Richardson’s own....

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Tallmadge, Benjamin (25 February 1754–07 March 1835), intelligence officer and congressman, was born in Setauket (now Brookhaven), New York, the son of Benjamin Tallmadge, a Congregational minister, and Susannah Smith. Yale president Naphtali Daggett admitted Tallmadge at age twelve, but Tallmadge entered in 1769. ...