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John André. A rendering of his capture at Tarrytown, New York. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-2395).

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André, John (02 May 1750–02 October 1780), British officer and spy, was born in London, England, the son of Anthony André, a merchant, and Marie Louise Girardot. His early schooling was with a tutor, the Reverend Thomas Newcomb, and he may have attended St. Paul’s School. In his teens André studied mathematics and military drawing at the University of Geneva, giving vent to his romantic temperament by dreaming of a military career. He was rudely brought back to reality by his merchant father when he was called home to work in the countinghouse before he completed a degree. Despising the family business, he nevertheless labored at it manfully for a number of years. After his father died on 14 April 1769, he felt a particular obligation as the eldest son to continue the business, even though his father had left him financially independent, with a small fortune of £5,000. In the summer of 1769 he joined a Lichfield literary group presided over by Anna Seward, a poet. The group included a young lady named Honora Sneyd, for whom he developed a passion. They became engaged and courted for a year and a half before she suddenly rejected him for another man at a Christmas party in 1770. Shattered by this betrayal, André revived his earlier ambition to become a soldier and in early 1771 bought a second lieutenant’s commission in the 23d Regiment, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Later he purchased a first lieutenancy in the same regiment....

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Angleton, James Jesus (09 December 1917–11 May 1987), counterintelligence official, was born in Boise, Idaho, the son of James Hugh Angleton, a cavalry officer and later a businessman, and Carmen Mercedes Moreno. His father’s business took the family to Italy during Angleton’s teenage years, and Angleton attended preparatory school in England. In 1937 he enrolled at Yale University, where he majored in English and was regarded as a highly intelligent student, though he neglected his academic studies in favor of literary pursuits. He wrote poetry and cofounded a first-rate literary magazine, ...

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Baker, La Fayette Curry (13 October 1825–03 July 1868), head of the U.S. Secret Service, was born in Stafford, New York, the son of Remember Baker and Cynthia (maiden name unknown), farmers. Named for the French aristocrat, the marquis de Lafayette, who aided the American cause during the revolutionary war, the youth in 1839 settled in Michigan with his parents and attended local schools. As a young man he lived in over a dozen states, including Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania, sometimes supporting himself as a mechanic. While operating a dry goods store in Philadelphia in 1852, he married Jennie C. Curry; they had no children. The next year they relocated to San Francisco, California, where Baker worked as a general laborer and belonged to the San Francisco Vigilance Committee. His work with the vigilantes helped bring order to a city known for its gambling houses, crime, and political corruption, and Baker gained valuable experience in investigation and surveillance....

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Bancroft, Edward (09 January 1744–08 September 1821), physician, scientist, and spy, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Bancroft and Mary Ely, farmers. The elder Bancroft died in 1746 of an epileptic attack suffered in a pigpen, two months before the birth of his younger son, Daniel. His widow married David Bull of Westfield in 1751, and the family moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where Bull operated the Bunch of Grapes tavern. Edward Bancroft was taught for a time by the recent Yale graduate ...

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John Birch. In uniform with the rank of captain. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Birch, John (28 May 1918–25 August 1945), Baptist missionary and military officer, was born John Morrison Birch in Landaur, India, the son of George S. Birch and Ethel Ellis Birch. Both parents were Methodist missionaries under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. George Birch was also an agricultural professor at Ewing Christian College, Allahabad, India, while Ethel Birch tutored English there and conducted women's Bible classes nearby. In 1920 the family returned to the United States. George Birch became a fruit farmer in Vineland, New Jersey, where John Birch first went to school. In 1930 the family, by then including seven children, moved to Rome, Georgia, where Birch attended high school. After graduating at the head of his class, he entered Mercer University; there, he deepened his religious convictions and evangelical passion and graduated magna cum laude in 1939. He completed a two-year course at the Bible Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in one year and then left in July 1940 for China, sponsored by a World's Fundamentalist Baptist Missionary Fellowship....

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Browne, John Ross (11 February 1821–08 December 1875), writer, world traveler, and government agent, was born in Beggars Bush, near Dublin, Ireland, the son of Thomas Egerton Browne and Elana Buck. His father was a refugee from British rule. As the editor of three publications, Thomas Browne satirized British tithing measures and earned the enmity of the Crown, a fine, and a jail sentence for “seditious libel.”...

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Burke, Michael (08 June 1918–05 February 1987), intelligence operative and sports executive, was born in Enfield, Connecticut, the son of Patrick Burke, an attorney, and Mary Fleming. After Patrick Burke graduated from the Yale University Law School, the family moved to County Galway, Ireland, where they lived from 1918 to 1925. Each side of the family claimed ancestry as far back as the Norman invasion of 1169....

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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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Colby, William E. (04 January 1920–28 April 1996), intelligence officer, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of Elbridge Colby, an army officer and educator, and Margaret Mary Egan Colby, an ardent Catholic who guided her son in the path of that religion. William Colby was also influenced by his father's liberal views and by the family's peripatetic movements to locations as diverse as China and Vermont, where he studied at Burlington High School. He attended Princeton University, where he felt himself to be an outsider, educated as he had been at public schools and presenting, at five feet, eight inches, topped by eyeglasses, the appearance of a young man unlikely to win acceptance through athletic prowess. He graduated with an A.B. in 1940....

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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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Denys de la Ronde, Louis (02 August 1675–25 March 1741), French military officer, explorer, and spy, was born in Quebec City, Canada, the son of Pierre Denys de la Ronde, a landowner and merchant (the Crown had given the aristocracy in Canada permission to engage in trade), and Catherine Leneuf de la Potherie. He entered naval service in 1687 as a midshipman in France. During the war of 1689–1697 he served in exiled British king James II’s expedition to Ireland, then off the coast of England, and finally on several voyages to New France and along the coast of New England. Captured at sea in 1695, he was soon released in an exchange of prisoners of war. He served in ...

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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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Allen W. Dulles [left to right] Allen W. Dulles, Theodore F. Green, and Robert D. Murphy, 1958. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103584 ).

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Dulles, Allen Welsh (07 April 1893–29 January 1969), author and third director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1953-1961), author and third director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1953–1961), was born in Watertown, New York, the son of Presbyterian minister Allen Macy Dulles and Edith Foster. In 1914 Dulles graduated from Princeton University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation he taught English in India for a year, circumnavigating the globe on his way back to the United States, where he returned to Princeton to complete an M.A. in international law. Joining the State Department’s Foreign Service in 1916, Dulles was assigned first to Vienna and then, when the First World War broke out, to Bern. In Bern he gained his first exposure to the world of espionage, for among his consular duties was the task of establishing contacts with Austro-Hungarian and Balkan factions known to be opposed to communism....

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Eddy, William A. (09 March 1896–03 May 1962), diplomat, intelligence agent, and military officer, was born in Sidon, a city in present-day Lebanon, to William King Eddy and Elizabeth (Nelson) Eddy, both of whom were Presbyterian missionaries. Eddy was reared in Beirut, where his father taught at the American University. He had a near-native facility with the Arabic language and could recite long passages from the Koran in several Arabic dialects. After completing his undergraduate degree at Princeton University in 1917, Eddy served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War I. For his valor as a captain in the Battle of Belleau Wood he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, and two Purple Hearts. As a result of his wartime injuries, Eddy walked with a limp for the rest of his life and often used a cane. In 1917 he married Mary Garvin, also the daughter of Protestant missionaries; the couple had four children....

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Felt, Mark (17 August 1913–18 December 2008), FBI official and the source (“Deep Throat”) who helped Washington Post reporters expose the Watergate scandal, was born William Mark Felt in Twin Falls, Idaho, to Mark Earl Felt, a carpenter and building contractor, and Rose Dygert Felt. At the University of Idaho, Felt was president of his fraternity, Beta Theta Phi, whose mission was “developing men of principle for a principled life.” After graduating in 1935, Felt became a correspondence clerk for the Idaho senator James P. Pope in Washington, D.C. Three years later Felt married Audrey Robinson from Gooding, Idaho. The couple had two children. Felt graduated George Washington Law School in 1940 and worked at the Federal Trade Commission before joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on 16 January 1942....

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Klaus Fuchs. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102575).

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Fuchs, Klaus Emil Julius (29 December 1911–28 January 1988), physicist and spy, was born in Russelheim, near Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Emil Fuchs, a Lutheran minister, and Else Wagner. Klaus Fuchs studied mathematics and physics at Leipzig University (1928–1931) and continued his undergraduate studies in physics at Kiel University (1931–1933). As a student at Kiel University, he joined, first, the Social Democratic party and, in 1932, the German Communist party. After the Reichstag fire in February 1933, and the attendant Nazi reprisals against the political Left, Fuchs went into hiding in Berlin for a few months, then migrated to Britain in September 1933. He continued his studies in physics at Bristol University, where he secured a position as a research assistant to Neville Mott. In his research Fuchs applied quantum physics to questions of the electrical resistance of metallic films, working with Bernard Lovell, who was later knighted for his achievements in physics. In 1937 Fuchs was granted a Ph.D. in physics at Bristol. A paper that resulted from his doctoral research, “A Quantum Mechanical Calculation of the Elastic Constants of Monovalent Metals,” appeared in the ...