Henry Julian Wadleigh (1904-1994), was an American economist and the United States Department of State official in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a key witness in the Alger Hiss trials.
Julian Wadleigh was born in 1904. He went to an English “public” school, and then to Oxford where he read classics. He returned to the United States where he received fellowships at the University of Chicago and the Brookings Institution.
In the early 1930s he started as an economist at the Department of Agriculture. Becoming more involved with radical politics, he joined the Socialist Party. Later he moved to the State Department, working in the trade agreements division and negotiating trade pacts in Turkey and Italy.
In the mid-1930s, he became acquainted with Eleanor Nelson, a communist. When Wadleigh, a committed socialist, expressed the desire to act against growing the fascist movement in Europe, Nelson put him in touch with communists in Washington. He passed along documents to the Soviet Union through his main contact, Whittaker Chambers, at the Washington Zoo.
The defection of Trotsky and subsequent purges in 1937, as well as Wadleigh's work abroad, resulted in infrequent contacts. Soon after, Chambers told him that he had quit the Communist Party, as they both were suspected of being Trotskyites and were in danger of being killed. In August 1939 Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler, which disgusted Wadleigh, who vowed to have nothing more to do with the communists.
Wadleigh stayed at the State Department in the 1940s but felt that his own career stalled because rumors lurked about his communist sympathies. He divorced and remarried around this time. After the Allies of World War II invaded Italy, he was sent to assess food security for the war-stricken population. He shared an apartment in Rome with his brother, Richard Wadleigh, an Army intelligence officer who had led the First Armored Division into the city.
In 1948, Chambers accused Alger Hiss of being a communist spy. Wadleigh testified before a grand jury and HUAC, and was a key witness in the Hiss prosecution. He did not actually know of Hiss's role, but served to corroborate the role Chambers played. He said he collaborated with communists, but never became a party member. He admitted taking classified documents while working in the State Department for Soviet intelligence. Wadleigh testified on the witness stand that he strongly believed his own transmission of papers to Chambers in the late 1930s "could not be used against us, but could be used against Germany and Japan." As federal prosecutor Thomas Murphy summed up, Wadleigh only wanted to stop the rise of fascism; "we all came to hate it, but he saw it earlier." Chambers detailed his espionage relationship to Wadleigh as well as events in the Hiss Case in his autobiography Witness (1952).
- "COMMUNISTS: The Government Rests". Time. June 27, 1949. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- Conklin, William R. (December 9, 1949). "Tells Hiss Jury He Channeled Up to 500 U. S. Documents to Soviet in 1936-37". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-02. "Henry Julian Wadleigh, named with Alger Hiss by Whittaker Chambers as one of his two sources of State Department documents for a pre-war Soviet spy ring, testified yesterday that he had channeled up to 500 State Department papers into Soviet hands in 1936 and 1937."
- [Whittaker] (1952). Witness. Random House. pp. 385–386, 414–417, 425–427, 444–445 and other pages. ISBN 0-89526-571-0.