Broadus Mitchell

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Broadus Mitchell was a well-known socialist[1] who ran for Governor of Maryland in 1934 as the candidate of the Socialist Party,[2] U.S. supporter of the Comintern.[3]

Mitchell was also a professor of Economics at Johns Hopkins University, where one of his more notable students was Alger Hiss, who recalled Mitchell as one of his favorite instructors.[4] According to Hiss, Mitchell was simply a "gifted" economics professor who happened to hold some "mildly Socialistic" views.[5] In fact Mitchell distinguished socialism from communism only in "strategy and procedure," not "essential theory."[6]

After student Sidney Offit wrote an editorial in the Johns Hopkins campus newspaper defending Hiss and Owen Lattimore, castigating students who merely "applauded daintily" for the latter, rather than taking to the streets, Mitchell, wrote Offit, "adopted me as his radical protégé-in-waiting."[7] Later serving as a Reserve Officer in Army Intelligence at a time when Communist couriers were infiltrating the US Merchant Marines,[8] Offit wrote, "it was my job to interview prospective crewmen for merchant marine ships to be sure no advocates of Karl Marx were allowed aboard. Somehow or other I always found a reason to pass on these workingmen regardless of their flirtations with the 'forceful overthrow of the United States government.'"[9]


  1. "... a well-known socialist named Broadus Mitchell." Jeff Kisseloff, Distorted Reflections, The Alger Hiss Story: Search for the Truth
  2. "He ran for Governor of Maryland in 1934 on the Socialist Party ticket." Broadus Mitchell (1892-1988): Author, Professor, Economist, Special Collections, University Archives Special Collections, Hofstra University; "He was the Socialist candidate for governor of Maryland in 1934." Joan Cook, Broadus Mitchell, 95, Professor, Historian and Hamilton Authority," The New York Times, April 30, 1988; "He ran for Governor of Maryland as a Socialist..." Education: Head on a Platter, Time, May. 22, 1939
  3. "The Socialist Party of the United States, therefore, declares itself in support of the Third (Moscow) International..." Document No. 7: "Minority Report Adopted by Overwhelming Party Vote on Referendum on Submission to the Emergency National Convention Held at Chicago, September, 1919," reprinted in Joint Legislative Committee of the State of New York Investigating Seditious Activities, Revolutionary Radicalism: Its History, Purpose and Tactics, Part I, Vol. I (Albany: J.B. Lyon Company, 1920), p. 626; cf. Application of the Socialist Party of America for Membership in the Communist International, March 12, 1920
  4. " of Hiss’s favorite instructors was Broadus Mitchell..." Matthew Richer, "The Ongoing Campaign of Alger Hiss: The Sins of the Father," Modern Age, Vol. 46, No. 4 (Fall 2004), p. 310 (PDF p. 4)
  5. "My gifted economics teacher, Broadus Mitchell, a Socialist.... his mildly Socialistic opinions ... made no impression on us." Alger Hiss, Draft of a Chapter Written By Alger Hiss on the Foundations For His Liberalism (Alger Hiss papers, Small Manuscript Collection, Special Collections, Harvard Law School Library)
  6. "[T]he difference between socialism and communism.... is not one of object, but of means of attainment of the object; it has to do with strategy and procedure, and not with essential theory." Broadus Mitchell, A Preface to Economics (Henry Holt & Co., 1932-34), p. 557.
  7. Sidney Offit, Friends, Writers, and Other Countrymen: A Memoir (Macmillan, 2008) ISBN 0312375220, pp. 71-72
  8. Communist Activities Among Seamen and on Waterfront Facilities, Part I, Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 86th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1960), p. 1760 (PDF p. 22). Cf. FBI file: "Communist Infiltration of the American Merchant Marine," July 21, 1955
  9. Sidney Offit, Friends, Writers, and Other Countrymen: A Memoir (Macmillan, 2008) ISBN 0312375220, pp. 13-14