November 11, 1954 In a letter to The Reporter magazine, Albert Einstein says that if he were young again, he would become “a plumber or a peddler.” Einstein’s remarks are a response to increased government regulation and control of scientists, especially the recent denial of security clearance to J. Robert Oppenheimer, former director of the Manhattan Project.
November 27, 1954 Alger Hiss, a former State Department official who passed government secrets to the Soviet Union, is released from prison after serving 44 months for perjury.
December 2, 1954 President Eisenhower warns conservative Republicans that the party must adopt a progressive course or risk losing its influence in the United States.
December 5, 1954 A brief item in The New York Times Book Review discusses the first issue of American Heritage . Most of the review is devoted to the question of whether the hardcover publication is a book or a magazine. The reviewer quotes a “historian of the oldfashioned school” who was given a copy and reported that American Heritage “was a first-class popularization and that it was a magazine.”
December 16, 1954 Lt. Gen. John W. (“Iron Mike”) O’Daniel says that despite the feebleness of South Vietnam’s government and armed forces, “I still believe this country can be saved.”
December 27, 1954 Air Force Lt. Col. John P. Stapp sets a land-speed record by accelerating to 632 miles per hour in a rocket sled. He then comes to a stop in 1.5 seconds. The deceleration test is performed to study the physiological effects of bailing out of planes traveling at supersonic speeds.