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Dana Converse Backus

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Dana Converse Backus (1907–1981) was a 20th-Century American attorney based in New York City who served at the founding conference of the United Nations (over which Alger Hiss presided as Acting Secretary).[1]


He was born on February 26, 1907, in Bayonne, New Jersey. He studied at Harvard College, followed by Harvard Law School.[1]


Backus became a partner in the Manhattan firm of Kramer, Marx, Greenlee, and Backus[2] (later Windels, Marx, Davies and Ives; currently Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf.[1] A co-founding partner was Henry Mosler Marx (born March 18, 1908).[citation needed] Windels, Marx, Davies & Ives, founded in the 1830s[3] In its infancy, the firm provided a number of integral representations, including litigation defending Thomas Edison's ownership of the creation of the lightbulb[4] and the original incorporation of IBM in the 1920s.[5] Later partners included William Crawford, Jr.[6]

In 1945, Backus served as a lawyer for the Secretariat at the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco.[1]

On June 4, 1948, Backus wrote to the New York Times a strongly worded letter "The Mundt-Nixon Bill: Suggestions Given for Revision of Proposed Legislation." With regard to American Communists, he argued for "a sense of proportion" so Americans might "realize that we are dealing more with a microbe than a menace" and that "the best weapon against a Communist is to know that he is one," while preserving civil liberties. The Mundt-Nixon Bill would outlaw communist parties in the U.S. and thus "encourage a multiplicity of Communist front organizations." He recommended that the Mundt-Nixon Bill be scrapped. In its stead, he recommended that organizations which solicit funds should have to declare any officers or directors or equivalents as communists. For communist organizations themselves, he recommended mandatory self-declarations when soliciting funds (or loss of tax exemption).[7]

He served as vice president of the Citizens Union[1] and retired in 1981.

Personal and death[edit]

Backus married Louise Burton Laidlaw. They had four daughters, of whom Anne Converse Backus died in a car crash while a junior at the University of Wisconsin in 1970.[1][8][9]

Backus was a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.[10]

On June 7, 1987, he died of Alzheimer's disease at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn on Long Island, age 82.[1]



  • Problems in Financing the Modern Corporation (1967)[11]

See also[edit]

  • United Nations Conference on International Organization 1945
  • Mundt-Nixon Bill 1948
  • Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf
  • Citizens Union
  • American Association for the United Nations


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Dana Converse Backus, A Retired Lawyer, 82". New York Times. 7 June 1989. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  2. "Biographical Summary: Gary S. Stein" (PDF). United States District Court. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  3. "Overview". Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  4. "Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf". Geneva Group International. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  5. "Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP". Law Crossing. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  6. "William Crawford Jr., Lawyer, Is Dead at 90". New York Times. 26 November 1989. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  7. Backus, Dana Converse (13 June 1948). "The Mundt-Nixon Bill: Suggestions Given for Revision of Proposed Legislation". New York Times. p. E8. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Mrs. Dana C. Backus, 66 , Dead; A Leader in World Peace Drive". New York Times. 6 July 1973. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  9. "Anne Converse Backus". New York Times. 7 February 1970. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  10. Law’s Migration: American Exceptionalism, Silent Dialogues, and Federalism’s Multiple Ports of Entry. 1 January 2006. p. 1,607. Retrieved 1 April 2017. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  11. Backus, Dana Converse (1967). Problems in Financing the Modern Corporation. Kraus. p. 42. Retrieved 1 April 2017. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png

External sources[edit]

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