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Alger Hiss takes oath before the House Un-American Activities Committee, photograph by Otto Bettmann, August 25, 1948

© Bettmann/Getty Images

Alger Hiss takes oath before the House Un-American Activities Committee

The House Un-American Activities Committee

Both world wars raised concerns in Congress about subversive threats to the nation. As tensions rose between the United States and the Soviet Union following World War II, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) conducted prominent hearings to investigate allegations that communists disloyal to the United States had infiltrated the government, the entertainment industry, and other organizations. While critics complained that HUAC’s investigations trampled on citizens’ rights, supporters believed the committee’s actions were justified, given threats to national security at the time.

I am not and never have been a member of the Communist Party.

Alger Hiss, Statement to the House Un-American Activities Committee, August 5, 1948