In order to allow for the installation of scaffolding and floor, statuary, and artwork protection in conjunction with the Dome Restoration Project, the Rotunda of the Capitol will be closed from Monday, July 27 through Monday, September 7. While the Rotunda is unavailable for tours, an alternate tour route will be provided. The Capitol Visitor Center is open during the closure of the Rotunda and will offer special activities which do not require advance reservations. You can also download our new U.S. Capitol Rotunda app.

Hiss, Chambers, and the Cold War, 1948

In 1948, Americans watched anxiously as a dramatic espionage tale unfolded in the House of Representatives. Whittaker Chambers, a Time editor, confessed to the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) that he’d been a spy for the Soviet Union. Chambers accused a former State Department official, Alger Hiss, of being among his Communist contacts.

Hiss fiercely denied the charge. Representative Richard Nixon of California, suspecting that Hiss was lying, convinced Chambers to produce microfilm documents from Hiss—documents that Chambers had hidden on his farm in a hollowed-out pumpkin. Hiss sued for libel, but was convicted of perjury in 1950 and sent to prison. The Hiss–Chambers confrontation riveted the nation, triggering widespread espionage fears and spurring further congressional investigations.

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Richard Nixon (right) and staff...
Image Caption

Richard Nixon (right) and staff investigator Robert Stripling pose for photographs with the “Pumpkin Papers”- microfilms that implicated Hiss as one of Chambers’s Communist contacts.

© Bettmann/CORBIS

Richard Nixon (right) and staff investigator Robert Stripling pose for photographs with the “Pumpkin Papers”- microfilms that implicated Hiss as one of Chambers’s Communist contacts.

© Bettmann/CORBIS

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