|2 December 1948
Chambers Leads Investigators to "Pumpkin Papers"
|The testimony of Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss before the House Un-American Activities Committee had generated a great deal of attention. They were also helping to make a media star of an ambitious young congressman from California named Richard Nixon. In the weeks following their HUAC appearances, Chambers accused Hiss on nationwide television of being a communist, leading Hiss to file a $75,000 suit for libel against the Time magazine editor.
The biggest bombshell, however, was yet to come. Hiss continued to deny that he had ever passed along confidential government papers to Chambers or anyone else. But in December 1948 Chambers let HUAC investigators—including Nixon—to a farm in Maryland, where he showed them a hollowed-out pumpkin that contained four rolls of microfilm. The film, he explained, was of secret documents that had been passed to him by Hiss. The revelation of the so-called “pumpkin papers” meant that suddenly Chambers’s story did not seem so implausible.