Richard Nixon is Sworn into the House of Representatives
Soon after World War II ended, a group of Whittier Republicans approached Nixon about running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives.
Nixon accepted their offer, and waged a campaign which ended in a victory over the five-term Democratic incumbent Jerry Voorhis in November 1946. Nixon represented southern California's 12th Congressional district for the next four years. He helped finance the campaign with his World War II poker winnings.
In Congress, Nixon supported the Taft-Hartley Act of 1948, and served on the Education and Labor Committee. He was part of the Herter Committee, which went to Europe to prepare a preliminary report on the newly enacted Marshall Plan.
Nixon first gained national attention in 1948 when his investigation on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) broke the impasse of the Alger Hiss spy case. While many doubted Whittaker Chambers' allegations that Hiss, a high State Department official, was a Soviet spy, Nixon believed the allegations to be true. He discovered that Chambers saved microfilm reproductions of incriminating documents by hiding the film in a pumpkin. They were alleged to be accessible only to Hiss and to have been typed on his personal typewriter. Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1950 for statements he made to the HUAC. The discovery that Hiss committed perjury and thus may well have been a Soviet spy thrust Nixon into the public eye. This case turned the young Congressman into a national, and controversial, figure. He was easily reelected in 1948.
In 1948 and 1949, Nixon obtained national recognition while serving in the United States House of Representatives as a member of the Committee on Un-American Activities. He was dogged in his support for the investigation of Alger Hiss. Although Hiss was a former State Department official who had served as the President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he was found guilty of helping to transmit confidential government documents - called the "Pumpkin Papers" because they were hidden in a pumpkin -- to the Soviets.
In 1942 he applied for and received a Navy commission and was assigned to duty in the Pacific. He won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1946; in 1948 he took the lead role, as a member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, in investigating espionage charges against Alger Hiss, who had spied for the Soviet Union before and during World War II. The case turned the young congressman into a national figure as well as a controversial one among those who asserted Hiss's innocence.