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The Nation

Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel overrode a citizen advisory board and designated the Maryland farm where Whittaker Chambers led Richard M. Nixon, then a California congressman, to the “pumpkin papers” in 1948 as a national historic landmark. Hodel said the designation of the Westminster, Md., farm was warranted because Chambers is a “historical figure of transcendent importance in the nation’s history.” Chambers, who is deceased, is a hero to many conservatives for his role in the perjury conviction of former State Department official Alger Hiss. His farm was the site where Chambers used a hollowed-out pumpkin to hide microfilmed documents that supported his charge before the House Committee on Un-American Activities that Hiss had given U.S. secrets to the Soviets. The National Park System Advisory Board had opposed Hodel’s action, citing the general rule that landmarks are not designated until at least 50 years after the events qualifying a site.


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