NIXON'S REACTION (1969-1974)

“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.”


  • Hubert Humphrey
    • Democrat: antiwar
  • Richard Nixon
    • Republican: end war, control radicals, end racial discrimination
  • George Wallace
    • American Independent: opposition to civil rights, counterculture, antiwar [very conservative]
  • With the entrance of a 3rd party, Nixon narrowly won but with so many people fed up with the Democrats he was able to prevail


Nixon Campaign Ad Commercial:

Watch the Televised Announcement of Nixon VictoryNYT,_Nov._7_1968-thumb.jpg

“Let us move from the era of confrontation to the era of negotiation."


“imperial presidency”: isolated himself in White House
Nixon and Kissinger
- focused on foreign affairs more than domestic - national security adviser: Henry Kissinger (later Secretary of State)
effectively cooled down Cold War tensions

  • Vietnam
    • principal goal: reduce US involvement in war without appearance of accepting defeat
      • “peace with honor”
    • Vietnamization”: gradual withdrawal of US troops
      • 1969: 540,000 – 1972: 30,000 (troops)
      • give money, weapons, and training to South Vietnam so they can take over full responsibility of war
      • at first reduced antiwar protests
    • Nixon Doctrine
      • Asian allies will receive US support but less ground troops
    • opposition to Vietnamization
      • 1970: Nixon ordered invasion of Cambodia to destroy Vietnamese Communist bases (expanded war)
        • nationwide protest in universities
          • Kent State, Ohio: killing of 4 by National Guard
          • Jackson Statee, Missippi: killing of 2 black students
        • Senate voted to repeal Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
      • 1968: US troops massacred women and children in My Lai, Vietnam
      • Pentagon Papers published by The New York Times, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg (Defense Dept analyst)
        • showed mistakes and tricks of govt policy-makers in respect of Vietnam
    • secret meetings between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, North Vietnam’s foreign minister
      • Kissinger announced “peace at hand” in 1972
        • N. Vietnam did not compromise
        • Nixon orders B-52 bomber attacks (largest air attack of the war) in order to force an agreement
        • Paris Accords of 1973 armistice
          • cease-fire
          • US withdrawal and return of 500 POWs
          • free elections
          • left N. Vietnamese troops in South
  • China
    • détente: deliberate reduction of Cold War tensions
      • improve relations with “Red” China without being “soft” on communism
    • secret negotiations with leaders
      • 1972: met with Mao Zedong in Beijing
      • initiation of diplomatic meetings led to US recognition of “Red” China in 1979

Listen to a Conversation between Nixon and Kissinger about China

  • Soviet Union
    • détente to control arms race
    • new relations with China pushed agreement to treaty limiting ABMs (antiballistic missiles)
    • Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT I)
      • limit to number of ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads

Listen to the Nixon and Khrushchev Kitchen Debate 2630980070069705609tXuwGs_fs.jpg

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley,
can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

  • New Federalism
    • slow down the growth of the Great Society programs
      • Nixon proposed Family Assistance Plan but was defeated by Democrats in Congress
      • shifted some responsibility for social programs from the federal to the state and local levels
      • block grants: money given to state and local governments to use as the saw fit
      • Nixon tried to bypass Congress by not spending funds for social programs
        • Democrats later backed by the courts deemed this am abuse of executive powers
      • Congress expanded funding for some Great Society programs
        • Medicare, Medicaid, rent subsidies for low-income people, and Supplementary Security Insurance (SSI)
        • were “indexed” meaning they would rise and fall with inflation rate
  • Economic
    • problems unthinkable a decade earlier most commonly contributed to the beginning of the war in Vietnam
      • expansive military commitmentavpriceofgold1950-2003.gif
      • changes in the international economy
    • deteriorating balance of trade and inflation rates
      • check inflation by cutting government expenditures
        • reducing US troop levels
        • expand us of bombing
    • unemployment at 6% by 1971
      • stagflation
        • economic stagnation + price inflation
    • US trade deficit
    • “new economic policy”
      • 90-day freeze of increase in wages or prices
      • government monitoring to detect “excessive” increases in either
    • floating US dollar
      • used to be a gold-to-dollar ratio, and other currencies had fixed exchange rates based off of the US dollar
      • abandoned ratio in 1971 so that the dollar would “float” in value against the markets of gold and all other currencies
      • devalue the dollar so that American goods would be more competitive in global markets
    • deficit spending and Keynesian economics
    • 10% percent surtax on all imported goods
  • Burger Courts and rights of a defendant
    Burger Court 1970
    • Nixon had the opportunity to appoint 4 justices to the Supreme court including a new Chief Justice
    • appointed more conservative, strict constitutionalist justices to replace liberal activist members
    • Warren E. Burger replaced Earl Warren for Chief Justice
    • Nixon couldn’t appoint very conservative justices because they would be rejected by the Democratic Congress
    • the Court that Nixon shaped would turn against him in the Watergate Scandal
    • police must remind anyone arrested of their right to remain silent and their right to consult an attorney including one provided by the government
  • Environmentalism
    • Wilderness Act of 1964, National Wind and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, National Trails Act of 1968, Clean Air Act of 1970, Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, Pesticides Control Act of 1972, Endangered Species Act of 1073
    • Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962)silent-spring.jpg
      • raised concerns about DDT and other pesticides used in agriculture endangering birds
    • pollution in cities such as LA became so bad that breathing that air was to equivalent of smoking several packs of cigarettes a day
    • Environmental Defense Fund
      • organization that went to court to try to limit the use of toxins
    • Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
      • enforced laws intended to protect environmental quality
  • Controversy Over Rights
    • Women’s Rights
      • National Organization for Women (NOW)
        • backed the ERA05friedan3_lg.jpg
      • Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
        • explicitly guarantee women equal rights as men
        • passed through Congress easily but was not ratified by the necessary ¾ of the state to become an Amendment
      • Roe vs. Wade
        • case about the legality of a state law making abortion a criminal offense
        • ruled that that law invaded a woman’s right to privacy
        • pro-life vs. pro-choice
    • African American Rights
      • worked to satisfy the “silent majority” which included asking for the delay of integration and bus orders
      • courts refused this plea, but Nixon got higher approval ratings from Southerners
    • Safety Rights
      • workplace safety, consumer safety, and a healthy environment
        • Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed

Roe v. Wade cartoon

“If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats. But if you take no risks, you win no victories.”

  • Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP)
    • Committee wanted to re-elect Richard Nixon
    • Afraid given the economic troubles due to the expensive Vietnam War that he would not get re-electedElectoralCollege1972-Large.png
    • Raised millions of dollars by illegal contributions
  • George Wallace
    • Democratic nominee (Nixon’s opponent)
    • Shot, but not killed by an assassin, improving Nixon’s chances of re-election
    • As a result, George McGovern won Democratic nomination
  • George McGovern
    • Never seriously challenged Nixon
    • Higher taxes on the wealthy, minimum income for all Americans, draft and decriminalization of marijuana
    • Cuts in defense spending to end war in Vietnam
  • Richard Nixon
    Nixon's victory parade
    • Easily re-elected
    • Won all electoral college but one state
    • His foreign policy successes in China and the Soviet Union helped get him re-elected
    • Shortly after re-election, Watergate Scandal occurred and Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974

"When the president does it, that means it is not illegal."

  • The Scandal
    • watergate-complex.jpg
      Watergate Complex
      The Pentagon Papers leak
      • the leak led to the birth of the “plumbers” (Nixon’s secret intelligence unit designed to stop information leaks to the media) and “dirty tricks” (actions that destroy the reputation of political opponents of the Nixon administration)
    • Nixon’s CREEP (Committee to Re-elect the President)
      • campaign that raised millions of dollars from illegal contributions à separate from the Republican Party
    • June, 1972
      • A group of men hired by Nixon was caught breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington D.C.
        • Was an attempt to bug equipment
    • Other Scandals
      • Daniel Ellsberg (person behind the leak of the Pentagon Papers)
        • the “plumbers” burglarized his office

  • The Investigation
    • After months of investigation, it was proved that Nixon did engage in an illegal cover-up to avoid scandal
  • U.S. v. Nixon (July 24, 1974)
    • The court agreed that Nixon’s claim of executive privilege over the secret tapes could not justify his refusal to release evidence in a criminal investigation.
  • Resignation
    • August 9, 1974
    • Gerald Ford, a member of the House (meaning he was never elected by America as a whole!!) is appointed President (VP Spiro Agnew had resigned because of tax evasion.
  • Significance
    • Proved that the checks and balances system worked
    • Loss of national faith of the federal government

Watch a clip of Nixon's Announcement of Resignation

CBS special on the Watergate Investigation from Oct. 1972
Part 1
Part 2

“Well, I screwed it up real good, didn't I?”