A Divided Union

Nixon and Watergate

Nixon (Republican) won the 1968 Presidential election.

Presidency 1969-74
Overall during Nixon’s presidency there was increased unemployment and rising inflation, he a;sp rejected proposals to set-up childcare centres for mothers who needed work because he feared it would attack traditional values. He did increase welfare benefits. Internationally he improved relations with China and the USSR (his presidency marked a period of détente with the USSR, a period of eased relations) and he ended US involvement in Vietnam.

The Watergate Scandal
• June 1972 -- Five men were arrested in the Watergate building, all of which were members of CREEP (The committee to re-elect the President)

• Two Washington Post Journalists took interest in the story and claimed the President knew about the break-in

• Nixon denied any involvement and spent over $500 000 to bribe people to keep quiet.

• Even though Nixon won the 1972 election the story wouldn’t go away and later admitted that two of his top advisors were involved, they both resigned.

• It emerged to the Senate that Nixon taped all of his conversations in the White House. Nixon refused to hand over the tapes and instead ordered the dismissal of the Judge leading the investigation

• Nixon eventually was forced to hand over the tapes however they were heavily edited; one even had 18 minutes missing. Congress prepared to impeach Nixon and the Supreme Court ordered that the remaining tapes be handed over. Nixon resigned.


What was Nixon guilty of doing?
Illegally used money donated to his re-election campaign to buy the burgers silence, used government agencies to keep watch over his political opponents rather than enemy’s of the country, he misused his power as President in an attempt to stop the investigation of his crimes and he destroyed evidence by editing the tapes.

Nixon leaves the Whitehouse

EFFECT OF WATERGATE -- Congress quickly passed a series of laws to prevent future Presidents behaving as they pleased. The new laws made it more difficult for the government to keep information secret from people, other laws controlled how much could be spent on election campaigns and what money could be spent on and most importantly. The War Powers Act (1973) required the president to get permission from Congress to use combat troops abroad for any period above 90 days (for those interested this was overturned in 2002 so now the decision to go to war is once again in the hands of the US President, George Bush exercised this right with the Iraq war six months later).

Opinions are divided whether Watergate harmed or strengthened the USA. Some people believed Watergate showed how good the American justice system was, Nixon was found out and removed from office, however if Nixon hadn’t taped his conversations he wouldn’t have been caught raising doubts about the US political system. People also became more sceptical of their leaders and the affair lowered the standing of the president by showing him to be a liar.

In 1976 Americans voted for Democrat Jimmy Carter who’s most important policy was he promised never to tell a lie.