Richard M. Nixon

37th President

The Elections

Date: 1968

Party: Republican

Competitors: Hubert Humphrey (Democratic) & George C. Wallace (American Independent)


  • Nixon had 301 electoral votes, Humphrey had 191 electoral votes and Wallace had 46 electoral votes
  • Nixon urged the people to "stop shouting at one another"
  • His broad knowledge and thoughtful expertise in foreign affairs was his best attribute
  • His first task revolved around the Vietnam War, where he created the term known as "Vietnamization" (ID)
  • Issues/Topics of the campaign: The Vietnam War and Civil Rights


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Date: 1972

Party: Republican

Competitor: George McGovern (Democratic)



  • Nixon had 520 electoral votes and McGovern had only 17 electoral votes
  • Nixon won by a HUGE majority
  • He won every state except for Massachusetts and the District of Columbia
  • Nixon’s campaign emphasized that he had wound down the “Democratic war” in Vietnam from some 540,000 troops to about 30,000
  • "Peace is at hand" (Vietnam was reaching peace --> added boost to Nixon's campaign)
  • Issues/Topics of the campaign: The Vietnam War and International Relations

The Vietnam War

  • Nixon enforced "Vietnamization" which was a plan to slowly retrieve the troops in South Vietnam so that South Vietnam could gain strength to build their own army and not rely on American troops
  • Nixon created the Nixon Doctrine (ID) which stated that the US would honor its existing defense commitments, but in the future other countries would have to fight their own wars without support of American troops


  • Nixon wanted to end the war without spilling anymore American blood
  • Nixon launched his own home front counteroffensive
  • November 3, 1969 Nixon televised a dramatic speech to the "silent majority" who were all supporters of the war
  • By January 1970 the Vietnam War had become the longest conflict America had ever been a part of
  • Over 40,000 were killed and 250,000 were wounded
  • Third most costly war in American history
  • On April 29, 1970, without consulting Congress, Nixon ordered Ameri- can forces to join with the South Vietnamese in cleaning out the enemy sanctuaries in officially neutral Cambodia (ID)
  • Nationwide, students responded to this through vandalism and bombardment
  • Kent State (ID), was a location where open fire occurred on a group of students protesting the Vietnam War
  • In November 1973 the Wars Powers Act (ID) is created which would give any president the power to go to war under certain circumstances, but required that he could only do so for 90 days before being required to officially bring the matter before Congress


  • Only after two months in Cambodia did Nixon withdraw the troops
  • The Senate repeals the Gulf Of Tonkin Resolution blank note

Policy of "Détente"

  • With Chinese-Soviet tension, Nixon thought it was best to ease the tension between the two countries to encourage the two countries to persuade North Vietnam to reach peace
  • Nixon’s thinking was reinforced by his national security adviser, Dr. Henry A. Kissinger (ID)
  • Kissinger even began to meet with North Vietnamese officials encouraging them to end the war
  • Nixon visits Moscow as well as China in 1972
  • These visits issued the idea of Détente (ID), the relaxation of tensions between the United States and its two major Communist rivals, the Soviet Union and China
  • Détente stirred many significant outcomes
  1. One product of eased relations was the Great Grain Deal of 1972 which was a three-year arrangement where the United States agreed to sell the Soviets at least $750 million worth of wheat, corn, and other cereals
  2. Anti–Ballistic Missile Treaty: limited each nation to two clusters of defensive missiles
  3. SALT (ID) : limited the number of long range nuclear weapons for five years

Détente - In Depth

Detente Under Nixon USSR/China

Watergate and Nixon's Impeachment & Resignation

  • On June 17, 1972, only a few months before Nixon's renomination, a burglary had occurred in the Democratic headquarters, located in the Watergate office in Washington
  • Five men were arrested
  • These men worked for the CREEP (ID) or the Committee for the Reelection of the President


  • Many White House employees or advisors were forced to resign because of this great scandal
  • By early 1974 twenty-nine people had been indicted, had pleaded guilty, or had been convicted of Watergate related crimes
  • This scandal provoked illegal use of the FBI and CIA
  • From 1973-1974 there were numerous hearings regarding the Watergate scandal
  • John Dean III accused Nixon of the crime of obstructing justice
  • Conversations regarding the Watergate scandals were soon discovered on tape, yet Nixon refused to give these tapes up for evidence
  • Vice President Agnew was forced to resign in the year of 1973 due to his involvement with bribes
  • 10 days after Agnew's resignation the "Saturday Night Massacre" occurred in which Nixon fired Archibald Cox (the man who released his tapes) even though to general attorneys refused to let Nixon do so
  • In July of 1974, the House approved its first article of impeachment for the obstruction of justice
  • On August 8, 1974, Nixon resigned and avoided the act of impeachment

Nixon's Ultimate Resignation

President Richard Nixon - Address Announcing Resignation