By Terrian Maxwell
Richard Nixon (1913-94), the 37th U.S. president, is best remembered as the only president ever to resign from office. Nixon stepped down in 1974, halfway through his second term, rather than face impeachment over his efforts to cover up illegal activities by members of his administration in the Watergate scandal. A former Republican congressman and U.S. senator from California, he served two terms as vice president under Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969) in the 1950s. In 1960, Nixon lost his bid for the presidency in a close race with Democrat John F. Kennedy (1917-63). He ran for the White House again in 1968 and won. As president, Nixon’s achievements included forging diplomatic ties with China and the Soviet Union, and withdrawing U.S. troops from an unpopular war in Vietnam. However, Nixon’s involvement in Watergate tarnished his legacy and deepened American cynicism about government.
The Watergate Scandal
America’s 38th president, Gerald Ford (1913-2006) took office on August 9, 1974, following the resignation of President Richard Nixon (1913-1994), who left the White House in disgrace over the Watergate scandal. Ford became the first unelected president in the nation’s history. A longtime Republican congressman from Michigan, Ford had been appointed vice president less than a year earlier by President Nixon. He is credited with helping to restore public confidence in government after the disillusionment of the Watergate era. The unusual chain of events that lifted Ford to the Oval Office began in 1972 when operatives connected to President Richard Nixon’s (1913-1994) re-election campaign broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. A number of high-ranking Nixon administration officials knew about the break-in, and the president himself took part in efforts to cover up the illegal activities that became known as the Watergate scandal.
Only months into his new position, in 1972, Woodward encountered one of the biggest stories of his career: Tipped to a burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., he and fellow Post reporter Carl Bernstein were called on to investigate. Woodward eventually connected the break-in to the highest levels of President Richard Nixon's administration. The Woodward-Bernstein team's coverage of the scandal amassed several Post stories, which were initially denounced but later confirmed by the White House's press secretary, Ron Ziegler. "I would apologize to the Post, and I would apologize to Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein," Ziegler stated in May 1973, adding, "They have vigorously pursued this story and they deserve the credit and are receiving the credit." Woodward and Bernstein soon became synonymous with investigative journalism, receiving wide acclaim for their journalistic work. In addition to breaking the story, their in-depth reporting and powerful writing sparked one of the greatest political upsets in American history: Nationwide news coverage; investigations by the House Judiciary Committee, Senate Watergate Committee and Watergate Special prosecutor; and, ultimately, President Nixon's resignation and the criminal conviction of many others.