Richard Nixon

"When the President does it, it's not illegal"

Elections of Richard Nixon

Election #1

  • Republican

  • 1969-1973

  • Spiro Agnew was his VP

  • Won 301 electoral votes to 191 against democrat Hubert Humphrey

  • Also won the popular vote, but it was a very close win, 31,710,470 to 30,898,055

  • Also am American independent candidate, but he only received 46 electoral votes

Election #2

  • 1973-1974

  • VP was Gerald Ford

  • Republican

  • Resigned from office after the watergate scandal

  • first president to resign due to threat of impeachment

  • Won 520 electoral votes against democrat George McGovern, who won 17 of them

  • He won 46,720, 323 of the popular votes to 28,950,921


Vietnam War

  • in his first term, nixon promised the american public that he would reduce US troops in vietnam and ultimately end the war without spilling more american blood

  • because of this promise, he started to push his plan of Vietnamization.

  • despite his pledge, american troops remained high in numbers

  • had to honorably end the war

  • In 1973, Nixon’s last year, the last of US troops left vietnam, however, some military advisors and marines remained behind

  • the idea of vietnamization spurned the so called Nixon Doctrine

  • most americans wanted unconditional and rapid removal of troops. many had already died and many more were wounded. It had become the third most expensive war in american history (40,000 killed and over 250,000 wounded) In response to war protests, nixon launched homefront counteroffensives (VP Spiro Agnew attacked “wrongly informed newspapers” and the mobs of negativism that were the protestors)

  • Nixon’s administration actually expanded the war into the neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia



  • began with Nixon’s visits to moscow and china

  • this era resulted in several significant agreements

  • Great Grain deal of 1972 - three year arrangement by which the food-rich US sold the soviets at least $750 million worth of wheat, corn and other cereals

  • steps to stem the competition in nuclear arms were taken

    • ABM Treaty - limited each nation to two clusters of defensive missiles

    • SALT - Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, stopped the numbers of long range nuclear missiles for 5 years

    • both were signed in 1972

    • were long overdue steps in the arms race

  • Nixon’s detente diplomacy did, to some extent, start the end of the Cold war

  • Nixon co-opted the two great communist powers in the world, and therefore set up America’s exit from the war in Vietnam

Watergate, impeachment and his resignation

  • June 17, 1972, about two months after Nixon’s renomination

  • burglary occurred in the Democratic headquarters

  • five men arrested were bugging the inside of the building

  • they were working for the Republican Committee for the Reelection of the President (CREEP)

  • CREEP had been associated with many secretive, unethical and unlawful things to secure money, and had also engaged in many dirty tricks

  • Watergate scandal made the Grant and Harding scandals look respectable

  • several white house members were forced to resign because many were involved in criminal obstruction of justice through cover-ups or payments of hush money

  • by 1974, 29 people had been indicted, pleaded guilty or had been convicted of watergate-related crimes

  • the watergate scandal provoked improper/illegal use of the FBI and the CIA

  • even the IRS was called upon by nixon’s aids to harass political opponents

  • even an “enemies list” that included innocent citizens that were to be hounded and prosecuted in various ways

  • Because Dr. Daniel Ellsberg had leaked information to the press (Pentagon Papers), Nixon’s aids authorized burglary of the Dr.’s psychiatrist. This was the most notorious exploit of the white house “plumbers unit”, which was created to plug up leaks of confidential information

  • Nixon withheld sections of the watergate tapes, and refused to hand them over, giving the House Judiciary Committee only enough to vindicate him. House Judiciary committee ruled that it was illegal for him to withhold tapes relevant to criminal activity

  • After trying to tell the american public that he knew nothing about the Watergate stuff, the public backlash was overwhelming

  • it was apparent that the best way for Nixon to continue to serve his nation was to resign with honor, before he was impeached by the Senate

  • announced his resignation August 8, 1974