MOMENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY:
8, 1974, Washington D.C. President Richard Nixon resigns from
office. Why? In 1972, a former CIA men were arrested for breaking
into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate
hotel-office complex in Washington, D.C. Two reporters for the
" Washington Post " traced connections between the
men and President Nixon's re-election committee. Eventually
their work led to investigations on national television by the
U.S. Senate. Many of President Nixon's top advisors were forced
to testify. Each had played a role in the scandal, and evidence
soon pointed to President Nixon's involvement in authorizing
a cover-up of the illegal break-in.
of President Nixon's advisors went to jail. The Watergate affair
revealed a shocking degree of corruption in the Nixon administration.
President Nixon had basically created his own private secret
police to attack and discredit his enemies. Many American politicians
were appalled by this violation of American law. In a separate
scandal President Nixon's Vice-President was also forced to
resign. Many Americans already skeptical of their government
because of the Vietnam war, lost even more faith in their elected
leaders because of the Watergate scandal.
did this all mean? President Richard Nixon had been an enigma.
Under President Eisenhower he had been a staunch anti-Communist
who had persecuted many Americans who he thought were Communist
spies regardless of the lack of evidence. Yet as President,
Richard Nixon went to China and to the Soviet Union in an attempt
to ease Cold War tensions. President Nixon did not start the
Vietnam war, but he did end it. Yet, it took another four more
years of useless fighting and also needless deaths for truce
terms to be accepted, terms that had been available when President
Nixon first took office.
Nixon was against further government interference in American
life, yet under his administration big government grew even
more. President Nixon secretly taped all his telephone conversations
and wire-tapped many of his closest aides. His paranoia was
huge. President Nixon used American intelligence agencies to
cover-up a series of criminal acts. Most other law-breakers
would have gone to jail, but in a controversial pardon by his
successor President Gerald Ford, President Nixon was spared
politics in the Sixties and Seventies seemed to be getting out
of control. Between 1933 and 1961, The American presidency was
dominated by just three men, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry
S.Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower Yet, between 1961 and 1981,
a much shorter time period, no less than six presidents would
occupy the White House as times became confusingly more difficult.
The Second wave was ending and no one knew how to proceed into
the future. The post-modern era had unknown rules as technology
and culture fused in new and unfamiliar ways. Strong and visionary
leadership in this strange time of transition was simply lacking.