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Testing the Superpower
Nixon’s Staff
Although he had a reserved and remote personality, many
Americans respected Nixon for his experience and service.
 Believing that the executive branch needed to be strong,
Nixon gathered a close circle of trusted advisors around
 Nixon’s Close Advisors
John Mitchell — Asked to be Attorney General after working
with Nixon’s campaign in New York, Mitchell often spoke
with Nixon several times a day.
Henry Kissinger — Although he had no previous ties to
Nixon, Harvard government professor Henry Kissinger first
became Nixon’s national security advisor and later his
Secretary of State.
Also had an “enemies list”
Nixon’s Domestic &
Economic Policies
During Nixon’s first few years in
office, the United States went
through economic troubles
unemployment and inflation rose,
and federal spending proved difficult
to control.
•Stagflation: A period of high
inflation combined with economic
stagnation, unemployment, or
economic recession that occurred
during the 1970s.
• In response, Nixon turned to the
practice of deficit spending, or
spending more money in a year than
the government receives in
•Raised taxes, cut the budget
Domestic Policy—Oil
and Inflation
Stagflation usually occurs when there is a shock in the
economy (such as a sudden increase in oil)
 When the United States supported its ally Israel in a war
against Egypt and Syria in 1973 (Yom Kippur War) the
Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo, or
ban, on shipping oil to the United States.
 The resulting shortage resulted in high oil prices, which in
turn drove inflation even higher.
New revenue sharing
Under Nixon’s New Federalism, states were
asked to assume greater responsibility for the
well-being of their citizens, taking some of this
responsibility away from the federal government.
 Takes away programs controlled by
the federal government
 Program may be set up by federal
govt, but money is given to states to
Other domestic issues
Passed by Democratic Congress
 Endangered Species Preservation
 National Environmental Act
 Environmental Protection Agency
 National Oceanic and Atmospheric
 Clean Air Act
The First Moon Landing
During Nixon’s presidency, the United States achieved its goal
of a successful moon landing.
 On July 20, 1969, Neil A. Armstrong became the first man to
walk on the moon. He was joined by Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin,
Jr., a fellow crewman on the Apollo 11 spacecraft.
 Television viewers around the world watched the moon
landing, and Apollo 11’s crew were treated as heroes when
they returned.
Relaxing Tensions
Although Nixon had built a
reputation as a strong antiCommunist, he and Kissinger
reversed the direction of
postwar American foreign policy
by holding talks with China and
the Soviet Union.
Nixon and Kissinger’s greatest
accomplishment was in bringing
about détente, or a relaxation in
tensions, between the United
States and these Communist
Complex Foreign Affairs
The Soviet Union and China, once
allies, had become bitter enemies.
 This development had the
potential to reshape global
A New Approach to China
Easing Relations Between the United States and China
 Historical Background — After its Communist takeover in
1949, the United States refused to recognize the People’s
Republic of China, viewing the government of Taiwan as
the legitimate Chinese rulers.
 Steps to Ease Relations — During the early 1970s,
relations eased between the United States and the
People’s Republic of China. Nixon referred to the nation by
name, travel and trade restrictions were lifted.
Kissinger encouraged Nixon to work
with China. His efforts in ending the
Vietnam War and easing Cold War
tensions made him a celebrity.
A New Approach to China
Easing Relations Between the United States and China
 Nixon’s Visit to China — In February 1972, Nixon became
the first American President to visit China. Touring
Chinese sites in front of television cameras, Nixon
established the basis for future diplomatic ties during his
A New Approach to China
Easing Relations Between the United States and China
 Recognizing the Chinese Government — The United
States decided to join other nations in recognizing the
Chinese government.
Limiting Nuclear Arms
Nixon uses new relations with China to get USSR to talk about
limiting the nuclear arms race.
In 1972, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the first
Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, known as SALT I.
SALT I froze the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers at
existing levels, and provided for the addition of new submarinelaunched ballistic missile launchers.
SALT I demonstrated that arms control agreements between the
superpowers were possible.
However, it did not reduce the number of weapons that either nation
possessed, nor did it halt the development of conventional weapon
Nixon’s Foreign Policy in Vietnam
 Vietnamization
Nixon had hoped to slowly remove US from
the war while helping South Vietnam to defend
 He tried to force North Vietnam into accepting
a peace plan by increasing bombing on North
Vietnam and by attacking North Vietnamese
strongholds in Cambodia.
Spiro Agnew
Nixon’s belligerent Vice-President
who took on opponents much like
Nixon did for Ike
Pleaded ‘no contest’ to bribe charges,
resigns from office in late 1973
Gerald Ford replaces – appointed by
Nixon, approved by Congress
Richard Nixon & Domestic Policy
By the late 1960s, the South was becoming
Nixon seized the opportunity to attract
& corporate
the relocation
to the Republican
Party byof
opposing new civil rights policies &
cutting government spending
Battling Political Enemies
Nixon’s suspicious and secretive nature caused the White House to
operate as if it were surrounded by political enemies.
 One result of this mind-set was the creation of an “enemies list,” a list of
prominent people seen as unsympathetic to the administration.
 When someone in the National Security Council appeared to have leaked
secret government information to the New York Times, Nixon ordered that
wiretaps, or listening devices, be installed on the telephones of some
news reporters and members of his staff.
In June 1971, Daniel Ellsburg leaked the
Pentagon Papers to the NY Times
These are a detailed study of US policy in
Vietnam commissioned in 1967
Because they showed that US leaders had
planned all along to expand the war even
while promising not to, Nixon and Kissinger
felt threatened
•The Pentagon Papers showed US
leaders had lied to the American
people about not wanting to expand
the Vietnam War but did.
•President Nixon felt National Security was threatened.
•Nixon was successful in obtaining a court order to stop
publication but New York Times filed a lawsuit citing free press
issues and violating no prior restraint.
•Nixon ordered Ellsburg’s psychiatrist’s office burglarized
looking for evidence to discredit him.
•Ellsberg was charged with 12
felony counts under the
Espionage Act.
•Carried a maximum sentence of
115 years.
•The charges were against
Ellsberg and Anthony Russo (who
helped him photocopy the papers)
•Charges were dismissed in the fifth month of the trial
on grounds of governmental misconduct due to illegal
wiretapping and evidence tampering.
 There was break-in at the Democratic
Headquarters located in the Watergate
Hotel in Washington
 5 burglars caught June 17, 1972,
carrying cameras, wiretapping
equipment and large amounts of cash
 Nixon administration denied any
 Burglars were convicted in January
1973 and, despite offers of $400K in
hush money from White House
Counsel John Dean, one of the
burglars started to talk
The Watergate Coverup
Although Nixon had not been involved in the break-in, he
became involved in its cover-up.
 He illegally authorized the CIA to try to persuade the FBI to
stop its investigation of the break-in, on the grounds that
the matter involved “national security.”
 Nixon advisors launched a scheme to bribe the Watergate
defendants into silence, as well as coaching them on how
to lie in court.
 During the months following the break-in, the incident was
barely noticed by the public. Nixon won the 1972 election
by a landslide.
The Scandal Unfolds
The Watergate Trial
At the trial of the Watergate
burglars in early 1973, all the
defendants either pleaded guilty
or were found guilty.
The judge presiding over the
trial was not convinced that the
full story had been told.
He sentenced the burglars to
long prison terms, suggesting
that their terms could be
reduced if they cooperated with
upcoming Senate hearings on
Woodward and Bernstein
 Two young Washington Post
reporters, Bob Woodward and
Carl Bernstein, were
influential in tracking down
information to uncover the
Watergate story.
 Woodward and Bernstein
believed that the White House
would prove to be involved in
the Watergate scandal.
The Scandal Unfolds
A Secret Taping System
The Senate Investigates
 Aided by Woodward and Bernstein
 During the Senate hearings,
and by the testimony of one of the
Alexander Butterfield, a former
Watergate burglars, a Senate Select
presidential assistant, revealed
Committee on Presidential
the existence of a secret taping
Campaign Activities began to
system in the President’s
investigate the Watergate affair in
 Millions of Americans watched the
 The taping system had been
Senate hearings unfold on national
set up to provide a historical
record of Nixon’s presidency.
 Nixon attempted to protect himself by
Now it could be used to show
forcing two top aides to resign and by
whether or not Nixon had been
proclaiming that he would take final
involved in the Watergate
responsibility for the mistakes of
Impeachment Hearings and
Nixon’s Resignation
In the summer of 1974, the House Judiciary Committee
voted to impeach Nixon, indicting or charging with
numerous crimes. Conviction, and removal from office by a
trial in the Senate seemed likely.
 On August 5, 1974, Nixon released the White House tapes,
with an 18 1/2 minute gap. Even with this gap, the tapes
revealed his involvement in the Watergate cover up.
 On August 9, 1974, Nixon resigned, the first President ever
to do so. Gerald Ford was sworn in as the new President.
• Essential Questions:
– In what ways did Presidents Ford & Carter fail to
meet the needs of America in the late 1970s?
-Should Nixon’s presidency be judged more in his
foreign policy successes or the Watergate scandal?
America from 1974 to 1980
• In the late 70s, the U.S. was “overextended”
–Americans distrusted their government
as a result of Vietnam & Watergate
–The economy had entered a recession
with high unemployment & inflation
–A decline in America’s status in the world
–A series of presidents (Ford & Carter)
that failed to inspire a sense of hope
among the American people
President Gerald Ford
When Nixon resigned
in 1974, VP Gerald
Ford became president
Ford was seen as an
“honest man” &
hoped to move
America past the
In September
Ford was unable
to move
of constant
any crimes
to Watergate;
about a potential
Ford lost
of Nixon
Another issue during Ford’s presidency
was a growing economic recession
Since the early
interest rates,
a stagnant
the economy
& unemployment
grown stagnant
few new jobs or
business profits
President Gerald Ford
Making the economic situation worse
was the oil crisis of the 1970s
Since “automania”
of the 1950s, U.S.
use of oil was on the
In 1960,rise
the oil rich
nations in the
Middle East & Latin
America formed the
Org of Petroleum
Exporting Countries
President Gerald Ford
Making the economic
situation worse was the
oil crisis of the 1970s
In retaliation for
American support of
Israel, OPEC cut off oil
to the U.S. in 1973
As a result,
gas prices soared &
shortages led to long
lines for gasoline
President Jimmy Carter
Ford had no answer
for stagflation or
the gas crisis &
was challenged by
Georgia Democrat
Jimmy Carter in the
1976 election
Carter ran as an
“outsider” who
played no part in
Vietnam, Watergate,
or the recession
President Jimmy Carter
In the 1976 election, Carter beat Ford
Carter & Domestic Policy
of histried
As president,
to attack
the energy
hit 14%,
interest& rates
neared 20%, &
the recession
a new oil embargo in 1979 increased gas prices
Carter & Foreign Policy
Carter entered office committed to making
“human rights” the basis of U.S. foreign policy
Carter stopped supporting
foreign governments that
violated human rights
In 1977, Carter agreed that
the U.S. would return the
Panama Canal in Dec 1999
Carter hoped to gain peace
in the Middle East between
Israel & the Muslim nations
By the
in 1947,
appeared ready
to recognize
was attacked
Israel inbyexchange
for the
return of
land in the
in the
Sinai Peninsula
1940s, 1960s, & 1970s
1973 Yom Kippur War
between Egypt and
Syria against Israel
Carter & Foreign Policy
Carter brought Egyptian leader Anwar el-Sadat
& Israeli leader Menachem Begin to the U.S.
for the Camp David Accords in 1977
? Carter did
Israel’s right to
Israel agreed
to leave the
Carter & Foreign Policy
But, the situation in the Middle East got worse
in 1979 when fundamentalist Islamic cleric
Ayatollah Khomeini led the Iranian Revolution
Carter & Foreign Policy
Iranians seized the U.S.
embassy & captured
52 American hostages
(Iranian Hostage Crisis)
Carter tried negotiation,
economic threats, &
a rescue mission to
return the hostages
but all efforts failed
The 52 hostages were
held for 444 days
Carter & Foreign Policy
To make matters worse,
the Soviet Union
invaded Afghanistan
in 1979 to defeat an
anti-communist uprising
The invasion signaled
an end to Nixon’s
détente with the USSR
as the United States
sent aid to the Afghan
The Election of 1980
had been
unable in
to search
In By
of 1980,
free Ronald
the U.S.Reagan
of answers
or restore America’s place in the world
• By 1980, the USA seemed to be losing its
place as the top nation in the world:
–The 1970s presented failures in the Cold
War & new problems in the Middle East
–The social protests & counter culture
seemed to divide liberals & conservatives
–Stagflation & the economic recession
were growing worse, not better
–The failures of Johnson, Nixon, Ford, &
Carter left citizens in search of optimism,
strong leadership, & conservative policies