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Introduction: Remembering Watergate

  • Michael A. Genovese
  • Iwan W. Morgan
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  • 285 Downloads
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)

Abstract

Watergate destroyed the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. Entailing far more than the cover-up of the botched burglary of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) offices on June 17, 1972, it was the generic name that encompassed all the serious crimes and misdemeanors of the Nixon White House. From early 1973 until Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974, to avoid almost certain impeachment, the nation was shocked by the steady stream of revelations about the misconduct of the president and his men. Time magazine called Watergate “America’s most traumatic political experience of this century.” Looking to declare an end to this sad episode in the nation’s history, Gerald Ford offered this assurance on the day he took office as Nixon’s successor: “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”1

Keywords

Grand Jury National Security Council Judiciary Committee Dirty Trick National Security Adviser 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Time, August 19, 1974; Gerald Ford, “Remarks on Taking the Oath of Office,” August 9, 1974, in John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project [APP] (Santa Barbara: University of California), www.presidency.ucsb.edu.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Widely recognized as the best study of Watergate is Stanley I. Kutler, The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon (New York: Norton, 1992).Google Scholar
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    More accessible for those new to the subject are: Michael Genovese, The Watergate Crisis (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999)Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    Keith Olson, Watergate: The Presidential Scandal That Shook America (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003).Google Scholar
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    For a good journalistic account, see Fred Emery, Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon (New York: Random House, 1994).Google Scholar
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    The best historical study of the Nixon presidency is Melvin Small, The Presidency of Richard Nixon (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999).Google Scholar
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    The same author has also edited a comprehensive collection Melvin Small, A Companion to Richard M. Nixon (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    For contrasting assessments, see Michael Genovese, The Nixon Presidency: Power and Politics in Turbulent Times (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1990)Google Scholar
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    Quoted in David Nather, “New Handshake, Same Grip,” CQ Weekly, December 17, 2007, 3702.Google Scholar
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    Despite being one of the most written about presidents, Nixon still lacks a definitive biography. To date, the best remains Stephen E. Ambrose’s three volume study, Nixon: the Education of a Politician, 1913–62, Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962–72, and Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 1973–1990 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987, 1989, and 1991).Google Scholar
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    David Frost, “I Gave Them a Sword:” Behind the Scenes of the Nixon Interviews (New York: William Morrow, 1978), 183. In his memoirs, Nixon also asserted that critics who called the scheme repressive and unlawful “did not face the exigencies of a critical period in which the President, whose paramount responsibility is to ensure the safety of all citizens, was forced to consider measures that would undoubtedly be unacceptable in more tranquil times.” See RN, 475.Google Scholar
  40. 27.
    Quoted in Tom Wicker, One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream (New York: Random House, 1990), 660.Google Scholar
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    For the transcript, see Stanley I. Kutler, ed., Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes (New York: Free Press, 1997), 7–8. This collection provides edited transcripts of 201 hours of Watergate tapes, released in November 1996. Nixon, and then the Nixon estate after his death, had conducted a legal battle against release of the recordings. However, as a result of the suit brought by Stanley Kutler and Public Citizen, a binding agreement was struck with the National Archives and the Nixon estate providing for eventual release of 3,700 hours of tapes.Google Scholar
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  45. 35.
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    Stanley Kutler, ed, Watergate, The Fall of Richard M. Nixon (St. James, NY: Brandywine Press, 1996), 50; Small, The Presidency of Richard Nixon, 277–278.Google Scholar
  50. 49.
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    Stephen Ambrose, Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 148–149; Alexander Haig with Charles McCarry, Inner Circles: How America Changed the World (New York: Warner, 1982), 348.Google Scholar
  52. 55.
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  53. 58.
    Richard Ben-Veniste and George Frampton, Jr., Stonewall: The Real Story of the Watergate Prosecution (New York: Bantam, 1974), 161.Google Scholar
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    Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction 1863–1877 (New York: Harper Sc Row, 1990), chapters 5–7.Google Scholar
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    Gerald Ford, A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford (New York: Harper Row, 1979), 178.Google Scholar
  56. 63.
    Bob Woodward, Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), 37–38.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael A. Genovese and Iwan W. Morgan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Genovese
  • Iwan W. Morgan

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