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Quick Overview
O In this unit you will learn about American society in the
last 30 years of the twentieth century.
Under President Nixon, the United States withdrew from
Vietnam & opened diplomatic relation with Communist
In the 1970s, U.S. prestige suffered from Watergate &
the Iran Hostage Crisis
Under Presidents Reagan & Bush, America moved
toward greater conservatism in government
Under President Clinton, Americans saw an end to the
Cold War and enjoyed economic prosperity from the
growth of the computer industry.
What we will go over
O Nixon Presidency (1969 – 1974)
O Ford Presidency (1974 – 1977)
O Carter Presidency (1977 – 1981)
O Reagan Presidency (1981 – 1989)
O George H.W. Bush Presidency (1989 – 1993)
O Clinton Presidency (1993 – 2001)
O Achieving the American Dream: Bill Gates, Sam
Walton, Estee Lauder, Robert Johnson, & Lionel
Imperial Presidency
O U.S. Constitution authors had
attempted to keep balance
between the separate branches
Since the 1930s: Presidential
power had been increasing
During the Great Depression,
the New Deal gave the
President a larger role in
managing the economy
2 World Wars & the Cold War
added to the President’s role in
foreign affairs
Unlike Congress, the President
can act rapidly & decisively
Nixon Presidency (‘69 - 74)
O Media (radio & television) increased the President’s
ability to appeal directly to voters.
Presidents begin relying on their own advisors instead
of on Cabinet members- who Congress has to approve.
Expansion of Presidential power reached its peak under
President Richard Nixon.
Failed to consult Congress about the bombing of
Cambodia & Laos
Used public funds to remodel his private homes
Used CIA & FBI to collect information on political
When Congress voted for programs he did not like, he
simply refused to spend those funds.
Domestic Policy
O Moved nation in a more conservative direction
O Felt Federal social programs were inefficient & they
should & could have been dealt with at a local level
Put an end to the draft
Create series of strong anticrime laws
Advance broad environmental program
O Rising Prices
O Trade Deficit
O Rising Unemployment
O Cut spending on social programs
O Took America off the Gold Standard
O When these things did not work, he imposed the 1st
peacetime wage and price controls
O All proved unsuccessful
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
O Sets air & water
pollution standards
O Engages in
monitoring &
O New construction
must pass through a
impact review
O Private citizens can
file lawsuits against
polluters under the
Endangered Species Act (1973)
O This law requires
Fish and Wildlife
Service to list
species of plants
and animals that
are threatened with
O Must take Further
steps to protect
these species of
plants and animals
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
O 1923: Alice Paul proposes the Equal Rights
For almost 50 years, the amendment was introduced in
each session of Congress- Failed every time
1972: Approved and sent to the states with a 7 year
limit for ratification
Deadline extended to 1982, but still fell 3 states
short of the support needed for ratification.
Phyllis Schlafly: Critic of the Women’s Liberation
Movement strongly opposed the act
Feared it would deprive the women of the “right” to be
“supported & protected” by men
O Believed the amendment might lead:
O To unisex restrooms
O Require women to serve in combat roles
Foreign Policy
O Nixon believed the President’s most important role was
directing the countries foreign policy.
O Vietnam: Reduced the number of troops. Increased
bombing raids & financial aid to South Vietnam.
O China: Re-opened relations in 1972.
O Strong Anti-Communist, surprised the world by restoring
diplomatic relations with Communist China. Became the 1st
American President to visit mainland China.
O Greatest Foreign Policy Achievement
O Soviet Union: Believed in pursuing a policy of detente: a
relaxing of tensions.
O Wanted to halt the build up Nuclear Weapons
O Became 1st U.S. President to visit Moscow
O Signed agreement with Soviet Union leaders, limiting the
development of defensive missile systems.
O Further agreed to sell American grain to the Soviet Union to
help them cope with food shortages
O ‘73: War broke out in the Middle East- U.S. & Soviet Union
further cooperated in pressuring Israel and the Arab states
to conclude a cease-fire
The Cover-Up
O Tried to cover up an investigation of the Watergate
break-in on the grounds of National Security
O Two reporters were the first to report possible links
between the break-in and the White House.
O Senate Appointed a committee to investigate
O Attorney General also appointed a Special Prosecutor
to examine possible wrong doings.
Watergate Tapes
O Presidential aide stated that Nixon had participated in
the cover-up
Revealed that Nixon secretly recorded all of his own
White House Conversations
Nixon would not let the Senate Committee listen to the
tapes - claimed executive privilege
Nixon said Congress had no authority to question
members of the executive branch about internal
United States v. Nixon (1974)
Nixon Resigns
O Tapes made public
O Nixon had in fact lied when he said he was not involved
in the cover-up
O The House of Representatives moved to impeach Nixon
O Fearing removal from office by the U.S. Senate, Nixon
became the first and only President to resign.
Ford’s Presidency (‘74 - ‘77)
O Ford’s main worries were economic ones
O Stagflation: High unemployment combined with
O Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC): Formed in 1960. Most OPEC members
were Arab countries.
O 1973: The Arab nations of OPEC used oil as a
political weapon by imposing an oil embargo on the
U.S. and Western European countries for siding with
Israel in the 1973 war.
O Helsinki Accords: 1975: The U.S., Canada, Soviet
Union, and most European countries signed an
international agreement recognizing post-World War
II borders & promising respect for human rights
Carter’s Presidency (‘77 - ‘81)
O Many Americans continued to blame
Republicans for the Watergate Scandal
O Carter was former Governor of Georgia
O Carter was elected as an “outsider” who
promised to end corruption and “clean up”
Carter’s Domestic Policy
O Chief problem at home was the economy
O U.S. Depended on imported oil & oil prices continued
to rise!
Inflation was more than 10% (this means that in a
single year, prices were 10% higher at the end of the
year than they were at the beginning).
Interest rates were 20%
Unemployment stayed high
Carter pushed through Congress the Community
Reinvestment Act (1977), which required banks to
make credit available in poor communities,
preventing the decay of low-income neighborhoods in
the inner city
Carter’s Domestic Program
O The Energy Crisis: created the Department of
Energy. Also increased the oil in the nation’s
“Strategic Petroleum Reserve.” Sought special
tax on large automobiles, and the power to
ration gas, but Congress denied him those
O Stagflation: Inflation & Interest rates soared in
1979 (partly due to the oil crisis). Cut Federal
spending, but inflation didn’t come down until
2 years later during the Reagan Presidency.
Carter’s Domestic Program
O The Environment: Provided funds to clean up
toxic dumpsites. Following an accident at the
Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in 1979,
Carter created the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission to develop stricter standards for
the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
O Diversity: Carter appointed women and minority
members to government posts. He also
sponsored a bill requiring public schools to
provide instruction to students in their native
language while trying to learn English.
Carter’s Foreign Policy
O Wanted the U.S. to set a moral example
O Human rights a high priority: condemned apartheid
in South Africa, pressured the Soviet Union to allow
its Jews to emigrate, & cut aid to dictatorships that
violated human rights
O The Panama Canal Treaty (1977): Returned control
of all of the Canal Zone, except the canal itself, to
Panama. U.S. further agreed to turn over the canal to
Panama by the end of the century.
Carter’s Foreign Policy
O Camp David Accords (1977): Egypt & Israel had
fought one another in a series of wars since the
creation of Israel back in 1948. Carter invited
Andrew Sadat (Egypt’s President) & Menachem
Begin (The Prime Minister of Israel) to the
Presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland. After
the face-to-face negotiations, an agreement between
the two leaders was reached. Israel agreed to return
the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt (which had been taken
during the was in 1967). In exchange, Egypt offered a
peace treaty and the establishment of normal
diplomatic relations with Israel (ending a 30 year
Carter’s Foreign Policy
O U.S./ Soviet Relations: Initially continued Nixon’s
détente. 1979 Soviets invade Afghanistan. This
aggressive act brought a temporary end to détente.
Carter halted grain sales, boycotted the 1980
Olympics in Moscow, & postponed ratification of a
new arms control agreement (SALT II)
Carter’s Foreign Policy
O The Iranian Revolution & Hostage Crisis: The Shah of Iran
was an ally to the U.S. He was also a brutal dictator to his
opponents. He had promised freedoms that never came.
After widespread demonstrations started to break out
against the Shah (1978) - he fled the country (1979).
Ayatollah Khomeini & religious leaders took control. These
Fundamentalist Shiite Muslims were generally hostile to
Western influence. Resented America for helping the Shah
and backing Israel.
O October, 1979: the Shah enters the U.S. for medical treatment.
2 weeks later the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran is seized. The
hostages were blindfolded, tied up and accused of working for
the CIA. Days dragged into weeks and weeks into months. The
embassy staff was held hostage for more than 1 year.
O U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Iran & other countries
supported the U.S. (America’s image still suffered because of
our inability to free the hostages.)
O Negotiations finally led to their release on the day that Jimmy
Carter left office and Ronald Reagan became President.