Bell Ringer
Today’s Essential Question:
How did the Watergate scandal and
President Ford’ pardon lead to American’s
distrust of national politics?
A. Describe President Richard M. Nixon’s
opening of China, his resignation due to
the Watergate scandal, changing attitudes
toward government, and the Presidency of
Gerald Ford.
President Nixon
• President Nixon was beat by Kennedy in the 1960
• Nixon ran again in 1968 and won the electoral college
hands-down, but popular vote by only 1%.
• He promised to unify the nation, restore law and order,
and to end the Vietnam War. Though he did not lay out
his plan to end the Vietnam War, so it was just a
Nixon Visits China
• Since 1949, the US did not
recognize the communist
regime of China as the official
government of China.
President Nixon sought to
change that for the benefit of
the US.
• Nixon announced that he
would visit China in February
• The leaders agreed to have a
more normal relationship, with
Nixon giving a toast “Let us
start a long march together,
not in lockstep, but on different
roads leading to the same
goal, the goal of building a
world structure of peace and
• Nixon also hoped to ease
tensions between the USSR
and China and allow more
peaceful talks between the
USSR and the US by visiting
Watergate Scandal
• Nixon only won the 1968 election by a
very slim margin of popular vote, so his
reelection campaign committee wanted to
more solidly ensure his reelection.
• To do this, they began spying on
opposition rallies, spreading rumors and
false reports, and broke into the
Democratic Party’s headquarters at the
Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.
• The men who broke into the Watergate
complex were caught that night and
Watergate Scandal
• It is believed that Nixon did not order
the Watergate break in, but he
certainly ordered the cover up.
• The public did not pay much attention
after a short time, and Nixon won the
next election by a landslide
• Shortly after reelection, the
Watergate trial started. James
McCord, one of the burglars, decided
to cooperate and give grand jury
testimony, and the flood gates
Watergate Trial
• Whitehouse aide, Butterfield, testified that
Nixon had ordered the tapping of the
Whitehouse so he could write a memoir
after leaving office. These tapes were
discovered and told all that Nixon knew.
• Nixon ordered the special prosecutor,
Cox, to be fired. Two people resigned
instead of firing Cox. Solicitor General
Robert Bork fired Cox, and this was
nicknamed the “Saturday Night
Massacre” and badly damaged Nixon’s
Other 1973 Problems for Nixon
• Nixon’s Vice President,
Agnew, had to resign due
to bribes he had received
as a governor and had
continued to receive as
• Gerald Ford became
Nixon’s Vice President.
Ford made Nixon answer
to his own past financial
Nixon’s Resignation
• Nixon was finally required to turn over the original tapes
• He then had formal charges of presidential misconduct brought
against him, called impeachment.
• Charges included:
– Watergate cover up, misuse of federal agencies to violate the
rights of citizens, defied the authority of Congress by refusing to
deliver tapes and other materials that the committee had
• The evidence was undeniable and President Nixon stepped
down from his office on August 9, 1974.
• Gerald Ford took the oath of office becoming the 38th president.
Changing Attitudes toward
• A series of new laws were
implemented to limit the power of
the executive branch and
reestablish balance of power.
– Federal Campaign Act Amendments:
limited campaign contributions
– Ethics in Government Act: required
financial disclosure
– FBI Domestic Security Investigation
Guidelines: restricted the bureau’s
political intelligence-gathering activities
Changing Attitudes towards
• Despite the efforts made to help
Americans trust the government
again, it was difficult to forgive
and forget the Watergate
• People started saying phrases
like “no one is above the law”.
• Trust in the presidency was never
quite the same.
President Ford-Domestic Affairs
• Ford pardoned Richard Nixon of all
crimes he may or may not have
committed while president. This action
made Ford’s approval rating drop
drastically overnight.
• Ford faced a terrible economy, the
worst since the Great Depression. His
methods to combat it were to conserve
oil and gas as well as other
conservation methods.
• He also attempted balance the budget
and keep taxes low.
President Ford-Foreign Affairs
• President Ford, the Chinese,
and the Soviet Union signed the
Helsinki Accords which
established eastern European
borders back to the pre-WWII
borders and stated that the
Soviet Union would uphold
basic human rights. The Soviets
went back on this promise and
many Americans then turned
their back on détente.
• What was the two-fold purpose of Nixon going to
• Whose testimony at the Watergate Trial caused
Nixon’s whole career to start crashing down?
• Do you trust the government? Do you think you
should after learning about Nixon today? Why or
Why not?
• Would you have pardoned Nixon of his crimes?
Why or why not?
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