President Nixon had high hopes when he took office. He hoped to win the Vietnam War and be remembered as a peacemaker. He succeeded at some of his goals, but he’s most remembered for the presidential scandal Watergate.
- President Nixon removed 25,000 troops from Vietnam in June, 1969 and continued the Paris peace talks Johnson had begun during his presidency.
- At the same time, Nixon ordered a secret bombing mission in Cambodia to stop Viet Cong leaders from sneaking weapons and troops into South Vietnam. After pulling troops out of Vietnam, Nixon promised South Vietnamese leaders that America would still help them if necessary. This was a promise he couldn’t keep.
- In 1971, Nixon visited China. Since Communists took over China after World War II in 1948, U.S. leaders had refused to deal with the country. Although strongly against Communism, Nixon wanted to improve relationships through understanding. His visit was a success.
- Nixon also visited Moscow in the Soviet Union in 1972. The two countries agreed to work together on space exploration.
- Nixon easily won the election in 1972, but his political career began to unravel after that. During the election, five men broke into the Democratic Party headquarters. This was not an ordinary burglary. The men had wiretapping equipment and were there to gather information against the Democratic Party that could be used by Nixon’s campaign.
- The incident was brushed under the carpet until one of the burglars wrote a letter to the trial judge, John J. Sirica. The letter said that administration officials had planned the break-in.
- The Senate formed a special committee to investigate the allegations. Nixon tried to cover up the Watergate burglary, refusing to hand over recorded conversations to authorities. The Supreme Court ruled that he must hand over the tapes.
- In 1974, Nixon released the tapes which showed that he had lied about his involvement in the break-in. The House of Representatives found reason to impeach him and it seemed clear that the Senate would convict him. Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974, rather than face impeachment. He is the only U.S. president ever to resign.
- Watergate: Watergate was the name of the hotel complex in Washington D.C. where the break-in occurred.
- Impeach: to charge a public official with misconduct
- Convict: to find guilty
Questions and Answers:
Question: What happened after President Nixon resigned?
Answer: In 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew was charged with accepting bribes while governor of Maryland. He was also charged with tax evasion. President Nixon chose Gerald R. Ford to replace Agnew. When Nixon resigned, Ford became president.
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