The Watergate Scandal and crisis that rocked the United States began on the early morning of June 17, 1972 with a small-scale burglary and it ended August 9, 1974 with the resignation of Republican President Richard Milhous Nixon. At approximately 2:30 in the morning of June 17, 1972, five burglars were discovered inside the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate office building in Washington DC. The burglars, who had been attempting to tap the headquarters’ phone were linked to Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). Over the next few months, what had began as a minor break-in quickly escalated into a full-blown political scandal. It was the cover-up, not the actual break-in that led to Nixon’s downfall and the start of a period of distrust of the government by the American people.
Long before the Watergate break-in, the Nixon administration had been very careful, almost paranoid, about their public image, and did everything they could to avoid unfavorable publicity. In fact, paranoia was a characteristic of Nixon furthered by the public’s criticism of his policies regarding the Vietnam War. That atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion was fueled by the leaking of the Pentagon Papers, defense department documents concerning the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, which were leaked to the New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971. (Bernstein and Woodward 165) Shortly after the publication of the Pentagon Papers, Nixon established a White House special investigations unit to trace and stop any further leaks to the press. This special investigations unit was nicknamed the “Plumbers” and was headed by two of the Presid...
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...nam. Nixon, himself, has thought about how different his presidency could have been if he were elected in 1960. He would have followed Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had an 8-year scandal-free administration. Instead, he followed in Lyndon B. Johnson’s steps of corruption, spying, recordings, extended illegal use of the FBI, and exploited access to TV. (Nixon 624-25) This fed into his insecurities and habitual paranoia, which facilitated his downfall.
Bernstein, Carl and Woodward, Bob. All the President’s Men. New York: Touchstone Books, 1976.
Nixon, Richard. RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon. New York: Touchstone Books, 1978, 1990.
Sirica, John J. To Set the Record Straight. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.,1979.
“Watergate.” Grolier Electronic Publishing. 1992.
Westerfeld, Scott. Watergate. Englewood Cliffs: Silber Burdett, 1991.
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