January 9th 1913: Nixon born
On this day in 1913, the future 37th President of the United States Richard M. Nixon was born. Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California and later represented his state in the House of Representatives and the Senate as a member of the Republican Party. Nixon was Vice-President from 1953 to 1961 under President Eisenhower. He lost the 1960 election to the Democrat John F. Kennedy but later won the presidency in 1968. As President, Nixon initially increased US involvement in Vietnam and extended the war into Cambodia, but he eventually ended the war in 1973. In 1974 he became the first and only President to resign after revelations about illegal activities of his administration in the Watergate scandal. He was pardoned by his successor Gerald Ford and tried to rebuild his image until he died from a stroke in 1994 aged 81.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of his birth
August 9th 1974: Nixon resigns
On this day in 1974 at noon, Richard M. Nixon became the first and only President of the United States to resign from office. He was replaced by his Vice-President, Gerald Ford. Nixon resigned due to the revelations of the Watergate scandal that his administration had been involved in illegal activities. These included breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex and wiretapping. He long denied direct knowledge, but after the Supreme Court forced him to hand over the tapes of his conversations in the Oval Office, Nixon’s involvement was clear. He resigned rather than face impeachment and almost certain removal by Congress. He was later pardoned for his crimes by Ford, who hoped his decision would help America heal and move on.
40 years ago - June 17th 1972: Watergate break-in
On this day in 1972, 40 years ago, five White House operatives were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington DC. The men were aiming to wiretap the Democrats in preparation for the 1972 presidential election. The incident was the first in a series of revelations which revealed illegal activities of President Richard Nixon’s administration and led to his resignation in 1974. It was discovered the burglars had received money that had been donated to Nixon’s re-election campaign. The administration tried to cover-up its involvement in the 1972 incident. It was later discovered Nixon taped his conversations in the Oval Office and the Supreme Court ordered he hand the tapes over, which implicated the President in the cover-up and led to his resignation to avoid impeachment. Watergate is considered one of the greatest political scandals in history.
November 17th 1973: Nixon says “I am not a crook”
On this day in 1973 US President Richard M. Nixon told a group of Associated Press reporters during a televised question and answer session in Orlando, Florida that “I am not a crook”. This came in the context of the revelations about illegal activities by his administration in what came to be known as the Watergate scandal; it was named for the building complex which contained the Democratic National Committee headquarters which Nixon officials broke into to find out about their electoral strategies. By 1974, it became clear that Nixon had knowledge of the illegal activities, after the Supreme Court ordered he release tapes of his Oval Office coversations. He resigned in August in order to avoid almost certain impeachment.
“People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got”
July 21st 1969: Man walks on the Moon
On this day in 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon. The Apollo 11 mission landed on the Moon on July 20th at 20:18 UTC. Armstrong’s boot hit the surface of the Moon at 2:56 UTC the next day. Aldrin soon joined Armstrong and the pair planted the flag of the United States on the lunar surface. They received a brief phone call from President Richard Nixon. The moon landing was broadcast live, reaching an estimated global audience of 450 million. The astronauts returned safely to Earth on July 24th. The landing ended the space race and fulfilled the goal put in place by the late President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
“That’s one small step [a] for man, one giant leap for mankind”
May 31st 2005: Mark Felt revealed as Deep Throat
On this day in 2005, Vanity Fair revealed the identity of the secret informant on the Watergate scandal as former FBI Associate Director Mark Felt. In the early 1970s, Felt provided Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward with information regarding President Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal, which led to the President’s resignation in 1974. There had been speculation both at the time and later that Felt was the leak, but it was not officially announced until May 31st 2005. Vanity Fair’s article was written by Felt’s lawyer and after its release, his identity was confirmed by the Post’s reporters from the time. Felt’s family had convinced him to reveal himself for the potential book deals and money it would raise them. Felt died on December 18th 2008.
“I’m the guy they used to call Deep Throat.”
- Mark Felt in Vanity Fair, 2005