The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum has just gone live with online Watergate tapes, videos, photos, and documents relating to his resignation 40 years ago Aug. 9, 1974.
The “playlist” includes President Nixon’s resignation speech to his staff, and key segments of the infamous Watergate tapes, such as “smoking gun” and “cancer on the Presidency”.
Those “conversations, part of the Watergate Trial Tapes, played pivotal roles in impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives that led to President Nixon’s decision to resign,” the library noted.
- “Smoking gun”: President Nixon and his chief of staff H.R. (Bob) Haldeman discuss the FBI’s investigation into the June 22, 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex. The next morning, Haldeman tells Nixon that the FBI has been able “to trace the money found on the burglars…and it goes in some directions we don’t want it to go.” Haldeman proposes having the CIA tell the FBI to “‘stay the hell out of this'”, and claim that the break-in was a national security operation.
- “Cancer on the Presidency”: White House counsel John Dean on March 21, 1973 tells President Nixon that the cover-up is “a cancer on the Presidency” that must be excised or his Presidency would be in danger. They also discuss possibilities of blackmail, perjury, and paying off the Watergate burglars with one million dollars. “We could get that…in cash,” Nixon says.
Online documents include:
- Haldeman’s handwritten notes from April 29, 1973: They include an early mention by President Nixon of resigning.
- Three different proposed resignation letters.
Periodically, the Library will update its YouTube playlist with additional content related to the end of the Nixon Presidency, including the secret taping system that was installed in the Oval Office in February 1971 and removed in July 1973.
The Library also shows many images documenting the last few days and moments of the Nixon Administration, including:
- President Nixon informing his family that he decided to resign, and their reactions.
- His last meal in the White House — pineapple and cottage cheese.
- His farewell speech to his White House staff.
- His final departure from the White House.
In addition to the Nixon Library’s online items for the 40th anniversary of his resignation, the National Archives in Washington will display some relevant documents Aug. 8-11:
- His official resignation letter, saying only “I hereby resign the office of the President of the United States of America. Sincerely, Richard Nixon”.
- President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon — one of the most controversial decisions by any President. His Sept. 8, 1974 proclamation grants “a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he… has committed or may have committed…”
The items will be in the National Archives’ rotating “Featured Documents” exhibit in the East Rotunda. To see some of the “Featured Documents” online, click here.
The National Archives administers 13 Presidential libraries, dating back to the 31st President Herbert Hoover.
Nixon’s the One, as one of his campaign slogans said. Nixon’s the only U.S. President to resign.
For more info: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.nixonmuseum.gov/, Nixon resignation online, http://www.nixonlibrary.gov/newsandevents/resignation.php. National Archives, www.archives.gov, on the National Mall at Constitution Avenue and 7th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.