Will history forgive Richard Nixon? Year 12 Discussion

Richard NixonIn our Year 12 History lessons, we’ve spent most of this term studying the Presidency of Richard Nixon, from his unexpected rise to his catastrophic fall. We’ve considered how he was elected during the tumultuous year of 1968, analysed what defined his first term in office, assessed just how comfortable his 1972 victory was and argued just how damaging the Watergate scandal was to both Nixon personally, and the White House in general.

Now it’s the turn of the students to take over the blog! Over the half term holiday they’ll be posting their argument in the comments below as to whether they think history will ever forgive Richard Nixon for what he did. It’s a great way for them to discuss history & analyse the significance of events without writing a formal essay. Once the half term holiday is over, I’ll publish my own thoughts to compliment theirs, as we finish off our study of possibly the most controversial American President.


11 responses to “Will history forgive Richard Nixon? Year 12 Discussion

  1. I watched the Watergate trials on tv and when they came out with proof that JFK had done the same thing – the screen went blank. He was not as corrrupt as some of our Presidents and I remember earning far more during his administration than others. The economy was great. History needs to remember the entire story.

  2. I do not think that history will forgive Nixon. Nixon had been doing good work during his presidency such as his visit to China and making decisions that appealed to ‘Middle America’. But all of his work was overshadowed by Watergate. This is what he will be remembered for and it is the event that will be the biggest judge of his character when people look back at his presidency. It is much more extreme but Hitler did great things as a leader but history will always remember him for the Holocaust, ETC. and history will never forgive him. So I don’t think Nixon will be forgiven as he is most known for Watergate and no body likes a cheat.

  3. I think that history should forgive Richard Nixon.
    Looking over Nixon’s years as president and his life before presidency, it is clear that he had a real potential to be an outstanding politician (for good reasons). I think that people should not just go along with what everyone else thinks and should look more in depth at Nixon’s successes.
    In Nixon’s roller coaster career as President he did have many successes, those being within America and outside it. As Josh said, Nixon listened to and appreciated the ‘silent majority’ which was something that no other President had really done but his probably three most successful domestic policies were ending the draft on Vietnam, setting up the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and his work with the economy.

    Ending the Draft:
    -it was a reform of the highest strategic importance that Nixon must take full credit for. I think that history has shown Nixon to be right in this decision with America’s now extremely powerful Armed Forces made of non – conscripted men and women.

    -This was groundbreaking
    -There were 642 new National Parks created in Nixon’s Presidency as he realised that not all Americans could travel to Yellow Stone and this gained him votes.

    The Economy:
    -Nixon spent a considerable amount of time on the economy
    -He helped areas of high unemployment and redirected government funds to those areas.

    It wasn’t just Nixon’s domestic work that gained him votes though. His work as a statesman was a turning point in history. The new relations with Communist Russia (the main enemy in the Cold War) and Maoism China showed Nixon to be a good President as well as the ending of the Vietnam War. These are obviously huge successes that are unfortunately ‘overshadowed’ by his later mistake of Watergate.

    My conclusion is that Richard Nixon, both as a man and statesman had been abused for his faults and not recognised for his virtues. I think that pressure (not only in his career and the press, but his family life) got the better of him and his paranoia that he had developed at an early age. I believe that when Nixon is mentioned, people do immediately think of the Watergate cover up, but I feel that this is unfair and he has been made to look weak when in actual fact he wasn’t.

  4. History will not forgive Richard Nixon. No matter how significant Nixon’s earlier achievements are interpreted to be, they will always be inferior to and overshadowed by The Watergate Scandal. Most subsequent presidential scandals now have the work ‘gate’ stuck on the end, which in itself reminds people of Nixon’s illegal actions during his time in the white house. Nixon drastically abused his power, authorising the break-ins and ordering the cover-up in an attempt to obstruct justice. Without a doubt, these actions contradict Nixon’s earlier emphasis on the need to establish law and order within the US. Nixon’s sheer paranoia and desire to discredit others, using ‘dirty tricks’ were unquestionably his biggest faults, which in turn led to him to being viewed as possibly the most controversial American President ever.

  5. I personally believe that America should forgive Richard Nixon. During his presidency Nixon created positive relations with communist China; secured America from the Cold War through SALT; ended the black panthers (which appealed to middle and the silent majority of America); ended the draft and had new policies regarding economics and the environment. However all of this is overlooked by America because of the Watergate scandal. Admittedly Watergate was a terrible scandal but Nixon was not the first president to execute such corrupt actions, even America’s sweetheart Kennedy bugged telephone lines within the White House on his own brother. America and the rest of the world tend to recognise Nixon through the scandal, even our textbooks jump straight into Watergate. People and America forget a lot of the great accomplishments Nixon actually achieved because of Watergate. As Mr Cave often makes the point of, if America found out about Watergate now they would not care nearly as much as they did, the whole scandal was over exploited by the media because it was at the time of the scandal, much like now people discovering Kennedy bugged phone lines is not even mentioned nor is it really cared for. Although I believe America should forgive Richard Nixon I believe America never will because of the Watergate scandal.

  6. Even though the Watergate scandal was wrong, Nixon wasn’t the only President to commit these actions. The reason as to why Nixon is remembered to be a bad President is because he was the first President to be caught at the time.

    Nixon had more positive actions compared to negative actions during his time in office. Nixon helped the environment by introducing the Clean Air Act, he presented the only balanced budget between the years of 1961 and 1998, helping the economy. He signed the Equal Rights Amendment desegregating public schools and he did large amounts of work in terms of Foreign Affairs. For example, opening up relations with Communist China.

    Even though Nixon did do all these great things, History will not forgive him due to his paranoia and the Watergate scandal. As he was the first President to be caught the media really made a story and the public had never been introduced to such corruption in politics, making him much more remembered for his faults than his many good points.

    In conclusion

  7. I think that History will never forgive Richard Nixon because of the whole signifcance of the Watergate Scandle. But it does overlook any of the positive progress that Nixon made during his presidency, such as building trade links with China and Mao Zadong. The Watergate took all of the trust and the respect for the President that the public had because they felt that they had been “mistreated” and “disrespected”.

    Also, this would have damaged the trust between the congress and the President because Nixon abused his power and also the right that he had as President and that he tried to cover up the whole scandle. This means that Congress woud be sceptical of any Republican President after Nixon because of Watergate scandle.

    This is why I think History will never forgive Richard Nixon.

  8. I agree with Tasha’s closing statement; Nixon should be forgiven but ultimately will not be. The scandal of water gate aside what Nixon did manage to do as a president was good. As previously mentioned he did things that greatly benefited and helped America appealing especially to the silent majority. He ended the draft, improved foreign relations with china along with the salt treaty; he also did work towards environmental issues. In addition he redirected funds from federal government to states to make funding more efficient which helped project to do with the unemployment and the economy. However all this work is deemed insignificant in terms of Nixon’s presidential career as the Watergate scandal is what is remembered most. Though he was not the only president to commit crimes like this he did do it on a larger scale which was mainly due to his immense paranoia, he was also the only one who got caught. This meant that America lost trust with him and therefore the president and government. Nixon will because of this scandal not be forgiven as he is blamed solely so that people could still have some trust in the government. However if you look past the scandal it is easy to see that good work was done by him which suggests he should be forgiven but it will always be overshadowed by the Watergate scandal and as a result he will not be forgiven by history.

  9. I personally believe that history will never forgive Richard Nixon for his actions. Although some of the things he achieved in his presidency were positive such as ending the draft and building new international relationships with china, they were all over shadowed by the Watergate scandal.

    Richard Nixon was the first president to be caught wire tapping at the time of his presidency and although we now know that other presidents did it before him it was considered to be a huge betrayal of trust at that time. The corruption within the leaders of the USA that was uncovered by the FBI led to great amounts of distrust among the people of the USA. This distrust was also apparent between the presidential team and Congress.

    Despite the fact that during his presidency Nixon obviously broke the law on numerous occasions, he still denied any wrong doing and to some extent this could be the reason why history will never forgive him, If he had admitted to it breaking the law and had apologised straight away then some people might have forgiven him. Nixon was caught while he was still president however, if his corrupt actions had only been uncovered a few years ago the US public would probably have not minded as much and he would already have been forgiven.

    I personally think that History should forgive Richard Nixon but because of the Watergate scandal and the events surrounding it History will never forgive him.

  10. Post election in 69, Nixon appeared a very promising President due to his focus on foreign policies which were greatly successful. Such as the relations he built with the communist china, after 20 years of tense hostility. As well as creating the SALT agreement, the first meaningful attempt to put a brake on the nuclear arms race between the USA and the USSR. This proved his potential be a great president. Despite this, his paranoia and insecurities made him peruse the watergate scandal. Nixon therefore showed great triumph amongst great failure. If historians are to put into perspective the events of watergate in comparison with Nixon’s achievements, in my opinion it would seem of little significance, and as Tasha also mentioned other presidents pursued similar ‘scandals’ which went unnoticed. events of watergate may have left Americans appalled at the time. I feel history should remember Nixon for all the things he did right and achieved for the country rather than the one thing he did wrong, which he took consequences for. As Tasha and Hannah both stated, despite believing history should forgive Nixon, it’s unlikely it ever will due to the mass media coverage the scandal received it will always be recognised above anything else.

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