Will history forgive Richard Nixon? Y12 Discussion

Richard NixonSo we’ve studied the Presidency of Richard Nixon, both its rise and dramatic fall due to the Watergate scandal, but forty years have passed and Nixon still provokes much debate today.

You’ve been given a document that discusses whether history will forgive Nixon for his crimes- now it’s your opportunity to express your own opinion!

Add a comment below explaining clearly, based on evidence, whether you think history will forgive Nixon or not.

Read what others have said and respond to them- if you don’t agree then tell them so and explain why!


16 responses to “Will history forgive Richard Nixon? Y12 Discussion

  1. I believe that history will forgive Richard Nixon because of his foreign and domestic policies. Despite the scandal of Watergate Nixon, always focused on Middle America and did his best to please them, with many strides towards the environmental, welfare and economic planning that was far in advance of even the liberals at the time. Nixon’s foreign policies were also very successful and were only let down by the succeeding presidents, who were not effective in maintaining links with China and the detente in the USSR. Nixon did make several mistakes, such as trying to cover up Watergate, but all politicians lie at some point and it is likely Nixon was not the only person at the time that used such methods. Had Watergate not happened I believe that people would remember Nixon favourably, instead of the hatred his name currently has attached to it.

  2. When looking in detail at Nixon’s role as president and his achievements or failures during, it is easy to say that history will forgive him.

    Despite the Watergate scandal Nixon made attempts to better the domestic and economics of America and had a great impact on the foreign policies. He was often far superior in his attempted reforms and policies than many of his predecessors, with some faltering due to lack of support from other politician that worked with him or succeeded him. His relationships with communist China proved to be greatly significant as it showed a regard for improving relations with other countires, which hadn’t been as predominant in years before. He also often tackled concepts that were key for the American people and strived towards improvements, showing him to take an interest in the welfare of Americans.
    It is also concievable to say that. despite his many wrongdoings, he was not the first nor the last to withold information or scandal from his people and could not be discredited for the action that a lot of previous and succeeding presidents may have also done.

    However, it is also reasonable to suggest that whilst he may not of been the first to make these mistakes, he is the one most well known and can certainly be held in disregard for his attempted cover-up and somewhat vindication of the crimes. This, therefore, argues that Nixon will not be forgiven as many were disgusted by his abuse of power during his presidency and his breach of trust.
    Additionally, much of the positive impacts of his presidency may not be known by all, which would mean many would only know him for his crimes. Not only this but it is also reasonable to argue that many of the reforms he claimed he would make or reforms and policies he did make were merley part of his campaign as a presidential candidate, i.e.Vietnam. This could then mean that he would still be judged in the future as a criminal with an unforgivable character, who was only interested in presidential and political control.

    Overall, when looking at his presidency in detail, I believe it would become easier to forgive Nixon as more light would be shed on his rule as president and it would become easier to recognise the good amongst the bad. This means many would see the true successes he had before the end of his presidency, rather than him being discredited for the mistakes many others have also made.

  3. It is fair to say that Nixon’s achievements cannot go unnoticed despite the Watergate scandal. Initially Nixon was clearly dedicated to improving the country itself, by attempting to decrease bureaucracy and to introduce equal pay. His foreign policies were also pretty impressive, particularly his approach to achieving peace in Vietnam. Nether the less, Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal overshadows his achievements and therefore prevents history from forgiving him.

    The Watergate scandal truly highlights Nixon’s self-centred nature. The abuse of power to gain an advantage on his opponents emphasises how the desire to defeat the Democrats placed higher upon his agenda than fulfilling his promises for example, establishing equal payment. Nixon, following the Watergate scandal, was labelled a hypocrite. Throughout his presidency he emphasised the importance of law and order however, then went on to overlook this by involving himself in the Watergate scandal. As a result of his hypocritical actions, history will not forgive Nixon as this discourages any feeling of sympathy and understanding. To add to this, the fact that Nixon was able to avoid persecution strengthens society’s negative perception towards him and therefore discourages forgiveness. The case also emphasises how Nixon was prepared to go along with a corrupt legal system rather than admit his mistakes which once again will prevent history from ever forgiving him.

    In addition to the Watergate Scandal, Nixon’s inability to communicate effectively with the young people of America (students) encourages society to question his leadership. This alongside his negligent attitude towards minorities helped to create Nixon’s poor reputation which on top of the Watergate scandal prevents history from ever forgiving him.
    Finally, seeing as Nixon’s actions will continue to be remembered in the future, this will again discourage any feelings of forgiveness towards the ex-president. Whether it be through specifically studying the event or simply through forms of media coverage, Nixon’s mistakes will forever be portrayed. Because of this, history will never forgive Nixon.

  4. It is clear to me that although Nixon was President of America for not only two terms but those being two very difficult terms due to the issues of Vietnam and the dramatic changes of culture that due to scandals such as Watergate, He will however not be forgiven for these problems as he did nothing within his life time after in order to redeem himself. As well as this there is nothing that he is able to do now to change the opinion of America and its political society due to his death. He will always be most well known within History for the Watergate scandal and so if this is one of the only things that he is taught for within younger generations then he will be remembered mostly as being hated and unforgiven.

    However it is not right to say that some of Nixon’s victories do not redeem him in some ways as he brought settlement to a very unstable American within 1968 as he became a leader and an Economist dealing with many problems no matter how minor. As well as this he not only dealt with but also become a victim of Vietnam as it was both his greatest Achievement and greatest downfall. As well as this his was definitely not the first nor the last president nor member of politics who was involved in a scandal such as bugging peoples phones. However he is one of the most noticed for doing so due to both the media and his prominent resignation.

    It is wrong to say that Nixon was a people president as Bobby or John Kennedy were as he did not have the same connection with the public. However he must of had some degree of respect or even love from the public as he not only won over Middle America and the Silent majority but he also won them over for two terms. However this although took a lot of time to gain the respect and love of the majority took a lot less time to lose all credibility and trust that the American public not only put into Nixon but also the party that he was representing which was strongly reflected when Ford took position of president.

    In conclusion although it is unfair to completely disregard President Nixon and the work that he did not only to become elected but also within both of his terms it is clear that due to the fall from grace he suffered and how much Americans regard the importance of the trust they have within their President, that No President Nixon will never be forgiven by the public as in many cases from very early on the Bad out ways the Good and it can be strongly argued that it Nixon was not the most favourable option to vote for within elections but due to the issues of the other party he was the only viable option. It is clear that he will never be revered within history for the good that he did such as president Lincoln but instead will always remembered for the bad within the Watergate scandal.

  5. It can be said that, history should one day forgive Nixon due to his successes in his presidency regarding foreign and domestic policies.

    During Nixon’s presidency he achieved a number of domestic policies in areas of civil rights, welfare and economic planning. Initiatives on a welfare plan and foreign policy began to take shape in 1969. Nixon introduced the new federalism which intended to distribute federal power away from congress, he also approved the family assistance plan but it failed to succeed in congress however other domestic policies were put in place that made an impact on the welfare of Americans. Furthermore Nixon made achievements within civil rights as between 1968 and 1972 affirmative programmes were put into action and as a result the percentage of schools with all black children decreased from 68% to 8%.

    However, Nixon did make many mistakes during his presidency and his most memorable mistake being the abusing of presidential power that took place in the cover up of the Watergate scandal that led to his resignation. Although many of his predecessors used similar tactics to stay in power none of them went to the extent of Nixon’s behaviour in the covering up and lying for over two years about the Watergate scandal.

    Overall, it is fair to say that due to Nixon’s successes on domestic policies he should be forgiven for the cover up of the Watergate scandal as he improved the lives of Americans and significantly decreased the number of children in all black schools.

  6. During his retirement, Richard Nixon worked hard to redeem his reputation. Although his involvement in the Watergate Scandal massively betrayed the American people, and Nixon unjustly allowed fellow conspiritors to be imprisoned for their involvement whilst not being imprisoned himself, it is unfair to say that Nixon will never be forgiven.
    Although Nixon lied through his teeth during his Presidency and in the run up to elections, it is important not to forget his role in putting an end to the Vietnam War. Vietnam was a highly unpopular war that killed thousands of innocent people and spanned numerous Presidents, all of which could’ve ended the war, but Nixon was the one to actually do it and although he would’ve rather won it with honour, he accepted that this was never going to happen.
    Also, he helped improve relations with China by visiting the country and meeting the President. Today, with America and China being the two biggest countries for business and manufacturing, it would be disasterous for them to be enemies.
    However, Nixon’s racism, sexism, continuous lying, involvement in Watergate and the bombings of Cambodia, and lack of support for the civil rights movement were wrong and for this reason, Nixon is certainly not the greatest President to ever rule America. However, I believe that he made an effort to redeem himself during his retirement when he could’ve quite easily enjoyed it, and accepted that he was wrong. It seems that because he was the President, Watergate was blown up into a little bit too much of a frenzy. When you sit back and take a look at the actual happenings of Watergate, it wasn’t Nixon who actually ordered the break ins, and all that happened was a few papers were stolen. When Nixon was told about the break ins, I imagine he panicked and knew that if the truth came out, the Republican Party would be badly damaged. It is logical, even if immoral, for someone to react in the way Nixon did and for that reason, I can’t say that history will eternally condemn Nixon for his actions.

  7. Despite the Watergate Scandal, it is clear that due to his other achievements, history should forgive Richard Nixon.
    Nixon attempted to fix the economy with his New Economic Party (NEP) which was popular and gained him votes for the ’72 election. Although the NEP was not a long term solution and didn’t help underlying problems, it made short term solutions and let Nixon focus on other popular policies and programmes, such as his foreign policies. These forgein policies were popular with much of America, especially Middle America whose votes would contribute greatly with Nixon being re-elected.
    Vietnam was a controversial war and was seen as ‘Johnson’s War’ and Nixon’s promise of ‘peace with honour’ appealed to many and played well with Middle America. He also showed efficency and determination to the American citizens by trying to improve relations with other countires, the most notable being Communist China. This showed people that America could ‘get along’ with Communsit countires and this made the relevance of the SALT treaty more important. Not only did Nixon improve relations with other countries, he tried to improve life for American people by listening to their needs. This showed his interest in the welfare of the people and this played well with many.
    It is obvious that the Watergate Scandal will always associated with Nixon’s name due to the shock and outrage that it caused. Of course he wasn’t the first President who would have taken part in cover ups or bugging, for example Kennedy bugged offices. However the fact Nixon was caught was what caused the outrage. Overall, despite his actions towards Watergate, Nixon’s other actions and achievements cannot be overlooked. This is why that in time, history should forgive Richard Nixon.

  8. Due to the Watergate scandal I do not believe that history will forgive Richard Nixon for his involvement in the scandal and the cover-up. Although Nixon did have accomplishments during his time as president which made him a popular figure to many Americans his name goes down in history along with his scandalous behaviour as an unforgettable and unforgivable period of American History.
    Nixon was often criticised for his methods and attitude during his terms of being President. One example is when he decided to visit a group of university students at Lincoln’s memorial; the students mocked him and told press that “what he was saying was absurd”.
    Since the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s Nixon’s name and activities have been most commonly associated with Watergate because it had such an impact on the American public and even more so to the American Congress. Nixon misused his power as President and engaged in activities that to other civilians were illegal; he tried to justify his involvement in Watergate by saying to David Frost during an interview in 1977 that “if the president does it then it is not illegal”. This statement shows us that Nixon does not believe what he did was wrong and shows no remorse for his actions.
    After Watergate Future presidents of America were not allowed as much power as Nixon due to his abuse of the American Congress system. The American public lost faith in the people that were running their country and so were more reluctant to trusting politicians, this is why I believe that Richard Nixon will not be forgiven for his actions as President because it created future tension and mistrust between the American public and their Political system.
    Another reason is when Gerald Ford pardoned former president Nixon of his involvement with Watergate and other scandals. There was a public outrage because Nixon was never formally punished for his wrongdoing and never seemed to try to make peace with the American public after his scandals.

  9. I believe history will forgive Richard Nixon. He came into the Oval Office with a lot of issues to deal with such as the Vietnam war and faced an enormous task in trying to get America out of this period of civil unrest. Nixon always strived to please the Middle American people and he tried to do so with many efforts to improve the environment, the welfare and his economic policies were the only attempt at trying to devalue the dollar at that time. There is no doubt that during this period, he did try to fulfil his duty and improve the lives of the silent majority.
    Nixon’s many foreign policies were also very successful. Nixon’s SALT agreement with the USSR was a large step to rebuilding the relations between the USA and the USSR. The rapprochement with China was another foreign policy that gave Nixon’s presidency more success but ultimately was overshadowed by Watergate.
    Nixon was the victim of regular lies being told by politicians and it was his along with his administrations carelessness that got him caught. It wasn’t just Nixon that lied and wiretapped offices, as Kennedy did also. But the difference is that Nixon took the scandal to another level and broke into Watergate.
    I believe though that if the Watergate scandal did not happen, Nixon would have had a rather successful second term in office and he could have developed his relations with the USSR and China further.

  10. On the whole , i do not think history will ever forgive Richard Nixon.If Nixon had surrendered the tapes more quickly and not tried to cover up the Watergate scandal to such an extent , then history might have forgiven him.

    However, Nixon did achieve quite a few positive accomplishments in both his first term and second term.For example , he did a lot to gain the vote from the middle Americans.Nixon did a lot with foreign policy and was successful in ending the Vietnam war.His SALT agreement was very popular with voters and so was his visit to communist china.Furthermore , He won the 1972 election with a big landslide.This obviously suggests that he was popular at the time and people liked him.

    Not all of Nixon’s policies made him look good.His failure in trying to control the’ rebellious Youth’ in 1972 is just one example.In October 1970, Nixon said pornography had no great adverse effect on society,with which middle America disagreed.He was also described as ‘chauvinistic’ which obviously gives off a negative view towards him.

    The Watergate scandal was clearly a major downfall for Richard Nixon.The fact that Nixon announced that Haldeman ,Ehrlichman and Dean were involved in the cover up without his knowledge,suggests that history should not forgive him because he lied to such an extent.He also made the situation worse by cutting out film which admitted he had been involved in the cover up.

    Although , i do feel an element of sympathy towards him because he had a hard upbringing and his family life was quite difficult.The media was also unfair to Nixon and other people such as Kennedy had his brothers office bugged.The fact that Nixon didn’t see anything wrong in what he had done , probably made people and history less likely to forgive Nixon.Presidents are meant to set a good example and he clearly didn’t. Therefore, history cannot forgive him.

  11. In the immediate aftermath of the Watergate scandal, Nixon backed himself until the bitter end, showing he only cared for his own reputation in the scandal, therefore I believe history won’t forgive Nixon for his actions.

    His failure to immediately surrender secret tapes containing information regarding the scandal proved he had something to hide, and by withholding the tapes he showed he would resort to such tactics in a desperate attempt to save his diminishing reputation.

    However Nixon did win over many Americans by showing his immense qualities as a statesman. The SALT treaty and the landmark visit to Communist China went a long way in convincing Americans that Nixon had the peoples interests at heart, which arguably he did. However Nixon’s determination to succeed ultimately led to his downfall.

    Although Nixon’s actions may of been in retaliation to the Democrats, who were also alleged to of been engaging in illegal activities, the way in which he orchestrated the raid on the building containing Democrat files was inexcusable and cannot be defended, regardless of what the Democrats may have been doing.

    Overall, Nixon’s determination to beat the Democrats resulted in rash decisions being made, which lead to him being caught and his resignation soon followed, the first president in history to resign midterm . Ultimately Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal undone his phenomenal work regarding his foreign policy, and will subsequently be remembered for his role in the Watergate scandal, therefore history won’t forgive him.

  12. In my opinion, I believe that history shouldn’t forgive Nixon. Despite the good that he made throughout America, his decisions to cover up and deny he was involved, as well as putting the blame on others, means that he should not have ever been trusted to become, almost the most powerful person in the world.
    I agree with Georgina because he stated that Haldeman ,Ehrlichman and Dean were a part in the cover up of the Watergate scandal in which Nixon had no knowledge. This meant that a man, almost the whole country looks to for solutions and guidance, is lying to them, therefore not being a trustworthy leader. Also, deleting parts of the video in which he admitted to being involved in the cover-up of the scandal, made the public’s opinion of him much worse, leading to further little chances of him being forgiven.
    As Stanley I. Kutler said Nixon ‘unnecessarily prolonged the Vietnam war to ensure his re-election…’ Though this may not be 100% true, I believe that this is the impression he gave due to his pre 1968 election, in which he promised to bring ‘peace with honour’ yet he hadn’t by 1972. Another reason that I believe that Nixon will not be forgiven is that whenever the name ‘Nixon’ is spoken, the majority of the time, it is related to the Watergate Scandal, portraying that it was the main reason that he will be remembered.
    However, some of Nixon’s significant actions may be part influential to his not very likely forgiveness. In observing Nixon’s time of presidency and the time not long before, his succession in his elections through the campaigns and promises he made, had shown that he could have and did make a positive impact on America. He accepted and acknowledged the ‘Silent Majority’ in middle America which no other president really did, which appealed significantly to them.
    In conclusion, despite his succession throughout America, I don’t believe that Nixon will be forgiven by history due to his untrustworthy and deceptive actions.

  13. History has not forgiven Richard Nixon as his name has become synonymous with deceit, disgrace and abuse of power. This has become his legacy that will stay with time and therefore history will never forgive him as it will not know of the ‘other’ Nixon. A president who restored peace to an unstable country, successful negotiated with Russia over the escalating nuclear arms race and was the most active on environmental protection.
    For these reasons it could be said that he deserves to be forgiven. However Watergate is the true representation of Nixon and not the peaceful statesman he appeared to be. His actions about Watergate were driven by his selfish and cynical thoughts whilst his actions on the environment and foreign policy especially were hollow vote winners and therefore do not reflect on his personal beliefs.
    He does not deserve to be forgiven as despite politics being ‘dirty’ he was complacent to it and failed to rise up.

  14. History should forgive Richard Nixon, due to his work ethic in trying to better america. Richard Nixon spent a lot of his time trying to better America. Despite the Watergate scandal, Nixon did a lot of good for the country in various aspects.
    Nixon focused closely on foreign policy and domestic policies, however his interests did lie in other aspects such as the economy, environment and civil rights, which are all key in remembering what good Nixon did for america. 1968,40%of black children attended white schools, nationally, and by 1972, 12% of black children attended white schools. This shows the significance of Nixon’s work, despite the fact he was more focused on women and hispanics when it came to desegregation.
    Nixon’s work on foreign policies was more likely to be remembered and appear to be more effective than domestic ones.
    Nixon showed a lot of progress in trying to better america.
    however, due to the water gate scandal it left america feeling like they couldn’t TRUST Nixon.
    Americans would agree that Nixon did well during presidency, and helped america reform itself and better itself, they can also agree that Nixon worked hard and passionately cared for the welfare of america, but due to the scandal it left them forgetting all the good things Nixon did and left them scared from secrecy by Nixon.
    overall, i believe history should forgive Nixon and this is because i believe that when it came to the work and the actions made by Nixon, the good outweighed the bad. i think that history shouldn’t discredit the mistakes made by Nixon but should look more closely at the successes he had during presidency. it would be easier to agree that Nixon did what was in his best interest and made a mistake, which many other presidents have made in their time.

  15. It is clear to say that history will not forgive Richard Nixon due to the y I’m which he handled the situation of the watergate scandal. He was elected during particularly hard times due to the conflict in Vietnam, and his foreign policies regarding such situations remained ever popular until his resignation.

    History will always feel that he should be forgiven, as should the scandal have not taken place, he would have completed the two terms, achieved piece in Vietnam, perhaps even progressing further with civil rights, allowing more privileges to black people just as he had began with education. There will always be a sense of regret from history as from the scandal onwards, Nixon’s name can only be associated with the scandal and everything else becomes a blur in the background which cannot be salvaged or recognised over the way he tried to cover up the situation. His reaction and denial at the beginning caused America to feel betrayed and unable to see past the way Nixon reacted.
    I think history will feel this is a great shame as should the scandal have not taken place, Nixon’s presidency would have been celebrated, and yet he did something that other presidents had done too, yet he had been practically forced into resignation because of it. It will always be felt that Nixon caused the reaction from the public himself, and that he cannot be forgiven for the way he acted.

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