Richard Nixon
Miller Center (University of Virginia)

Richard Nixon Library (Yorba Linda)

Nixon as Eisenhower's Vice President

Richard Nixon Delivers “Checkers Speech”

24 Jul 1959: Khrushchev and Nixon have war of words (BBC On This Day)

Presidential Election of 1960

Remember: Nixon lost to Kennedy

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)

Presidential Election of 1968

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)

1. Democratic Convention (Chicago).

Nominated: Johnson's VP Hubert Humphrey.
Chicago police clashed with 5.000 anti-war protestors.
Police banged heads.

2. Republican Convention (Miami Beach).

Nixon won nomination over Nelson Rockefeller (liberal wing) and Ronald Reagan (conservative wing).

Nixon stood for stability and order:
Against war protestors
Against counterculture

3. Results

a. Nixon won (43.4% popular; 301 electoral)

Law and order candidate.
Supported by so-called "silent majority"—those not protesting

b. He defeated

Democrat Hubert Humphrey (LBJ's Vice President) (42.7% popular; 191 electoral)

George Wallace, segregationist Alabama governor: third–party (13.5% popular; 46 electoral)

Nixon's Foreign policy

Detente. Relaxation of tensions between the superpowers.

"Grand strategy." Nixon and Kissinger.
Henry Kissinger: National security adviser; then Secretary of State

Originally, People's Republic of China (PRC) seen as a tool of Soviet Union
Nixon decided to play them off against each other

Nixon's Visit to People's Republic of China (PRC) (1972)

A surprise:
Nixon was such a long-time Communist–hater
U.S. had no diplomatic relations with PRC then

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Nixon Leaves on Diplomatic Trip to China (Finding Dulcinea: On This Day)

Recalling Nixon in China, 40 Years Later (New York Times)

Nixon Goes to China

Election of 1972

Nixon easily reelected over George McGovern.
Democrats, however, retained control of Congress.
He did not need to do a "Watergate."

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)

Nixon's "Southern Strategy"

Main issue: Urged Republicans to go slow on civil rights issues

Republicans stood for law and order.

Equated Democrats with permissiveness, crime, drugs, pornography, the hippie lifestyle, student radicalism, black militancy, feminism, homosexuality, and dissolution of the family.


The Washington Post Investigates

The Government Acts

Nixon Resigns

Vice President Agnew Resigned

Nixon's Vice President Spiro Agnew had to resign because of income tax evasion and corruption.

Vice President Spiro Agnew Resigns

Gerald Ford became Vice President

Spiro Agnew was replaced as Nixon's Vice President by Gerald Ford.

Gerald Ford Replaces Agnew (New York Times)

President Nixon resigned on 9 August 1974 (before he could be impeached because of Watergate)

Richard Nixon Resigns

Nixon resigns

Gerald Ford Becomes President

When Nixon resigned as President, Gerald Ford became the new President.

Nelson Rockefeller became Vice President.

Only time neither President nor VP elected by people.

Ford Pardons Nixon

Ford Grants Pardon to Nixon (New York Times)

Post–Watergate restrictions on executive power

Congressional reactions to "imperial Presidency

It is interesting to see how our government balances itself over time.

1. War Powers Act—President must consult with Congress before sending American troops into foreign wars.

2. Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act—prohibited the impounding of federal appropriations.

3. Freedom of Information Act—to aid citizens who were the victims of dirty–tricks campaigns and by giving people greater access to government documents.


Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford
Miller Center (University of Virginia)

Offered pro football contract after All-American at U. of Michigan.

Went to Yale Law School instead.

Not dumb and klutzy as media often portrayed him:
President trips and falls

Served in House of Representatives (1949-1973); leader of minority party.

He served out remainder of Nixon's term. Defeated by Carter in 1976.

Ford Pardoned Richard Nixon (Sept 1974)

President Ford Pardons Richard Nixon

1976 Presidential election

Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election (New York Times)

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)


Jimmy Carter
Miller Center (University of Virginia)

Election of 1976

Carter took advantage of the reaction against Watergate to defeat Gerald Ford

Campaign Commercials (Living Room Candidate)

Camp David Agreements (1978)

Camp David Peace Treaty 1979 [great front page picture] (New York Times)

Peace Talks at Camp David (American Experience)

Camp David (Presidential retreat in Maryland)

Iran Hostage Crisis (1979)

CIA-assisted coup overthrows government of Iran ( This Day in History | 8/19/1953)

U.S. permitted deposed Shah to come to the U.S. for cancer treatment.
Iranian Muslim fundamentalists took members of U.S. embassy hostage

Ayatollah Khomeini Returns From Exile

Iran Hostage Crisis

Iran Hostage Crisis Begins (Finding Dulcinea: On This Day)

Personal accounts: an Iranian hostage-taker and an American hostage

In pictures: Iran hostage crisis (BBC News)

The Iran Hostage Crisis—Part I
The Iran Hostage Crisis—Part II
Tie a Yellow Ribbon — The Iran Hostage Crisis as Seen from the Home Front

On this day in history, 24 April 1980, the Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission ended in disaster

Hostage rescue map

Hostages released on Reagan's inauguration (January 20, 1981)

Human Rights

Basis of Carter's foreign policy.

He was accused of a double standard:

Critical of Soviet Union, Argentina, and Chile

Willing to tolerate U.S. allies (South Korea, the Shah's Iran, Philippines).

Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-1988)

Carter Doctrine (1979)

U.S. would defend the Persian Gulf militarily from any Soviet invasion: Afghanistan

U.S. boycott of 1980 Olympic Games

Olympic Boycott, 1980 (Historian of the State Department)

Election of 1980

Carter lost to Ronald Reagan.

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)

Assessment of Carter Presidency

Everything—domestically as well as internationally—seemed to go against him. He is a fantastic ex–president.

Jimmy Carter: Post-Presidency

Nobel Peace Prize winner

Habitat for Humanity

Campaign against Guinea Worm disease (American Experience)


Ronald Reagan
Miller Center (University of Virginia)

The Reagan Years (CNN In-Depth Special)

Election of 1980

Reagan accused President Carter of letting America be kicked around in world affairs.
Reagan's bold conservatism scared many voters
Reagan elected largely as a reaction against Carter.
Reagan's theme of "Stand Up, America" resonated with the electorate.

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)

There you go again!

Assassination attempt (March 1981)

Reagan's courageous response to assassination attempt (during first 100 days) increased his political power.

John Hinckly, Jr., Shoots President Reagan and James Brady

Reagan's administrative agenda

1. Cut taxes

2. Cut government red tape

3. Cut government spending on domestic programs

4. Increase defense spending

Scroll to the section entitled "Military Buildup"

Pointe du Hoc, Normandy

5. Stand up to communism

Scroll to the section entitled "Confronting the Soviets"

Reagan pictured Soviet Union as "evil empire." [Axis of Evil??]

Believed intense military buildup needed to confront Soviets.

"Evil Empire" speech

6. Negotiate with the Soviets

Scroll to the section entitled "Reagan and Gorbachev"

"Tear Down This [Berlin] Wall" speech

Republican party coalition

Made up of ideologically diverse constituencies:

1. Economic conservatives who had always voted Republican

2. Cultural conservatives

Fundamentalist and evangelical Christians
Advocated family values
Opposed abortion and homosexuality

3. "Reagan Democrats"

Blue–collar workers who supported family values

4. White voters in South (no longer the Solid Democratic South)

5. Young Americans (18–30) activated during Reagan years

6. Suburban voters (anti-taxes and anti-government).


Supply–side economic policies.

Cut federal spending on domestic programs

Cut taxes for the wealthy and for corporations

Free up investment capital and encourage new job creation

Investment income to offset loss of tax revenue caused by tax cuts.

Money freed up by tax cuts would "trickle down" to less wealthy

Did not work.

We got tremendous economic deficits.

Foreign policy events during the Reagan Administration

1. Beirut barracks bombing (1983)

1983 Beirut Bomb Still Reverberates Today (Finding Dulcinea)

2. Invasion of Grenada (American Experience)

3. Reagan Doctrine
U.S. would openly support all anticommunist fighters.

4. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Reagan

Margaret Thatcher biography (Finding Dulcinea)

Presidential Election (1984)

President Reagan easily re-elected.

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)

Iran–Contra scandal

Iran Contra Affair
Scroll to the section entitled "Iran-Contra Affair"

Two sides to the issue: Contras in Nicaragua and US arms sales to Iran (American Experience)

Reagan Endorses CIA Support of Nicaraguan Contras

U.S supported those fighting against (contra) the communists in Nicaragua.

After Vietnam and Watergate, Congress anxious to oversee foreign policy

Congress ordered Reagan not to continue support of Contras

Iran-Contra Scandal Breaks

Role of Oliver North.
Sold arms to Iran (illegal) and our enemy.
Used profits to send to the Contras to keep fighting Communists


George H.W. Bush (Bush #41)

Miller Center (University of Virginia)

George HW Bush and the End of the Cold War: Crash Course US History #44

World War Two heroism

Parachute jump on his 83rd birthday

Presidential election of 1988

In Reagan's footsteps.
Accused of the 'wimp factor"
Peace abroad and a stable domestic economy

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)

Bush Presidency

Bush presidency:"First, do no harm"
Bush against government action to solve economic & social problems.
Carried his approach too far and defended it too insensitively.
Many voters want to limit government in the abstract
Most want to keep safety net of government transfer payments

Bush's political shifts
Bush accused of being the Velcro president.
Bush a political chameleon.

"Read my lips: no new taxes."
Assertion made during the 1988 presidential campaign

Broke his promise to get Congress to help balance the budget

Fall of the Berlin Wall (October 1989)

The Berlin Wall Comes Down

Berlin Wall (BBC News Timeline)

End of Cold War (Miller Center, University of Virginia)

Tiananmen Square Massacre

Tiananmen Square Massacre (June 1989) (Finding Dulcinea)

The Tank Man (FRONTLINE)

Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) (1991)

Successful effort to push Iraq out of Kuwait.
Decision not to invade rest of Iraq or go after Saddam Hussein
Subsequent opinions on whether U.S. made correct choices

Iraq Invades Kuwait Leading to Persian Gulf War



Weapons and Technology

U.S. female pilot Rhonda Cornum captured by the Iraqis

Desert Storm “The War Never Really Ended” — Part I
Desert Storm “The War Never Really Ended” — Part II

1992 Presidential election loss to Bill Clinton

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)

Election of 1992 (Miller Center, University of Virginia)


Bill Clinton
Miller Center (University of Virginia)

Clinton Years (FRONTLINE)

Election of 1992

Summary of 1992 presidential election (Miller Center, University of Virginia)

1. Republican George H.W. Bush (Bush #41). Incumbent President
Seemed to lack the "vision thing."
Faulted for concentrating on foreign policy.

2. Democrat Bill Clinton. Arkansas governor. "New democrat." More toward center.
Democrats countered: "it's the economy, stupid."

3. Ross Perot. Texas billionaire led a third–party bid.
Google Images of Ross Perot

4. Clinton won electoral college (with only 43% of popular vote)

Campaign commercials website (Living Room Candidate)

Somalia ("Black Hawk Down") 1993

Ambush in Mogadishu (FRONTLINE)

"Did My Son Have to Die?"

Interviews with the Rangers [please read all 6]

Battle of Mogadishu (1993)

1994 Congressional elections

Campaign and election of 1994 (Miller Center, University of Virginia)

Republicans won both houses of Congress for the first time since 1954.

Newt Gingrich became the outspoken/controversial House Speaker.

Republicans offered a "Contract with America": a list of reforms to be passed during the first One Hundred Days.

Government Shutdown

Congressional Republicans shut down government over balanced budget

They were seen by many as ideologically inflexible.

Presidential Election of 1996

Summary of 1996 presidential election (Miller Center, University of Virginia)

President Clinton seen as reasonable and moderate
Protector of certain federal programs that Congress attacked.
Gained support of women, who benefited from such programs.

Campaign commercials (Living Room Candidate)

Impeachment attempted over the Monica Lewinsky affair

President Clinton Admits to Affair With Monica Lewinsky

Senate Opens Hearings on the Impeachment of President Clinton


George W. Bush (Bush #43)
Miller Center (University of Virginia)

The 150 most memorable photos from the Iraq War | Plog The Denver Post

At West Point, Asking if a War Doctrine Was Worth It -

TIMELINES (using the FRONTLINE programs pertaining to the War in Iraq)

FRONTLINE The War Behind Closed Doors
Timeline: The Evolution of the Bush Doctrine [to go to war with Iraq]

FRONTLINE Bush's War (Iraq)
Annotated Video Timeline
Start with the 1980 clip and read each caption through the clip in 2004 entitled "No Weapons of Mass Destruction are Found"

FRONTLINE The Invasion of Iraq

FRONTLINE The End Game [goes through the Surge]


Barack Obama

Life Before the Presidency [this is really good]

Here are some particularly interesting pictures in several of the Boston Globe photoblogs:

In Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines, October 2009 (C-SPAN)

Afghanistan: March 2010

#16 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle
#17 Mud. How it impacts operations.
#19 Afghan girl. At what age does a girl need to start wearing a burka.
#21 Nurse of the month. All men.
#28 Fortress from 5th century. Think back to Alexander the Great. Silk Road.
#35 Poppy field
#36 Hot room in a hamman
#37 Marines playing "Risk"
#38 Afghan soldier with a picture of American female race car driver
#40 Think of what the eyes of that man has seen during his lifetime
#41 Woman interpreter
#42 Rock band

January 2010

#7 Afghan girl
#20 Canadian female officer talks to Afghan women
#21 "Ricky" the explosive detector dog
#27 Paktika province. Read this caption.
#29 Bible verse on gunsight
#39 Taliban fighters display their weapons
#40 Special Forces men dismount from helicopter on mountain peak