Richard Nixon served as Vice-President of the United States from 1953 to 1961, and as President from 1969 to 1974. He was the only person to be elected twice to both the Presidency and Vice Presidency. In 1969 Americans had joined together in pride over the lunar landing and Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon.
Yet Nixon’s personality may have played a part in his eventual demise. He believed the United States faced grave dangers from the radicals and dissidents who were challenging his policies, and he came to view any challenge as a “threat to national security.” As a result, he created a climate in which he and those who served him could justify almost any tactics to stifle dissent and undermine the opposition. He has been described as being a devious, secretive, and embittered man whose White House became a series of covert activities. On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first chief executive in American History to resign, because of his role in the Watergate scandal.
Some Americans viewed this as an indication that the system worked. They were proud of the way the US political system had weathered the crisis and peacefully transferred power. Others worried about the further erosion of popular trust and belief in their government. Regardless, when he left office the nation remembered an administration that had been discredited by the Agnew and Watergate scandals. Watergate has come to define Nixon’s presidency.
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