You can find this storyboard in our teacher guide for The Presidency of Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal.

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Nixon Resignation Speech of 1974

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Storyboard Description

Nixon Resignation Speech - In this activity, students will analyze and synthesize the Nixon resignation speech of 1974 using a grid storyboard. Students will take several excerpts from his speech, explain their meaning and rationale, and infer as to how they think the public may have responded. Students will be able to explain, analyze, and synthesize just what Nixon was trying to say, as well as how it was received by the American public. By creating a rationale, as well as inferring how the public (or them) interpreted his words, students will gain a broader, more in depth understanding to one of the few presidential resignation speeches in American history. Furthermore, it will give a broader context to how he, and the public, responded to the Watergate scandal.

Storyboard Text

  • QUOTE #1
  • DIRECT QUOTE
  • RATIONALE/MEANING
  • HOW SHOULD CITIZENS RESPOND?
  • QUOTE #2
  • "In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me. In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort."
  • Nixon is reminding the nation he has always done what he can as president to create a better nation. Despite this, Nixon feels as though he does not have the needed support in Congress, and any hope for preserving his innocence, is lost.
  • I feel as though the public would respond with anger to this quote. For one, it seems as though Nixon is admitting defeat, and that he is recognizing his failing support in Congress, something crucial for a president to have. However, it does show courage in admitting such defeat, and not putting his interests first over the nations.
  • "...as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress...To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow."
  • This quote builds from the previous quote, saying that America and its people come first, not his interest in retaining the presidency. There are many issues at hand for the country at the time, and Nixon recognizes his scandal cannot be one of them. In dramatic fashion, he officially announces his resignation as president, an unprecedented moment in history.
  • Nixon again admits that his interests should be above those of the nations. I think the public would respect this position, as they are being put first. Also, I think the public would be truly shocked to hear his official resignation, something that rarely, if ever, occurs during presidencies.
  • QUOTE #3
  • QUOTE #4
  • "Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, 'whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions..."
  • This quote provides some insight as to what has influenced Nixon as a man, president, and as someone dealing with the very hard task of resigning from the presidential office. By quoting T. Roosevelt, it is evident Nixon is trying to say that his shortcomings and failures throughout the Watergate scandal will not define him, and he will strive to recover and continue to possibly serve the country in some way.
  • I believe the public would appreciate the Roosevelt quote, but Roosevelt being a great president might be taken back by Nixon quoting him. Although the quote tells of rebounding so to speak, I am sure the public would actually wonder how Nixon would rebound and, if at all, continue to serve the country after such a major scandal as Watergate.
  • "When I first took the oath of office as President 5 1/2 years ago, I made this sacred commitment, to 'consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can summon to the cause of peace among nations'. I have done my very best in all the days since to be true to that pledge. As a result of these efforts, I am confident that the world is a safer place today, not only for the people of America but for the people of all nations..."
  • This quote exemplifies Nixon's attempt to justify himself, citing his many positive actions as president, in balance to the Watergate Scandal. By quoting the oath he took, he is admitting to being unable to uphold that oath, and that because of his actions, the world and nation is actually in a better place. In a sense, it distances him from the Watergate scandal.
  • I think the public would respond well to this quote. Although the Watergate scandal was terrible and revealing about Nixon, I think it would remind them of all the good he did do. In particular, his foreign policy and attention to calming international tensions does give credence to this message. I believe the public would probably attempt to think of the good, and not just the bad.
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