The Presidency of Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal

Lesson Plans by Richard Cleggett

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Richard Nixon Presidency Lesson Plans

Richard M. Nixon’s presidency is shrouded in both success and controversy. Having served in several political positions, Nixon was a ruthless politician who cared very much about his public image. Unfortunately, his public image would be deeply affected by the Watergate Scandal that served as his political demise. With the activities in this lesson plan, students will be able to go in depth into his presidency, his policies, and his resignation.

Student Activities for The Presidency of Richard Nixon Include:

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The Presidency of Richard Nixon

Richard M. Nixon’s presidency is shrouded in both success and controversy. Nixon was a ruthless politician who cared very much about his public image and he served in several political positions during his career. Hailing from California, Nixon first emerged on the political scene as a representative and senator. He then served as Vice President under Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953-1961.

As a Republican, Nixon held conservative views. Elected to the presidency in 1968, Nixon came into office in the midst of the Vietnam War, which had been raging since 1964. He sought to eliminate any and every opponent, namely his political adversaries, the press corps, and leaders of the anti-war movement. His experience and staunch positions helped thrust him into the highest office, despite previous failed political campaigns for governor of California and the presidency itself in 1960.

In office, he tackled economic turmoil, backlash from the Vietnam War, and sought to promote new partnership between federal and state governments in what he deemed a “New Federalism.” In addition, Nixon achieved success on the international stage, improving relations with both the Soviet Union and China. Yet these successes would soon be overshadowed in what would become the Watergate Scandal.

Although reelected in 1972, Nixon’s victory was soon swept away in scandal. Nixon’s back was against the wall when he was under investigation for burglarizing the Democratic headquarters and paying off defendants. With impending Senate hearings and possible impeachment, Nixon resigned from the presidency in 1974. He entered office as a favorable politician and left as the most tarnished president in American history. Regardless, Nixon’s presidency and role in the Watergate Scandal forever changed the landscape of American politics.

Discussion Questions for Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal

  1. Who was Richard Nixon as a man? How did his character help define him as a president?
  2. What major events and policies defined Nixon’s domestic and foreign policies?
  3. How did Nixon respond to major crises such as the economy, Vietnam War, and social issues of the day?
  4. How did Nixon and his reelection committee conduct itself in getting him reelected as president in 1972?
  5. What was the Watergate break-in, and how did it bring scandal to the Nixon office?
  6. How did Nixon respond to the allegations concerning the Watergate scandal, and what was the process through which he had to go? How does this process highlight the congressional and judicial actions in regards to such scandal?
  7. What led to Nixon’s resignation?
  8. What perceptions of Nixon existed both before and after the Watergate scandal? What, then, is Nixon’s legacy as a president?

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