Richard M. Nixon: Smoking Gun Tape

(1972)

Context

When Nixon was elected president in 1968, the nation was sharply divided by the Vietnam War and by a counterculture rebellion. The Vietnam War was by far the most polarizing issue. When the United States first became militarily involved in Southeast Asia in the early 1950s, it was widely seen as part of the ongoing U.S. effort to contain Communism and thus as essential to national security. But by 1968, with the United States seemingly no closer to victory and with U.S. casualties exceeding sixteen thousand, many Americans had lost faith in the war and the leaders responsible for it. Antiwar protests swept across the nation, culminating with a massive and violent demonstration at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

By 1968 a counterculture rebellion was also dividing the nation. Although Americans were initially united in their celebration of the prosperous society that emerged after World War II, by 1968 that consensus had broken apart. Counterculture...

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Richard Nixon (Library of Congress)

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