Skip to main content

Watergate Reactions

March 2023
1min read

Your excellent pair of articles called “The Triumph of Watergate” brought to mind so many of the issues Americans faced in the early 1970s. I was a college student then at a small moderate-to-liberal campus where it seemed that only a few major issues penetrated the cocoon of college life.

There was a minimum of active interest in the 1972 presidential election, because most people concluded that Nixon would be reelected no matter what was said or done. This concerned some students who thought about the possible implications of the Watergate break-in, but, generally, people saw the Watergate incident as just something that had happened eight hundred miles away and as a small-time operation not worth the space the media gave it.

Shortly before the election I asked a friend if it bothered her to vote for someone who might have betrayed America’s trust by involving himself in the cover-up of an illegal act. The answer surprised me, although I suppose it should not have. She told me that “they all do it. Nixon was just the one who got caught. He should have been more careful. He’s no better or worse than anyone else in politics, and they have no right to persecute him and drag him through the mud.” I mentioned this to other people who in varying degrees seemed to agree. I was frightened for the nation.

Late on election night, my roommate and I returned to the dorm after putting the college newspaper to bed. There was a sign on our door that said, “Hurray Four More Years!” I remember taking down the sign and writing on the bottom, “and God help us all.” We hung it on the door of the neighbors who gave it to us.

It was almost a year to the day later when people began to understand the depth of the President’s involvement in the whole affair, and that it was a serious breach of his oath. And the system worked! President Nixon resigned, bowing to intense pressure, before he could be impeached.

I again stand in awe of what the founders of this nation have wrought. They gave us a frame of steel on which to build a society, shaped to the needs of the day. They would probably be pleased to see that their frame works as well today as it did in their time, perhaps better because time and struggle have tempered it.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "December 1984"

Authored by: David Shi

At the turn of the century, a crusading magazine editor exhorted women to seek peace of mind and body through simplicity. For a generation, they listened.

Authored by: Kenneth Finkel

For sixty-five years this photographic company has been recording America from overhead

Authored by: Richard H. Hopper

When did we start saying it? And why?

Authored by: Q. David Bowers

Solid-gold coins were legal tender for most of the nation's history. In their brilliant surfaces we can see our past fortunes.

Authored by: Edward Sorel

He was more than just a cartoonist. He was the Hogarth of the American middle class.

Authored by: The Editors

… 1885 that is, month by month

Authored by: Charles C. Hemming

All this Florida boy wanted to do was rejoin his regiment. Instead they drafted him into the Confederate secret service.

Authored by: Jerome Tarshis

California has always been as much a state of mind as a geographical entity. For the better part of two centuries, artists have been defining its splendid promise.

Featured Articles

Famous writers including Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts turned Sleepy Hollow Cemetery into our country’s first conservation project.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

A hundred years ago, America was rocked by riots, repression, and racial violence.

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Now a popular state park, the unassuming geological feature along the Illinois River has served as the site of centuries of human habitation and discovery.  

The recent discovery of the hull of the battleship Nevada recalls her dramatic action at Pearl Harbor and ultimate revenge on D-Day as the first ship to fire on the Nazis.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Here is probably the most wide-ranging look at Presidential misbehavior ever published in a magazine.

When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S. Army was only the 17th largest in the world. FDR and Marshall had to build a fighting force able to take on the Nazis, against the wishes of many in Congress.

Roast pig, boiled rockfish, and apple pie were among the dishes George and Martha enjoyed during the holiday in 1797. Here are some actual recipes.

Born during Jim Crow, Belle da Costa Greene perfected the art of "passing" while working for one of the most powerful men in America.