Nixon and Khrushchev’s Kitchen Debates
On this day in 1959, Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met for the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow.
As Nixon led Khrushchev through the model house they began a series of impromptu debates (mainly held in the model kitchen), on capitalism and communism. To debate such ideas both leaders used examples of household appliances to better stress their arguments. Nixon’s performance in the “Kitchen Debate” further raised his stature back in the United States.
In this photograph we have Nixon and Khrushchev debating in front of the now famous model kitchen. To the right of Nixon is future Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. 7/24/59.
-from the Nixon Library
Apollo 11 - This Week in History
Tomorrow is the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon.
Soon after their historic steps, they received a phone call from President Nixon in the Oval Office. To celebrate the occasion, we’re teaming up with the NASA History Office to tweet out the lunar call between the President and astronauts.
Photo: Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr. standing on the moon next to the U.S. flag, 7/20/1969.
"IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER"
For the Apollo 11 space flight, President Nixon’s speechwriter William Safire composed this statement on July 18, 1969. It was to be used in the event the astronauts were stranded on the Moon and could not return to Earth.
Neil Armstrong later said, “The unknowns were rampant” and “there were just a thousand things to worry about.”
Fortunately, the speech as was never used, and this Saturday will be the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. After astronauts Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, President Nixon phoned them for “an interplanetary conversation.”
On July 20, The Presidential Libraries and NASA’s History Office are celebrating the Apollo 11 anniversary by tweeting out the lunar phone call between the President and astronauts. We’ll be tweeting from @OurPresidents and @NASAHistory.
Join us Saturday at noon by following #LunarCall on Twitter!
"The question, however, is what position you as President should take, for both moral and political reasons."
-Leonard Garment to President Nixon
Leonard Garment passed away over the weekend in his Manhattan home at the age of 89. As a Special Consultant to President Nixon, he worked on a variety of projects ranging from civil and human rights, Indian affairs and the arts.
Garment was also Acting Counsel to President Nixon from 1973 to 1974, and played a key role in shaping the Nixon administration’s Native American policies.
This April 1970 memo written by Garment, shows that he was actively involved in returning sacred land back to the Taos Pueblo tribe in New Mexico.
-from the Nixon Library
On July 15, 1971, Richard Nixon announced to the nation that he had accepted the PRC’s invitation for him visit China.
President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972 ended twenty-five years of isolation between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He viewed his trip as the first step in a long process of contact between the United States and the PRC. Further, he believed it would reduce tension between the United States, the PRC, and the Soviet Union.
The President’s trip to China required a tremendous amount of planning. Part of this effort involved matters of protocol and etiquette, such as the use of chopsticks.
Image: Transcript of Speech President Nixon Gave Announcing Upcoming Trip to China. 7/15/1971.
More on Ping Pong Diplomacy: Nixon’s Trip to China on the Presidential Timeline.
The 26th Amendment Lowers the Voting Age to 18
Today in history, July 5, 1971, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution was officially certified. President Nixon had signed the Act, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years of age, on January 1, 1971.
When the Founding Fathers set the voting age at twenty-one, they were following a common law tradition that went relatively unchallenged in the United States until 1942. In October of that year, as Americans fought in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation to lower the military draft age from 21 to 18. For many, this raised the question, “if a man is old enough to serve, is he old enough to vote?”
From 1942 until 1965, members of Congress introduced over sixty resolutions to grant young people the right to vote, and in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first President to voice his support for the youth vote.
Image: Certification of the 26th Amendment, 7/5/71. From the Nixon Library.
Join us for the Washington, DC, premiere of Our Nixon at the National Archives on June 22 at noon.
Throughout Richard Nixon’s Presidency, three of his top White House aides (John Erlichman, H.R. Haldeman, Dwight Chapin) documented their experiences with Super 8 home movie cameras.
The documentary Our Nixon presents those home movies for the first time, along with other rare footage, creating a intimate and complex portrait of the Nixon Presidency. A panel discussion will follow the screening. Presented in partnership with AFI Docs Film Festival. (2013; 85 minutes.)
Join us today at noon as we host special guests from NASA and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum!
A panel of space experts will discuss the American space program as it developed under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, including the Apollo missions to the Moon, the decision to develop the Space Shuttle, and the 1975 Apollo–Soyuz test project.
The event is free at the National Archives in Washington, D.C
Thursday, June 13, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
You can also watch this event live on our Ustream channel [www.ustream.tv/usnationalarchives].
Presented in partnership with NASA, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives.
While you are at the National Archives don’t miss the special display on The Space Program and President Nixon. You can see a set of moon tongs used by Apollo astronauts and much more!
Photo courtesy of NASA: Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., Lunar Module pilot of the Apollo 16 mission, is photographed collecting lunar samples at Station no. 1 during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity at the Descartes landing site. Duke is standing at the rim of Plum crater, which is 40 meters in diameter and 10 meters deep. The parked Lunar Roving Vehicle can be seen in the left background.
The Astronauts and Cosmonauts of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
The U.S. astronauts took Russian language courses; the Soviets took English courses. Both teams agreed that in space, the Americans would speak to their Soviet counterparts in Russian who in turn would speak English to the Americans.
Photo courtesy of NASA.gov: Astronauts (L-R Donald K. Slayton, Vance D. Brand and Thomas P. Stafford) and cosmonauts (L-R Valery N. Kubasov and Alexey A. Leonov) of the Apollo-Soyuz mission at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Apollo-Soyuz — An end to the Space Race
During President Ford’s administration, capsules from the world’s two largest competitors in the decades long space race met in what became known as the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). The historic docking of the two spacecraft brought a symbolic end to the 20-year space race.
The Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts both launched on July 15, 1975. They docked in outer space at 12:10 p.m. EDT on July 17.
Joint scientific and logistics experiments were conducted by the crews, and the docking served a greater symbolic purpose too. The crews of both spacecraft spent much of their time talking to President Ford and Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev. This unique mission, combining both diplomacy and science, demonstrated that U.S./Soviet space cooperation was possible and laid the foundation for the current International Space Station.
This 1974 painting by artist Robert McCall painting depicts the planned docking of American and Soviet spacecraft. Courtesy of
Watch it live on our UStream channel: