United States v. Nixon
Today the Nixon Library begins a new series—Road to Resignation—which highlights President Nixon’s last few days in office.
On this day, July 24, 1974, Chief Justice Warren Burger announced the verdict of the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon. It ruled that President Nixon’s “generalized interest in confidentiality” was not grounds for the crushing of a subpoena seeking the release of the tapes of his recorded conversations relating to the Watergate affair.
The vote was 8-0: Justice William Rehnquist, a former Nixon administration official, had recused himself. The Watergate Tapes were released as a result.
- Follow the final days of Nixon’s Presidency here.
- Listen to key moments compiled by the Nixon White House Tapes Team here — Richard Nixon Resigns the Presidency.
Photo: U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 1973. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Day 61: FDR’s Childhood Trips to Germany
FDR made a number of trips to Europe with his parents during his childhood, including numerous trips to Germany. The Roosevelts often traveled to Germany to visit several ancient springs in hope that they would help Mr. James’ health.
Roosevelt historian Geoff Ward recounts a story of one of these German trips in his book Before the Trumpet. During a trip in 1896 FDR and his tutor Mr. Dumper “found themselves under arrest four times in one busy day of bicycling – for picking cherries along the roadside, for wheeling their bicycles into a railroad depot, for riding into Strasbourg after dusk…and finally, for inadvertent slaughter of a panicky goose that had thrust its long neck between the spokes of Mr. Dumper’s front wheel.” FDR managed to get them out of the first three violations without a fine, but in the end they did have to pay five marks to the owner of the goose. “Franklin always maintained the bird had really ‘committed suicide.’”
Betty Ford Fields Questions on Women’s Rights, Premarital Sex, Breast Cancer, Drugs, and Anything Controversial — Today in 1975.
Morley Safer’s interviewed Betty Ford for the CBS news program “60 Minutes.” They taped the interview in the White House Solarium on July 21, 1975.
The “60 Minutes” segment marked Mrs. Ford’s first extensive, exclusive TV interview. Safer questioned her on a number of topics including her experiences as a politician’s wife, openness about her breast cancer, and support for women’s rights, particularly the Equal Rights Amendment.
Safer noted that unlike many political wives, for Betty Ford “the higher your husband’s gotten, the more really controversial things have been said.” This interview would be no exception. She called the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize abortion “a great, great decision,” and discussed premarital sex and the possibility of her children using drugs.
After the segment aired on August 10 the White House received a deluge of negative comments regarding Mrs. Ford’s position on these issues. Public mail ran 2 to 1 against Mrs. Ford, although more positive comments came in over time. In the long run her approval rating increased after the controversy died down.
According to Sheila Weidenfeld, Mrs. Ford’s press secretary, the First Lady later sent Safer an autographed picture inscribed, “If there are any questions you forgot to ask – I’m grateful.”
-from the Ford Library
"IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER"
Unbeknownst to the American people, one President Nixon’s speechwriters, William Safire, was asked to write a statement that the President would make to the American people in the event of a disaster and the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the Moon. Though never delivered, it remains an eloquent tribute to the bravery and pioneering spirit of the astronauts. When the astronauts of Apollo 11 returned safely to earth, their mission was hailed around the world as an achievement of epic proportions, and this statement was quietly tucked away into the record.
Day 56: FDR’s Cruise to Hawaii
On July 1, 1934, FDR boarded the USS Houston to begin his three week journey to the Territory of Hawaii. During the cruise FDR and his party made stops in the Bahamas, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Columbia, Panama, Cocos Island and Clipperton Island. These stops included visits with foreign leaders and dignitaries, sightseeing through various countries and lots of fishing. FDR landed in Hawaii on July 24th to begin his historic visit.
President Kennedy was known for being a fast and voracious reader.
As Mrs. Kennedy once said, “He’d read walking, he’d read at the table, at meals, he’d read after dinner, he’d read in the bathtub…He really read all the times you don’t think you have time to read.”
In fact, JFK could read 1,200 words per minute. Check out this letter from JFK’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger, discussing JFK’s talent.
-from the JFK Library
Smells Like Potsdam
On this day in 1945, President Truman arrived in Potsdam for conferences with Allied leaders. After a particularly trying day of negotiations, President Truman went into the bathroom in his suite. He came out with this bottle of German 4711 cologne.
He said to one of the members of his security detail, “Is some Russian trying to make a stinker out of me with this German stuff?” This member of his security detail “souvenired” this bottle after the conference, and years later donated it to the Library.
-from the Truman Library and Museum
Post WWII Negotiations — The Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was a meeting of the victorious leaders of the Allies in Europe. It was held in an unbombed suburb of Berlin from July 17 - August 2, 1945.
Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and President Truman began the conference for their respective countries. On the agenda was the partitioning of the postwar world and resolving the problems of the war in the Far East. This included:
- The division of Germany.
- The movement of populations from Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Italy.
- Issuing a proclamation demanding unconditional surrender from the Japanese government.