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
"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.
"We have a cancer… close to the Presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily…"
On July 16, 1973, during his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee, Deputy Assistant to the President Alexander Butterfield shocked the world by revealing the existence of a White House taping system.
This revelation proved particularly explosive as the taping system could and would corroborate John Dean’s June 1973 testimony that he had detailed for President Richard Nixon White House-led cover-up efforts of the Watergate break-in in a March 1973 conversation. Dean testified that he had even warned the President of a lethal “cancer growing on the Presidency,” due to the continued perjury and pay-offs required to maintain the cover-up.
The conversation between President Nixon and White House Counsel John Dean had occurred on March 21, 1973 and was captured by recording devices in the Oval Office of the White House.
In this conversation segment, Dean warns President Nixon that the Watergate cover-up is a growing “cancer… close to the Presidency.” Listen here.
More Watergate-Related Conversations from the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
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.
What did the President know and when did he know it? Find out for yourself by listening to the “smoking gun” conversation!
On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon met with Chief of Staff H. R. (“Bob”) Haldeman, following the June 17 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building. In this conversation segment, President Nixon and Haldeman discuss the progress of the FBI’s investigation. They especially focus on the tracing of the source of money found on the burglars. They propose having the CIA ask the FBI to halt their investigation of the Watergate break-in by claiming that the break-in was a national security operation.
On July 24, 1974, after a yearlong legal battle, the Supreme Court announced its 8-0 ruling that President Nixon must turn over the 64 tapes subpoenaed by the Special Prosecutor. On August 5, 1974, White House aides distributed to reporters transcripts of the June 23, 1972 audiotape, accompanied by President Nixon’s own two-page statement. In his comments, President Nixon wrote, “portions of the tapes of these June 23 conversations are at variance with certain of my previous statements.”
Conversation 714-002, Audiotape 744 (NARA Identifier #6852462), Oval Office Recordings, White House Tapes, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives and Records Administration.
More Watergate-Related Conversations via the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
From the series: Official and Confidential Subject Files, 1924 - 1972. Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Upon graduating from Duke Law School in 1937, future president Richard M. Nixon submitted this application to be a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). After his interview with the FBI, he never received a response. Assuming he didn’t get the job, Nixon returned home to California, passed the bar, and began practicing law. It wasn’t until Nixon was Vice President of the United States that he learned what happened with his application. Director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover told him that he had been accepted as a special agent, but that due to budget cuts, his appointment was held back.
(via the “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” eGuide)
Nixon’s application is among the featured items at the “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures" exhibit now on display at the National Archives Museum.
Apollo 13 Astronauts Safe on Earth
An oxygen tank explosion on day two of the mission led to great hardships for the crew. The craft lost cabin heat, had limited power, and had a water shortage. The crew returned to earth on April 17 and are seen here meeting with President Richard Nixon on day later. The mission was dramatized in the movie Apollo 13.
Richard M. Nixon meeting with Apollo 13 astronauts in Hawaii., 04/18/1970
More at the Apollo 13 Mission page at NASA.
If you are excited about the newest panda at the National Zoo, you should thank Richard Nixon.
President Nixon’s historic trip to China in February 1972 opened diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries and was one of the most successful achievements of his administration. The result that sticks most keenly in the popular memory, though, is the arrival of two chubby black and white furry goodwill ambassadors—Ling-Ling (shown here) and Hsing-Hsing.
Mrs. Nixon had been captivated by the pandas at the zoo in Beijing and was delighted to head up the delegation to welcome the pandas to the National Zoo.
On April 16, 1972, she officially accepted the gift of the People’s Republic of China and declared, “I think ‘panda-monium’ is going to break out at the zoo.”
She was right. Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing were the top attractions at the zoo until their deaths in in the 1990s.
Watch Mrs. Nixon’s speech from 1972 on the Prologue blog.
Image: Ling-Ling munches on her snack on her first day in the new Panda House at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, April 16, 1972. (Nixon Presidential Library)
This lunch was the last meal that Richard Nixon ate as President at the White House. Photographer Oliver Atkins made a point of documenting the preparation of the lunch.
Later that day—August 8, 1974—President Nixon announced he would resign following damaging revelations in the Watergate scandal.
You can learn more about President Nixon and his domestic policies in this Prologue magazine article: http://go.usa.gov/jUKG
Image from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
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, 7/20/196.
POW Week at the Nixon Library
A sheriff-led motorcade will escort Vietnam POWs to the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California at 12:30PM PT. Their arrival at the Library coincides with the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s POW homecoming dinner at the White House.
An All-American Homecoming is a new exhibit at the Nixon Library about the POWs visit to the White House. The event occurred on May 24, 1973, and it remains the largest dinner ever held at the White House. This week, the Nixon Foundation is hosting a series of events to celebrate the POWs.
Tomorrow evening, on the anniversary of the original White House homecoming, the Foundation will hold a reunion dinner for the POWs in the Nixon Library’s “East Room.” The original menu will be recreated, including American comfort foods like sirloin steak and potatoes.
Learn more about POW Week at the Nixon Library through the Nixon Foundation.
Photo: Entertainers sing “God Bless America” to the returned POW troops at the White House. From L-R: Phyllis Diller, Former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley, actress Joey Heatherton, President Nixon, Songwriter Irving Berlin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pat Nixon and Comedian Bob Hope. 5/24/73.
Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Center archivist Kristen Wilhelm.
Forty years ago today self proclaimed “ol’ country lawyer” Senator Sam Ervin stepped onto center stage as chairman of the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, better known as the Watergate Committee. Senator Ervin became a household name as an estimated 85% of U.S. households viewed at least some of the hearings broadcast that summer.
Attorney General John Mitchell, shown in the photo, was one of the high-level Nixon administration figures whose testimony was broadcast. For the committee, bringing the hearings directly to the people was vital. As stated in its Final Report: “The full import of the hearings could only be achieved observing the witnesses and hearing their testimony.”
Photograph of Attorney General John Mitchell, 1973, Records of the U.S. Senate