40th Anniversary of the Nixon Pardon: The 1976 Election
As the country prepared for the next Presidential election in 1976 Watergate and President Ford’s decision to pardon Richard Nixon in 1974 was still on people’s minds.
Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter repeatedly said he would not make the pardon a campaign issue. “The American people know who pardoned Richard Nixon,” he stated. “They don’t need to have it raised by a candidate.” His running mate didn’t share that view. Vice Presidential nominee Walter Mondale mentioned it in his speech at the Democratic National Convention and continued to bring it up during the campaign.
The Harris Survey confirmed that it was still an issue. In August 1976 poll results showed a 59 to 33 percent majority of voters believed President Ford “was wrong to pardon Richard Nixon.” At the same time, a 52 to 34 percent majority felt that he had acted in the country’s best interests. Based on the data Louis Harris concluded “that any change in public attitudes towards the Nixon pardon could have an immediate impact on the race for the White House.”
Ford’s campaign advisers included a briefing sheet on the pardon in the President’s debate preparation materials. In the first campaign debate he was asked to address why former President Nixon received a full pardon while amnesty for Vietnam draft resisters had been conditional. He stood by both decisions, stating that “the need and necessity for me to concentrate on the problems of the country fully justified the action that I took” in pardoning Nixon.
On November 2, 1976, Jimmy Carter won the election by a slim margin, receiving 50% of the popular vote to President Ford’s 48%. Many believed that the pardon had contributed to President Ford’s defeat, including Betty Ford. “Many people who definitely were for Jerry could not bring themselves to vote for him because he pardoned Nixon,” she later said. One post election analysis of the factors motivating voters’ decisions reported that “seven points of the anti-Ford vote stemmed from Watergate.”
Image: President Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter Meet at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia to Debate Domestic Policy during the First of the Three Ford-Carter Debates, 09/23/1976.
Happy Facial Hair Friday! Today’s featured mustache belongs to Grover Cleveland, who was re-elected to office on November 8, 1892, making him the first and currently only President to serve two non-consecutive terms.
Perhaps it was the mustache that won him this honor? President Cleveland had embraced the look of the mostly clean-shaved face when he entered office the first time in 1885, but he did have a mustache.
When he returned for a second term in 1893, he still had the mustache. In fact, he defeated the incumbent President Harrison, who was the last President to date to have a beard.
Did this electoral defeat signal the end of an era for beards and new dawn of the mustache?
In this cartoon from the 1907 off-year election, political cartoonist Clifford Berryman reminds us of how elections reflect the public mood and, thus, of the importance of voting. Illustrated here, William Jennings Bryan, William Randolph Hearst, and President Theodore Roosevelt anxiously calculate the impact of state and local elections on their political futures. The books scattered around the floor suggest that forecasting the consequences of an election is “infinitesimal calculus.” Bryan went on to run unsuccessfully for President the next year, and Hearst ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York City in 1909. Roosevelt did not run for reelection and instead went into temporary retirement after his term expired.
Figgerin’ on the Returns by Clifford K. Berryman, 11/7/1907, U.S. Senate Collection, U.S. National Archives (1693465)
From our friends at the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress and their new tumblr!
On November 7, 2000, Hillary Rodham Clinton was elected to the United States Senate for the state of New York. Her election had several firsts - she was the first female Senator from New York and the only First Lady to run for public office. Clinton was sworn in on January 3, 2001 and she served as both a Senator and First Lady until January 20th.
Photograph of President William Jefferson Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton Applauding during Election Night at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, New York, 11/07/2000
One update to the details below — there are now 9 Certificates of Votes available: Arizona, California, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia and Ohio (shown here).
The Electoral College held its one-day-only quadrennial session Monday, December 17, to elect the President and Vice President of the United States.
In compliance with the Constitution, the electors all met in their respective state capitals and signed their names to the state’s Certificate of Vote and sent copies to Congress and to the Office of the Federal Register of the National Archives, which administers the Electoral College.
So far there are only three: Ohio (shown here), Arizona, and North Dakota.
If you’d like to look over your state’s votes, go to www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/2012/certificates-of-vote.html. Each state’s votes are posted online as soon as they are received at the Federal Register.
"Another Such Victory and I’m Undone!" 11/09/1922
From the Clifford Berryman Political Cartoon Collection
The Republican Party desperately fought to retain control of Congress in the 1922 midterm elections. Although prepared to lose some of their seats, they lost many more than expected and emerged from the election with only a very slim majority in both houses. As the beaten and battered elephant in the cartoon suggests, another attempt to maintain the Republican majority through such a brutal election cycle would likely end in defeat.
“Lan Sakes, What’ll I Do With ‘Em?”, 11/07/1912
Clifford Berryman's “Miss Democracy” ponders what to do with the House, Senate, and White House, following Democratic victories in the 1912 Election, the result of a split in Republican party ranks produced by Theodore Roosevelt's independent Progressive (Bull Moose) party candidacy.
President Harry S. Truman voting, November 2, 1948:
“It has been my experience in public life that there are few problems which cannot be worked out, if we make a real effort to understand the other fellow’s point of view, and if we try to find a solution on the basis of give-and-take, of fairness to both sides.”
-Harry S. Truman
President Truman at the polls, from the Truman Library.
Eleanor Roosevelt casts her ballot in Hyde Park, NY, in 1936 and 1960.
Mrs. Roosevelt was not able to vote in a Presidential election until the age of 36, when the 19th amendment was added to the Constitution.
The Nineteenth Amendment, ratified on August 18, 1920, prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote based on sex.
Image: Eleanor Roosevelt votes in Hyde Park, 11/03/1936 (ARC 196125), FDR Presidential Library
Image: Eleanor Roosevelt votes in Hyde Park, 11/06/1960 (ARC 195612), FDR Presidential Library
How They’re Acting and How They Feel: Candidates on the eve of the 1912 Presidential Election
On the eve of our next presidential election, we imagine that this cartoon depicting Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and William Howard Taft before the 1912 Presidential Election might ring true today. The divided cartoon drawn by Clifford Berryman reveals the confident public persona each candidate projects - how they’re acting - versus the nervousness each candidate undoubtedly feels as the election approaches.
Untitled [How They’re Acting and How They Feel] by Clifford Berryman, 11/5/1912, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 306083)
From the Election of 1872, held November 5:
Times were simpler before the voting machines came in! Here’s the Republican ballot for the 1872 Presidential election for the state of Louisiana (ARC ID 6919777).
Thanks to our colleagues at the National Archives at Fort Worth for posting this on their Facebook page!
Halloween Hoax, 10/31/1912
Clifford Berryman Political Cartoon Collection, Records of the U.S. Senate
During the Presidential Election of 1912, the Republican Elephant is spooked by the “hollow” threat of Teddy Roosevelt’s new Progressive “Bull Moose” party, which was poised to split the Republican vote.
Before my campaign begins, I would like to talk to you about my candidacy for President and about the future of the Democratic Party. Certainly, just meeting with you and reminiscing about the spirit that led to your upset victory over Thomas Dewey in 1948 would be an inspiration to Sargent Shriver and myself in the months ahead.”
-George McGovern letter to Harry S. Truman, 8/19/72
We were saddened to learn of the passing over the weekend of George McGovern, former South Dakota Senator and the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972.
McGovern wrote this letter to Harry S. Truman after the Democratic National Convention in 1972, hoping to get to come out and visit the former President. The handwriting in the upper right corner is Bess Truman’s note to Mr. Truman’s secretary, Rose Conway.
-from the Truman Library