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Richard Nixon Event Timeline

January 20, 1969


Richard Nixon (37) Event Timeline

01/20/1969 – 08/09/1974


Election Day. Nixon defeats Hubert Humphrey with 43.4% of the popular vote and 55.9% of the electoral vote.




Inaugural Address.


Off-shore drilling rig “blows out” in Santa Barbara Channel. (See also 03/21/1969).

02/23/1969 - 03/02/1969

Begins European tour with stops Brussels, London, Bonn, Berlin, Rome, Paris. At the conclusion says the trip was about “trust.”


Warns that the U.S. will resume bombing in Northern Vietnam in the event of a Viet Cong offensive.


Authorizes Operation Menu, the secret bombing of Cambodia by B-52 aircraft. The US targeted Cambodia because there were North Vietnamese supply strongholds scattered along its border.


Remarks Following Inspection of Oil Damage at Santa Barbara Beach.


Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, dies of congestive heart failure in Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. Nixon had been Vice-President under Eisenhower.


Unprovoked North Korean attack on US reconnaissance aircraft over Sea of Japan. On 04/18/1969 Nixon vows to continue reconnaissance flights with armed protection.


Special Message to Congress proposes the president receive power to consolidate programs of Federal aid to states and cities into overarching grants. Asks that states and cities have greater control over federal funds


The New York Times reports secret US bombing of Cambodia. At Nixon’s request, the FBI wiretaps the phones of 4 journalists and 13 government officials to determine the source of the leak.


Address to the Nation on Vietnam. Presents a peace plan for Vietnam. US and North Vietnam would remove troops from South Vietnam over the next year.


Abe Fortas resigns from the Supreme Court under threat of impeachment. Fortas had been nominated to be Chief Justice in 1968, but was criticized for his close relationship with President Johnson and for a secret retainer paid by a former client.


In Special Message, asks Congress to make the Post Office Department a public corporation.


Executive Order 11472 Creates the Environmental Quality Council.


Meets with the President Thieu of South Vietnam and announces a plan to Withdraw 25,000 US Troops from South Vietnam.


Swearing in of Warren Burger as Chief Justice; this nomination had been opened for Nixon by the failure of the Fortas nomination under Johnson. Burger had been nominated on 05/21/1969.


Apollo 11 successfully lands two astronauts on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin receive a call from President Nixon, in what has been described as the longest distance telephone call ever.


In comments while visiting Guam, articulates what he called “The Nixon Doctrine. While the US will provide military and economic assistance to nations who are fighting against Communism but will not assume primary responsibility for defending Asian nations. This was the beginning of a tour taking him to countries including Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Pakistan.


Visits U.S. troops and President Thieu in Vietnam. This is the only time Nixon visits Vietnam during his presidency.


Address to the Nation on Domestic Programs. Discusses welfare reform, jobs training, revenue sharing.


Message to Congress on Reform of Welfare. Proposes replacement of Aid to Families with Dependent Children with a minimum income program; the “Family Assistance Act.”


Nominates Clement Haynsworth to the Supreme Court to replace Fortas; Haynsworth is later rejected by the Senate on 11/21/1969


Former president of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, dies at age 79 from a heart attack in Hanoi.


Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel visits the White House.


Address to the Nation on inflation. Calls for extending a surtax, holding down public spending, and moderating labor wage demands.


In Remarks to the Inter American Press Association, declares that Latin America must be self sufficient. Pledges partnership with the United States. Warns against attempting to export revolution from one country to another.


Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam. Reveals that North Vietnam rejected peace offers. “And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.” He argues that "...the more divided we are at home, the less likely the enemy is to negotiate at Paris...North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that."


Signs Draft Reform Bill.


For the first time since World War II, there is a draft lottery held at Selective Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C.


Address to the Nation on Progress toward Peace in Vietnam. Announces the withdrawal of 50,000 American troops in Vietnam over the course of the next four months.




Signs the National Environmental Policy Act.


Nominates Harold G. Carswell to the Supreme Court. The nomination drew great controversy with the discovery of a 1948 speech in which Carswell advocated White supremacy. The Senate rejected Carswell’s nomination on 04/08/1970. This was only the second time that two successive Supreme Court nominations were rejected for any President (the other was Cleveland).


Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union. Calls for “balanced growth for America.” This includes “stopping the pollution of our air, cleaning up our water, opening up our parks, continuing to explore in space.”


In Press Conference opens with remarks on domestic issues including school desegregation, but includes discussion of Cambodia given the overthrow of Prince Norodom Sihanouk on March 18.


Issues Statement setting forth Administration policies on Desegregation of Elementary and Secondary Schools.


Special Message to Congress about Waste Disposal addresses pollution of the Great Lakes.


First observance of Earth Day.


Executive Order 11527 ends draft deferments for specific occupations and fathers.


Special Message to Congress on Draft Reform. Proposes moving to all-volunteer armed forces, including an end to student deferments.


Announces a US and South Vietnam assault into Cambodia in televised address to the Nation. "...not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam and winning the just peace we desire." This proclamation generated protests across the nation from students, professors, and political advocates.


At Kent State University in Ohio, members of the National Guard shot and killed 4 student protesters and wound 9 others. In response, nearly 100,000 protesters gathered around various government buildings including the White House.


The New York Times begins publishing the “Pentagon Papers,” a secret Department of Defense history of the Vietnam War.


The U.S. Senate repeals the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The 1964 bill gave “the president as commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attacks against the U.S.” Repealing the resolution meant that the president’s war time power was being limited by Congress.


Special Message to Congress on Reorganizing Federal Environmental Agencies. Proposes creating the Environmental Protection Agency.


Announces a Potential Vietnamese Open Election.


An intrusive domestic surveillance plan, prepared at the White House (“The Huston Plan”) was circulated to Intelligence Agencies. The plan was withdrawn due to FBI objections, but became public during the Watergate investigation. It apparently inspired White-House-related actions including the Watergate break-in. [Link to “National Security Archive” report on Huston Plan.]


Signs the Postal Reorganization Act.


Proposes a Five-Point Peace Plan for Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.


Signs the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970.


Signs Clean Air Bill.




Surprises pundits by saying he is “now a Keynesian in economics.” [This statement does not appear in any White House Documents.]


President Nixon announces "the end of Americans' combat role in Vietnam” is in sight.


Delays Construction of Cross-Florida Barge Canal to Stop Environmental Damage.


Army Lieutenant William Calley is found guilty of murder in the killing of at least 22 Vietnamese civilians in what became known as the My Lai Massacre.


Signs bill extending his authority to impose wage and price controls.


The New York Times Begins to Publish the “Pentagon Papers.” These documents were the secret Defense Department archives of previous White House administrations during the Vietnam War. The Pentagon Papers revealed that the US had been secretly participating in the Vietnam War as early as 1950, Under President Harry Truman.


Because of alleged national security concerns, Nixon argues that the New York Times needs to suspend their publishing of the “Pentagon Papers.” The New York Times receives an order to cease further production of the “Pentagon Papers” by a District Court Judge.


In response to the Pentagon Papers being leaked, the Nixon administration creates a covert White House special investigations unit called The White House Plumbers. This group was tasked with preventing leaks of classified information.


The US Senate passes a resolution that urged the removal of all American troops from Vietnam by the end of the year.


The Supreme Court rules (by 6-3 vote in New York Times Company v. United States) against the Nixon Administration attempt to halt publication of the Pentagon Papers on grounds of national security.


Signs an Emergency Employment Act.


Remarks to the Nation Announcing Acceptance of Invitation to Visit the People’s Republic of China.


Address to the Nation on a “New Economic Policy.” Declares a Freeze on Wages and Prices (Phase One of His Economic Program).


The White House Special Investigations Unit (aka “The Plumbers”) burglarizes a psychiatrist’s office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers. The action was authorized by White House counsel John D. Ehrlichman.


Address to the Nation on Post-Freeze Economic Stabilization Program. Announcing “Phase Two” of the New Economic Policy.


Vetoes Legislation Calling for Establishment of a National Day-Care System.


Signs Extension of Economic Stabilization Act.




Address to the Nation Making Public a Plan for Peace in Vietnam.


Visits Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to engage in diplomatic relations. Nixon’s visit generates panic in North Vietnam out of concern that their ally, China, would abandon the Vietnam War. Link to White House Chronology of the trip


Address to the Nation on Equal Educational Opportunities and School Busing. Courts have gone too far in demanding busing. Calls for Congress to act to end busing now.


Enacts Legislation Devaluing the Dollar To Stabilize the Economy.


Address to the Nation on Vietnam. Outlines progress of US troop withdrawals; dropping US casualties; reduced numbers drafted. Describes North Vietnamese invasion of the South. Announces continued “Vietnamization,” resumption of peace talks in Paris, and continued bombing.


Address to the Nation on the Situation in Southeast Asia. Describes lack of progress in peace talks. Fears that US withdrawal would lead to aggression in the future. Announces mining of North Vietnamese ports and bombing of rail and transportation to cut off inflow of weapons.


Visits the U.S.S.R. Visits the Soviet Union and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev to forge diplomatic relations. Once again, Nixon’s visit generates panic in North Vietnam out of concern that their ally, the Soviet Union, would abandon the Vietnam War.


Address to Joint Session of Congress on Return from Austria, Soviet Union, Iran, and Poland.


Five men are arrested after they break into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate building. These men were carrying film rolls, recording devices, and over one thousand dollars in cash.


Responds to the Watergate Break in and denies any involvement from the White House. He states that “White House has no involvement in this particular incident.”


The Washington post reports that a check for $25,000 from Nixon’s reelection campaign was deposited into the bank account of a Watergate suspect. This was one of the first major links between Nixon and the Watergate break in.


Accepts the Republican nomination for President of the United States.


In a News Conference, again denies any involvement in the Watergate scandal. “. . . no one in the White House Staff, no one in this Administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident.” He also insists that a special prosecutor would not “serve any useful purpose” for the Watergate investigation.


Signs the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act of 1972, giving the EPA new authority to regulate pesticides.


Election Day. In a landslide victory, Nixon defeats George McGovern with 60.7% of the popular vote and 96.7% of the electoral vote.


Statement on Lift-Off of Apollo 17 Lunar Module from the Moon. The last US manned trip to the Moon.




The trial begins for the Watergate burglars overseen by Judge John Sirica..


Special Message to Congress Announcing Phase Three of the Economic Plan.


Inaugural Address.


Address to the Nation Announcing Conclusion of an Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace to Vietnam.


The U.S., North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the Viet Cong sign the Paris Peace Accords. Under this agreement, the US was to immediately stop all military activities and remove their remaining military personnel from Vietnam within 60 days. The North Vietnamese agreed to release all American prisoners of war within 60 days. However, North Vietnamese military forces would remain in South Vietnam, under the protection of an agreed upon cease-fire between North and South Vietnam. [Link to pdf of the treaty.]


G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr are convicted on charges of burglary, wiretapping, and conspiracy in connection with the illegal entry into the Democratic National Committee headquarters, 06/17/1972. [Link to New York Times story.]


Statement on the Return of the First Group of American Prisoners of War from Southeast Asia.


James McCord, one of the burglars in the Watergate scandal, writes a letter confessing that he and other defendants had committed perjury. McCord revealed that there was pressure from the White House to perjure themselves.


Address to the Nation About Vietnam and Domestic Problems. “For the first time in 12 years, no American military forces are in Vietnam.” Praises “the overwhelming majority” who supported his approach to Vietnam. Discusses inflation and announces price freeze on meat.


Address to the Nation about the Watergate Investigations. Announces the resignations of two White House aides, John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman, and his counsel, John Dean. Says that he has personally assumed responsibility for coordinating inquiries into the matter. First learned about the seriousness of Watergate in March.


Issues detailed statement addressing Watergate charges.


Address to the Nation Announcing Price Control Measures. The controls were implemented on the same day via Executive Order 11723.


Former Appointments Secretary, Alexander Butterfield, testifies before the Senate Water Gate Committee and reveals that Nixon had a recording device in his office. Butterfield alleges that Nixon used this device to record all conversations held in office. This recording device would have had more incriminating evidence for Nixon and his involvement in the Watergate scandal.


Declares a Sixty-Day Price Freeze.


At the conclusion of a visit by Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, June 18-25, the leaders issued a Joint Communique reviewing their discussions and announcing an Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War.


Phase Four of the Economic Plan is Announced.


Refuses to Turn Over Subpoenaed Tapes to the Senate Watergate Committee.


Address to the Nation About the Watergate Investigations. “I had no prior knowledge of the Watergate break-in; I neither took part in nor knew about any of the subsequent coverup activities; I neither authorized nor encouraged subordinates to engage in illegal or improper campaign tactics.”


Start of Yom Kippur War.


Letter to Vice President Spiro Agnew on his decision to resign amidst bribery and income-tax evasion charges, unrelated to the Watergate break-in.


Nominates Gerald Ford as Vice President. Ford was a long-time Michigan Congressman and House Minority Leader. First invocation of the 25th Amendment.


Outlines negotiations over access to the tapes involving himself, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon’s proposal was to provide Watergate-related summaries of the tapes which would be verified by Senator John Stennis who would have access to the tapes. This proposal has been rejected by Cox, but Nixon will proceed along these lines anyway. “I have felt it necessary to direct him [Cox], as an employee of the executive branch, to make no further attempts by judicial process to obtain tapes, notes, or memoranda of Presidential conversation.”


Nixon directs Acting Attorney General Robert Bork to “discharge Mr. Cox immediately.” Bork did so. Nixon had earlier that day accepted the resignation of Attorney General Richardson who had pledged in confirmation hearings that he would “not countermand or interfere with the Special Prosecutor’s decisions or actions.” Richardson’s Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus also resigned rather than follow Nixon’s order to dismiss Cox. This came to be called the “Saturday Night Massacre.”


Vetoes the War Powers Resolution. He calls it “clearly unconstitutional.”


Acting Attorney-General Bork announces the appointment of Leon Jaworski as Director of the Office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force. [Link to New York Times Obituary of Jaworski, who died in 1982.]


Addresses Nation on About Policies to Deal with the Energy Shortages. Directs a series of actions including preventing utilities converting from coal to oil; rationing of fuel for aircraft and home heating; speedup of nuclear licensing and construction. Calls on Congress to take actions.


White House comments on Congressional override of Nixon’s veto (House: 284-135; Senate 75-18) of the War Powers Resolution (H.J. Res 542). The Resolution requires a report within 48 hours of introducing US forces into hostilities and requires withdrawing them within 60 days unless Congress authorizes further involvement. Overall, Nixon vetoed 43 bills and was overridden on only six.


Statement Announcing Procedures for Providing Presidential Tape Recordings and Documents to the United States District Court. “. . . there are no missing tapes.” Nixon recounts his history with the tapes.


Signs Bill authorizing the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline.


Question and Answer Session with Newspaper Editors. In discussing his personal finances says: “. . . people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I have earned everything I have got.”


Gerald Ford sworn in as Vice President; first to take office under the terms of the 25th Amendment.


Issues Statement about Financial Affairs During Tenure as President. Addresses real estate ownership and presidential papers.


Signs the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Act is intended to conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered species depend, and to conserve those species.




Responds to Senate Watergate Committee Subpoenas of White House Tapes.


Gives State of the Union Address.


Letter to US District Court about refusal to provide recordings to the court. “. . . the issue before this Court constitutes a non-justiciable political question.”


Indictments are handed down for the “Watergate Seven,” including John Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. The grand jury names Nixon as an “unindicted co-conspirator.” [Link to New York Times account.]


Issues Statement about his Income Taxes in response to a staff analysis by the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation concluding that he could not claim a charitable donation for his presidential papers.  [Link to pdf of the Staff Report.]


Signs the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1974 increasing the minimum wage and extending minimum wage coverage.


Address to the Nation Announcing Answer to the House Judiciary Committee Subpoena for Additional Presidential Tape Recordings. Discusses 18 ½ minute gap and rejects notion that in that gap he and H. R. Haldeman “cooked up some sort of a Watergate coverup scheme. . . “

06/10/1974 – 06/19/1974

Travels to the Middle East, with stops in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel, Jordan.


Supreme Court Orders Nixon to Turn Over Tapes to Senate Watergate Committee.  The case, decided unanimously, is United States v. Nixon.


Articles of Impeachment Are Brought Against Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee. The three proposed charges against President Nixon include: obstruction of justice, misuse of power and contempt of Congress.


Announces availability of additional transcripts of Presidential tape recordings. Mentions problematic conversations on June 23, 1972, acknowledging that his prior statements about these meetings were incomplete. “This was a serious act of omission for which I take full responsibility and which I deeply regret.”


Address to the Nation Announcing Decision to Resign.


Letter Resigning the Office of President of the United States.


Remarks on Departure from the White House. “. . . we leave proud of the people who have stood buy us and worked for us and served this country. . ..Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”


President Gerald Ford pardons Richard Nixon for any offenses he may have committed against the United States during his presidency.  


Last edited 7/24/2023

Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon Event Timeline Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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