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American Odyssey
American Odyssey: The 20th Century and Beyond Glencoe Online
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Web Activity Lesson Plan
Chapter 24: From Nixon to Carter


Students have read about Richard Nixon's involvement in the Watergate affair. In this activity, students will access information from a Web site created by the Washington Post, the newspaper that uncovered the president's illegal activities.

Lesson Description

Students will use information from the Revisiting Watergate Web site to review details and key players in the Watergate scandal. Students will search a collection of Washington Post Watergate stories and read short biographies of the key players in the scandal. Students will then answer four questions and apply this information by writing a newspaper article about the role of the media in exposing the illegal activities of Nixon and his aides.

Instructional Objectives

  1. Students will explain key details of the Watergate affair and evaluate how the free press functioned to expose the illegal activities of the Nixon administration.
  2. Students will be able to use this knowledge to write a newspaper article about the role of the media in exposing the illegal activities of the Nixon White House.

Student Activity Answers

  1. White House officials were convicted of contempt of court, perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and burglary. Many of the illegal activities were associated with Nixon's reelection efforts. In one case, an official was convicted of distributing illegal campaign literature. In another, officials created a secret campaign fund that ended up financing the Watergate burglary. One official tried to influence the Securities and Exchange Commission to favor a campaign donation. In several other instances, the White House tried to influence government agencies. Other illegal activities included payment of "hush" money, withholding evidence, and making false statements in regard to the Watergate investigation.
  2. Nixon refused to turn over the tapes, citing executive privilege.
  3. Those who were convicted include Charles Colson, John Dean, John Ehrlichman, H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, and John Mitchell.
  4. The grounds for impeachment were obstruction of justice in the investigation of the Watergate break-in and other unlawful activities, abuse of presidential powers, and the attempt to impede the impeachment process by refusing to turn over the tapes.
  5. Students' newspaper articles will vary.

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