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1974: The scandal that rocked America
Watergate was the biggest political crisis to hit the United States in the 20th century.

It started with a burglary in June 1972 and ended with the resignation of US President Richard Nixon in August 1974.

The break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee in 1972 was traced back to a Nixon-support group. A string of revelations over the next two years led all the way to the top.

President Nixon resigned to avoid the impeachment charges recommended by the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives in July.

Your memories:

Upon Nixon's announcement on 8 August 1974 that he was resigning, the following day the DJ on the Philadelphia radio station WMMR played Alice Cooper's "Elected" over and over.

Sadly, today, Alice Cooper is a country-club, Bush-supporting Republican and the current occupant of the White House is far worse than Richard Nixon.
Karl Bremer, USA

I remember the historian Henry Steele Commager saying at a lecture in 1974 that he was taking the summer off, unless one of two things happened: the Second Coming or the resignation of Richard Nixon. At least he had June and July.
Steve, USA

I was in the sixth form and getting seriously interested in politics for the first time.

I remember the organisation chart of the White House with Nixon at the top, and day by day the red marks against those indicted getting closer and closer to Nixon. When it came, it was no surprise.

These days, politicians seem to tell bare-faced lies and just carry on. Bush has never given a coherent explanation for invading Iraq - the lack of WMD should have made both him and Blair resign.
Graham Tebby, UK

On the day that Nixon resigned I was 11 years old and visiting Washington State with my parent from Australia.

It was a brilliantly sunny, cloudless day, and every flag pole had the US flag up. Every flag seemed either brand new or incredibly clean.

Despite of that it was clear that everyone was ashamed at what had happened and what Nixon had done.

It's a great pity that Kissinger alone remains unpunished for his Watergate crimes and more.
Roland Inman, USA

I was eight years old and outside playing kickball with my friends when my mom called me into the house. All she said was: "You need to see this, it is history in the making".

I will never forget the way Nixon looked on the day he resigned and the way he waved at the crowds as he entered the plane.

It was the start of my lifelong interest in Presidential history.
Scott Jeffery, USA

It's people like Richard Nixon that make history interesting. There is no black and white and with Nixon there were certainly a lot of grey areas.

Forget the hype and compare the first nuclear arms limitation treaty, bringing China into the international community, drawing the Vietnam war to a close with what - a silly break in?

It was the cover up that forced Nixon's resignation - unfortunate, but probably necessary. However, compare the Watergate cover-up with President Bush's WMD and war in Iraq and we get a little perspective.

Ultimately Nixon wasn't so much tricky as unlucky when making a comparison with the dishonesty that George Bush has got away with!
Clive Green, UK

I was a little young to remember Nixon's resignation but I do seem to remember a number of references to "Tricky Dicky" around that time.

I still think history will judge him as a good president - he got the boys home from Vietnam and got the Americans talking again to a quarter of the world's population - China.
Ian Jarrett, UK

I was about 20 and staying in Knoxville, Tennessee, when Nixon resigned. One of the things that shook Middle America was the language that Nixon used. Hardly a line of the tapes was without "(expletive deleted)".

Unluckily for Nixon, Vice President Agnew had resigned in disgrace shortly before. He had been replaced by Gerald Ford, who, despite his limitations, was thought of by both political parties and the public as a "pretty straight guy".

This is exactly what America needed at that time. The constitutional crises could have been even worse if Agnew had still been VP.
Peter Underwood, UK

I was a newspaper reporter for a small afternoon daily in Sanford, North Carolina. I was running the wire desk that day and still have the copy that came over the UPI telex alerting us to Nixon's resignation. A cheer went up in the newsroom when it was announced. Nixon was shameful, but Bush and Blair are worse!
RB Smith, USA

I remember at the time Nixon left feeling quite pleased that the system had worked - a guilty man was punished. Now I have grown up and done an MA in politics I realise what a great leader Nixon was. His achievements were impressive, mainly in regard to China and the USSR.

Had there never been a Watergate I think Nixon would have ended the Cold War a decade sooner. I used to worship JFK when I was an idealistic student, but now I regard him as a lightweight amateur compared to Nixon.

History has proven that JFK was involved in far worse crimes then Nixon, his family had an arrogance and ruthlessness that was shocking. It is a shame that Kennedy was never impeached, he destroyed and corrupted many innocent lives but the biased press of the day ignored this.

Nixon was a saint in comparison, his lies were not as big and his goals and methods of reaching them more honest.
Steven Mac, England

Nixon's dirty tricks and paranoia produced events that led to his downfall and resignation. He should have resigned sooner or stayed in office and faced the complete impeachment and trial.
Charles Gilbert, USA

I was 12 when Nixon resigned. I saw it on TV and heard it (via the BBC) on my shortwave radio. After that, I remember hearing people saying they lost trust in authority figures.
Roberto Alvarez, Miami, Florida

On that solemn day in the history of American politics, I listened to the President whilst he catalogued some of his government's major achievements (quote: Chinese and Americans are now calling each other brother). Though sad, these are some of the most cherished moments in democracy.
Famara B S Jatta, Gambia

It was a time I will never forget. I was barely 12 when Woodward and Bernstein broke the story for the Washington Post and the world slowly began to realise that there was something more to this than just a piece of inter-party, pre-election rivalry.

As the scandal led from a group of ex-Cuban freedom fighters, through a PR agency, into the Committee to re-elect all the way to the Attorney General's office and finally the White House itself, I followed fascinated.

Strange reading for a child, but it got me interested in the world around me, how it worked and how it could be that grown-ups could cheat every bit as desperately as kids.

I have since spent the majority of my working life in and around the fields of media.

I wonder if I were 12 now, with all the other distractions, whether I would have become so interested in a complicated story taking place so far from home...
Kim, UK

As a teenager during this era, having watched the Watergate hearings all summer, it was the first time I can remember that I heard anyone refer to a US President in such a degrading manner: "Tricky Dick".

As for me and those of my generation, he stole the trust we had in authority. He had hijacked the government of the people. The resignation was an admission of guilt.
Marc Chavez, US

I was in my twenties, having lived through the Vietnam war, protests and the riots in the US cities. Nixon resigning was the culmination of this sad period in US history.
Scott Johnson

I recall as a nine-year-old listening to Nixon's speech on my dad's car radio whilst on holiday in Winchelsea, East Sussex. I didn't understand it but realised something important was happening.
David Dixey, UK

Nixon was a complex figure, he withdrew the USA from the Vietnam quagmire, opened up relations with China and was able to visit the USSR - the first for a US President.

Let us not forget either that he helped nuclear disarmament with the SALT 2 treaty in 1972.

He lost all this because of a burglary and taped conversations, but in retrospect Watergate was blown out of all proportion - no-one was killed or injured, no wars were declared on the basis of lies - like Iraq 2003, which I believe Nixon would have opposed - and even though he made mistakes, like Cambodia and Chile, he was not the worst person to inhabit the White House.

He was a colourful character - and no-one can fault a person for that...
Phillip Wedgwood Brand, England

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Richard Nixon waves from the steps of his helicopter after resigning over Watergate
President Richard Nixon was the first US President to resign


Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat
Mr Nixon later re-established himself as a respected statesman

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