The Watergate Scandal: Part I

Exploring HeinOnline, Law Journal Library, U.S. Congressional Documents, U.S. Presidential Library
Shannon Furtak

HeinOnline’s journal and government document coverage dates back to inception, enabling researchers to learn about key historical events from multiple perspectives. Read articles written about events as they occurred, and view exact replicas of original historical print publications; also, find current material discussing these same events with information gained through hindsight.

Research Example: The Watergate Scandal

Although the Watergate scandal happened in the early 1970s, it’s been in the news recently. Most people associate Watergate with President Richard M. Nixon’s eventual resignation, but what happened leading up to that? Here’s a brief synopsis of major events:

  • On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested after breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, which was located in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. A few months later, a story in the Washington Post stated that the FBI believed the break-in was done by aides to President Nixon. Despite these events and their obvious implication, Nixon was elected to a second term in office on November 7, 1972.
  • In January of 1973, two key figures were found guilty of conspiracy, burglary, and of bugging the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Several others ending their trials by pleading guilty.
  • Four Nixon aides resigned in April of 1973 as the result of the Watergate scandal.
  • In May of that same year, an investigation was opened into the Watergate incident, and Archibald Cox was appointed as special prosecutor in the investigation.
  • The following month, former white house counsel John Dean testified about Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up.
  • During these Watergate hearings, it was revealed that Nixon secretly recorded all White House conversations since 1971.
  • From July through October of 1973, Nixon refused to hand over copies of White House recordings despite judicial orders to do the same. Nixon lost multiple appeals and his offer to give a summary of the tapes was rejected.
  • Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor, was ordered by Nixon to drop the case and Cox refused. He was fired in October of 1973.
  • Leon Jaworski was named the new special prosecutor on November 1 of that same year.
  • The White House stated that one of the subpoenaed recordings from June 20, 1972 had an 18-minute gap; Nixon’s secretary claimed responsibility for inadvertently erasing that portion of the tape.
  • In July of 1974, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Nixon must surrender original recordings of more than 64 conversations to Leon Jaworski.
  • Later that month, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against President Nixon.
  • On July 31, 1974, the tapes revealed a conversation which proved that Nixon knew about the cover-up of the Watergate break-in from its beginning, and Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.

Find Material in HeinOnline

Start your Watergate research in HeinOnline with a set of hearings on the Presidential Campaign Activities of 1972. Phase I begins this 28-part set with the first hearings on the Watergate investigation:

An excellent summary of information gathered on the Watergate scandal is compiled in this set of Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary from July 19, 1974:

Read President Nixon’s famous “I am not a crook” speech in the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, found in the U.S. Presidential Library:

Find scholarly articles on Watergate and its related topics in the Law Journal Library. For example, a broad search for “President Nixon”~5 AND Watergate produces more than  4,200 results. Sort those results by Volume Date (Oldest First) to view the progression of this topic. Perform a more specific search using the Advanced Search link located beneath the search bar. For instance, search for articles with the word Watergate in the title AND the words Nixon AND impeachment in the text:

Sort results by Volume Date (Oldest First) to research the topic from both historical and current perspectives.

This 1973 article from the American Bar Association Journal elaborates on hot debate topics in Washington:

Watergate, Sex, and Marijuana Dominate Debate at Washington August Meeting
American Bar Association Journal, Vol. 59, Issue 10 (October 1973), pp. 1131-1143
59 A.B.A. J. 1131 (1973)

This 2016 article in the Ohio State Law Journal discusses how Watergate relates to campaign financing:

The Forty-Year War on Money in Politics: Watergate, FECA, and the Future of Campaign Finance Reform
Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 77, Issue 4 (2016), pp. 791-838
Gaughan, Anthony J.
77 Ohio St. L.J. 791 (2016)

With HeinOnline’s incredible collection of congressional documents, journals, and presidential materials, researchers can find what they need on the Watergate scandal. Part Two of this series will feature the Pentagon Papers and how they relate to Watergate, so be sure to look for that post in the next few weeks.

For help searching or navigating HeinOnline, contact our dedicated support team at (800) 277-6995, email us, or chat with us!


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