Watergate in the 70’s leads to a steady flow of international visitors to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, Orange County
The Life and Times of Nixon Reviewed
Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, has been the subject of scandal for years and has now entered history as a monumental, but disgraced, figure. He was the first U.S. president to resign and that was done to avoid impeachment.
Mid-2011, there is a similar scandal, not the tape-recording of conversations and breakins, as in what is dubbed “Watergate” but “hacking” by reporters into emails and voice mails, seemingly condoned by news services on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
It was in 1971 that things started to go wrong for Nixon. In the summer of 1972, “Deep Throat”, a pseudonym given to W. Mark Felt (he died aged 95 in 2008) who was with the F.B.I., leaked reports about the scandalous goings-on in Washington to journalist Bob Wordward, who was with the Washington Post. All the President’s Men, the book that came out in 1974 by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, told about the scandalous goings-on including the breakins.
Peaceful Old Home of Richard Nixon Now Museum
Visitors from all over the world, especially those from China, have been beating a path to Yorba Linda, California. Why? They have been coming since the opening, on July 20th, 1990, of both the privately-funded library and the tiny wooden house where this controversial president was born on January 9th, 1913.
The library’s archives house the most complete record available for students and scholars of Richard Nixon’s life and career. The collection includes an audio-visual archive, photographs and papers from Nixon’s vice presidential, senatorial, congressional and out-of-office years as well as his private diaries, his book manuscripts, a complete collection of key presidential documents and papers donated by other members of the Nixon administration.
Nine Acres with Modest Wooden House
Situated on nine acres of rolling hillside, the 52,000 square foot, Spanish-style library is surrounded by a re-creation of the citrus grove that originally stood around the Nixon home. Visitors can explore the First Lady’s Garden with her favourite flowers and roses and view the beautiful reflecting pool that now shares the site with the modest wooden house built by Frank Nixon in 1912. It stands exactly where Richard Milhous Nixon was born and raised before the family moved to nearby Whittier in 1922.
Displays Include One About Watergate
Besides a look at the president’s final campaign, a display called “Freedom Comes in Small Pieces” focusing on the Vietnam War POWS, and one dealing with “Watergate,” named after the hotel and apartment complex of the same name, are on view. The book by Bob Woodward called All the President’s Men is also included.
Other areas of interest: an authentic re-creation of the well-known Lincoln Sitting Room at the White House; a vintage “Woody” station wagon like the one Nixon used in his”fighting, rocking, socking” campaign in 1950; an actual moon rock; the telephone used by the president to extend good wishes to the Apollo 11 astronauts; priceless gifts of state including coins discovered with the Dead Sea scrolls, rare Chinese tapestries, gold and ivory pieces from Africa, a sixth century B.C. bronze statue of the goddess Isis and an Israeli oil lamp dating from 100 B.C.
First Televised Debates
Visitors will also have the chance to view the first televised presidential debates, debates that changed the shape of North American media and politics. There is extensive footage from each of the four debates showing how the candidates addressed the issues, and each other. Those interested in the Watergate scandal can listen to excerpts of the White House tapes and view a montage of Nixon’s last day in the White House including his emotional helicopter farewell.
The address is 18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard, Yorba Linda, Orange Country. It is just off Highway 90, a few miles from the 91 freeway. More information is available at www.nixonfoundation.org.