Leonid Brezhnev
general secretary of the Communist Party and premeier of the Soviet Union from 1964, when he ousted Khrushchev to his eath in 1982. He engaged in detente with American presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter and in both series of SALT negotiations. He also led the Soviet Union during its initial foray into Afghanistan in 1979
Warren Burger
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1969 to 1986, he was responsisble for bringing the Court somewhat back to the right after the Earl Warren years. He presided over major cases involving abortion, affirmative action, the death penalty, and school desegregation
Rachel Carson
American conservationist whose 1962 book “Silent Spring” galvanized the modern enviornmental movement that gained significant traction in the 1970s
Jimmy Carter
President of the United States who was a peanut farmer and former governor of Georgia, he defeated Gerald Ford in 1976. As President, he arranged the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel in 1978 but saw his foreign policy legacy tarnished by the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis in 1979. Domestically, he tried to rally the American spirit in the face of economic decline, but was unable to stop the rapid increase in inflation. After leaving the presidency, he achieved widespread respect as an elder statesman and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
John Dean III
White House counsel to Richard Nixon from 1970 to 1973 who became deeply involved in the Watergate break-in and cover-up. After pleading guilty to obstruction of justice charges, he became a key witness for the prosecution whose testimony was later corroborate by tape recordings
Gerald Ford
President of the United States who was appointed vice president when Spiro Agnew resigned in the fall of 1973. He succeeded to the presidency upon Nixon’s resignation in August 1974 and focused his brief administration on containing inflation and reviving public faith in the presidency. He was defeated narrowly by Jimmy Carter in 1976
Henry Kissinger
National Security Advisor and Secretary of State during the Nixon Administration, he was responsible for negotiating an end to the Yom Kippur War as well as the Treaty of Paris that led to a ceasefire in Vietnam in 1973
George McGovern
liberal senator from North Dakota who lost a landslide election to Richard Nixon in 1972, he eventually lost his senate seat in the conservative revolution that swept Ronald Regan into the White House in 1980
From the French for “reduced tension,” the period of Cold War thawing when the United States and the Soviet Union negotiated reduced armament treaties under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter. As a policy prescription, it marked a departure from the policies of proportional response, mutually assured destruction, and containment that had defined the earlier years of the Cold War.
Earth Day (1970)
International day of celebration and awareness of global environmental issues launched by conservationists on April 22, 1970
Enviormental Protection Agency (EPA)
A governmental organization signed into law by Richard Nixon in 1970 designed to regulate pollution, emissions, and other factors that negatively influence the natural environment. The creation of the it marked a newfound commitment by the federal government to actively combat environmental risks and was a significant triumph for the environmentalist movement.
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
declared full constitutional equality for women. Although it passed both houses of Congress in 1972, a concerted grassroots campaign by anti-feminists led by Phyllis Schlafly persuaded enough state legislatures to vote against ratification. The amendment failed to become part of the Constitution.
Iranian Hostage Crisis (1979-1981)
The 444 days in which American embassy workers were held captive by Iranian revolutionaries after young Muslim fundamentalists overthrew the oppressive regime of the American-backed shah, forcing him into exile. These revolutionaries triggered an energy crisis by cutting off Iranian oil. The crisis began when revolutionaries stormed the American embassy, demanding that the United States return the shah to Iran for trial. The episode was marked by botched diplomacy and failed rescue attempts by the Carter Administration. After permanently damaging relations between the two countries, the crisis ended with the hostage’s release the day Ronald Reagan became president
Kent State University Shooting (1970)
Massacre of four college students by National Guardsmen on May 4, 1970, in Ohio. In response to Nixon’s announcement that he had expanded the Vietnam War into Cambodia, college campuses across the country exploded in violence.
malaise speech (1979)
National address by Jimmy Carter in July 1979 in which the President chided American materialism and urged a communal spirit in the face of economic hardships. Although Carter intended the speech to improve both public morale and his standings as a leader, it had the opposite effect and was widely perceived as a political disaster for the embattled president.
Miranda warning (est. 1966)
A statement of an arrested person’s constitutional rights, which police officers must read during an arrest. The warning came out the Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona in 1966 that accused people have the right to remain silent, consult an attorney, and enjoy other protections. The Court declared that law enforcement officers must make sure suspects understand their constitutional rights, thus creating a safeguard against forced confessions and self-implication.
My Lai Massacre (1968)
Military assault in a small Vietnamese village on March 16, 1968, in which American soldiers under the command of 2nd Lieutenant William Calley murdered hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mostly women and children. The atrocity produced outrage and reduced support for the war in America and around the world when details of the massacre and an attempted cover-up were revealed in 1971.
Nixon Doctrine
President Nixon’s plan for “peace with honor” in Vietnam stateing that the United States would honor its existing defense commitments but, in the future, countries would have to fight their own wars.
Pentagon Papers
Secret U.S. government report detailing early planning and policy decisions regarding the Vietnam War under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Leaked to the New York Times in 1971, it revealed instances of governmental secrecy, lies, and incompetence in the prosecution of the war
Philadelphia Plan (1969)
Program established by Nixon to require construction trade unions to work toward hiring more black apprentices. The plan altered Lyndon Johnson’s concept of “affirmative action” to focus on groups rather than individuals
Roe v. Wade (1973)
Landmark Supreme Court decision that forbade states from barring abortion by citing a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. Seen as a victory for feminism and civil liberties by some, the decision provoked a strong counter-reaction by opponents to abortion, galvanizing the Pro-Life movement.
Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty agreement between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and American president Jimmy Carter. Despite an accord to limit weapons between the two leaders, the agreement was ultimately scuttled in the U.S. Senate following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
silent majority
Nixon Administration’s term to describe generally content, law-abiding middle-class Americans who supported both the Vietnam War and America’s institutions. As a political tool, the concept attempted to make a subtle distinction between believers in “traditional” values and the vocal minority of civil rights agitators, student protesters, counter-culturalists, and other seeming disruptors of the social fabric.
“smoking gun” tape (1972)
Recording made in the Oval Office that proved conclusively that Nixon knew about the Watergate break-in and endeavored to cover it up. When the tape’s existence became public knowledge, Nixon’s Congressional support evaporated and the Supreme Court ordered he hand the tape to investigators
southern strategy (1972)
Nixon re-election campaign strategy designed to appeal to conservative whites in the historically Democratic south. The President stressed law and order issues and remained noncommittal on civil rights. This strategy typified the regional split between the two parties as white Southerners became increasingly attracted to the Republican party in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement.
Military strategy launched by Richard Nixon in 1969. The plan reduced the number of American combat troops in Vietnam and left more of the fighting to the South Vietnamese, who were supplied with American armor, tanks, and weaponry.
War Powers Act (1973)
Law passed by Congress limiting the President’s ability to wage war without Congressional approval. The act required the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing troops to a foreign conflict. An important consequence of the Vietnam War, this piece of legislation sought to reduce the President’s unilateral authority in military matters.
Watergate (1974)
Series of scandals that resulted in President Richard Nixon’s resignation amid calls for his impeachment. The episode sprang from a failed burglary attempt at Democratic party headquarters in Washington’s Watergate Hotel during the 1972 election.

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