The 1970s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers

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The 1970s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
William Calley
Shirley Chisholm
Leon Jaworski
Henry Kissinger
George McGovern
Sarah Weddington
Andrew Young Jr.

Carl Bernstein (1944–) and Bob Woodward (1943–) Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, reporters for the Washington Post, worked more than twelve hours a day for several months to reveal the true story behind the break-in at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex in June 1972. They were eventually able to link the burglary to high-ranking officials in the Nixon administration, receiving a Pulitzer Prize in journalism in 1973. The following year, they published All the President's Men, which detailed events of the political scandal that led to President Nixon's resignation.

William Calley (1943–) William Calley, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, had led his platoon and two others into the South Vietnamese village of My (pronounced MEE) Lai on March 16, 1968. Finding only women, children, and old men, Calley and his men nonetheless proceeded to shoot to death over one hundred defenseless villagers. They assaulted and raped many young women and girls. When details of the massacre were made public, Calley was charged with murder. Court-martialed in November 1970, he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. A federal court over-turned Calley's conviction in 1974.

Shirley Chisholm (1924–) Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to serve in the U.S. Congress when she was elected to the House of Representatives in 1968. Articulate and energetic, she established herself as a vocal defender of women and the poor and an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and racial discrimination. She gained national recognition for her efforts at reform. In 1972, she launched an inspiring campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. Although she failed to win, she achieved her goal of opening the presidential campaign trail to women and minorities.

Leon Jaworski (1905–1982) Leon Jaworski was appointed by the Nixon administration in November 1973 to be special prosecutor in the Watergate case, taking the place of the fired Archibald Cox. Many suspected Jaworski was a supporter of the president and would not pursue the case honestly. Yet he kept Cox's staff, continued his investigation of corruption in the Nixon administration, and subpoenaed the White House for Watergate tapes and documents. Jaworski's unbiased and high-minded approach in pursuing the truth exposed evidence that eventually led to the end of the Nixon presidency.

Henry Kissinger (1923–) Henry Kissinger is widely acknowledged as the most influential foreign-policy figure in the 1970s. He served both as national security advisor (1969–75) and as secretary of state (1973–76). His unusual yet successful diplomatic efforts included surprising initiatives and secret negotiations. Kissinger helped bring about a nuclear arms reductions treaty, improved relations with the Soviet Union and China, and peace in Vietnam (for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973). He was the only high official in the Nixon administration who was not involved in the Watergate scandal.

George McGovern (1922–) George McGovern ran as the Democratic Party's candidate for president in 1972. He tailored his campaign to young Americans, supporting integration, busing, legalizing marijuana possession, and an end to the Vietnam War. These issues did not matter to the larger American population, and McGovern lost the election by one of the largest margins in U.S. history. However, his impact on American politics was substantial and lasting. McGovern's emphasis on personal character and morality have become central to presidential politics.

Sarah Weddington (1946–) Lawyer Sarah Weddington, along with her associate Linda Coffee, became increasingly involved in feminist projects in the late 1960s. Convinced that reproductive choice was essential to a woman's rights, the pair decided to represent a woman who sought to have an abortion in Texas, where the procedure was illegal. To protect her privacy, the client was assigned the pseudonym Roe instead of her real last name. Weddington argued the case, Roe v. Wade, all the way the U.S. Supreme Court. In her first court case, Weddington convinced the justices of a woman's right to have an abortion.

Andrew Young Jr. (1932–) Andrew Young Jr. became the first African American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Atlanta, Georgia, in 1972. Reelected twice, he distinguished himself as a champion of poor people, supporting causes such as the minimum wage, day care, and national health care. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter named Young as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Brash and outspoken, he received much criticism for his remarks about racism and human rights violations in many countries around the world. For violating official U.S. foreign policy by meeting with a representative from the Palestine Liberation Organization, Young was forced to resign in 1979.

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The 1970s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers

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The 1970s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers