New at Perspectives Online: Revising Nixon in DC

Perspectives on History is pleased to continue its online summer issue with a review of a recent panel on the Nixon legacy in Washington, DC, by George Derek Musgrove, an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and author of Rumor, Repression, and Racial Politics (2012).

As a Washington, DC, resident who is currently working on a study of race and democracy in the nation’s capital, I was interested to hear early this spring  that the National Archives and Records Administration and the Richard Nixon Foundation would sponsor a panel titled “Another Historic First: Richard Nixon and DC Home Rule” on May 16, 2014. The panel, moderated by Salisbury State University professor of history Dean Kotlowski, featured former Nixon White House aides Egil “Bud” Krogh, Sallyanne Payton, and Donald Santarelli. I found the panel particularly intriguing because I had just read a brilliant dissertation that used Krogh and Santarelli’s records.

The event turned out to be an attempt to revise Nixon’s legacy in the fields of civil rights and DC self-determination. The participants spoke with a single voice. Nixon, they argued, loved Washington, DC, and did all he could to make the city safer and more economically prosperous, and to expand self-determination for its residents.   Though poor history, the panel was a fascinating case study of the worldview of the Nixon Administration, and the dangers of recent political history in which participants often campaign for their version of events long after they have transpired. Read more… 

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  1. Bill Harshaw

    We must give Nixon/Haldeman credit for one contribution to DC: they got the temporary office buildings removed from the Mall (now site of Constitution Gardens). “Temporary” you ask? How so, were they left over from LBJ’s administration, or maybe the Korean war? Or is it possible they were built before the Pentagon to house WWII workers? No. “Temporary” as in leftovers from WWI, i.e., 50 years temporary. It took determination to push the bureaucrats off the Mall.