Nixon's vice president, Gerald Ford (appointed to replace
Agnew), was an unpretentious man who had spent most of his
public life in Congress. His first priority was to restore trust
in the government. However, feeling it necessary to head off the
spectacle of a possible prosecution of Nixon, he issued a
blanket pardon to his predecessor. Although it was perhaps
necessary, the move was nonetheless unpopular.
In public policy, Ford followed the course Nixon had set.
Economic problems remained serious, as inflation and
unemployment continued to rise. Ford first tried to reassure the
public, much as Herbert Hoover had done in 1929. When that
failed, he imposed measures to curb inflation, which sent
unemployment above 8 percent. A tax cut, coupled with higher
unemployment benefits, helped a bit but the economy remained
In foreign policy, Ford adopted Nixon's strategy of detente.
Perhaps its major manifestation was the Helsinki Accords of
1975, in which the United States and Western European nations
effectively recognized Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe in
return for Soviet affirmation of human rights. The agreement had
little immediate significance, but over the long run may have
made maintenance of the Soviet empire more difficult. Western
nations effectively used periodic "Helsinki review meetings" to
call attention to various abuses of human rights by Communist
regimes of the Eastern bloc.
Questions with answers in bold:
1. Who became president of the United States following the resignation of Richard Nixon?
a. George McGovern
b. Gerald Ford
c. Henry Kissinger
d. Spiro Agnew
2. Describe the Helsinki Accords of 1975.
United States and Western European nations effectively recognized Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe in return for Soviet affirmation of human rights.
3. Gerald Ford’s pardoning of Richard Nixon was highly unpopular. Conjecture what might have happened had Nixon not been pardoned. Explain your answer.
Answers will vary.
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