The Nixon-Ford Years

Domestic Scene

Nixon concentrated his efforts on measures to halt inflation and to streamline government structures and programs. Often the Republican administration was at odds with the Democratic-controlled Congress. The U.S. Senate twice rejected the President's nomination of conservative Southern jurists to the U.S. Supreme Court. Nixon vetoed bills that provided more money for nonmilitary purposes than he had requested. Legislation enacted in 1969-72 included bills to reform taxes, introduce a military draft lottery, convert the post office department into a government-owned corporation, deploy an antiballistic missile defense system, and fight environmental pollution.

Despite calls for "law and order," violent disorders continued as many blacks and young whites demonstrated their disaffection with the government and with American society in general. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew became a figure of controversy as an outspoken foe of dissent.

Other developments included manned landings on the moon, the first of which was accomplished by Apollo 11 in July, 1969. Also in 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded upon its earlier desegregation rulings by ordering an immediate end to segregation in Southern schools. In 1971 busing of schoolchildren to achieve racial balance was begun in parts of the nation. It provoked widespread opposition, including that of the Nixon administration. Also that year, the 26th Amendment was ratified, lowering the voting age to 18. In August, in an attempt to aid the economy—ailing from simultaneous inflation and recession—the government instituted wage and price controls.