National Archives Opens Oral History Interviews with Nixon Administration Officials
Press Release · Monday, April 7, 2003
On Thursday, April 10, 2003 the Nixon Presidential Materials Staff at the National Archives and Records Administration will open for research recently conducted oral history interviews with four individuals who held important positions during the Nixon Administration: William B. Saxbe, U.S. Attorney General; John E. Sheehan, member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board; John J. Chester, Special Counsel to the President; and Byron Schumaker, official White House photographer. The recollections and insights of these four officials have enriched the historical record and our understanding of the Nixon Presidency. These are the first oral histories conducted by the Nixon Presidential Materials Staff since 1988.
The entire oral history collection includes nine interviews with former Nixon White House staff members. These oral history interviews are with Penelope A. Adams, Roy L. Ash, Charles W. Colson, H.R. Haldeman, Gwendolyn F. King, Elliot L. Richardson, Jerold Schecter, Constance C. Stuart, and John C. Whitaker. The oral interviews are transcribed and are available for research.
Mr. Saxbe, an Ohio attorney and U.S. Senator, was Attorney General in 1974. In his interview on September 27, 2002, Mr. Saxbe talked about his background prior to becoming U.S. Attorney General, especially his experience as a U.S. Senator. He related his views about the Nixon Administration's involvement in Watergate; Attorney General Elliot Richardson's handling of Watergate; his own relationship as Attorney General with the Watergate Special Prosecutor and President Nixon; the Nixon tapes; and the impact of Watergate on the Justice Department and the Presidency. He also discussed the transition from President Nixon to President Gerald Ford after Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974. Other matters that Mr. Saxbe covered included Justice Department affairs other than Watergate; and his career after leaving the Ford Administration, especially his experiences as U.S. Ambassador to India.
Mr. Sheehan, a Kentucky businessman, was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) from 1972-75. In his interview on August 19, 2002, Mr. Sheehan described himself as a "management member" of the FRB, discussing how he controlled the board's spending and increased the Federal Reserve System's revenue. He talked about his background prior to his appointment to the FRB; how his appointment to the board came about; and his views of monetarism, wage and price controls, and the ending of the gold standard. He described the relationship between the Nixon White House and the FRB, and outlined how the FRB made monetary policy. Other matters that Mr. Sheehan covered included security at the Watergate Office Building; the problems of inflation and unemployment in 1973, 1974, and 1975; the Arab oil embargo; his views of John Connally and Arthur Burns; the Nixon tapes; and his career after leaving the Nixon White House.
Mr. Chester, an Ohio attorney, was a member of President Nixon's defense team during the Watergate crisis in 1974. In the interview which was conducted on July 30, 2002. Mr. Chester discussed his preparation of a brief that he co-authored on the law of impeachment, An Analysis of the Constitutional Standard for Presidential Impeachment. He related a conversation he later had with Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr relating Watergate to the William J. Clinton impeachment proceedings. He also discussed his argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals of a Watergate related case, McClain vs. Daugherty, his views on how the Nixon White House handled such Watergate matters as the Saturday Night Massacre, the tapes issue, and executive privilege. Other matters that Mr. Chester covered included his relationship with people such as Special Counsel James St. Clair and U.S. Attorney General William B. Saxbe; his day-to-day activities as Special Counsel; and his life before and after his career at the Nixon White House.
Mr. Schumaker began his career as a photojournalist in 1952 with a prophetic photograph for his home-town newspaper of the young Senator Richard Nixon campaigning for Vice President during a whistle-stop tour of the midwest. After graduation from Ohio University, he worked as an assistant at Life magazine prior to military service (as a photographer in the U.S. Army). Upon honorable discharge from the military, he went into newspaper photography and worked at the Washington Evening Star. Mr. Schumaker served as a White House photographer from 1970-73 under Ollie Atkins, President Nixon's Chief Photographer. He was the only other White House photographer besides Atkins on the trip to China in February 1972, and also accompanied the President to the Soviet Union in June of that year. After leaving the White House and a brief stint as a self-employed small businessman, he served as chief of photography at the Department of Agriculture until his retirement in 1994.
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