The Nixon Presidential Library is releasing the second installment of Presidential dictabelts, which include President Nixon’s recollections of his surreal early morning surprise visit to the Lincoln Memorial on May 9, 1970, when he met with anti-Vietnam War protestors who were camped out there. All recorded the same day, May 13, 1970, these dictabelts provide a complex picture of the president’s feelings about the anti-war movement and civic action in the wake of the Kent State tragedy. In some he recounts his May 9 effort to reach out to student demonstrators, in others he orders the cutoff of Federal funds to universities where a majority of the faculty is against the Vietnam War, and asks that the White House quietly discourage corporate sponsorship of “the Urban coalition.”
Also, watch the PBS Newshour Report on the Lincoln Memorial visit here, an interview with Melvin Small, distinguished professor of history emeritus at Wayne State University and author of two books, The Presidency of Richard Nixon and Covering Dissent: The Media and Anti-Vietnam War Movement. On the tapes, President Nixon describes a conversation with his valet, Manolo, asking him if he’d ever been down to the Lincoln Memorial. Nixon: I said get your clothes on and we will go down to the Lincoln Memorial. Well, I got dressed and at approximately 4:35, we left the White House and drove to the Lincoln Memorial. I have never seen the Secret Service quite so petrified with apprehension.