The Senate Watergate Committee began investigating the break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters. Based on the investigation, the House Judiciary Committee passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon in July 1974.
Determined to win the 1972 presidential election, the Nixon administration sent special agents—called the “Plumbers”—to the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel. They hoped to copy documents and wiretap telephones. The Plumbers were caught by a hotel security guard. The Nixon administration managed to cover up the incident temporarily, but the scandal was revealed by reporters and Senate hearings. Nixon was eventually forced to resign.
The “Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” was signed in Paris. The agreement did not, however, actually restore peace there; rather, it only ended US military involvement in Vietnam and temporarily stopped the fighting between the North and the South. Though the agreement allowed the United States to withdraw, fighting between the Vietnamese continued until North Vietnam captured Saigon in 1975.
The United States and the People’s Republic of China officially established diplomatic relations. The United States declared that it “recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China.”
An accident at a nuclear power plant on Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, caused the release of radioactive gases. The plant narrowly avoided a meltdown when the reactor was shut down. It was the most serious nuclear power accident in American history and prompted many companies to drop nuclear energy projects.
President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signed the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, which would have limited the number of strategic nuclear missiles in each country. Congress never approved the treaty.
In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion fell under the Constitutional right to privacy. The Court mandated federal protection for pregnancy termination during the first trimester and allowed state laws limiting it during the second and third trimesters.