The Papers of the Nixon Administration, 1969-1974, The White House Special Files: Part 1: Confidential Files

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The Nixon administration marked the end of America’s long period of post-World War II prosperity and the onset of a period of high inflation and unemployment. Nixon adopted a policy of monetary restraint to cool what his advisers saw as an overheating economy. "Gradualism," as it was called, placed its hopes in restricting the growth of the money supply to rein in the economic boom that occurred during Lyndon Johnson’s last year in office. But gradualism, as its name implied, did not produce quick results. In 1971 Nixon came up with a smash hit. He announced a wage-and-price freeze, tax cuts, and a temporary closure of the "gold window," preventing other nations from demanding American gold in exchange for American dollars. Public approval was overwhelming and Nixon rode the wave of popularity to reelection in November 1972.

President Nixon was more interested in foreign policy than in domestic affairs. It was in this arena that Nixon intended to make his mark. Nixon saw opportunities to improve relations with the Soviet Union and establish relations with the People’s Republic of China. Politically, he hoped to gain credit for easing Cold War tensions; geopolitically, he hoped to use the strengthened relations with Moscow and Beijing as leverage to pressure North Vietnam to end the war with a settlement. Nixon took office intending to secure control over foreign policy in the White House. The instrument of his control over what he called "the bureaucracy" was his assistant for national security affairs, Henry Kissinger.

Sensitive materials created prior to 1972 were removed from selected White House Central Files: Subject Files and from selected White House Central Files: Staff Member and Office Files, and transferred to the Special Files. Any potentially sensitive materials created after 1972 were placed directly into the Special Files.

Part 1: Confidential Files 48 reels