FODL Library Research Awards

Contact Information

Teresa RodriguezFollow

Date Created


Purpose of Paper

Written for HST 390 - Research Methods


Legal Historians debate if Watergate should be considered a constitutional crisis. In 1973, President Nixon abused his executive power to cover up his office's criminal behavior in regard to the Watergate break-in. Historians disagree on whether or not his actions passed the threshold required to constitute a constitutional crisis. This paper argues that Watergate should be considered a constitutional crisis. Using three examples of defined types of constitutional crises: Ohio's defiance of the Supreme Court over the M'Culloch v Maryland (1819) ruling by the Court, President James Buchanan's refusal to force South Carolina to remain in the Union leading to the Civil War, and Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus' defiance of the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954,1955), along with the criteria of each, Watergate will be examined for similarities, and to demonstrate that it meets the criteria set forth.

Library Resources

Extensive use of the library's Westlaw service in order to research the Supreme Court cases ruled on. In order to do thorough research author needed to make use of several books from the library's collection. Author made own conclusion as to Watergate's consideration as a constitutional crisis after having used library resources. Author originally did not feel it should be considered a crisis, but felt the evidence, after completing research, supported it as a crisis.

Document Type

Student Paper


This is the winning entry in the FODL Undergraduate Student Writing Contest.