Several months ago, I discovered that the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings were posted on the American Archive of Public Television website out of sequence. After many months of work I have, I believe, placed them in the proper order. Additionally, the video does not work on iOS; nor is the link to the May 9. 1974, transcript available to the general public. The link given is to the academic archive which requires access to a university library.
The project started by linking the video with page numbers in the transcript, a link to which was provided on the website. Some segments were mislabeled and some segments were listed under the wrong date. For example, the video segments for July 25, 1974 were listed under July 30, 1974 on the website. Simplest way to deal with the problem was to construct viewing order tables putting each segment in the correct sequence under the right date. Unfortunately, project took too long to complete and the Archive discovered and corrected the problem without any help from me. Nevertheless, the viewing order that follows is still useful because it references the beginning speaker and page number of the transcript for each segment, which the Archive website does not.
An earlier post discussed the monumental and important work done by the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB)—putting the Senate Watergate Hearings and the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings online. At that time, the collection had some issues:
There are some technical issues with the repository. None of the videos can be embedded into a website, and only the first week’s videos can be played on an iOS device. Hopefully, it is a minor glitch with a website or the operating system that AAPB and/or Apple will eventually fix. However, all the videos run well on Windows 10. Watergate Hearings Online
Recently, the above problem has been solved. All of the Senate Watergate Hearings can be viewed on an iOS device. The Judiciary Committee Impeachment proceedings still can only be viewed on Windows 10. Hopefully, that will be fixed soon. In addition to the problem of the Impeachment videos being out of sequence. A corrected sequence will be posted here in the future.
Watergate is the most important political scandal of the twentieth century. Because of his actions and those of his staff Richard M. Nixon the Thirty-Seventh President of the United States resigned on August 8, 1974. Nixon chose to resign rather than face an impeachment vote in the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate. Those actions ranged from breaking into the office of Dr. Lewis Fielding, Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist,1 the use of the Internal Revenue Service to attack the President’s enemies; to the break-in and wiretapping of telephones at the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972, and its cover up.
Such a criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice could not be kept from the public. Newspaper reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post and others investigated the Watergate break-in as well as other questionable activities of the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP). One of the most unfortunate, yet descriptive acronyms in American History. The Justice Department indicted the Watergate Seven on September 15, 1972.2 By January 1973, all but two of the Watergate Seven plead guilty. James W. McCord and G. Gordon Liddy were tried and found guilty on January 30, 1973. On March 23, 1973, facing the possibility of severe sentence, James McCord wrote a letter to Judge John Sirica in which he stated pressure had been applied to the defendants to ensure silence. Perjury was committed in the courtroom. Sirica made the letter public and imposed harsh sentences, ranging from twenty to forty years, to force the defendants’ cooperation.3 By May 17, 1973, what would become known as the Senate Watergate Committee had completed its preparations and began fifty-one days of televised hearings on the Watergate break-in and other CREEP activities.
The public was mesmerized. Almost every TV in the country was tuned to the hearings. The major television networks ABC, NBC and CBS took turns televising the hearings during the day. Soap operas, game shows, and cartoons were preempted to show the Watergate Hearings. Additionally, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), still in its infancy, rebroadcasted gavel to gavel coverage of the hearings in prime time. For more than forty years this tremendous primary source material was virtually inaccessible to the public and most scholars. On November 3, 2017, the Library of Congress and WGBH, Boston announced that all fifty-one days of the hearings had been digitized and were available online:
The Library of Congress and Boston public broadcaster WGBH announced today that gavel-to-gavel television coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973, donated to the Library by WETA Washington, D.C., has been digitally preserved and made available online. Produced by the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT), the hearings were taped during the day and rebroadcast every evening on public television for 51 days, from May 17 to Nov. 15. These broadcasts became one of the most popular series in public broadcasting history. 4
Additionally, the repository includes the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings. Until now, students of Watergate, too young to have seen the hearings live, have had to rely on transcripts of the hearings, and sound bites of testimony from John Dean, Alexander Butterfield, H. R. Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman among others. Thanks to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), scholars and the public can experience the testimony of all the witnesses before the Senate Watergate Committee in context the way Americans did at the time.
There are some technical issues with the repository. None of the videos can be embedded into a website, and only the first week’s videos can be played on an iOS device. Hopefully, it is a minor glitch with a website or the operating system that AAPB and/or Apple will eventually fix. However, all the videos run well on Windows 10. I have viewed testimony on both my Surface 3 and my laptop. Despite this minor inconvenience, the AAPB has done a tremendous work digitizing, cataloging, and preserving the Senate Watergate Hearings and the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings
1 Daniel Ellsberg, while a consultant for the RAND Corporation, a private think tank with close ties to the Defense Department, copied and then leaked to the New York Times The Pentagon Papers. See George C. Herring, ed., The Pentagon Papers: Abridged Edition. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993), xv.
2 The Watergate Seven: E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, Bernard L. Barker, Eugenio Martinez, Frank A. Sturgis, Virgilio R. Gonzales, and James W. McCord.
The Teaching Guide for the Equal Justice Under Law series stated that John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson disagreed over many issues including The Mazzei letter, in which Jefferson maligned George Washington.1 However, in the letter Jefferson did not attack Washington by name he attacked the Federalist party and the government; which under the United States Constitution was his right.2 The original letter was private, not meant for publication. The offending passage which was not even the full paragraph was published without his knowledge or consent.3 First in France and then in many newspapers in the United States. Even in the published version, printed in a New York newspaper, Washington is not mentioned by name.4
The commentary was only tangentially related to the passage and provides no insight into the meaning of the passage. Furthermore, the Executive Branch of the government is more than just the president. Jefferson more than likely was not referring to Washington with the phrases “all officers of the government…” and “all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty…”.5
Many words can be used to describe George Washington timid is not among them. Washington was not a Federalist. In fact, he was against political parties, or factions as he referred to them. That was why Alexander Hamilton was considered the leader of the Federalist party. Washington was held apart from his cabinet and the other officers in the Executive Branch. While Jefferson maligned Hamilton and other federalist cabinet members, he certainly would not have maligned Washington. Federalists commonly interpreted the letter as a thinly veiled attack against Washington, but they would, wouldn’t they. That’s what political parties do.6
It was clear that John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson had “deep-rooted philosophical differences,” and were “members of opposing political parties with often irreconcilable positions.7 But, John Marshall was far from a party ideologue. Marshall voted against the Federalist party on several occasions.8 Furthermore, his dislike of Jefferson did not cause Marshall to support Burr in the presidential election of 1800. In fact, he did not use his influence to support Jefferson either. Marshall took Alexander Hamilton at his word regarding Aaron Burr’s character. Marshall made clear while he could not support Jefferson, he was less dangerous than Burr. In that same letter to Alexander Hamilton, Marshall made only one reference to the Mazzei letter stating, “the morals of the Author of the letter to Mazzei cannot be pure.”9
That phrase comes at the end of a paragraph in which Marshall explains to Hamilton his opinion of Thomas Jefferson, which is negative. Nevertheless, if the letter was a major irreconcilable issue between them why doesn’t Marshall clearly name Jefferson as a person of impure morals, instead of the word author? In any case, Marshall and Jefferson’s adversarial relationship had been clearly established. Referring to the letter introduced an unnecessary and confusing item into an unrelated complex event. It should have been removed.
8 Harold H. Burton, “John Marshall. The Man,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 104.1 (October 1955): 5.
9 “To Alexander Hamilton from John Marshall, 1 January 1801,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-25-02-0154. [Original source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 25, July 1800 – April 1802, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1977, pp. 290–292.]
Equal Justice Under Law was a television series that first aired in 1976 and again in 1987, to mark the 200th anniversary of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. A production of the Judicial Conference of the United States and WQED Pittsburgh, The programs were intended “to inform the general public as well as educational and professional audience on the American constitutional heritage as exemplified in the major decisions of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall” (1).
I started the process of creating activities for the Equal Justice Under Law videos. I found the videos and teaching guide sometime ago. The videos I found on YouTube, and the teaching guide I found at archive.org. I am working on United States v. Aaron Burr (The Treason Trial of Aaron Burr). Going through the background section of the teaching guide, I found a mistake. The guide states that Thomas Jefferson Vice President of the United States presided over the House of Representatives (2). That was not the case the United States Constitution Article 1 Section 3 Clause 4 states that the Vice President is President of the Senate.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
Finding such an error, I decided to research Aaron Burr because any author or group of authors that would make such a mistake may gloss over or simplify Aaron Burr’s background. As a historian and teacher, I understand the need to condense content at the high school level, but accuracy should not be a casualty of that exercise.
The most recent biography of Burr was published in 2007 by Nancy Isenberg. The next piece “The Real Treason of Aaron Burr” by Gordon S Wood was published in 1999 in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. There are a variety of other articles dating from 1951 to 1896. This information comes from a search of Jstor, search term Aaron Burr. This research may show that except for the one error teaching guide is accurate or it may reveal other flaws in the document.
I am an historian and educator. So, I have done; and continue to do a lot of writing. An important part of the process is the documentation of sources especially when creating online content. The Internet has made available a vast number of valuable primary and secondary sources through repositories such as JSTOR and the like. Citation styles whether Chicago, APA, or MLA have formats for scholarly journal articles, newspapers, personal correspondence, Federal and State court opinions, websites, and almost everything in between.
Most of the time, citing one of the above sources is straightforward. Follow the format given in a particular citation style, and even if the source was accessed via the Internet the URL is omitted. At least, that is what every professor I have ever had has told me, and the reason is a majority of readers will not be able to access the source through the URL provided. Additionally, any reader wanting to consult the source will go to a library, and librarians will not need the URL.
That holds true for every source above except websites. Obviously, URLs need to be cited. In the age of responsive design, that is, web content being consumed on smaller screens; increasingly longer URLs are an issue. They interfere with the presentation of content. Webpages of over a thousand words present another citation problem. The lack of page numbers makes it difficult for a reader to locate information cited from a specific source. Furthermore, webpages usually are not designed to be printed. Even when CSS media queries are used to make a webpage printable, it still may not have page numbers and it does not look quite right making the content difficult to read and understand.
Fortunately for the rest of this post, there are two solutions. Based on the premise that most written content that appears on a webpage is created in Microsoft Word, and then converted to HTML format by whatever process; one solution is to save or convert the content to a PDF file. Once the content is in PDF format a link to the file can be placed on the page displaying the HTML formatted content. There is, however, one drawback to the PDF format. It does not accurately reproduce the page layout of a Microsoft Word document. That is not to say that the PDF format is useless as will be seen later. But with the ability to view accurate renderings of Microsoft Word documents in a web browser that OneDrive and OneDrive for Business provide converting content to PDF format is an extra and unneeded step; which makes Microsoft’s cloud services the preferred solution. (Hereinafter, since both services have the identical capability, they will be referred to as OneDrive).
In an earlier post, I described the process of creating a public link for any documents stored in OneDrive. That process creates an extremely long URL that causes the problem described above. None of the citation styles have a way of dealing with these computer-generated or garbage URLs. In fact, a URL generated by OneDrive is so long that cannot easily be put into a footnote in a Microsoft Word document. Furthermore, reading in Microsoft Word document is difficult on any screen smaller than an iPad mini. So, a combination of a Microsoft Word document and a responsive design HTML document solve both problems for the self-publisher. The solution looks like this:
It consists of the URL of the responsive design webpage and the page number of the Microsoft Word document, which is linked to at the top of the webpage, and if the readers needs to print for any reason they can do so from the Microsoft Word document. OneDrive converts document into a, reasonably accurate PDF which is downloaded to readers’ computers.
The above solves the garbage URL problem for webpages that have links to the same content that has page numbers. That still leaves the problem of garbage URLs in a responsive design webpage. Most webpages do not have links to Microsoft Word versions of their contents. Many webpages have short enough URLs that their citation will not interfere with the presentation of the content. However, some blogs and webpages have garbage URLs. When citing a source that has a garbage URL, shorten the display text of the link, and note that the complete URL is available in the Microsoft Word document.
The note should appear at the beginning of the content.
The solutions described above make citing garbage URLs and the lack of page numbers in most webpages easier to handle. Citation, in whatever style, should be as important to online content as hyperlinks. It provides valuable information and credibility to any work.