When the Moderate Republican Mattered: Moderate/Liberal Republicans and the Early 1970s

AHA Session 161
Friday, January 6, 2017: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Plaza Ballroom A (Sheraton Denver Downtown, Plaza Building Concourse Level)
Timothy N. Thurber, Virginia Commonwealth University
He’s Going to Have to Prove He’s the White Knight”: Elliot Richardson, Richard Nixon, and the Saturday Night Massacre
Michael Koncewicz, Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University
The 1970s and the End of Rockefeller Republicanism
Kristoffer Smemo, University of California, Santa Barbara
Reclaiming Liberalism: Common Cause and the Early 1970s
Michael Bowen, John Carroll University
Leah Wright Rigueur, Harvard University

Session Abstract

Over the last several years, historians have examined how the conservative movement of the 1970s dramatically reshaped American politics. With few exceptions, liberal and/or moderate Republicans have often been pushed to the sidelines of the major historical narratives of the era. This panel will focus on the crucial roles that moderates in the Republican Party played in American politics during the early-1970s. Michael Bowen’s paper focuses on how John Gardner and Common Cause created a powerful non-radical organizations space for middle class white liberals. Michael Koncewicz’s research looks at the relationship between Richard Nixon and Elliot Richardson and how the Saturday Night Massacre was the extension of a growing rift between the White House and moderate Republicans. Kristoffer Smemo’s work concentrates on the downfall of “Rockefeller Republicanism” and how his failed attempts at racial integration spelled the end of a powerful Republican coalition in New York. Together, these papers situate moderate Republicans firmly within prominent historical narratives of the 1960s and 1970s.
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