Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Center archivist Kristen Wilhelm.
Forty years ago today self proclaimed “ol’ country lawyer” Senator Sam Ervin stepped onto center stage as chairman of the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, better known as the Watergate Committee. Senator Ervin became a household name as an estimated 85% of U.S. households viewed at least some of the hearings broadcast that summer.
Attorney General John Mitchell, shown in the photo, was one of the high-level Nixon administration figures whose testimony was broadcast. For the committee, bringing the hearings directly to the people was vital. As stated in its Final Report: “The full import of the hearings could only be achieved observing the witnesses and hearing their testimony.”
Photograph of Attorney General John Mitchell, 1973, Records of the U.S. Senate