Treaty on Archaeological, Historical, and Cultural Properties

    By Alex Marshburn

    Nixon Speaks to Congress

    In an effort to curb the amount of culturally and historically significant artifacts being illegally trafficked between the United States and Mexico, officials from each country met in 1967 and agreed to develop methods to prevent the unauthorized transfer of archaeologically significant artifacts.

    The result of their efforts was a treaty that was signed in Mexico City on July 17, 1970. This document, called the United States-Mexican Treaty on Archaeological, Historical, and Cultural Properties allowed the two countries to work together to prevent the illegal trade and transfer of artifacts that were being looted from sites around Mexico. It also facilitated communication between law enforcement agencies and scholars in each country to repatriate any illegally obtained artifacts from the United States and Mexico.

    On September 23, 1970 President Nixon presented this landmark Treaty to the Senate for their advice and consent to ratification. In this message, he explained the significance of the Treaty to the Senate, emphasizing the benefits of increasing communication and archaeological research within and between the scholarly and scientific communities of each country.

    The regulatory networks that were established as a result of the Treaty are still relevant and useful today, aiding in the repatriation of stolen artifacts and the prosecution of those who facilitate their theft. In October of 2012, ICE was able to confiscate over 4,000 pre-Columbian artifacts from looters trying to move the artifacts into the United States. The following investigations led to the discovery of a consignor in Montana who had paid the Tarahumara to loot artifacts from burial caves around Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico.

    The illegal trade of historically and culturally significant artifacts is one of the most difficult types of crime to stop, and consequentially it is one of the oldest forms of cross-border crime. The steps taken by the United States and Mexico during the Nixon administration were some of the first and most important in the development of government regulation of the responsible industries in each country. The Treaty’s goal of opening communication between the art collection, law enforcement, and academic communities predated the UNESCO Convention and the Act on Importation of Pre-Columbian Monumental or Architectural Sculpture or Murals. It showed that the United States was willing to address the issue of looting and to do its part in establishing concrete controls over the domestic art market which had contributed significantly to the problem.

      45 Years Later: Nixon and the Gates Commission


        President Nixon meeting with future Nobel Laureate Dr. Milton Friedman, distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, and the leading voice of the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force. 

        By Viraktep Ath

        On February 21st, 1970, the Gates Commission presented to President Richard Nixon “The Report of The President’s Commission on An All-Volunteer Armed Force”, detailing the formal plan to end the draft and implement an all-volunteer force as well as addressing the moral obligation of the U.S to pursue such a force. The Gates Commission was formed at the request of the President shortly after his election with the goal of accomplishing the promise President Nixon made to the American people during his campaign. Former Secretary of Defense Thomas Gates would head the commission comprised of expert in military, public policy, and economic studies. View the entire Gates Commission report:

        One of the leading voices of the committee and the original inspiration for an all-volunteer force was an economist by the name of Milton Friedman. Throughout the 1960s, Friedman wrote in favor of an all-volunteer force on the premise of individual freedom and liberty as well as basic economic reasoning. One of the many articles Friedman had written on the draft was in May of 1967, of which was published with the New Guard, a literary magazine of the conservative activist organization Young Americans for Freedom, titled “The Case For A Voluntary Army”. Read the article below:

        The Gates Commission, formed two years later, would borrow much of the same arguments Friedman made in his article. The central ideas that shaped Friedman’s argument which became the key points of the Gates Commission were as such: (1) that young men who were forced into military service lacked the passion that an individual who was a volunteer would possess and in forcing any individual to serve would be to defy the principles of freedom; and (2) the condition of the U.S. military, which was at the time very poor and underfunded, could never improve unless it was forced to compete in the market and attract prospective volunteers. The freedom to choose would foster competition in the new market, hence building more efficient combat personnel within the armed forces. Additionally, the all volunteer military would be more in line with the principles of a free nation, and more cost efficient in the long run overall.

        The work of the President’s Commission had served its purpose thoroughly and set the stage for RN to sway lawmakers on the hill towards the cause of a just society. With the strong intellectual foundation made possible by the Gates Commission, made possible by the contribution of Milton Friedman, it would only be a matter of time before congress voted in favor of ending the draft.

        President Nixon’s position on the draft risked crossing the line of partisan politics, as it was an issue that was of concern to individuals from the far left to the far right. However, President Nixon often felt ending the draft was less of a political issue and more of a moral issue, and along those lines was able to successfully procure a beneficial transformation of America’s military. Ultimately, President Nixon’s goal in his administration was to achieve a just peace and freedom, and in pursuing a course of action towards ending the draft he would uphold the virtues of a free society and consequently instill a peace amongst concerned young Americans.

          TIME Inc. v. Hill

            By Alex Marshburn

            In September, 1952 the Hill family of Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania was held hostage by three escaped convicts for nineteen hours. The Hills were released without incident, and two of the convicts were later killed by police officers attempting to capture them.

            In the spring of 1953, author Joseph Hayes published The Desperate Hours, a novel describing a dramatic hostage situation. Hayes’ depiction showed a family taken hostage struggling with their captors in scenes of direct physical and verbal abuse. The novel was eventually adapted into a play which was well received. Though it made no direct reference to the events in Whitemarsh, Times published an article, “True Crime Inspires Tense Play”, which included pictures of the play’s actors in the Hill’s Whitemarsh home where they were held, blurring the distinction between fiction and reality and heavily implying that The Desperate Hours was meant to be a retelling of the Hill’s ordeal.

            On April 27, 1966 former Vice President Richard Nixon presented his opening argument in the Supreme Court case of Time Inc. v. Hill. RN was defending the Hill family’s claim that Time had profited directly from a fictionalized account of the events in Whitemarsh. The article by Time, RN asserted, brought the family unwanted attention based on false information. He also noted that Time’s article deviated from the actual events of the Hill incident but was presented as news, making it indefensible as “freedom of the press” because it was fictional and inaccurate, and therefore un-newsworthy.

            Nixon presented evidence that Time’s editors had acknowledged in an initial draft of the article that the veracity of the story was questionable and flagged it for additional fact-checking; however, the article was published without the error being reviewed. In the argument the Hill incident was compared to the trial of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, in which charges regarding false news reports were brought against the New York Times as showing a “reckless disregard of the truth”.

            The court eventually ruled 5-4 in favor of Time Inc. because there was not sufficient evidence that Time had acted with malicious intent towards the Hills. They decided that such inaccuracies are inevitable within the press and therefore protected under the first amendment, in which the press must be allowed “the ‘breathing space’ that they ‘need to survive. . . .’”.

            Though Nixon did not win the case, he did earn the respect of the legal community for his sound and thorough argument which he prepared in relative isolation over a span of two weeks and presented to the high court alone.

              Upholding the Prestige of the Court

                1972 Supreme Court

                Members of the U.S. Supreme Court as seen on April 20, 1972.

                By Evan Vassar

                The Warren Court, throughout its judicial history, ruled on a myriad of cases that would leave Richard Nixon concerned with the Court’s use and expansion of judicial power. Among the justices on the Supreme Court was Abe Fortas, a close friend of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who would unfortunately, for him, resign his seat on the bench due to multiple reports of his financial ties with businessmen who may have had interests in particular court cases. On May 15, 1969, Fortas would send in his letter of resignation to President Nixon. However, nine days earlier, assistant to the president Patrick J. Buchanan would write a memorandum to the president describing the political situation and opportunity the president was being presented with in the wake of Earl Warren and Abe Fortas’ resignation.

                View the memorandum below:

                The memorandum highlights the declining reputation and respect for the court, and proposes a possible solution to the problem of the dissolving approval of the court. Buchanan notes in the memorandum that “for the last five years the Court has been under the most intensive fire since very probably the days of Dred Scott…” and “the prestige of the Courts has very probably rarely been lower in our history.” These two quotes are a testimony to the poor image the Court had painted for itself in the previous years, and would give President Nixon the chance to capitalize on the recent resignations by appointing Justices who would reignite the constitutional life in the court.

                Buchanan would offer some of his advice to the president in regards to his appointments. Considering Abe Fortas and his recent scandal, and his close ties to President Johnson, Buchanan suggested that Nixon appoint a judge he had “never met”. He is quoted saying in the memorandum, “Because of the suspicion and skepticism toward the Court today, because of its recent decisions, it seems to me important – for the Court – that the President name a ‘constitutionalist’ as Chief Justice.” Buchanan felt that the Court and its integrity needed to be “re-established”, and appointing a “constitutionalist” would be the first step.

                The memorandum is a remarkable representation of the early years of Nixon’s administration and the state of affairs concerning the Supreme Court and its apparent lack of respect among the people and the new administration. It is also a prelude to the nominations to the Court yet to come; Nixon would go on to nominate four “constitutionalists” throughout his first term as president.

                  Towards an All-Volunteer Force

                    AVF Commission001

                    The Gates Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force, made possible by the works and recommendations of Martin Anderson and Milton Friedman.

                    In April of 1967, Martin Anderson, who served as the research director for the Nixon Campaign of 1968, would go on to write a memorandum urging the future President to take on the task of implementing an all-volunteer force as part of his future administration. The memorandum was written in the form of a brief outline for Nixon to take into consideration.

                    A majority of the ideas expressed in the outline were influenced by economist Milton Friedman, who was one of the pioneering voices of an all-volunteer force. The outline highlighted the moral, economic, political, social, and national security benefits to implementing an all-volunteer force. It also addressed the popular and contemporary arguments against such a force. Anderson concluded his outline with a statement saying “because it is moral and fair, because it increases our national security, and because it is economically feasible, we should give high priority to the goal of establishing an all-volunteer armed force…”

                    Nixon was drawn to the idea, and encouraged Anderson to look further into the subject to provide him with a more elaborate analysis. The paper that Anderson would go on to write, “An Analysis of the Factors Involved in Moving to an All-Volunteer Armed Force,” would be the determining factor for RN’s presidential stance.

                    On November 17, 1967, seven months after receiving Anderson’s outline, RN went on to make his first public statement regarding an all-volunteer force. His audience of choice was the Student Bar Association of the University of Wisconsin. A New York Times article published the day after his talk quoted RN as saying in response to a student’s question regarding the merits of a selective service system, “what is needed is not a broad-based draft but a professional military corps…” He suggested that the country “move toward a volunteer army by compensating those who go into the military on a basis comparable to those in civilian careers”. In an era of politically active college students, the article highlighted that “…his audience was attentive [and] polite” when considering just one week prior, Governor Romney, another potential Republican candidate in 1968, was disturbed by hecklers in his speech to students at the University of Wisconsin.

                    The issue of ending the draft would be a cornerstone of Nixon’s campaign in 1968. With the assistance and intellectual groundings of many passionate individuals such as Martin Anderson and Milton Friedman, RN acquired the foundation for which ending the draft would become a likely possibility in his administration. More importantly, in taking such a stance, RN addressed a problem that was plaguing the youth of America by offering a solution to help heal a nation suffering from the horrors of war in Vietnam.


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