In the vignette below historian Pauline Meier describes the Monica Lewinsky Scandal which prompted the second impeachment of a President in the nation's history.
From early 1998, [President Bill] Clinton's ability to advance even a modest domestic agenda was greatly undermined by the scandals that began washing over him and led to his impeachment the following year. The scandals came to light as a result of the work conducted by Kenneth Starr, who in August 1994 had been appointed a special prosecutor to look into the Whitewater affair. During the next several years, Starr was authorized to investigate several other allegations of impropriety in the Clinton administration. Then in January 1998, Starr received evidence from a government employee named Linda Tripp that Monica Lewinsky, a young government intern, had been having an affair with the president that included her performing oral sex on him during visits to the Oval Office.
Meanwhile, in late 1997, the attorneys for Paula Jones, who was still pursuing her sexual harassment suit against the president, had heard rumors of an affair between Lewinsky and Clinton. Hoping to demonstrate that Clinton showed a pattern of predatory sexual behavior, they obtained a ruling from the Supreme Court requiring Clinton to answer their questions, establishing the precedent that a sitting president could be compelled to testify in a civil suit concerning actions that took place before his presidency. On January 17, responding under oath to questions by Jones's lawyers, Clinton denied having a romantic relationship with Lewinsky.
At Starr's request, Attorney General Janet Reno authorized him to enlarge his multiple investigations of Clinton into whether the president had lied in his testimony to Jones's lawyers and had sought to obstruct justice by encouraging Lewinsky to cover up their affair.
By now, January 1998, word of the information Tripp had given Starr was making headlines. In a statement on national television at the end of January, Clinton, shaking his finger, emphatically declared, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." He refused to discuss the matter further publicly, but he told his family, cabinet, and advisers that the stories about his relationship with Lewinsky were absolutely untrue. Hillary Clinton blamed the array of investigations into the couple's activities on a "vast right wing conspiracy." Frenzied discussions of the case fined newspapers, television, radio, and the Internet for months. In 2000, Philip Roth remarked in his novel The Human Stain that in the summer of 1998 "a president's penis was on everyone's mind," and his alleged Oval Office peccadilloes "revived America's oldest communal passion...the ecstasy of sanctimony."
In August, Lewinsky, whom Starr had threatened to prosecute, agreed to testify in return for a grant of immunity. Besides telling a federal grand jury in graphic detail about her affair with Clinton, she turned over a blue dress that, according to her, was stained with the president's semen. Clinton realized that DNA testing of the stain would demonstrate that the semen was his. In mid August, in videotaped testimony to Starr and the federal grand jury, he conceded that his conduct with Lewinsky had been "wrong," but insisted that he been legally accurate in denying to Jones's lawyers that he had engaged in a "sexual relationship" with Lewinsky because he took such a relationship to mean intercourse. He told the American people in a four minute nationally televised address that he had "misled" them and done injury to his family. Still, he defiantly insisted that he had not lied under oath nor asked anyone to lie for him.
On September 9, Starr gave Congress a videotape of Clinton's grand jury testimony and a 445 page report. The report detailed Clinton's sexual contacts with Lewinsky and listed eleven possible grounds for impeachment, some of which focused on charges that he had lied under oath. Congress quickly released both the full report and the videotape to the public. On October 8, the House voted to launch an impeachment inquiry by a solid majority of 258 to 176, with 31 Democrats joining most of the Republicans in support.
The public had long thought Clinton was lying about his relationship with Lewinsky, but it had persistently registered high approval of his performance in office. Now Clinton's conduct was brushed off by leading Democrats and his supporters among feminists, blacks, gays, and union officials as sex between two consenting adults, covered up as anyone might conceal an illicit affair, but by no means worthy of impeachment. "It's hard to get really excited," a waitress remarked. "What does the Clintons' sex life have to do with me?" Meanwhile, the public standing of Starr, Linda Tripp, and the Republican Congress plummeted. In the congressional elections in November, the Democrats gained five seats in the House while maintaining their number in the Senate and in state contests. Newt Gingrich, under fire himself for questionable financial dealings, announced that he would leave Congress. His expected successor in the speakership, Robert Livingston of Louisiana, also left as news stories began to circulate that he had engaged in adultery.
All the same, on December 19, 1998, the House in a strongly partisan vote resolved to impeach Clinton on two articles perjury and obstruction of justice making him the second president (after Andrew Johnson) to be so treated. On January 27 1999, the impeachment trial began in the Senate, with the House leadership presenting the case against the president: After more than a month of partisan debate, the prosecutor failed to come near the two thirds majority (67 votes) necessary for conviction. The Senate voted 55 to 45 against the perjury charge and 50 to 50 on the charge of obstructing justice (Neither charge gained a single Democratic vote; 10 Republicans opposed the charge of perjury, 5 the charge of obstructing justice.
Source: Pauline Maier, Inventing America: A History of the United States, vol. 2 (New York, 2003), pp. 1073-1074.
AMERICAN URBANIZATION, 1980-2000
20 Largest Cities
24 Largest Cities
New York, N.Y.
New York, N.Y.
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA
San Diego, CA
San Diego, CA
San Antonio, TX
San Antonio, TX
San Jose, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
El Paso, TX
Top Twenty U.S. Metropolitan Areas, 2000
According to the U.S. Census, the total U.S. population in 2000 was 281,421,906. The total number of people in 2000 living in the twenty largest metropolitan areas displayed below was 119,838,639. Thus, 42.6% of the nation's people lived in these major urban areas.
It is fitting that the final vignette in this manual address the events of September 11, 2001. Here historian Pauline Maier describes the cataclysmic events in New York City and Northern Virginia and the massive, spontaneous outpouring of support for both the victims and the nation. The events and our response serve to remind us of our connection to our collective history and to each other.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, America's world was suddenly and dramatically transformed. Within the space of an hour and a half that morning, two passenger airlines took off from Logan in Boston, and two others took off from Newark Airport in New Jersey and Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. All four, bound for California, were loaded with fuel. At some point not long after the planes were airborne, each was commandeered by four or five hijackers armed with box cutters and knives.
At 8:45 A.M. one of the planes from Boston crashed into the north tower of the 110 story World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, tearing a huge hole in the building and setting it ablaze. Eighteen minutes later, the second plane out of Boston struck the south tower and exploded. At 9:43, the plane from Dulles crashed into the Pentagon. Shortly after 10, the south tower of the World Trade Center, its reinforced concrete supports severely weakened by the intense heat of the jet fuel fire, collapsed, showering a torrent of debris into the streets below. Just before 10:30, the north tower followed its twin into Vie dust, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke and severely damaging a nearby 47 story building--later in the day it, too, fell and setting others in the area on fire. In Washington, in the meantime, the portion of the Pentagon that had been hit also collapsed.
Passengers on the fourth flight, in touch with relatives via cell phones, learned about the attacks on the Trade Center and the Pentagon; they concluded that their plane was being flown to a target as well. Some decided to storm the cockpit, with the result that the Plane crashed in a field southeast of Pittsburgh rather than into a building. (It was, in fact, headed toward the nation's capital.) All forty four people aboard were killed.
Within less than an hour of the first crash at the World Trade Center, the Federal Aviation Administration halted all flights at American airports for the first time in the nation's history and diverted to Canada all transatlantic aircraft bound for the United States. President Bush was in Florida, but the White House was evacuated and so were all other federal office buildings in the capital. Secret Service agents armed with automatic rifles were deployed opposite the White House in Lafayette Park. In New York, the stock exchanges and all state government offices were closed.
At a news conference in the mid afternoon, New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, asked about the number killed, said, "I don't think we want to speculate about that more than any of us can bear." That evening, the city reported that hundreds of its police officers and firefighters on the scene were dead or missing. In the weeks that followed, estimates of the deaths at the World Trade Center ran as high as 6,000 (they were later reduced to 3,000). Some 200 people died in the crash at the Pentagon...
The attacks of September 11 prompted an outpouring of patriotism rarely seen since Pearl Harbor. American flags appeared in shop windows and on homes, buildings, cars and trucks, overpasses, and bridges. Millions of Americans pinned red, white, and blue streamers on their jackets. Across the country, people attended services for the victims, sent money to assist their families, and gave blood for the survivors. Commentators everywhere extolled the heroism of the firefighters and police who died in the line of duty at the World Trade Center. Thousands flocked to Ground Zero, now hallowed ground, solemnly peering at the smoldering ruins and the workmen removing the debris. Many posted prayers, notices of the missing, and poems on the protective chain link fences at the site and on any available wall space (including phone booths) around the city.
September 11 heightened awareness of the fact that the United States, as the world's sole superpower, was an integral part of what was becoming a global civilization. The day after the attacks, the French newspaper Le Monde ran the headline "Nous sommes toutes les Amiricaines" (We are all Americans). The victims at the World Trade Center included the nationals of more than eighty nations. The multinational and multicultural nature of American society was revealed by the names of lost spouses, parents, and children, hundreds of them on posterboards pleading for information about them--people named Schwartzstein, Henrique and Calderon, Kikuchihara and Tsoy, Cassino, Staub, and Egan, Williams, Caulfield, and Wiswall.
On a sheet of paper tacked up in New York's Grand Central Station in late October, an anonymous poet cried out:
Six thousand fallen heroes
The six thousand angels, their trumpets blaring
Are calling us to arms, Waking us up from our selfish slumber
Many observers declared that September 11 had ushered the United States into a new era. Perhaps it had... Another poem posted at Grand Central Station told the perpetrators of September 11 why the nation remained strong and resilient:
Well, you hit the World Trade Center, but you missed America
America isn't about a place, America isn't even about a bunch of buildings
America is about an IDEA.
The idea, forged and enlarged through almost four centuries of struggle, had come to include many elements. The overarching ones—the Fourth of July standards of freedom, equality, democracy, and opportunity--continued to transcend the nation's diversity, bind it together, and at once invigorate and temper its response to the shadowy threats it was now compelled to confront.
Source: Pauline Maier, Inventing America: A History of the United States, vol. 2 (New York, 2003), pp. 1082-1086.