“Standing Up, Stepping Forward, and Speaking Out” on 9 September

By Sarah Bertulli, Public Programs Coordinator

To kick off our fall season of virtual programming and what is sure to be a contentious and all-consuming election season, the MHS is presenting  Standing Up, Stepping Forward, and Speaking Out: The Political Courage to take a Principled Stand with John W. Dean III and William F. Weld on 9 September at 5:30 PM. This conversation, moderated by historian Ted Widmer, will explore the formative career experiences of Dean and Weld that inspired in each an enduring dedication to voice dissent against their own party when it mattered most, even when it hurt them politically, or derailed their career.

John Dean served on Richard Nixon’s White House Counsel from 1970-1973. In his role as legal advisor to President Nixon, Dean was clearly implicated in the cover-up of the Watergate scandal; however his choice to cooperate in the investigation ultimately led to the resignation of the president and the conviction of top aides to the president, including Dean himself. On June 25, 1973, Dean delivered 245 pages of prepared testimony against president Richard Nixon. A reported 80 million Americans tuned in to watch the five days of Mr. Dean’s congressional testimony, which would come to be widely understood as an astonishing single-handed take-down of a sitting president. Many speculate that without Dean’s testimony against Nixon, and the subsequent discovery of the president’s recorded conversations that corroborated Dean’s story, the Watergate crisis would never have risen to the level of impeachment.

William Weld is perhaps mostly widely known as the 68th governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, vice presidential candidate as a member of the Liberatarian Party in 2016, and Republcian presidential candidate running against incumbent Donald Trump. Weld began his career as legal counsel to the United States House Committee on the Judiciary in the impeachment process against Richard Nixon in 1974. Unlike John Dean, Weld never had a starring role in the Senate hearings, but he did contribute to the pivotal report “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment,” which has been amended and used during the impeachment hearings of William J. Clinton and Donald J.Trump. As U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts under President Ronald Reagan, Weld was noted for his prosecution of white collar and financial crimes. He was later promoted to be head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in Washington, a post he held until he resigned in protest over the improper conduct by United States Attorney General Edwin Meese in 1988.

Joining Dean and Weld, is historian Ted Widmer, a MHS Trustee, former advisor and speechwriter for both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and author of the recent book, Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington. Widmer will help facilitate what should be a lively conversation and offer his reflections on what it meant to be a Bostonian during the Watergate scandal, when some of the major players hailed from the city.

Join us on Wednesday, 9 September, at 5:30 PM for Standing Up, Stepping Forward, and Speaking Out: The Political Courage to take a Principled Stand. Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program. Register today!