Martha Mitchell

wife of American politician

Martha Elizabeth Beall Mitchell (September 2, 1918 – May 31, 1976) was the wife of John N. Mitchell, United States Attorney General under President Richard Nixon. She became a controversial figure with her outspoken comments about the government at the time of the Watergate scandal. She was known as "The Mouth of the South" and contacted reporters about her husband's activities in the Watergate scandal. Psychiatrist Brendan Maher named the Martha Mitchell effect after her, since her claims were initially taken to be a sign of mental illness.

Martha Mitchell


  • Any time you get somebody marching in the streets, it's catering to revolution. It started with the colored people in the South. Now other groups are taking to the streets. We could have worked out the integration battle without allowing them to march. My family worked for everything we had. We even have a deed from the King of England for property in South Carolina. Now these jerks come along and try to give it to the Communists.
  • For 20 years, there has been no discipline of children. You don't inhibit them even if they are threatening to break up the whole house. Now we are reaping the results. Margaret Mead caused a lot of the trouble. She advocates taking drugs and early marriages. She and those other spooks just want to get their names in the paper. A few years ago, if you did something wrong, you were sent to the principal's office. Today the Roman Catholic schools are about the only ones that have discipline.
  • It's quite a comedown in many ways. We're not living on the same means that we had in Rye, N.Y. I had to sell my stock, and now we are having to dip into the till. I think the Government should give us free housing. We'll be happy to go back and make some money.
    • On living in Washington DC
    • (December 5, 1969)"The Warbler of Watergate". Time magazine 94 (23). Retrieved on 12 September 2019.
  • I wanted to go into dramatics and become an actress, but my mother wouldn't let me.
  • Any woman who tries to influence a man in subtle ways is a fool. Every woman should influence her man, but she should do it as a full and open partner—and not in some secret fashion.
    • (Fall 1971)"Martha Mitchell". Saturday Evening Post 243 (2): 50-53.
  • That isn't the issue. What the women in this country should be interested in and are getting interested in is to be treated on the same intellectual plane as the men. Once they are accepted on that basis, their equal rights will follow freely. After that we can go back to "Vive la difference!"
    • When asked about her opinion on Women's Lib versus the feminine mystique
    • (Fall 1971)"Martha Mitchell". Saturday Evening Post 243 (2): 50-53.
  • Let it be known that any irregularities in my mental stability have been brought upon me by outside forces...namely the administration of King Richard Milhous Nixon. And some inside forces as well, I suppose; my husband, that gutless, despicable crook, John Newton Mitchell.
    • In an interview for the television news magazine 60 Minutes on the even of Nixon's resignation
    • McCarter, Jeremy (October 21, 2004). Southern Exposure. The New York Sun. Retrieved on 12 September 2019.
  • I never would have been in a predicament like I am if I hadn't...left the South.
    • Towards the end of her life, according to a quote re-published in The Washington Post
    • Winton Evans, Katherine (17 June 1979). "Washington's Other Martha". Washington Post. Retrieved on 3 November 2019. 


  • The most vocal of all the Cabinet members' wives, Mrs. Mitchell does not hesitate to offer her tart views.
  • When Martha Mitchell's runaway tongue provoked demands that Husband John silence her (TIME, Dec. 5), the Attorney General responded with the bemused suggestion that she speak henceforth in Swahili.
  • World War I had its Sergeant York; World War II, George Patton. But we have a much more dangerous fighter in our battle with the left, and she is even sometimes dangerous to the other sie[sic].
  • Martha-isms such as "Anytime you get somebody marching in the streets, it's catering to revolution," and "Adults like to be led. They would rather respond to a form of discipline" have made her a pillar of rectitude and moral resurgence to much of conservative America, a figure of ridicule to liberals and a public embarrassment to many a traditionalist Republican.
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