Richard Milhous Nixon Richard Nixon
(January 9, 1913 - April
22, 1994) was the 37th
(1969-1974) President of
the United States. He is Order: 37th President
the only President to Term of Office: January 20, 1969 - August 9, 1974
have resigned from Followed: Lyndon Johnson
office. His resignation
came in response to the Succeeded by: Gerald Ford
complex of scandals Date of Birth Thursday, January 9, 1913
called the Watergate Place of Birth: Yorba Linda, California
Date of Death: Friday, April 22, 1994
of Death: New York City, New York
First Lady: Thelma "Patricia" Catherine Ryan
Vice Presidency Republican
* Spiro Agnew (1969-1973)
* Gerald Ford (1973-1974)
Nixon was raised as a evangelical Quaker by his mother, Hannah, who hoped he
would become a Quaker missionary. His upbringing is said to have been marked
by such conservative Quaker observances as refraining from drinking,
dancing, and swearing. However, this is doubtful, as the evangelical sect of
Quakerism known as Friends Churches, having been largely organized by
itinerant Methodists, bore little resemblance to the traditional
'unprogrammed' Quaker religion, with its silent worship, avoidance of paid
clergy, and strict adherence to pacifism. In any case, his father was less
religious, focusing on the family business, a store that sold groceries and
gasoline. There is much debate as to whether Nixon went through the expected
Quaker soul-searching attendant on whether to become a conscientious
objector in World War II. During the period of his political career,
however, he was not a practicing Quaker. Further discussion about Nixon's
relationship with the Quakers can be found at .
He attended Whittier College (a Quaker school), graduating second in his
class, and Duke University Law School, where he received a full scholarship.
He served as a noncombatant officer in the US Navy in World War II, and was
a lawyer for PepsiCo.
Early political career
Nixon was elected to Congress in 1946, in a class of freshman war veterans
that included his future rival John F. Kennedy, of Massachusetts.
Nixon climbed the ladder swiftly, making his name as an anti-Communist and a
rough, no-holds-barred campaigner. He was elected to the United States House
of Representatives from California in 1948 where he became a member of the
House Un-American Activities Committee and was instrumental in the trial of
the ex-government official Alger Hiss for perjury as a part of the
accusation that he was a Soviet spy.
Nixon was elected to the Senate in 1950, and in 1952 was elected Vice
President on Dwight Eisenhower's ticket when he was only 39 years old.
One notable event of the campaign was Nixon's innovative use of television.
Nixon was found to have been financed by a slush fund provided by business
supporters. He went on TV and defended himself in an emotional speech in
which he stated that his wife Pat did not wear mink, but "a good Republican
cloth coat" and stated that although he had been given a cocker spaniel
named "Checkers", he was not going to give it back because his daughters
loved it. This broadcast resulted in a flood of support that required
Eisenhower to keep Nixon on the ticket.
As Vice President, Nixon journeyed to South America and was praised for his
courage in facing angry mobs protesting US foreign policy.
Nixon was notable among Vice Presidents in having actually stepped up to run
the government three times when Eisenhower was ill: on the occasions of
Eisenhower's heart attack on September 24, 1955; his ileitis in June 1956;
and his stroke in November 1957. He also proved to be able to quickly think
on his feet which was demonstrated on July 24, 1959 at the opening of the
American National Exhibition in Moscow where Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
had an impromptu "kitchen debate" about the merits of capitalism vs communism.
1960 Election and Post Vice Presidency
In 1960, he ran for President on his own but lost to John F. Kennedy,
ironically a friend of Nixon's (Kennedy, in fact, was one of the first to
congratulate Nixon when he was chosen as Eisenhower's running mate). A
crucial factor in his loss was the first televised presidential debate.
Nixon refused television makeup and was feeling sick, having injured his
knee on the way to the studio. He expected to win voters with his
foreign-policy expertise, but people only saw a sickly man sweating
profusely and wearing a gray suit that blended into the scenery while his
rival, Kennedy, looked great. Later research showed that those who had
listened to the debate on radio thought Nixon had won, but that the
television audience gave the win to Kennedy.
In 1962, he lost a race for Governor of California. In his concession
speech, Nixon stated that it was his "last press conference" and that "You
won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more".
The defeated mood did not last. He moved to New York City and worked as a
high-powered lawyer and in the election of 1968 completed a remarkable
political comeback by defeating Hubert H. Humphrey to become the 37th U.S.
Major initiatives during his presidency:
* Normalizing of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China
and the Soviet Union as part of Realpolitik, a program of realistic
politics. Nixon made famous visits to both nations. Nixon's partnership
with Henry Kissinger was an essential part of this success.
* Establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency.
* Establishment of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
* "Vietnamization": the slow withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam.
* Space Shuttle program started.
Nixon appealed to what he claimed was the "silent majority" of moderate
Americans who disliked the "hippie" counterculture. Nixon also promised
"peace with honor" by his "secret plan" to end the Vietnam War. He proposed
the Nixon Doctrine to establish the strategy to turn over the fighting of
the war to the Vietnamese. During the war, on July 30, 1969, Nixon made an
unscheduled visit to South Vietnam and met with President Nguyen Van Thieu
and with US military commanders. The war ended during Nixon's term, but only
after four more years of strategic bombing and defeat on the ground, and the
withdrawal of US troops, leaving the battle to the South Vietnamese army.
On January 5, 1972 Nixon ordered the development of a space shuttle program.
Nixon's name appears alongside former UN Secretary General U Thant's on a
special plaque that was placed on the moon's surface.
On January 2, 1974 Nixon signed a bill that lowered the maximum US speed
limit to 55 MPH in order to conserve gasoline during an OPEC embargo.
Nixon was eventually investigated for the instigation and cover-up of the
burglary of the Democratic Party offices at the Watergate office complex.
His secret recordings of White House conversations were subpoenaed, and
revealed details of his complicity in the cover-up. Nixon, however, was
named by the grand jury investigating Watergate as "an unindicted
co-conspirator" in the Watergate Scandal. He lost support from his own party
as well as the country in the Saturday Night Massacre in which he ordered
Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor in the Watergate case fired, as well
as firing several of his own subordinates who objected to this move. The
House of Representatives Judiciary Committee opened formal and public
impeachment hearings against Nixon on May 9, 1974. Rather than face
impeachment by the House of Representatives and a conviction by the Senate,
he resigned effective August 9, 1974.
His successor, Gerald R. Ford, issued a pre-emptive pardon, ending the
Nixon's presidency was frequently dogged by Nixon's personality, and the
public perception of it. Editorial cartoonists and comedians had fun
exagerating Nixon's apperance and mannerisms, to the point where the line
between the human president and the caricature version of him became
increasingly blurred. He was usually portrayed as a sullen loner, with
unshaven jowels, slumped shoulders, and a furrowed, sweaty brow. He was, to
some, especially the younger generation, the very epitome of a "square," and
the personification of unpleasant adult authority. Nixon tried to shed these
perceptions by staging photo-ops with young people, and even appearing on
popular TV shows such as Laugh-In and Hee Haw. He also frequently brandished
the two-finger "peace sign" with his hands, an act which became one of his
In his last years, Nixon managed to rehabiliate himself somewhat and gained
respect as an elder statesman in the area of foreign affairs and was
consulted by both Democratic and Republican successors to the Presidency.
Further tape releases, however, removed all doubt as to Nixon's involvement,
both in the Watergate cover-up and the illegal campaign finance and
intrusive government surveillance that were at the heart of the scandal.
Nixon died on April 22, 1994, at the age of 81 from complications related to
a stroke and was buried beside his wife Pat Nixon in the grounds of the
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California.
In July 2003, Jeb Stuart Magruder alleged that Nixon had personally ordered
the Watergate break-in the phone. Previously the only guilt that was alleged
was his role in the cover up of the break in.
The Nixon Library contains only Nixon's pre and post-Presidential papers as
his Presidential papers have been retained as criminal evidence. Nixon's
attempts to protect his papers and gain tax advantages from them had been
one of the important themes of the Watergate affair. The library is unique
in that it is privately funded; other presidential libraries receive support
from the US National Archives.
Key Cabinet Members
* Spiro Agnew- Vice President (to 1973)
* Henry Kissinger- National Security Advisor, then Secretary of State
* James Schlesinger- Secretary of Defense (1973-1974)
* George Shultz- Secretary of Treasury (1972-1974)
* John Mitchell- Attorney General (1969-1972)
* Caspar Weinberger- Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
* Richard Helms- CIA director (to 1973)
* J. Edgar Hoover- FBI director (to 1972)
Supreme Court appointments
* Warren E. Burger - Chief Justice - 1969
* Harry Andrew Blackmun - 1970
* Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. - 1972
* William Rehnquist - 1972
* "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore. Because, gentlemen, this
is my last press conference." 1962 after losing race for Governor of
* "This is the greatest week in the history of the world since the
Creation, because as a result of what happened in this week, the world
is bigger, infinitely." (concerning the Apollo Moon landing)
* " I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know
whether or not their President is a crook. Well I'm not a crook."
November 17, 1973 Televised press conference at Walt Disney World,
* "I don't give a shit what happens. I want you all to stonewall it, let
them plead the Fifth Amendment, cover up or anything else, if it'll
save it, save this plan. That's the whole point. We're going to protect
our people if we can." (to Haldemann, tapes ordered released for the
trial of Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell)
* "I recognize that this additional material I am now furnishing may
further damage my case," (after the ordered release of the White House
tapes August 5, 1974)
* "When the President does it, that means that it's not illegal."
(explaining his interpretation of Executive Privilege)
* "I was under medication when I made the decision not to burn the
* "Well, I screwed it up real good, didn't I?"
* "Any nation that decides the only way to achieve peace is through
peaceful means is a nation that will soon be a piece of another
nation." (from his book No More Vietnams)
* "The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker."
(From his 1969 innagural; later used as Nixon's epitaph)
* "Sock it to me?" (said by Nixon on the television comedy series
* "I don't know a lot about politics, but I do know a lot about
* "Solutions are not the answer."
* "I would have made a good Pope."
* "Let me say this about that."
Nixon in the media
Richard Nixon has appeared as a character, both major and minor, in a
variety of movies:
* Born Again
* The Cayman Triangle
* Forrest Gump
* Hot Shots! Part Deux
* Secret Honor