Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon
Richard M. Nixon, ca. 1935 - 1982 - NARA - 530679.jpg
37th President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
Vice President
  • Spiro Agnew (1969–1973)
  • None (Oct–Dec. 1973)
  • Gerald Ford (1973–1974)
Preceded by Lyndon B. Johnson
Succeeded by Gerald Ford
36th Vice President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Alben W. Barkley
Succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson
United States Senator
from California
In office
December 1, 1950 – January 1, 1953
Preceded by Sheridan Downey
Succeeded by Thomas Kuchel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 12th district
In office
January 3, 1947 – December 1, 1950
Preceded by Jerry Voorhis
Succeeded by Patrick J. Hillings
Personal details
Born Richard Milhous Nixon
(1913-01-09)January 9, 1913
Yorba Linda, California, U.S.
Died April 22, 1994(1994-04-22) (aged 81)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Stroke and cerebral edema
Resting place Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Yorba Linda, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Pat Ryan (m. 1940; d. 1993)
Children Patricia "Tricia" and Julie
Parents Frank Nixon
Hannah Milhous Nixon
Alma mater Whittier College
Duke University
Profession Lawyer
Nickname Dick
Signature Cursive signature in ink
Military service
Allegiance   United States
Service/branch   United States Navy Reserve
Years of service 1942–1946, active duty
1946–1966, inactive duty
Rank US Navy O5 infobox.svg Commander
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2)

Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States from 1969 until 1974, when he resigned from office, the only U.S. president to do so. He had previously served as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961, and prior to that as a U.S. Representative and also Senator from California.

Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. After completing his undergraduate studies at Whittier College, he graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law. He and his wife Pat moved to Washington in 1942 to work for the federal government. He subsequently served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II. Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. His pursuit of the Hiss Case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist and elevated him to national prominence. He was the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election. Nixon served for eight years as vice president – at 40, the second-youngest vice president in history. He waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, and lost a race for Governor of California to Pat Brown in 1962. In 1968, he ran for the presidency again and was elected, defeating incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Nixon ended American involvement in the war in Vietnam in 1973 and brought the American POWs home, and ended the military draft. Nixon's visit to China in 1972 eventually led to diplomatic relations between the two nations, and he initiated détente and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year. His administration generally transferred power from Washington D.C. to the states. He imposed wage and price controls for ninety days, enforced desegregation of Southern schools and established the Environmental Protection Agency. Nixon also presided over the Apollo 11 moon landing, which signaled the end of the moon race. He was reelected in one of the largest electoral landslides in U.S. history in 1972 when he defeated George McGovern.

In his second term, Nixon ordered an airlift to resupply Israeli losses in the Yom Kippur War, resulting in the restart of the Middle East peace process and an oil crisis at home. The Nixon administration supported a coup in Chile that ousted the government of Salvador Allende and propelled Augusto Pinochet to power. By late 1973, the Watergate scandal escalated, costing Nixon much of his political support. On August 9, 1974, he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment and removal from office. After his resignation, he was issued a pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford. In 20 years of retirement, Nixon wrote nine books and undertook many foreign trips, helping to rehabilitate his image into that of elder statesman. He suffered a debilitating stroke on April 18, 1994 and died four days later at the age of 81. Nixon is generally ranked as a poor president by historians and scholars.

Early life

Richard Milhous Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California, in a house that was built by his father. [2] [3] His parents were Hannah (Milhous) Nixon and Francis A. Nixon. His mother was a Quaker, and his father converted from Methodism to the Quaker faith. Nixon was a descendant of the early American settler, Thomas Cornell, who was also an ancestor of Ezra Cornell, the founder of Cornell University, as well as of Jimmy Carter and Bill Gates. [4]

Nixon's upbringing was marked by evangelical Quaker observances of the time, such as refraining from alcohol, dancing, and swearing. Nixon had four brothers: Harold (1909–33), Donald (1914–87), Arthur (1918–25), and Edward (born 1930). [5] Four of the five Nixon boys were named after kings who had ruled in historical or legendary Britain; Richard, for example, was named after Richard the Lionheart. [6] [7]

Nixon (second from right) makes his newspaper debut in 1916, contributing five cents to a fund for war orphans. Donald is to the left of his brother.

Nixon's early life was marked by hardship, and he later quoted a saying of Eisenhower to describe his boyhood: "We were poor, but the glory of it was we didn't know it". [8] The Nixon family ranch failed in 1922, and the family moved to Whittier, California. In an area with many Quakers, Frank Nixon opened a grocery store and gas station. [9] Richard's younger brother Arthur died in 1925 at the age of seven after a short illness. [10] At the age of twelve, a spot was found on Richard's lung, and, with a family history of tuberculosis, he was forbidden to play sports. Eventually, the spot was found to be scar tissue from an early bout of pneumonia. [11] [12]

Primary and secondary education

Young Richard attended East Whittier Elementary School, where he was president of his eighth-grade class. [13] His parents believed that attending Whittier High School had caused Richard's older brother Harold to live a dissolute lifestyle before he fell ill of tuberculosis (he died of the disease in 1933), and so they sent Richard to the larger Fullerton Union High School. [14] [15] He had to ride a school bus for an hour each way during his freshman year, and he received excellent grades. Later, he lived with an aunt in Fullerton during the week. [16] He played junior varsity football, and seldom missed a practice, even though he was rarely used in games. [17] He had greater success as a debater, winning a number of championships and taking his only formal tutelage in public speaking from Fullerton's Head of English, H. Lynn Sheller. Nixon later remembered Sheller's words, "Remember, speaking is conversation ... don't shout at people. Talk to them. Converse with them." [18] Nixon stated that he tried to use the conversational tone as much as possible. [18]

Nixon at Whittier High School, 1930

At the start of his junior year beginning in September 1928, Richard's parents permitted him to transfer to Whittier High School. At Whittier High, Nixon suffered his first electoral defeat, for student body president. He often rose at 4 a.m., to drive the family truck into Los Angeles and purchase vegetables at the market. He then drove to the store to wash and display them, before going to school. Harold had been diagnosed with tuberculosis the previous year; when their mother took him to Arizona in the hopes of improving his health, the demands on Richard increased, causing him to give up football. Nevertheless, Richard graduated from Whittier High third in his class of 207 students. [19]

Collegiate and law school education

Nixon was offered a tuition grant to attend Harvard University, but Harold's continued illness and the need for their mother to care for him meant Richard was needed at the store. He remained in his hometown and attended Whittier College, his expenses there covered by a bequest from his maternal grandfather. [20] Nixon played for the basketball team; he also tried out for football but lacked the size to play. He remained on the team as a substitute and was noted for his enthusiasm. [21] Instead of fraternities and sororities, Whittier had literary societies. Nixon was snubbed by the only one for men, the Franklins; many members of the Franklins were from prominent families, but Nixon was not. He responded by helping to found a new society, the Orthogonian Society. [22] In addition to the society, schoolwork, and work at the store, Nixon found time for a large number of extracurricular activities, becoming a champion debater and gaining a reputation as a hard worker. [23] In 1933, he became engaged to Ola Florence Welch, daughter of the Whittier police chief. The two broke up in 1935. [24]

After his graduation from Whittier in 1934, Nixon received a full scholarship to attend Duke University School of Law. [25] The school was new and sought to attract top students by offering scholarships. [26] It paid high salaries to its professors, many of whom had national or international reputations. [27] The number of scholarships was greatly reduced for second- and third-year students, forcing recipients into intense competition. [26] Nixon not only kept his scholarship but was elected president of the Duke Bar Association, [28] inducted into the Order of the Coif, [29] and graduated third in his class in June 1937. [25]

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