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Richard M. Nixon
— 37th President of the United States —



Although Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994) successfully served as a member of the House of Representatives and of the Senate and was vice president under Dwight Eisenhower, the thirty-seventh president of the United States will probably best be remembered as being the first president who resigned from office.
 

 

Richard Nixon was born on his father's lemon farm in Yorba Linda, California, on January 9, 1913. Of the four other sons in the family, two died in childhood. Nixon's ancestors had emigrated from Ireland in the 18th century and settled principally in Pennsylvania and Indiana. His mother's family were Quakers; his Methodist father adopted the Quaker religion after his marriage. As a youth, Nixon regularly attended Quaker services in Whittier, California, where the family moved in 1922 after the farm failed. Nixon's father ran a grocery store in Whittier. Some biographers have noted that Nixon's father was known to kick his sons and that his mother was manipulative. Nixon had a troubled childhood and adopted elements of both his parents' personalities. Some historians have believed that as a result of his childhood, Nixon had a drive to succeed and felt he had to pretend to be "good" while using any tactics necessary to acheive his goals.

At Whittier College, a Quaker institution, Nixon excelled as a student and debater. He was president of his freshman class and, as a senior, president of the student body. Less successful on the football team, he persevered and played doggedly in occasional games. Graduating second in his class in 1934, he won a scholarship to Duke University Law School on the recommendation of Whittier's president, who wrote, "I believe Nixon will become one of America's important, if not great leaders." Nixon maintained his scholarship throughout law school. Though he was a member of the national scholastic law fraternity, he failed to land a job in one of the big New York law firms. This failure, along with the views of his father, left him with a strong dislike of the "eastern establishment."

In Whittier, Nixon joined the law firm of Kroop and Bewley, which within a year became Kroop, Bewley, and Nixon. Active in a variety of business and civic ventures, at the age of 26 he was elected a member of the Whittier College Board of Trustees. Soon after returning to Whittier, Nixon met Thelma Catherine Patricia (Pat) Ryan, a high school teacher. The two were married in 1940; they had two daughters, Patricia and Julie.
 


Early Public Service

Shortly before the United States entered World War II, Nixon began working for the Federal government in the Office of Emergency Management, the forerunner of the Office of Price Administration (OPA). His legal work there as a price regulator strongly influenced his political philosophy. "I came out of college more liberal than I am today, more liberal in the sense that I thought it was possible for government to do more than I later found it was practical to do," Nixon later told Earl Mazo, his biographer. "I also saw the mediocrity of so many civil servants. And for the first time when I was in OPA I also saw that there were people in government who were not satisfied merely with interpreting regulations, enforcing the law that Congress passed, but who actually had a passion to get business and used their government jobs to that end. These were of course some of the remnants of the old, violent New Deal crowd. They set me to thinking a lot at that point."

Nixon entered the Navy as a lieutenant junior-grade in August 1942. He was sent to a naval air base in Iowa. After 6 months there (which he valued because it helped him know the Midwest, the base of his later political support), he was sent to the Pacific as an operations officer with the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command. Fourteen months later he returned to the United States to work as a lawyer in uniform. He was a lieutenant commander in Baltimore when, in September 1945, a group of Whittier Republicans asked him to run for Congress. He jumped at the opportunity, was mustered out of the Navy in January 1946, and began his victorious campaign.

Nixon's friends described him as a mild and tolerant human being, basically shy and much influenced by his Quaker upbringing. Yet in all his early campaigns he conducted what he himself has described as "a fighting, rocking, socking campaign." He early infuriated the opposition. Though he called himself a liberal Republican and a progressive Republican, he had strong right-wing support. In his congressional campaign he had attacked his liberal New Deal Democrat and onetime Socialist opponent as a tool of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and an enemy of free enterprise.


Congressional Activities and National Fame

As congressman, Nixon was assigned to the House Labour Committee and to the Select Committee on Foreign Aid. In 1947 he and other committee members toured Europe. "We cannot afford to follow a policy of isolation and let the people of Europe down at this point, and therefore allow Russia full sway in Europe," he said shortly after his return. "The sure way to war is for the United States to turn isolationist." Supporting the Marshall Plan, Nixon established himself as an internationalist in foreign policy.

As a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), Nixon became a leading anti-Communist crusader. He collaborated on the bill requiring Communist-front organizations to register with the attorney general. It was on HUAC that he first attracted national attention when he led the suit that resulted in the conviction of Alger Hiss, a former State Department official charged with Communist connections; Hiss was finally convicted for perjury. As Nixon wrote in Six Crises (1962), "The Hiss case brought me national fame. But it also left a residue of hatred and hostility toward me - not only among Communists but also among substantial segments of the press and the intellectual community - a hostility which remains even today, ten years after Hiss's conviction was upheld by the United States Supreme Court." Nixon said he also incurred opposition from many apostles of anticommunism because "I would not go along with their extremes." These anti-Communists assailed him for supporting international programs like foreign aid, reciprocal trade, and collective security pacts.

Nixon again aroused the enmity of liberals and intellectuals in his 1950 victorious senatorial campaign. He charged his Democratic opponent with displaying a "soft attitude toward communism" and said that she was part of a small clique that voted "time after time against measures that are for the security of this country."

It was thus as a fiery crusader against communism and a staunch Republican partisan that Nixon was known to the country when Gen. Dwight Eisenhower chose him as his running mate in the presidential election of 1952. Nixon's personality and character became permanent issues in all his political campaigns. He seemed to overuse political hyperbole and oversimplify complex issues. Some critics believed his fascination with political techniques showed lack of principle regarding substantive issues.

Nixon said that he was guided by his Quaker heritage: "The three passions of Quakers are peace, civil rights, and tolerance. That's why, as a Quaker, I can't be an extremist, a racist, or an uncompromising hawk. While all this may seem to be the opposite of what I've stood for, I'm actually consistent." An objective observer who got to know the private Nixon said that he had an able if not overly subtle mind. He listened well, asked probing questions, and nearly always impressed persons with whom he spoke privately.

Two months after becoming Republican vice-presidential candidate, Nixon was charged with being the beneficiary of a fund, totaling $18,235, collected from private citizens. Nixon said the sensational controversy resulted in "the most scarring personal crisis of my life." Nixon fought back. In a television speech that accounted for the money, he convinced his foes that he was artful and tricky, but he rallied Republicans to his banner. While his defense saved his candidacy and made him even better known, this controversy also left a bitter residue.


The Vice Presidency

As vice president, Nixon continued to please his supporters and anger his critics. He was the chief political spokesman in Eisenhower's administration, travelled widely in support of Republican candidates, and was influential in the workings of the administration.

Eisenhower believed that a vice president should have an active role and should be fully informed about all foreign and domestic policies. Chief among Nixon's assignments was foreign travel. In office less than a year, Nixon made an extended trip through Asia, visiting, among other places, Hanoi, North Vietnam, then under French control. He made many useful friends on these trips and impressed critics at home with his seriousness of purpose and knowledge of foreign affairs. On a trip to Latin America in 1958, he was assailed by mobs but handled himself coolly. In 1959 he visited the Soviet Union and Poland. While in Moscow, his meeting with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev prepared the way for Khrushchev's later visit to the United States to confer with Eisenhower.


Running for President

In 1960 Nixon won the Republican presidential nomination and chose Henry Cabot Lodge, ambassador to the United Nations, as his running mate. The campaign against the Democratic team of senators John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson was close from the beginning, although Nixon initially ran ahead in the polls. In the first of four televised debates with Kennedy, Nixon, concerned with projecting an image of reasonableness and nonpartisanship, did not sharply challenge his opponent. He also looked pale and unwell, possibly because of poor lighting. He lost the election by some 100,000 votes out of the 68 million cast.

Nixon returned to Los Angeles to practice law and to write Six Crises. In 1962, losing the race for governor of California, he blamed his defeat on the press. "You won't have Nixon to kick around any more," he told newsmen, "because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference."

A few months later, Nixon joined the New York law firm of Mudge, Stern, Baldwin & Todd, which later became Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander & Mitchell. However, in 1964, after the Republican defeat by President Lyndon Johnson, it became clear that Nixon again considered himself a serious presidential contender. In 1968, winning his party's presidential nomination, he picked Governor Spiro T. Agnew of Maryland as his running mate.

Nixon and Agnew ran against the Democratic team of Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie. Third party candidate George Wallace of Alabama, a threat to both tickets, hurt Humphrey more. In the end, though the Republicans had the presidential victory, the Democrats retained control of Congress.


The Presidency

Nixon took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 1969. In his inaugural address he appealed for reconciliation among the elements of American society divided over the issues of the Vietnam War and domestic racial discord. He promised to bring the nation together again.

Nixon's first foreign objective - to negotiate an end of the Vietnam War - was unsuccessful. Despite repeated attempts, negotiations with North Vietnam at the Paris peace talks were unproductive. Meanwhile, in June he began replacing American troops by South Vietnamese troops. After a conference with South Vietnam's president Nguyen Van Thieu, Nixon ordered 25,000 American combat troops brought home. By the end of 1969, having ordered 110,000 troops home, he expressed hope, not realized, that all American combat troops would be out of Vietnam by the end of 1970. Not until the end of 1972, when most American ground troops had been withdrawn from Vietnam, did negotiations suggest that peace might be at hand.

In his second month in office, the President embarked on a tour of Western Europe. In the summer he visited Asia, including a stop in Saigon. His official visit to Romania made him the first American president to visit a Communist country. While on the Asian tour, the President enunciated what became known as the "Nixon Doctrine." The United States will honor its treaty commitments, he said, but it will not bear the brunt of the fighting in another country. He called for cooperative endeavours and promised American material aid but said that Asian countries must defend their freedoms with their own troops. In his first year the President signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, negotiated during the previous administration. In addition, negotiations were begun with the Soviet Union toward placing limits on the production of nuclear armaments.

On the domestic front, Nixon waged a major battle against inflation. With Congress pressing for more government spending, the administration fought to curb expenditures and balance the budget. The economy continued to decline while the administration waged its battle against inflation. Finally, to reverse a dangerous trend, the President, in August 1971, completely reversed himself, instituted wage and price controls, imposed a tax on imports, and asked for tax cuts. Early in 1972, after he agreed to devaluation of the dollar, the economy began to improve.

In 1971 Nixon made the dramatic announcements that he would visit Peking and Moscow in the first half of 1972. He also announced progress in the negotiations with the Soviet Union on an arms limitation treaty. The visit to Peking took place in February and he was invited to meet Chairman Mao Zedong, a mark of high respect. In May, he visited Moscow and signed the agreement limiting the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union.

In the presidential election of 1972 Nixon and Agnew ran against Democrats George McGovern and Sargent Shriver. The election was a landslide for Nixon, as the polls had predicted it would be: he won 61 percent of the popular vote and received 521 electoral votes, losing only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. However, as in the election of 1968, the Democrats retained control of Congress.


The Fall from Grace

During his last election campaign, what first appeared as a minor burglary was to become the beginning of the end of Nixon's political career. A break-in at Democratic national headquarters in Washington, D.C.'s Watergate apartment complex was linked to Republicans.

During the trial of six men charged in the crime, the existence of the cover-up began to emerge, taking government officials down like dominos in its path. Nixon elicited the resignation of two top aides in April, 1973 in an effort to stem the tide. But in October, as the Watergate investigation continued, he lost his vice president, Spiro T. Agnew, who resigned before pleading "nolo contendere" (no contest) in federal charges of income tax evasion related to accusations of accepting bribes.

Nixon's efforts to avoid the taint of those scandals were fruitless when subpoenaed tapes he was ordered to give up by the U.S. Supreme Court showed he obstructed justice in stopping an FBI probe of the Watergate burglary. On August 9, 1974, in national disgrace, he became the first President of the United States to resign. He boarded a plane with his wife and returned to his his California home, ending his public career. A month later, in a controversial move, President Gerald Ford issued an unconditional pardon for any offenses Nixon might have committed while president.


Private Citizen

After a period of relative anonymity and when some criticism had softened, Nixon emerged in a role of elder statesman, visiting countries in Asia, as well as returning to the Soviet Union and China. He also consulted with the Bush and Clinton Administrations, and wrote his memoirs and other books on international affairs and politics.

The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace opened in the early 1990s in Yorba Linda, California. On January 20, 1994, in what would be his last public appearance, cermonies honoring him on the 25th anniversary of his first inauguration, were held. He also announced the creation of The Center for Peace and Freedom, a policy centre at the Richard M. Nixon Library & Birthplace.

He died of a stroke on April 22, 1994. A State funeral was held five days later in Yorba Linda, California. In 1995, film director Oliver Stone released the contorversial movie "Nixon," staring Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins in the title role.
 


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US Senator 1951 – 2, Vice-President 1953 – 61, President 1969 – 74 Born to Quaker parents, Nixon was educated at Whittier High School and Whittier College, graduating in 1934. He then took a law degree at Duke University law school, where he was elected president of the student bar association, and was admitted to the California bar in 1937. He practised law in his home town of Whittier — he became a partner in a local law firm in 1939 — and in 1940 married Thelma Catherine (Pat) Ryan. In 1941 he became assistant city attorney. His legal career was interrupted by war service. He served briefly in the type-rationing section of the Office of Price Administration in Washington, DC, before enlisting in the navy. His four-year stint in the navy included a fourteenth-month tour of duty in the Pacific. By the time he was discharged in 1946 he had reached the rank of lieutenant-commander.

On his return home he was persuaded to run for Congress. He had registered as a Republican in 1938 and was approached by some local Republicans to challenge a wall-entrenched liberal Democrat, Jerry Voorhis. Nixon took up the challenge, campaigned vigorously — characterizing Voorhis as voting the "Moscow" line in Congress — and took on Voorhis in several debates. He won by more than 15,000 votes. Once in the House of Representatives, Nixon established a reputation as an aggressive conservative. Appointed to the Committee on Education and Labor, he helped draft the *Taft — Hartley Bill which outlawed the closed shop. As a member of the Committee on Un-American Activities, he achieved national fame for his questioning of witnesses, especially of a State Department official, Alger Hiss, who was later to be indicted and gaoled for perjury. Nixon's prominence gave him the basis for seeking election to the Senate and in 1950 he was elected as Senator for California. The contest had been hard fought — both candidates trading insults — but Nixon won by a wide margin, winning almost 60 per cent of the votes. The incumbent Senator resigned before the end of his term, allowing Nixon to gain seniority by taking his place a month ahead of other newcomers.

Nixon was touted as a possible vice-presidential candidate as soon as he was in the Senate. He had achieved national prominence, his election victory had been spectacular and he represented a new generation of Republicans. He was a forceful and energetic speech-giver. He supported Dwight Eisenhower for the presidential nomination in 1952 and Eisenhower, acting on advice from senior party figures, chose Nixon as his running mate. During the campaign, allegations that Nixon had a private campaign "slush fund" threatened his continued presence on the ticket. Nixon made an emotional speech on television — the "Checkers speech" — defending his actions and claiming that the only personal gift he had accepted was a cocker spaniel named Checkers for his children. It proved an effective performance. With Eisenhower sweeping to victory in November, Nixon became Vice-President. He was 40 years old.

During his tenure as Vice-President, Nixon took a particular interest in foreign affairs and Eisenhower asked him to undertake a total of ten foreign visits, covering fifty-eight countries. His life was endangered by a mob during a visit to Venezuela. He chaired meetings of the Cabinet and National Security Council during Eisenhower's illnesses. He also served as the partisan voice of the administration, allowing Eisenhower to appear above the political fray. He fought and won a battle to remain Eisenhower's running-mate in 1956. In 1960, after reaching agreement with his most likely challenger for the nomination, Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, he won the Republican nomination for President by 1,321 votes to 10. He pursued a gruelling campaign itinerary and took on his Democratic opponent, John Kennedy, in a televised debate. Most television viewers believed that the cool, attractive Kennedy had won the debate over the perspiring, shifty-looking Vice-President. Most radio listeners thought Nixon got the better of the exchange. In the election, Nixon was narrowly defeated, the gap between the two leading candidates being 0.2 per cent or just over 100,000 votes out of 68.8 million cast. Nixon returned to private life.

Two years after his unsuccessful bid for the presidency, Nixon re-entered the political fray and sought election as Governor of California. He lost, telling reporters that "You won't have Richard Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference." He practised law again, this time in New York, and his law practice — along with royalties from the sale of his book Six Crises (1961) — provided him with an income he had not enjoyed before. He undertook trips to the Middle East, South America, and Europe — in France he was entertained by President Charles de Gaulle — and began to plan a resumption of his political career. He campaigned for the Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964 and in 1968 he sought the Republican nomination for President. He edged out his opponents and won the nomination at the Republican convention in Miami. An early lead over his Democratic opponent. Hubert Humphrey, narrowed as the campaign progressed, but he emerged the victor, albeit by a narrow margin in the popular vote (43.4 per cent to 42.7 per cent). He was inaugurated as the 37th President on 20 January 1969.

Nixon's first term as President was to be dominated by foreign affairs. He achieved détente with both the Soviet Union and China, undertaking visits to both. His links with China pushed the Soviet Union into seeking a relationship. He signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT), designed to deter the Soviet Union from launching a first strike, on his visit to Moscow. He re-established American influence in the Middle East. He sought to extricate the United States from Vietnam by placing greater emphasis on South Vietnamese forces. He also increased military attacks on North Vietnam — and authorized military incursions into Cambodia and Laos — in order to try to force North Vietnam to the negotiating table. The use of force attracted intense domestic opposition: four students were killed when members of the National Guard opened fire on demonstrating students at Kent State University. A peace agreement with North Vietnam, signed early in 1973, allowed the USA to extricate itself from Vietnam and for the President to claim "Peace with Honour", though the terms were little different from those that could have been achieved earlier.

Nixon revolutionized American foreign policy by seeking disengagement and by placing greater emphasis on allies being responsible for their own protection. He conveyed that he had a sure feel for foreign affairs and by the time of the 1972 presidential election had an impressive record on which to run. In domestic affairs, the record was less impressive. He pursued a policy of "New Federalism", manifested in the policy of revenue sharing, under which more federal funds than before were allocated to the states and municipalities. However, the main feature of his domestic politics was his clashes with a Democrat-controlled Congress. Nixon impounded funds voted by Congress. Congress twice rejected his nominee for a vacancy on the Supreme Court. President and Congress clashed over funding for the Vietnam War. The War Powers Act sought to limit the President's powers to commit troops abroad. Nixon adopted a stance of confrontation rather than conciliation. He created a Domestic Council, a form of super Cabinet. According to Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., in The Imperial Presidency, Nixon sought to impose an imperial residency in the domestic as well as the foreign arena, creating a "revolutionary presidency". His ambitions were to be dashed by the Watergate affair. Nixon achieved an easy victory in the 1972 presidential election. His foreign policy had proved popular — the Nixon campaign ads on television constantly showed pictures of his trip to China — and the economy was in reasonable shape. His Democratic opponent, George McGovern, had a disastrous campaign. Nixon was re-elected by 47 million votes to 29 million. Within days of his second inauguration he was able to announce the peace agreement reached with North Vietnam. Thereafter it was all downhill.

During the summer of 1972, the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC, had been broken into. Though rumours of White House involvement circulated during the election campaign, they made little impact. However, early in 1973, the story began to achieve prominence. The men arrested for the break-in were convicted. In order to avoid a maximum sentence, one of them offered to break his silence. He claimed that certain White House officials had prior knowledge of the break-in. A Senate Committee, under Senator Sam Ervin, began taking evidence. White House Counsel John Dean, implicated in the allegations, started giving evidence to Senate investigators. As the story moved closer to the Oval Office, the President requested and accepted the resignations of his two closest aides, H. R. "Bob" Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and dismissed Dean. In public testimony to the Senate Committee, Dean implicated the President in a cover-up. In July, a White House aide revealed that the President had a voice-activated recording system in the Oval Office. Various attempts were then made to subpoena the tapes of presidential conversations. Nixon initially resisted. In October, he fired the special prosecutor appointed by the Attorney-General as well as the Attorney-General and his deputy after they refused to fire him. Dubbed "The Saturday Night Massacre", the firings undermined Nixon's credibility. Early in 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began to consider articles of impeachment against the President. In April, Nixon released edited transcripts — 1,254 pages — of his conversations. On 24 July, the Supreme Court ruled that the President must hand over other tapes sought by the special prosecutor. Between 27 and 30 July, the House Judiciary Committee approved four articles of impeachment. On 5 August, the White House released transcripts sought by prosecutors, one of which — the "smoking gun" transcript — revealed that the President authorized a cover-up shortly after the break-in. Republican leaders in Congress told the President that he did not have enough votes to avoid impeachment. In a televised address on 8 August, Nixon announced his resignation and the following day, after a tearful farewell to staff at the White House, his resignation took effect at noon.

During 1973, Nixon's problems had been compounded by the resignation of the Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, after pleading "no contest" to tax evasion charges. In his place, Nixon nominated a Republican member of the House of Representatives, Gerald R. Ford. It was Ford who took the oath of office as Nixon's successor on 9 August. One of Ford's early acts in office was to pardon Nixon for any offence he may have committed.

Nixon retired to write his memoirs and rehabilitate his reputation. He wrote a number of books, including The Real War, and was variously consulted on a private basis by his successors. His standing as a "disgraced" President dogged him. In the 1982 Tribune and Murray polls, he was rated by historians as one of the worst Presidents. The Murray poll rated him 34th out of 36. By the time of his death in 1994 he had achieved at least a partial rehabilitation. In the 1995 Chicago Sun-Times poll of presidential scholars, he was ranked 19th out of 38.

Nixon was one of the most controversial presidents in the twentieth century and the only one in history to resign. He adopted an adversarial approach and attracted the enmity of a great many opponents. He was shy and insecure, affected by the death of two of his brothers while still young, and awkward in his dealings with others. He was keen to win and adopted tactics that facilitated his winning. Towards the end of his presidency, he adopted a siege mentality. He was a man driven from within. Life was seen in terms of a series of crises — hence the title of his book, Six Crises — and he had an inherent tendency to rigidify. Watergate was the occasion when he rigidified and consequently sacrificed the presidency.

Nixon was also an individual of contradictions. A man who took an abrasive and partisan stance, he could be personally considerate and helpful. He adopted a friendly stance toward John Kennedy, a stance that was not reciprocated. Though waging war, he remained influenced by his Quaker beliefs. Though portrayed as a conservative Republican, he had a long-standing and consistent commitment to civil rights. Though declaring he was "not a quitter", he quit. In international affairs, he was an internationalist and adopted far-sighted policies. Despite achieving much at an early age, his political life was a series of struggles. His perception of life as a series of crises had the air of a self-fulfilling prophecy. With the passage of years, a number of revisionist historians, including British MP Jonathan Aitken, have taken up his cause. His last struggle, to rehabilitate his name, is still being fought.
 


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ELECTED FROM: New York
RE-ELECTED FROM: California
POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
TERM: January 20, 1969 to August 9, 1974

BORN: January 9, 1913
BIRTHPLACE: Yorba Linda, California
DIED: April 22, 1994 New York, New York
OCCUPATION: Congressman, senator, lawyer
MARRIED: Thelma Catherine (Pat) Ryan, 1940
CHILDREN: Patricia, Julie


Young Richard Nixon once told his parents, "I would like to become a lawyer – an honest lawyer, one who can't be bought by crooks."

Decades later, during his troubled presidency, Nixon went on national television and told the people of America, "I am not a crook."

In 1974, he resigned his office under the threat of impeachment, the only U.S. president ever to do so.

The scandal revolved around an incident now known simply as "Watergate," named after the Washington hotel and office complex where five employees of the Republican Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP) were caught in the act of burglarizing the Democratic party's national headquarters.

Over the next two years, numerous wrongdoings were uncovered by newspapers. Nixon was caught in a web that wound tighter around him as he and his associates tried to cover them up.

After realizing that he faced almost certain impeachment, Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974.

Nixon grew up in a poor family. He nearly died twice as a child, the first time as a result of a head wound and the second time from pneumonia. Every morning before school, he would carry produce in from Los Angeles, wash it, and set up the display in his father's grocery store.

While a student at the Duke University Law School, Nixon was given the nickname of "Gloomy Gus" by his classmates because he was always so serious.

His first elected office was that of U.S. representative. From there he became U.S. senator before becoming Dwight Eisenhower's vice president. From 1963 through 1968, Nixon practiced law in New York. He edged Hubert Humphrey by less than one percentage point in the 1968 presidential election.

Included among Nixon's accomplishments as president are:

1. Steadily reducing and finally ending the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
2. Dramatically improving relations with China.
3. Signing treaties with the Soviet Union to limit arms buildups.
4. Placing the first man on the moon.
5. Creating the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which sets product safety standards.

Nixon was pardoned for any crimes he may have committed by President Gerald R. Ford.

In his later years, Nixon re-emerged into public view as the author of autobiographical and foreign policy books. He also received recognition as an elder statesman.

 

 

 

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