Family Father: Francis “Frank” Anthony Nixon – owner and grocer of gas station. Mother: Hannah Milhous Nixon – committed Quaker. Siblings: Four brothers. Wife: Thelma Catherine “Pat” Ryan – Business Teacher. Children: Two daughters – Patricia and Julie.
Childhood and Education Richard Milhous Nixon was born on January 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, California. Grew up in poverty and helped out at his father’s grocery store. Was raised as Quaker. Had two brothers who died from tuberculosis. Attended local public schools; graduated in 1930 at top of his high school class. Went on to attend Whittier College from 1930-34; graduated with history degree. Subsequently attended Duke University Law School, graduating in 1937; was then admitted to the bar.
Career before Presidency Started practicing law in 1937. Attempted his hand at owning a business, which failed before enlisting in the navy to serve in World War II. Advanced to lieutenant commander and resigned in March 1946; was elected as U.S. Representative in 1947. Was elected to U.S. Senate in 1950, serving in that post until 1952, when he was VP- elect on Republican ticket, with Dwight D. Eisenhower; the two were inaugurated in January 1953, re-elected in November 1956, and served until January 1961. Was Republican nominee for President in 1960, but lost the election to Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy. Also lost 1962 California gubernatorial election to Democrat Pat Brown; after his loss, he declared “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.”
“You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.”
Election as President, 1968 In spite of his decision to no longer run for public office, Nixon sought Republican nomination for President six years after his defeat in California gubernatorial election; other candidates of 1968 Republican National Convention were Ronald W. Reagan (Governor of California), Jim A. Rhodes (Governor of Ohio), Nelson A. Rockefeller (Governor of New York), Harold Stassen (ex-Governor of Minnesota), and John Volpe (Governor of Massachusetts). Won Republican nomination and chose Maryland Governor Spiro T. Agnew to be his running mate. Nixon and Agnew defeated Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey (Lyndon B. Johnson’s VP and ex- Senator from Minnesota) and Humphrey’s running mate Edmund Muskie, and American Independent George C. Wallace (former Governor of Alabama) and Wallace’s running mate Curtis LeMay; they obtained 43% of popular vote and 301 electoral votes.
Re-election and Agnew’s resignation, 1972-1973 Was re-nominated by Republican party for re- election in 1972, with Agnew as his running mate again. Nixon easily defeated his opponent George McGovern (Senator from South Dakota) and McGovern’s running mate Sergeant Shriver (Ambassador to France; replaced Senator from Missouri Thomas Eagleton as running mate), winning with 61% of vote and 520 electoral votes. In the summer of 1973, Agnew was put under investigation after it was revealed that he accepted bribes of over $100,000, while he served as Baltimore County Executive, Governor of Maryland, and VP; on October 10, 1973, he was permitted to plead no contest (Nolo contendere) to single charge of failure to report $29,500 of income acquired in 1967, provided that he resign as VP. Following Agnew’s forced resignation, Nixon appointed House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford to fill Agnew’s post; Agnew became second VP to resign (after John C. Calhoun in 1832), but only VP to resign because of charges of corruption.
Watergate Scandal, Resignation and Post-Presidential Period, 1972-1994 At the same time Nixon ran for re-election, it was revealed that five men from Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP) burglarized Democratic National Headquarters at Watergate business complex; two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, unfolded solid cover-up of break-in. Nixon had set up taping system and when the Senate asked to hand over tapes recorded in Oval Office, he refused to hand them over on the grounds that he had executive privilege. Supreme Court rejected his claim and forced him to give the tapes up; although the tapes had no evidence that Nixon was directly involved in the break-in, they revealed his involvement in covering it up. Faced with inevitable impeachment with his role in Watergate, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, becoming only president to resign; Vice President Ford succeeded him in private ceremony the same day, granting Nixon pardon in September 1974. After his resignation, Nixon withdrew to San Clemente, California. Intervened in dispute between Major League Baseball and Umpire Association in 1985. Traveled extensively, giving advice to several politicians including Reagan administration; also wrote about his encounters and foreign policy. Died on April 22, 1994, aged 81, from severe stroke and blood clot.
Historical Significance Whereas many significant events took place during the Nixon Administration, such as end of Vietnam War, his visits to People’s Republic of China and Soviet Union, and going to the moon, his presidency is closely associated with Watergate. Trust in office of presidency sunk with disclosure of this political scandal; the way the Press dealt with the office forever changed in subsequent administrations.
Events and Accomplishments of Nixon’s Presidency On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 reached the moon and first step by man was taken outside of earth: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” This accomplished Kennedy’s objective of going to the moon before close of decade. On April 30, 1970, U.S. and South Vietnamese troops attacked Cambodia in effort to seize Communist headquarters, which was met with protests across the country, the most visible of which was at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, where demonstrators at the campus were fired upon by Ohio National Guard; four were killed and nine were wounded. Acts to protect environment were significant part of Nixon’s time in office; Environmental Protection Agency was established on December 2, 1970. President Nixon went to China in February 1972 to encourage peace and opening diplomatic relations between United States and China; he was first American president to step foot on Chinese soil. Nixon also made a visit to the Soviet Union in May 1972, in which he conducted successful détente negotiations with his Soviet counterpart, friend, and ally (leading to signing of subsequent Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty): the one and only LEONID ILYICH BREZHNEV. Peace treaty was signed with North Vietnam in January 1973, by which all U.S. forces remaining pulled out and all prisoners of war were freed; despite agreement, fighting resumed and Communists won in April 1975.