Richard M. Nixon

President Richard Nixon photo

Early life

Richard Milhous Nixon was born on January 9th, 1913. His parents were Quakers, and
therefore he learned at a young age to stay away from alcohol, cursing, and dancing.
When their family farm failed in 1922, they moved to Whittier, California. Nixon’s
father opened up a grocery store as well as a gas station. When he was twelve, Nixon
was discovered to have a spot on his heart; with the family history of tuberculosis,
he was forbidden from playing sports. Nixon went on to graduate high school ranked
third out of his class of 207 students. Upon graduation, Nixon was offered a tuition
grant for Harvard in Massachusetts; however, due to the fact that his brother was
sick and his mother had less time to help the family, Nixon had to stay home and
work at the family store. While doing this, he was able to attend Whittier College
and obtain his degree. He was engaged in 1933 to Ola Florence Welch; however, the
two split in 1935, before they were married. Nixon graduated from Whittier in 1934,
and was given a full scholarship to Duke University of Law. At the time, the university
was new and trying to attract students, so they gave away scholarships to very bright
students; however, the scholarships were not guaranteed year after year, so students
would have to compete for scholarships in their remaining years of school. Nixon
not only kept his scholarship, but he also was elected President of the Duke Bar
Association. He graduated ranked third in his class in June 1937.

Marriage to Thelma “Pat” Ryan

In January, 1938, Nixon actualized a role in the play The Dark Tower. He
starred opposite of Thelma “Pat” Ryan. For Nixon, this was love at first sight;
however, Pat took some convincing. After several failed attempts, Nixon finally
got her to go out with him. They were married in June of 1940. They honeymooned
in Mexico, and later had two daughters, Tricia (1946) and Julie (1948).

Naval Career

Nixon joined the Navy in 1942, ranked as a lieutenant. He traveled to the Pacific
as an operations officer for the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command. Despite
the fact he was never an active part of combat, he earned two service stars and
a citation of commendation. He resigned on January 1, 1946.

Vice Presidency

After his presidential nomination, General Dwight D. Eisenhower selected Nixon as
his vice presidential running mate. Because Nixon was young, had a strong political
following in California, and had a reputation for being anti-communist, Eisenhower’s
advisers saw Nixon as a natural choice for the vice presidential candidate. During
the campaign, the media found out that Nixon had a fund that reimbursed him for
all of his political expenses. While having this type of fund was not illegal, many
accusations were made, including one that he had a “secret” fund; these types of
allegations could have seriously hurt the Eisenhower-Nixon campaign. To cut short
any rumors before they got out of hand, Nixon addressed the public via national
television, explaining that he did have a fund, and that it had never been kept
secret. This speech later became known as the “Checkers” speech, named specifically
for the small cocker spaniel puppy a donor had sent Nixon, which he refused to return,
because his daughter had become attached to her new pet. The public reacted well
to this emotional address, and the Eisenhower-Nixon campaign was victorious at the
polls that November. Nixon was a very loyal “second in command,” attending meetings
when Eisenhower could not, and assuming presidential responsibilities when Eisenhower
had a heart attack and was unable to perform his duties for a six week period.

Presidential election loss to

In 1960, after Eisenhower had served two consecutive terms as president, Nixon was
the natural choice for the Republican nomination for presidency. He was expected
to win, due to his great service as vice president. However, the Democratic nominee,
John F. Kennedy ran a very powerful and eventually victorious campaign, with just
100,000 more votes than candidate Nixon. Upon losing, Nixon announced that he would
retire from politics altogether.


However, in 1968, Nixon decided to re-enter the political realm and won the Republican
presidential nomination once again. This time, his campaign was successful, and
he was inaugurated on January 20, 1969. Unfortunately, the early 70s were filled
with secrets and scandals. After appointing Henry Kissinger to a position in National
Security Affairs, Nixon allegedly ordered Kissinger to arrange a coup d’etat against
Salvador Allende. Kissinger called off the coup one month later. However, documents
prove that the CIA had continued to support a coup in Chile.


During his campaign, Nixon had promised to end the Vietnam War. However, there was
no good resolution in ending the war. Pulling American troops out of Vietnam would
only mean that North Vietnamese troops could remain in South Vietnam. Nixon tried
to encourage Northern Vietnam to withdraw its troops. Using tactical encouragement,
Nixon ordered the dropping of 100,000 bombs on Hanoi and Haiphong, two northern
Vietnamese cities. The northern Vietnamese still refused to withdraw, so in January
of 1973, Nixon signed the peace agreement that had been proposed the previous October.

The Watergate

During the presidential campaign of 1972, there was a break-in at Democratic headquarters
at the Watergate in Washington, D.C. The media immediately claimed that the break-in
had been planned by Nixon’s officials, in order to win the campaign. Nixon claimed
to not know anything about the organized break-in, or payment of “hush-money” to
the burglars involved. Raising suspicion, Nixon forced two of his main advisers,
H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, to resign in April of 1973. John Dean, another
adviser, refused to resign, and was instead fired, and Spiro T. Agnew, the vice
president, was also forced to resign. He was replaced by Gerald Ford. John Dean
testified in the hearings that Nixon had, in fact, known about Watergate and had
participated in the cover-up. Dean also assured that Nixon had the missing tapes,
proving his guilt. Pressured to do so, Nixon procured the tapes that Dean spoke
of. Members of the Senate wanted his impeachment; however, on August 9, 1974, Nixon
became the first US President to ever resign. One month later, Gerald Ford pardoned
Nixon of “all offences against the United States” in which Nixon may have been involved.
This pardoning kept Nixon from being tried or imprisoned due to any outcome of the
scandal. However, his advisers were not so lucky, and other staff members were imprisoned.

Post Presidency and Death

Although Nixon had been subpoenaed to testify at his advisers’ trials, he fell ill
with phlebitis, an inflammation of the veins. He was excused from testifying at
the trials and instead spent his time in the hospital and at home, recovering. As
his monetary assets were dwindling, Nixon began writing his memoir. He also met
with British talk show host David Frost, and was paid $600,000 for several in-person
interviews. In his retirement, Nixon wrote and published 10 books. On April 18,
1994, Nixon suffered a massive stroke in his New Jersey home. A blood clot had travelled
to his brain, and there was severe nerve damage. He could not move his right arm
or leg. He fell into a coma, and died on April 22, 1994.

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