Presidents: Richard M. Nixon

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Richard Nixon is the only president to have resigned from office.

Richard Milhous Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California. He was one of five sons born to Francis Anthony and Hannah Milhous Nixon.

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”.

He was president of his eighth grade class. In high school, he excelled on the debate team. He graduated from Whittier College and then attended Duke University School of Law on a full scholarship. He graduated third in his class in June 1937 and was elected president of the Duke Bar Association.

He was admitted to the California bar and began private practice, working his way up to full partner within a year.

Richard M. Nixon

In January 1938, he met Pat Ryan when both were part of the case of The Dark Tower at the community theater. Nixon described it as a “case of love at first sight” on his part. She was reluctant to marry him before finally agreeing. They were marriage on June 21, 1940 and had two daughters.

In January 1942, he took a job in Washington, D.C. at the Office of Price Administration. Not enjoying the job, he joined the U.S. Navy and was appointed lieutenant junior grade in June 1942. He served in the South West Pacific Theater and would receive a Navy Letter of Commendation. In 1946, he left active duty, but remained in the reserves. He retired as a commander in the Naval reserve on June 6, 1966.

In 1947, he began a career in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was brought to natioanl attention the following years as part of House Un-American Activities Committee case.

In 1950, he becamse a U.S. Senator.

In 1953, Nixon was suggested as a running mate to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was sworn in as Vice President on January 20, 1953.

Eisenhower gave Nixon more responsibilities as vice president than any of his predecessors.

In 1960, after eight years as Vice President, he ran for president against John F. Kennedy. The electon was heated and the first time debates were televised. Nixon lost by a narrow margarin.

In 1962, he ran for Governor of California but lost. In 1963, the Nixon family traveled to Europe.

Richard M. Nixon

At the end of 1967, Nixon told his family he planned to run for president a second time. His wife did not always enjoy public life, but is said to support his ambitions.

This was a tumltuous primary that saw the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
Nixon won the Republican Convention nomination and won the election.

He was inaugurated on January 20, 1969. In his inaugural address he stated, Nixon remarked that “the greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker”. This was the phrase placed on his gravestone.

When he took office the Vietnam War was in full swing but Nixon strove to end the war and began withdrawing troops.

Nixon worked to impose price controls on a high rate of inflation.

The Nixon presidency witnessed the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South.

Richard M. Nixon

After a nearly decade-long national effort, the United States won the race to land astronauts on the Moon on July 20, 1969, with the flight of Apollo 11. Nixon spoke with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their moonwalk. He called the conversation “the most historic phone call ever made from the White House”.

In 1972, Nixon won re-election.

On June 17, 1972, five men were caught breaking into the Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate complex. The story was picked up by the press. A series of revelations made it clear that the Committee to Re-elect President Nixon, and later the White House, was involved in attempts to sabotage the Democrats.

Though Nixon lost much popular support, even from his own party, he rejected accusations of wrongdoing and vowed to stay in office.

On October 10, 1973, Vice President Agnew resigned —unrelated to Watergate— and was convicted on charges of bribery, tax evasion and money laundering during his tenure as Governor of Maryland. Gerald Ford was chosen as the new Vice President.

Nixon said in an interview on November 17, 1973, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

The discovery of tapes set a legal battle and the talk of impeachment began. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the full tapes, not just selected transcripts, must be released.

The scandal grew to involve a slew of additional allegations against the President. Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974, after addressing the nation on television the previous evening.

Richard M. Nixon

After his resignation, the Nixon’s returned to their home La Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, California.

On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford granted Nixon a “full, free, and absolute pardon”, which ended any possibility of an indictment.

Nixon then released a statement:
“I was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate.”

Nixon’s biographer described him as “a soul in torment” during this time.

Nixon began giving interviews within the year, which helped a desperate financial position. He worked to rebuild his image.

He also maintained an office in a Coast Guard station near his home.

Richard M. Nixon

In 1978, he published his memoirs. He would publish ten books over the course of the rest of his life.

On August 10, 1979, the Nixon’s purchased a New York City townhouse.

On July 19, 1990, the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California opened. In January 1991, the former president founded the Nixon Center.

Pat Nixon died on June 22, 1993. Former President Nixon was distraught throughout the interment and delivered a moving tribute to her inside the library building.

Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994, about a week after suffering a stroke. He is buried beside his wife on the grounds of the Nixon Library.

Upon Nixon’s death, almost all of the news coverage mentioned Watergate, but for the most part, the coverage was favorable to the former president. His biographer said said of the reaction to Nixon’s death, “To everyone’s amazement, except his, he’s our beloved elder statesman.”

Nixon saw his policies regarding Vietnam, China, and the Soviets as key to his place in history, but Watergate will never be completely forgotten.


37th President of the United States
(January 20, 1969 to August 9, 1974)Nickname: None listed.

Born: January 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, California
Died: April 22, 1994, in New York, New York

Father: Francis Anthony Nixon
Mother: Hannah Milhous Nixon
Married: Thelma “Patricia” Catherine Ryan (1912-1993), on June 21, 1940
Children: Patricia Nixon (1946- ); Julie Nixon (1948- )

Religion: Society of Friends (Quaker)
Education: Graduated from Whittier College (1934) and Duke University Law School (1937)
Occupation: Lawyer, public official
Political Party: Republican

  • Attorney for U.S. Office of Emergency Management, 1942
  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1947-51
  • United States Senator, 1951-53
  • Vice President, 1953-61

Presidential Salary: $200,000/year + $50,000 expense account

  • Nixon resigned and was almost impeached over the Watergate Scandal, named for the burglaries at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington. D.C by men found to be connected to Nixon’s re-election campaign fundraising committee.
  • 1971
    • The Pentagon Papers, a top-secret U.S. Dept. of Defense study, were leaked to The New York Times. This document showed that the Johnson administration had secretly been expanding U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, further hurting the credibility of the Nixon administration.
  • 1971-2
    • The Nixon administration dramatically improved relations with China. Nixon made a public visit to China in February, 1972, following Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China in October, 1971.
  • 1973
    • Nixon was praised during his presidency for ending American Involvement in the Vietnam War.

  • Nixon is the only U.S. President who resigned from office.

1913 Richard Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California

1934 Dust Bowl begins

1939 Germany invades Poland; World War II begins

1940 Richard Nixon was married to Thelma “Patricia” Catherine Ryan in 1940. They had 2 children – Patricia and Julie

1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor
U.S. enters World War II

1942 Richard Nixon became Attorney for U.S. Office of Emergency Management, 1942

1945 Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Germany and Japan surrender, ending World War II

1946 The Cold War began between the United States and the Soviet Union

1947-51 Richard Nixon became Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1947-51

1949 NATO formed

1950 Senator Joseph McCarthy gains power and start Communist witch hunts (1950-1954)
Korean War begins

1951-53 Richard Nixon became United States Senator, 1951-53
Richard Nixon became Vice President, 1953-61 (under Eisenhower)

1953 Armistice in Korea

1954 SEATO alliance

1955 Warsaw Pact

1956 US installs Diem as leader of South Vietnam

1957 Civil Rights Act of 1957
Russians launch Sputnik

1958 NASA formed

1959 Cuban Revolution

1960 Greensboro sit-in
Civil Rights Act of 1960

1961 Peace Corps
Vietnam War officially begins with 900 military advisors landing in Saigon
OPEC formed

1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

1963 President J Kennedy assassinated
March on Washington; Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a dream” speech

1964 Civil Rights Act of 1964

1968 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy assassinated
Civil Rights Act of 1968

1969 Vietnam

1969 1969 Richard Nixon became the President of the United States of America
1969 – Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon

1970 1970 – Environmental Protection Agency created

1971 1971 – Twenty-Sixth Amendment ratified giving 18-year-olds the right to vote

1972 Watergate burglary
1972 – SALT Agreement
1972 – Nixon visits China
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with USSR

1973 Vietnam War ends with US pulling out in 1973
Watergate Scandal breaks in 1973
Skylab first space station launched

1974 Richard Nixon resigns Presidency over Watergate

1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident
1979 – Iran hostage crisis begins

1981 Attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley

1986 Iran-Contra scandal breaks
Space Shuttle Challenger accident

1994 Richard Nixon died of paralysis due to a stroke and swelling of the brain on April 22, 1994 in New York. He was buried in Yorba Linda in California.






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