Richard Nixon

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Portrait, Richard Milhous Nixon Richard Milhous Nixon 37th President of the United States (January 20, 1969 to August 8, 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: Patricia Ryan Nixon (1912-1993), on June 21, 1940 Children: Patricia “Tricia” Nixon Cox (1946- ); Julie Nixon Eisenhower (1948- ) [Her husband is Dwight David Eisenhower II, the grandson of President Eisenhower.] Religion: Society of Friends (Quaker) Education: Graduated from Whittier College (1934) and Duke University Law School (1937) Occupation: Lawyer, public official Political Party: Republican Other Government Positions:

  • 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 (under tiny U.S. flag Eisenhower)

Presidential Salary: $200,000/year + $50,000 expense account The legacy of the 37th president of the United States, Richard Nixon, is one overshadowed by scandal and resignation, in spite of a strong re-election in the 1972 presidential elections. As Eisenhower’s running mate in the 1952 elections, Nixon was accused of profiting off his position when a secret fund was discovered, to which several Californian businessmen had made contributions. In addressing this charge, he delivered what came to be called the Checkers speech, which won him widespread approval and marked a turning point in the way politicians would utilize the medium of TV in addressing the public. Years later, his own running mate and vice president, Spiro Agnew would be implicated in political corruption and tax evasion, leading to his resignation which was followed a year later by Nixon’s own.  President Nixon’s resounding re-election, however, is explained by domestic policies implemented during his first term. These included expanded social security, the institution of affirmative action and the establishment of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). There was also increased funding to states under New Federalism. In foreign policy, headed by Henry Kissinger, the period of Nixon’s presidency is marked by cooling tensions with the Soviet Union and talks around arms reduction. Notably, US relations with China improved considerably, so much so that Nixon himself visited the country in 1972.  Besides the Watergate scandal, the other pall that cast a shadow over Nixon’s presidency was the Vietnam War. Though he and Kissinger are credited with bringing it to an end, the Nixon administration also made several missteps in that arena, including but not limited to, attacks on Cambodia in 1970. The release of the Pentagon Papers detailing the evolution and nature of US involvement in the Indochina region also dealt an embarrassing blow to the government.  It is the combination of the Papers and the revelation of Nixon and the White House’s involvement in the Watergate scandal, that is credited with the sharp increase in public distrust and skepticism of the government at, and continuing from, this time.

Presidential Election Results:
Year Popular Votes Electoral Votes
1960 tiny U.S. flag John F. Kennedy 34,226,731 303
Richard M. Nixon 34,108,157 219
1968 Richard M. Nixon 31,785,480 301
Hubert H. Humphrey 31,275,166 191
George C. Wallace 9,906,473 46
1972 Richard M. Nixon 41,167,319 520
George McGovern 29,168,509 17
John Hospers 1

Vice President: Spiro T. Agnew (1969-73) [The second vice president to resign from the post, and the first to do so in disgrace. His resignation resulted from a scandal involving political corruption and tax evasion.]; tiny U.S. flag Gerald R. Ford (1973-74) [The first person to hold this office, and then ascend to the presidency without having been elected to either office.] Cabinet:

Secretary of State
William P. Rogers (1969-73)
Henry A. Kissinger (1973-74) [He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 along with Le Duc Tho, for their successful negotiation of a ceasefire in Vietnam. His efforts also led to the reopening of US-China relations. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in US foreign policy.]
Secretary of the Treasury
David M. Kennedy (1969-70)
John B. Connally, Jr. (1971-72)
George P. Schultz (1972-74)
William E. Simon (1974)
Secretary of Defense
Melvin R. Laird (1969-72)
Elliot L. Richardson (1973)
James R. Schlesinger (1973-74)
Attorney General
John N. Mitchell (1969-72) [The only US Attorney General to go to prison. He was the head of the committee for President Nixon’s re-election, and was convicted in 1974 on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy in the Watergate scandal, and served 19 months.]
Richard G. Kleindienst (1972-73)
Elliot L. Richardson (1973)
William B. Saxbe (1974)
Postmaster General
Winton M. Blount (1969-71)
Secretary of the Interior
Walter J. Hickel (1969-70)
Rogers C. B. Morton (1971-74)
Secretary of Agriculture
Clifford M. Hardin (1969-71)
Earl L. Butz (1971-74)
Secretary of Commerce
Maurice H. Stans (1969-72)
Peter G. Peterson (1972)
Frederick B. Dent (1973-74)
Secretary of Labor
George P. Schultz (1969-70)
James D. Hodgson (1970-72)
Peter J. Brennan (1973-74)
Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
Robert H. Finch (1969-70)
Elliot L. Richardson (1970-73)
Caspar W. Weinberger (1973-74)
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
George W. Romney (1969-72)
James T. Lynn (1973-74)
Secretary of Transportation
John A. Volpe (1969-73)
Claude S. Brinegar (1973-74)

Supreme Court Appointments:

Chief Justice
Warren Earl Burger (1969-86)
Associate Justice
Harry A. Blackmun (1970-94)
Lewis F. Powell, Jr. (1972-87)
William H. Rehnquist (1972-86)

Notable Events:

  • 1969
    • Plans to withdraw from Vietnam are announced.
    • Apollo 11 lands on the moon, and Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to step on the moon.
    • The Nixon Doctrine is announced.
  • 1970
  • 1971
    • Wire tapping systems are installed in the White House.
    • The Pentagon Papers, a top-secret U.S. Dept. of Defense study, is leaked to The New York Times. This document shows that the Johnson administration had secretly been expanding U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, further hurting the credibility of the Nixon administration.
    • Secretary of State Henry Kissinger makes a secret visit to China in an effort to improve diplomatic relations.
  • 1972
  • 1973
    • The signing of the Paris Peace Accords brings the Vietnam War to an end.
    • Nixon accepts responsibility for Watergate.
    • The Senate Watergate Committee is denied access to the Oval Office tapings.
    • Vice President Agnew resigns.
    • The democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile is overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet.
    • October 20: Saturday Night Massacre
  • 1974
  • 1974
    • July 27: Three articles of impeachment against Nixon are brought by the House Judiciary Committee – obstruction of justice, abuse of power and the unconstitutional defiance of subpoenas.
    • August 5: Transcripts of tape recordings in which Nixon ordered a coverup are released.
    • August 8: Nixon resigns from the office of President of the the United States of America.

Internet Biographies:

Richard M. Nixon — from The Presidents of the United States of America
Compiled by the White House.
Richard M. Nixon — from American Presidents: Life Portraits — C-SPAN
Biographical information, trivia, key events, video, and other reference materials. Website created to accompany C-SPAN’s 20th Anniversary Television Series, American Presidents: Life Portraits.
Richard Nixon — from U.S. Presidents
From the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in addition to information on the Presidents themselves, they have first lady and cabinet member biographies, listings of presidential staff and advisers, and timelines detailing significant events in the lives of each administration.
Richard M. Nixon — from Character Above All
From a PBS broadcast of the same name, this essay excerpt by Tom Wicker discusses some of the issues and events that molded Nixon.

Historical Documents:

First Inaugural Address (1969)
Second Inaugural Address (1973)
Richard Nixon’s Resignation Letter and Gerald Ford’s Pardon (1974)

Media Resources:

Audio
From his 1971 State of the Union address. (0:46)
MP3 (366K)
From the Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University.
Audio & Video
The American Presidency Project’s Presidential Audio/Video Archive for Richard M. Nixon site

Other Internet Resources:

Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation
“Nine acres of galleries, theaters, and gardens; the faithfully restored boyhood home of the nation’s 37th President; the resting place of the President and his First Lady; an innovative policy center to nurture their legacy.” Located in Yorba Linda, California.
Nixon Presidential Library & Museum
Timelines, biographical information, and online exhibits about Nixon’s life and presidency. Also provides tourist information for the museum and information on the library’s collection.

Points of Interest:

  • Richard Nixon is the only President in American history who resigned from office.
  • During World War II, Nixon served in the US Navy, and at its conclusion was promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
  • After losing the 1960 election to JFK, Richard Nixon ran for the post of Governor of California in 1962. However, he lost that race too.
  • First Lady Pat Nixon supported and encouraged volunteerism among the American people. She was the first First Lady to do so.

FAQs:

  • Who was the president when the Vietnam War ended?

Richard Nixon was the president when the Vietnam War ended in 1973. It was the result of much extensive political and diplomatic maneuvering by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

  • Was President Nixon impeached?

No, President Nixon was not impeached. Three articles of impeachment were approved by the House Judiciary Committee, but he resigned from office before they could be voted on.

  • What was the Watergate scandal?

The Watergate scandal is named after the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, which were broken into twice in 1972 by men connected to President Nixon’s re-election committee. The first time was in May, when documents were stolen and phones were bugged. The burglars broke into the Watergate complex a second time when it was discovered that the wiretaps placed earlier were not working. They were caught red-handed by a security guard and handed over to the police. Nixon repeatedly denied any involvement in the break-in. However, investigations revealed the existence of secret recordings made in the Oval Office that could implicate the President.

  • Why did Richard Nixon resign?

Once the presence of the secret tapes was known, officials from the Justice Department pressed for their release, and took the case to the US Supreme Court. The Judiciary Committee also approved three articles of impeachment against President Nixon. Once the Supreme Court ruled that the tapes had to be released, Nixon’s political support in both houses of Congress rapidly declined, making it clear that when he was impeached, the Senate would most likely convict, making him the first president to be removed from the White House by impeachment. To avoid such a situation, Nixon became the first and only president to resign from his post. He was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.

Related Resources:


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