Richard Milhous Nixon
(January 9, 1913 â€“ April 22,
1994) was the 37th President of the United
from 1969â€“1974 and the only President to resign the
office. He was also the 36th Vice President of the United
born in Yorba
Linda, California. After completing undergraduate work at
Whittier College, he graduated from
Duke University School of
Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law in
Habra. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the United
States Navy, serving in the Pacific theater, and rose to the
rank of Lieutenant
Commander during World War
He was elected in 1946 as a Republican
to the House of
representing California's 12th
, and in 1950 to the United States Senate
. He was selected
to be the running mate
of Dwight D. Eisenhower
, the Republican Party
nominee, in the 1952 Presidential election, becoming one of the
youngest Vice Presidents in history. He waged an unsuccessful
presidential campaign in 1960
losing to John F. Kennedy
, and an
unsuccessful campaign for Governor of California in 1962
these losses, Nixon announced his withdrawal from the political
scene. In 1968, however, he ran again for president of the United
States and was elected
The most immediate task facing President Nixon was a resolution of
the Vietnam War
. He initially escalated
the conflict, overseeing incursions into neighboring countries,
though American military personnel were gradually withdrawn and he
successfully negotiated a ceasefire with North Vietnam
in 1973, effectively ending
American involvement in the war. His foreign policy initiatives were
largely successful: his groundbreaking visit to the
Republic of China in 1972 opened diplomatic relations between the two
nations, and he initiated dĂ©tente and
the Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty with the Soviet
On the domestic front, he implemented new
economic policies which called for wage
and price control
and the abolition of the gold standard
. He was reelected by a
in 1972. In his second term, the nation was afflicted
with economic difficulties. In the face of likely impeachment
for his role in
the Watergate scandal
and Jack Casserly (1988),
p. 353. Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. He was later pardoned
by his successor, Gerald Ford
, for any federal crimes he may have
committed while in office.
In his retirement, Nixon became a prolific author and undertook
many foreign trips. His work as an elder statesman helped to
rehabilitate his public image. He suffered a debilitating stroke
on April 18, 1994, and died four days later
the age of 81.
Richard Nixon was born on January 9, 1913, to Francis A. Nixon and
Hannah Milhous Nixon in a house
his father had built in Yorba Linda, California.
His mother was a Quaker
, and his upbringing was
marked by conservative Quaker observances of the time, such as
refraining from drinking, dancing, and swearing. His father
converted from Methodism
after his marriage.Black, Conrad (2007)
p. 8 Nixon had four brothers: Harold
(1918â€“1925), and Ed
Nixon's early life was marked by hardships. Two of his brothers
died before he was 21 and his family's ranch failed in 1922.
then moved to Whittier, California, the home of his mother's relatives, where his
father opened a grocery
initially attended Fullerton High School in
Fullerton, but later transferred to Whittier High School, where he
graduated second in his class in 1930. Financial concerns
forced him to decline scholarships to
Harvard and Yale universities;Nixon, Richard (1978), p. 15. he instead enrolled
at Whittier College, a local Quaker school, where he co-founded a
fraternity known as The
Nixon was a formidable debater
, standout in collegiate drama productions,
student body president, player on the football
and basketball teams, and track
runner.Dallek, Robert (2007), pp. 8â€“9. While at Whittier, he lived
at home and worked at his family's store; he also taught Sunday school
at East Whittier Friends Church,
where he remained a member all his life. In 1934, he graduated
second in his class from Whittier and received a full scholarship
University School of Law.
future plans at this time focused solely on law; he was elected
president of the Duke Bar Association and graduated third in his
class in June 1937. Nixon later spoke about the influence of his
alma-mater, saying, "I always remember that whatever I have done in
the past or may do in the future, Duke University is responsible in
one way or another."
Nixon's first choice was to get a job with the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, he returned to California and was admitted to the bar in 1937.
practicing with Wingert and Bewley, where he worked on commercial litigation
for local petroleum
companies and other corporate matters as
well as on wills
By his own admission, Nixon would not work on divorce
because he was "severely embarrassed by
women's confessions of sexual misconduct." Nixon found the practice
of law unexciting, but thought that it would gain him experience
that would be beneficial in a future political career. In 1938, he opened up
his own branch of Wingert and Bewley in La Habra,
California, becoming a full partner in the firm the following
In January, 1938, Nixon was cast in the Whittier Community Players
production of The Dark
. There he played opposite a high school teacher
named Thelma "Pat" Ryan
. Nixon pursued
her, but initially Ryan was not interested in a relationship. He
began making unannounced visits to her home and would take her on
Sunday drives to the Quaker Sunday School where he was a teacher.
After several proposals, Ryan eventually agreed to marry the future
president and they wed at a small ceremony on June 21, 1940.
honeymoon in Mexico, the Nixons
moved to Long
Beach, then settled into an apartment in East Whittier a
few months later. In January 1942, they moved to Washington,
D.C., where Richard Nixon took a job at the Office of Price
World War II
Lieutenant Commander Richard Nixon of
the United States Navy, 1945
Nixon was eligible for an exemption from military service, both as
his job working for the OPA
, but he did not seek one
and was commissioned into the United
in August 1942. He was trained at Naval Air
Station Quonset Point, Rhode
Island and was assigned to Ottumwa Naval Air
Station, Iowa, for seven
He was subsequently reassigned as the naval
passenger control officer for the South Pacific Combat
Air Transport Command
, supporting the logistics
of operations in the South West Pacific
. After requesting more challenging duties, he was given
command of cargo handling units. Nixon returned to the United States with
two service stars (although he saw no
actual combat) and a citation of commendation, and became the
administrative officer of the Alameda Naval Air Station. In January, 1945, he was transferred to
Philadelphia's Bureau of
Aeronautics office to help negotiate the termination of war
There he received another letter of commendation,
this time from Secretary of the Navy
. In October 1945, he
was promoted to lieutenant commander
He resigned his commission on New Year's
House of Representatives
Soon after World War II ended, a group of Whittier Republicans
approached Nixon about running for a seat in the United States House of
. Nixon accepted their offer, and waged a
which ended in a victory over the five-term Democratic
in November 1946. Nixon
represented southern California's 12th Congressional
for the next four years. He helped finance the
campaign with his World War II poker winnings.
Nixon while serving in Congress
In Congress, Nixon supported the Taft-Hartley Act
of 1948, and served on the
and Labor Committee
. He was part of the Herter Committee, which
went to Europe
to prepare a preliminary
report on the newly enacted Marshall
Nixon first gained national attention in 1948 when his
investigation on the House Un-American
(HUAC) broke the impasse of the Alger Hiss
spy case. While many doubted
Whittaker Chambers' allegations
that Hiss, a high State Department official, was a Soviet spy, Nixon believed the allegations to be
He discovered that Chambers saved microfilm
reproductions of incriminating documents
by hiding the film in a pumpkin
. They were
alleged to be accessible only to Hiss and to have been typed on his
. Hiss was convicted
in 1950 for statements he made to
the HUAC. The discovery that Hiss committed perjury and thus may
well have been a Soviet spy thrust Nixon into the public eye. This
case turned the young Congressman into a national, and
controversial, figure. He was easily reelected in 1948.
In the 1950 mid-term
, Nixon ran against Democratic Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas
for a seat in the
, representing California. The
campaign is best remembered as one of the most contentious of the
times. Nixon felt the former actress was a left-wing
sympathizer, labeling her
right down to her underwear."
Conversely, Douglas referred to Nixon as "Tricky
." In the November election, Nixon defeated Douglas.
In the Senate, Nixon took a prominent position in opposing the
spread of global communism
frequently and speaking out against "the threat." He also
criticized what he perceived to be President Harry S. Truman
's mishandling of the Korean War
. He supported statehood for Alaska and Hawaii, voted in
favor of civil rights for minorities, and supported federal
disaster relief for India and Yugoslavia.
He voted against
price controls and other monetary controls, benefits for illegal
immigrants, and public power.
Vice Presidency (1953-1961)
In part due to his reputation as an ardent anti-communist,
39-year-old Nixon was selected by Republican party nominee General
Dwight D. Eisenhower
to be the Vice Presidential
candidate at the Republican National
in July 1952. In September, the New York Post
published an article
claiming that campaign donors were buying influence with Nixon by
providing him with a secret cash fund for his personal expenses.
Nixon responded that the fund was not secret, and the campaign
commissioned an independent review which showed that it was used
only for political purposes. Republicans, including some within
Eisenhower's campaign, pressured Eisenhower to remove Nixon from
the ticket, but Eisenhower realized that he was unlikely to win
Nixon appeared on television on September 23, 1952, to defend
himself against the allegations. He detailed his personal finances
and mentioned the independent third-party review of the fund's
accounting. While it was the first time that a national politician
released his tax returns, the speech became better known for its
rhetoric, such as when he remarked that his wife Pat did not wear
mink, but rather "a respectable Republican cloth coat," and that,
although he had been given an American Cocker Spaniel
Checkers in addition to his other campaign contributions, he was
not going to give the dog back because his daughters loved it. Now
known as the "Checkers speech
resulted in much support from the base of the Republican Party and
from the general public, and greatly aided Nixon in remaining on
the ticket. In the 1952 presidential elections,
Eisenhower and Nixon defeated Illinois Governor Adlai
Stevenson and Alabama Senator John Sparkman
by seven million votes.
As Vice President, Nixon expanded the office into an important and
prominent post. Nixon would conduct National Security meetings in
the president's absence. As President of the Senate, he intervened
to make procedural rulings on filibusters
to assure the passage of Eisenhower's 1957 civil rights bill
created the United States
Commission on Civil Rights
and protected voting rights.
Although he had little formal power, Nixon had the attention of the
media and the Republican Party. Using these, he and his wife
undertook many foreign trips of goodwill to garner support for
American policies during the Cold War
such trip to Caracas, Venezuela, anti-American protesters
disrupted and assaulted Nixon's motorcade, pelting his limousine
with rocks, shattering windows, and injuring Venezuela's foreign
Nixon was lauded and attracted international media
attention for his calm and coolness during the incidents.
1957, he visited Libya for a
program of economic and military aid.
Nixon was, and is
still, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the African
nation. In July 1959, President Eisenhower sent
Nixon to the Soviet
Union for Moscow's opening of
the American National Exhibition.
On July 24, while touring
the exhibits with Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev
, the two stopped at a
model of an American kitchen and engaged in the impromptu "Kitchen Debate
" about the merits of capitalism
President, he officially opened the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw
1960 presidential election
In 1960, Nixon launched his campaign for President of the United
States. He faced little opposition in the Republican primaries, and
chose former Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
as his running
mate. His Democratic opponent was John
, and the race remained close for the duration. Nixon
campaigned on his experience, but Kennedy called for new blood and
claimed the Eisenhower-Nixon
allowed the Soviet Union to overtake the U.S. in
(the "missile gap
"). Kennedy told voters it was time
to "get the country moving again." In the midst of the campaign,
Nixon advocated stimulative tax cuts in what would become one of
the core tenets of the supply-side
of economics. He also presented a plan for economic
growth and deficit reduction, which appealed to many.
A new medium was brought to the campaign: televised presidential
. In the first of four such debates, Nixon was
recovering from illness and, wearing little makeup, looked wan and
uncomfortable, in contrast to the composed Kennedy. Nixon's
performance in the debate was perceived to be mediocre in the
visual medium of television, though many people listening on the
radio thought that Nixon had won.
Nixon lost the election narrowly, with Kennedy ahead by only
120,000 votes (0.2%) in the popular vote. There were charges of
in Texas and Illinois;
Nixon supporters unsuccessfully challenged results in both states
as well as nine others. After all the court battles and recounts
were done, Kennedy had a greater number of electoral votes than he
held after Election Day. Nixon halted further investigations to
avoid a Constitutional
crisis. Nixon and Kennedy later met in Key Biscayne, Florida, where
Kennedy offered Nixon a job in his administration, an offer which
Following his loss to Kennedy, Nixon and his family returned to
California, where he practiced law and wrote a bestselling book,
. It recorded his political involvement as a
congressman, senator and vice president and used six different
crises Nixon had experienced throughout his political career to
illustrate his political memoirs
. The work
won praise from many policy experts and critics. It also found a
favorable critic in Mao Zedong
referred to the book during Nixon's visit in 1972
Local and national Republican leaders encouraged Nixon to challenge
incumbent Pat Brown
for Governor of California
in the 1962 election
Despite initial reluctance, Nixon entered the race. The campaign
was clouded by public suspicion that Nixon viewed the governorship
as a political "stepping-stone" to a higher office, some opposition
from the far-right of the party, and his own lack of interest in
being California's governor. He lost to Brown by nearly 300,000
votes. This loss was widely believed to be the end of his career;
in an impromptu concession speech the morning after the election,
Nixon famously blamed the media for favoring his opponent, saying,
"You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen,
this is my last press
." The California defeat was highlighted in the
November 11, 1962, episode of ABC
's Howard K.
Smith: News and
entitled "The Political Obituary of Richard M.
The Nixon family traveled to Europe in 1963; Nixon gave press
conferences and met with leaders of the countries he visited.
family soon moved to New York City, where Nixon became a senior partner in the leading law firm
Rose, Guthrie & Alexander.
Though largely out of the
public eye, he was still supported by much of the Republican base
who respected his knowledge of politics and international affairs.
This reputation was enhanced when Nixon wrote an article in
"Asia After Vietnam", in which he proposed a new relationship with
China. He campaigned for Republican candidates in the 1966
and took an extended trip to South
America and parts of the Middle East in 1967.
Toward the end of 1967, Nixon was experiencing a crisis of
indecision about whether to run for president the following year.
He consulted with longtime friend Reverend Dr. Billy Graham
, who urged him to run. He later
held a dinner at his home with friends and all except his wife
supported a presidential bid. He formally announced his candidacy
for president of the United States on February 1, 1968.
1968 presidential election
Throughout the campaign, Nixon portrayed himself as a figure of
stability during a period of national unrest and upheaval. He
appealed to what he called the "silent
" of socially
Americans who disliked the hippie
counterculture and the anti-war
secured the nomination in August. His running mate, Maryland
governor Spiro Agnew
, became an
increasingly vocal critic of these groups, solidifying Nixon's
position with the right
Nixon waged a prominent television campaign, meeting with
supporters in front of cameras and advertising on the television
medium. He stressed that the crime rate was too high, and attacked
what he perceived as a surrender by the Democrats of the United
States' nuclear superiority. His campaign was aided by turmoil
within the Democratic Party: President Lyndon B. Johnson
, consumed with the Vietnam War
, announced that he would not seek
reelection. After a contentious Democratic primary campaign, Vice
President Hubert Humphrey
moderate but not decisive lead over Senator Robert F. Kennedy;
however, Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles following the final, California
Humphrey was nominated at a convention
. Nixon appeared to represent a calmer society.
With regard to the Vietnam War, he promised peace with honor
, and campaigned on the
notion that "new leadership will end the war and win the peace in
the Pacific." He did not give specific plans on how to end the war,
resulting in media intimations that he must have a "secret
." His slogan of "Nixon's the One" proved to be
In a three-way race between Nixon, Humphrey, and independent
candidate George Wallace
defeated Humphrey by nearly 500,000 votes to become the 37th
President of the United States on November 5, 1968.
Nixon was inaugurated on January 20, 1969. Pat Nixon held the
family Bibles open to Isaiah
reading, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their
spears into pruning hooks." In his inaugural address, which
received almost uniformly positive reviews, Nixon remarked that
"the greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker."
He spoke about turning partisan politics into a new age of
In these difficult years, America has suffered from a
fever of words; from inflated rhetoric that promises more than it
can deliver; from angry rhetoric that fans discontents into
hatreds; from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of
We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting
at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can
be heard as well as our voices.â€ť
Nixon set out to reconstruct the Western Alliance, develop a
relationship with China, pursue arms control agreements with the
Soviet Union, activate a peace process in the Middle East, restrain
inflation, implement anti-crime measures, accelerate desegregation,
and reform welfare. The most immediate task, however, was the
When Nixon took office, 300 American soldiers were dying per week
in Vietnam. The Johnson administration had negotiated a deal in
which the U.S. would suspend bombing in North Vietnam in exchange
for unconditional negotiations, but this faltered. Nixon faced the
choice of devising a new policy to chance securing South Vietnam as
a non-communist state, or withdrawing American forces
approved a secret bombing campaign of North Vietnamese positions in
Cambodia in March 1969 (code-named Operation Menu) to destroy what was
believed to be the headquarters of the National Front for
the Liberation of Vietnam.
The Air Force considered the
bombings a success. He then proposed simultaneous substantial
withdrawals of North Vietnamese and American forces from South
Vietnam one year after reaching a mutual agreement. In June 1969,
in a campaign fullfillment, Nixon reduced troop strength in Vietnam
by 25,000 soldiers, who returned home to the United States. From
1969 to 1972 troop reduction in Vietnam was estimated to be 405,000
In July 1969, the Nixons visited South
, where President Nixon met with his U.S. military
commanders and President Nguyen Van
. Amid protests at home, he implemented what became known
as the Nixon Doctrine
, a strategy of
replacing American troops with Vietnamese troops
enacted phased U.S. troop withdrawals but authorized incursions
into Laos, in part to
interrupt the Ho Chi Minh trail
that passed through Laos and Cambodia.
Nixon's 1968 campaign
promise to curb the war and his subsequent Laos bombing raised
questions in the press about a "credibility gap
," similar to that
encountered earlier in the war by Lyndon B. Johnson. In a televised
speech on April 30, 1970, Nixon announced the incursion of U.S. troops into Cambodia
disrupt so-called North Vietnamese sanctuaries. This led to protest
and student strikes
temporarily closed 536 universities, colleges, and high
Nixon formed the Gates
to look into ending the military service draft
implemented under President Johnson. The Gates Commission issued
its report in February 1970, describing how adequate military
strength could be maintained without conscription. The draft was
extended to June 1973, and then ended. Military pay was increased
as an incentive to attract volunteers, and television advertising
for the United States Army
for the first time.
In December 1972, though concerned about the level of civilian
casualties, Nixon approved Linebacker
, the codename for aerial bombings of military and
industrial targets in North Vietnam. After years of fighting, the
Paris Peace Accords
in 1973. The treaty, however, made no provision that
145,000-160,000 North Vietnam
regulars located in the Central Highlands and other areas
of S. Vietnam had to withdraw. Under President Nixon, American
involvement in the war steadily declined from a troop strength of
543,000 to zero in 1973.
Under Nixon, direct payments from the federal government to
individual American citizens in government benefits (including
) rose from 6.3% of the
Gross National Product
to 8.9%. Food aid and public assistance also rose, beginning at
$6.6 billion and escalating to $9.1 billion. Defense spending
decreased from 9.1% to 5.8% of the GNP. The revenue sharing program
pioneered by Nixon delivered $80 billion to individual states and
In 1970, the Democratic Congress passed the Economic Stabilization
Act, giving Nixon power to set wages and prices; Congress did not
believe the president would use the new controls and felt this
would make him appear to be indecisive.Hetzel, Robert L. (2008), p.
85. While opposed to permanent wage and price controls
, Nixon imposed the
controls on a temporary basis in a 90 day wage and price freeze.
The controls (enforced for large corporations, voluntary for
others) were the largest since World War II; they were relaxed
after the initial 90 days. Nixon then spoke to the American public,
saying that by "Working together, we will break the back of
A Pay Board set wage controls limiting increases to 5.5% per year,
and the Price Commission set a 2.5% annual limit on price
increases. The limits did help to control wages, but not
inflation.Hetzel, Robert L. (2008), p. 91. Overall, however, the
controls were viewed as successful in the short termHetzel, Robert
L. (2008), p. 92. and were popular with the public, who felt Nixon
was rescuing them from price-gougers
and from a foreign-caused exchange crisis.
Nixon was worried about the effects of increasing inflation and
accelerating unemployment, so he indexed Social Security for
inflation, and created Supplemental Security Income
(SSI). In 1969, he had presented the only balanced budget between
1961 and 1998. However, despite speeches declaring an opposition to
the idea, he decided to offer Congress a budget with deficit spending
to reduce unemployment and
declared, "Now I am a
Another large part of Nixon's plan was the detachment of the dollar
from the gold standard
. By the time
Nixon took office, U.S. gold reserves had declined from $25 billion
to $10.5 billion. Gold was an underpriced commodity, as the dollar
was overpriced as a currency. The United States was on the verge of
running its first trade deficit in over 75 years.The price of gold
had been set at $35 an ounce since the days of Franklin Roosevelt
's presidency; foreign
countries acquired more dollar reserves, outnumbering the entire
amount of gold the United States possessed. Nixon completely
the gold standard, preventing
other countries from being able to claim gold in exchange for their
dollar reserves, but also weakening the exchange rate
of the dollar against other
currencies and increasing inflation by driving up the cost of
imports. Nixon felt that the dollar should float freely like other
currencies. Said Nixon in his speech:
"The American dollar must never again be a hostage in
the hands of international speculators....
Government... does not hold the key to the success of a
That key... is in your hands.
Every action I have taken tonight is designed to
nurture and stimulate that competitive spirit to help us snap out
of self-doubt, the self-disparagement that saps our energy and
erodes our confidence in ourselves...
Whether the nation stays Number One depends on your
competitive spirit, your sense of personal destiny, your pride in
your country and yourself."
Other parts of the Nixon plan included the reimposition of a 10%
investment tax credit, assistance to the automobile industry in the
form of removal of excise taxes
the savings were passed directly to the consumer), an end to fixed
exchange rates, devaluation of the dollar on the free market, and a
10% tax on all imports into the U.S. Income per family rose, and
Nixon wanted to lift the spirits of the country as polls showed
increasing concern about the economy. His program was viewed by
nearly everyone as exceptionally bold, and astounded the Democrats.
Nixon soon experienced a bounce in the polls. His economic program
was determined to be a clear success by December 1971. One of
Nixon's economic advisers, Herbert
, wrote: "Probably more new regulation was imposed on the
economy during the Nixon administration than in any other
presidency since the New Deal
Initiatives within the federal government
Nixon believed in using government wisely to benefit all and
supported the idea of practical liberalism. During the Nixon
administration, the United States established many government
agencies, among them the Environmental
(EPA).Frum, David (2000), p. 180 Nixon
authorized the Clean Air Act of
, which was noted as one of the most significant pieces of
environmental legislation ever signed. He established the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration
In 1971, Nixon proposed the creation of four new government
departments superseding the current structure: departments
organized for the goal of efficient and effective public service as
opposed to the thematic bases of Commerce, Labor, Transportation,
Agriculture, et al. Departments including the State, Treasury,
Defense, and Justice would remain under this proposal. He
reorganized the Post Office Department from a cabinet department to
a government-owned corporation: the U.S. Postal Service
Nixon cut billions of dollars in federal spending and expanded the
power of the Office of
Management and Budget
. He established the Consumer Product Safety
in 1972 and supported the Legacy of parks
program, which transferred
ownership of federally-owned land to the states, resulting in the
establishment of state parks and beaches, recreational areas, and
environmental education centers.
The Nixon years witnessed the first large-scale integration
of public schools in the
South. Strategically, Nixon sought a middle way between the
segregationist George C. Wallace
whose support of integration was alienating some Southern white
Democrats. He was determined to implement exactly what the courts
had orderedâ€” desegregation â€” but did not favor busing
in the words of author Conrad Black, "all over the country to
satisfy the capricious meddling of judges." Nixon, the Quaker, felt
was the greatest moral failure of
the United States and concentrated on the principle that the law
must be color-blind
: "I am
convinced that while legal segregation is totally wrong, forced
integration of housing or education is just as wrong."Kotlowski,
Dean J. (2001), p. 8.
Nixon tied desegregation to improving the quality of education and
enforced the law after the Supreme Court, in Alexander
v. Holmes County
Board of Education
(1969), prohibited further delays. By
fall of 1970, two million southern black children enrolled in newly
created unitary fully integrated school districts; this meant that
only 18% of Southern black children attended all-black schools, a
decrease from 70% when Nixon came to office. Nixon's Cabinet
Committee on Education, under the leadership of Labor Secretary
George P. Shultz
, quietly set up local biracial
committees to assure smooth compliance without violence or
political grandstanding. "In this sense, Nixon was the greatest
school desegregator in American history," historian Dean Kotlowski
concluded.Kotlowski, Dean J. (2001), p. 37. Author Conrad Black
concurred: "In his singular, unsung way, Richard Nixon defanged and
healed one of the potentially greatest controversies of the time."
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Nixon's presidential counselor, commented in 1970 â€śThere has been
more change in the structure of American public school education in
the last month than in the past 100 years.â€ť
In addition to desegregating public schools, Nixon implemented the
, the first
significant federal affirmative
program in 1970. Nixon also endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment
passed both houses of Congress in 1972 and went to the states for
ratification as a Constitutional amendment
David (2000), p. 246. Nixon had campaigned as an ERA supporter in
1968, though feminists criticized him for doing little to help the
ERA or their cause after his election, which led to a much stronger
increased the number of female appointees to administration
positions. Nixon signed the landmark laws Title
in 1972, prohibiting gender discrimination in all
federally-funded schools and the Equal Employment Opportunity
. In 1970 Nixon had vetoed the Comprehensive Child
, denouncing the universal child-care bill, but
signed into law Title X
, which was a step
forward for family planning and contraceptives.
It was during the Nixon Presidency that the Supreme Court issued
its Roe v. Wade
ruling, legalizing abortion. First
Lady Pat Nixon had been outspoken about her support for legalized
abortion, a goal for many feminists (though there was a significant
pro-life minority faction of the Women's Liberation Movement as
well). Nixon himself did not speak out publicly on the abortion
issue, but was personally pro-choice, and believed that, in certain
cases such as rape, or an interracial child, abortion was an
U.S. space program
In 1969, Nixon's first year in office, the United States sent three
men to the moon, becoming the first nation in the world to do so.
On July 20, Nixon addressed Neil
and Buzz Aldrin
, two of
the astronauts, live over radio during their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk
. Nixon also placed a telephone
call to Armstrong on the moon, the longest distance phone call
ever, and called it "the most historic phone call ever made from
the White House." He observed their landing in the ocean from
the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.
All U.S. Project Apollo
moon landings, and the
attempted moon landing of Apollo 13
place during Nixon's first term.
January 5, 1972, Nixon approved the development of NASA's Space Shuttle program, a decision that
profoundly influenced American efforts to explore and develop space
for several decades thereafter.
Under the Nixon
administration, however, NASA's budget declined. NASA Administrator
Thomas O. Paine
was drawing up ambitious plans for the
establishment of a permanent base on the Moon
by the end of the 1970s and the launch of a manned expedition to
as early as 1981. Nixon, however, rejected
On May 24, 1972, Nixon approved a five-year cooperative program
between NASA and the Soviet space
, culminating in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
joint-mission of an American Apollo
and a Soviet Soyuz
A conflict broke out in Pakistan in 1971 following independence
demonstrations in East Pakistan
President Yahya Khan
Pakistani Army to quell the riots, resulting in widespread human rights abuses
Nixon liked Yahya personally, and credited him for helping to open
a channel to China; accordingly, he felt obligated to support him
in the struggle. There were limits to how far the U.S. could
associate itself with Pakistan, however. American public opinion
was concerned with the atrocitiesThornton, Richard C. (1989), pp.
113â€“115. and the emigration of over 10 million people into
Nixon relayed messages to Yahya, urging him to restrain Pakistani
forces. His objective was to prevent a war and
safeguard Pakistan's interests, though he feared an Indian invasion
of West Pakistan that would lead to Indian domination of the sub-continent and strengthen the
position of the Soviet
Union, which had recently signed a cooperation
treaty with India.
Nixon felt that the Soviet Union was
inciting the country.
Nixon met with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
and did not believe her
assertion that she would not invade Pakistan; he did not trust her
and once referred to her as an "old witch". On December 3, Yahya
attacked the Indian Air Force and Gandhi retaliated, pushing into
East Pakistan. Nixon issued a statement blaming Pakistan for
starting the conflict and blaming India for escalating it because
he favored a cease-fire. The United States was secretly encouraging
the shipment of military equipment from Iran, Turkey, and Jordan to
Pakistan, reimbursing those countries despite Congressional
objections. A cease fire was reached on December 16 and
Bangladesh was created.
Western powers and Eastern Bloc
dramatically in the early 1970s. In 1960, the People's Republic of China
publicly split from its main ally, the Soviet Union, in the Sino-Soviet
As tension along the border between the two
communist nations reached
in 1969 and 1970, Nixon decided to use their conflict
to shift the balance of power towards the West in the Cold War
Nixon had begun entreating China a mere month into office by
sending covert messages of rapprochement through Nicolae Ceausescu
of Romania and Yahya
Khan of Pakistan in December 1970. He reduced many trade
restrictions between the two countries, and silenced anti-China
voices within the White House.
In April 1971, the Chinese table tennis
team invited the American table tennis team to attend a
demonstration competition for a week in China. The invitation came
upon the order of Mao Zedong
had taken note of Nixon's "subtle overtures" to improve
U.S.-Chinese relations, including the conflict in Pakistan. This
was significant in that the fifteen-member table tennis team were
allowed to enter mainland China after a period of over twenty years
in which Americans, except on very rare occasions, had been denied
visas (the term "ping pong
" arose from this encounter).
Chinese Premier Chou En-lai
Pakistani intermediaries, had relayed a message to Nixon reading:
"The Chinese government reaffirms its willingness to receive
publicly in Peking a special envoy of the president of the United
States, or the U.S. secretary of state, or even the president
himself." Nixon sent then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger
on a secret mission to China
in July, 1971, to arrange a visit by the president and first lady.
Soon, the world was stunned to learn that Nixon intended to visit
Communist China the following year.
In February 1972, President and Mrs. Nixon traveled to China
, where the
president was to engage in direct talks with Mao and Chou.
Kissinger briefed Nixon for over forty hours in preparation. Upon
touching down, the President and First Lady emerged from Air Force
One and greeted Chou. According to Nixon biographer Stephen
"[Nixon] knew that when his old friend John Foster Dulles had refused to shake
the hand of Chou En-lai in Geneva in 1954, Chou had felt
He knew too that American television cameras would be
at the Beijing airport to film his arrival.
A dozen times on the way to Peking, Nixon told
Kissinger and Secretary of State William Rogers that they were to
stay on the plane until he had descended the gangway and shaken
Zhou Enlai's hand.
As added insurance, a Secret Service agent blocked the
aisle of Air Force One to make sure the president emerged
Over one hundred television journalists accompanied the president.
On Nixon's orders, television was strongly favored over printed
publications, as it would capture the trip's visuals much better
while snubbing the print journalists Nixon despised.
Nixon and Kissinger were soon summoned to an hour-long meeting with
Mao and Zhou at Mao's official private residence, where they
discussed a range of issues. Mao later told his doctor that he had
been impressed by Nixon, who was forthright, unlike the leftists
and the Soviets. He also said he was suspicious of Kissinger,
though the National Security Advisor referred to their meeting as
his "encounter with history." A formal banquet welcoming the presidential
party was conducted that evening in the Great Hall
of the People. The following day, Nixon met with Chou;
during this meeting he stated that he believed â€śthere is one China,
and Taiwan is a part of China.â€ťKaufman, Victor S. (2001), pp.
228â€“231 When not in meetings, Nixon toured architectural wonders
including the Forbidden
Tombs, and the Great
Americans received their first glance into China
via Pat Nixon, who toured the city of Beijing and visited communes,
schools, factories, and hospitals accompanied by the American
The visit ushered in a new era of Sino-American relations. Fearing
the possibility of a Sino-American alliance, the Soviet Union
yielded to American pressure for dĂ©tente
.Dallek, Robert (2007), p. 300.
Nixon used the improving international environment to address the
topic of nuclear peace. Following his successful visit to China,
the Nixon administration drew up plans for the president to visit
the Soviet Union. The President and First Lady arrived in Moscow on
May 22, 1972.
Nixon met with Soviet Leader Leonid
, and engaged in intense negotiations regarding
international issues with his Soviet counterpart. Out of this
"summit meeting" came agreements for increased trade and two
landmark arms control treaties: SALT I
first comprehensive limitation pact signed by the two superpowers,
and the Anti-Ballistic
, which banned the development of systems
designed to intercept incoming missiles. Nixon and Brezhnev
proclaimed a new era of "peaceful coexistence" and established
groundbreaking new policy of dĂ©tente
(or cooperation) between the two
would replace the hostility of the
Cold War and the two countries would enjoy peaceful relations. A
banquet was held that evening at the Kremlin
extended the Nixon Doctrine from
Vietnam to his policy toward the Soviet Union, believing that
helping Iran become
stronger would check the Soviets' power.
To win American
friendship, both China and the Soviet Union cut back on their
diplomatic support for North Vietnam and advised Hanoi to come to
terms.Gaddis, John Lewis (1982), pp. 294, 299,Guan, Ang Cheng
(2003), pp. 61, 69, 77â€“79.Zhai, Qiang (2000), p. 136. Nixon laid
out his strategy:
"I had long believed that an indispensable element of
any successful peace initiative in Vietnam was to enlist, if
possible, the help of the Soviets and the Chinese.
Though rapprochement with China and dĂ©tente with the
Soviet Union were ends in themselves, I also considered them
possible means to hasten the end of the war.
At worst, Hanoi was bound to feel less confident if
Washington was dealing with Moscow and Beijing.
At best, if the two major Communist powers decided that
they had bigger fish to fry, Hanoi would be pressured into
negotiating a settlement we could accept."Nixon, Richard (1987),
Having made great progress over the last two years in U.S.-Soviet
relations, Nixon planned a second trip to the Soviet Union in 1974.
arrived in Moscow on June 27 to a welcome ceremony, cheering
crowds, and a state dinner at the Grand Kremlin Palace that evening. Nixon and Brezhnev
met in Yalta, where they
discussed a proposed mutual defense pact, dĂ©tente, and
While he considered proposing a comprehensive
test-ban treaty, Nixon felt that it would take far too long to
accomplish. There were not any significant breakthroughs in these
1972 presidential campaign
Nixon entered his name on the New Hampshire primary ballot on
January 5, 1972, effectively announcing his candidacy for
reelection. Largely assured the Republican nomination, the
President had expected his Democratic opponent to be Senator
, but Senator Edmund Muskie
instead became the front runner,
with Senator George McGovern
close second place. Though Muskie defeated McGovern in the New
Hampshire primary, his showings were poorer in Florida and he soon
ended his campaign. Alabama Governor George Wallace
entered the race as an
Independent; popular in Florida, he would create havoc among the
Democrats and boost Nixon's campaign.
Nixon campaigns during the 1972
Prominent issues of the early campaign included school busing and
heated relations between the three branches of the government.
Nixon addressed the nation on March 16 about the school busing
issue, reiterating that it was wrong to force a child onto a school
bus and that busing lowered the quality of education. He announced
the Equal Education Opportunities bill that would seek a moratorium
on local school busing; the bill later passed. Vietnam was still
ongoing, though Nixon had reduced troop levels dramatically.
On June 10, McGovern won the California primary and secured the
Democratic nomination. The following month, Nixon was renominated
at the 1972
Republican National Convention
. He dismissed the Democratic
platform as cowardly and divisive. Nixon was ahead in most polls
for the entire election cycle, and was reelected that November in
one of the largest landslide election victories in U.S. political
. He defeated McGovern with over 60% of the
popular vote, losing only in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
Nixon is sworn in for a second term in
On October 10, 1973, Vice President Agnew resigned, amid charges of
bribery, tax evasion and money laundering from his tenure as
Maryland's governor. Nixon chose Representative Gerald Ford
, Republican Minority Leader of the
House of Representatives, to replace Agnew.
Continuation of economic changes
After he won reelection, Nixon found that inflation was increasing,
and the legislation authorizing price controls expired April 30,
1973. The Senate Democratic
recommended a 90-day freeze on all profits, interest
rates, and prices. Nixon re-imposed price controls in June 1973,
echoing his 1971 plan, as food prices rose; this time, he focused
exports and limited the
freeze to 60 days.
The price controls became unpopular with the public and
businesspeople, who saw powerful labor
as preferable to the price board bureaucracy. Business
owners, however, now saw the controls as permanent rather than
temporary, and voluntary compliance decreased. The controls
produced food shortages
, as meat
disappeared from grocery stores and farmers drowned chickens rather
than sell them at a loss. The controls were slowly ended, and by
April 30, 1974, the control authority from Congress had lapsed.
However, the controls on oil and natural gas prices persisted for
several years. Nixon also dramatically increased spending on
federal employees' salaries while the economy was plagued by the
In his 1974 State of the Union address, Nixon called for
comprehensive health insurance. On February 6, 1974, he introduced
the Comprehensive Health Insurance Act
. Nixon's plan would
have mandated employers to purchase health insurance for their
employees, and in addition provided a federal health plan, similar
, that any American could join
by paying on a sliding scale based on income.
Yom Kippur War and 1973 oil crisis
administration supported Israel, a powerful
American ally in the Middle East, during
the Yom Kippur War.
Arab coalition led by Egypt and
Syriaâ€”allies to the Sovietsâ€”attacked in October 1973,
Israel suffered initial losses and pressed European powers for
help, but (with the notable exception of the Netherlands) the Europeans responded with inaction.
Nixon cut through inter-departmental squabbles and bureaucracy to
initiate an airlift of American arms. By the time the U.S. and the
Soviet Union negotiated a truce, Israel had penetrated deep into
enemy territory. A long-term effect was the movement of
Egypt away from the Soviets toward the U.S.
Israel's victory came at the cost to the U.S. of the 1973 oil crisis
; the members of OPEC
decided to raise oil prices in response to the
American support of Israel.
After Nixon chose to go off
the gold standard
, foreign countries increased
their currency reserves in anticipation of currency fluctuation,
which caused deflation of the dollar and other world currencies.
Since oil was paid for in dollars, OPEC was receiving less value
for their product. They cut production and announced price hikes as
well as an embargo
targeted against the
United States and the Netherlands, specifically blaming U.S.
support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War for the actions.
On January 2, 1974, Nixon signed a bill that lowered the maximum U.S. speed limit
55 miles per hour (90 km/h
to conserve gasoline
during the crisis.
This law was repealed in 1995, though states had been allowed to
raise the limit to 65 miles per hour in rural areas since
Nixon bids farewell to his staff,
August 9, 1974, as First Lady Pat Nixon and the rest of his family
The term Watergate
has come to encompass an array of
illegal and secret activities undertaken by the Nixon
administration. The activities became known in the aftermath
of five men being caught breaking into Democratic party
headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972.
picked up on the story, while reporters Carl Bernstein
and Bob Woodward
relied on an FBI informant known
as "Deep Throat
" to link the men to the
Nixon White House. This became one of a series of scandalous acts
involving the Committee to Re-Elect the
. Nixon downplayed the scandal as mere politics, and
his White House denounced the story as biased and misleading. As
the FBI eventually confirmed that Nixon aides had attempted to
sabotage the Democrats, many began resigning and senior aides faced
Nixon's alleged role in ordering a cover-up came to light after the
testimony of John Dean. In July 1973, White House aide Alexander
Butterfield testified that Nixon had a secret taping system that
recorded his conversations and phone calls in the Oval Office.
Unlike the tape recordings by earlier Presidents, Nixon's were
. The White House refused to
release them, citing executive
. A tentative deal was reached in which the White
House would provide written summaries of the tapes, but this was
rejected by Special Prosecutor Archibald
, a former member of the Kennedy administration. Cox was fired
at the White House's
request and was replaced by Leon
, a former member of the Johnson administration.
Jaworski revealed an audio tape of conversations held in the White
House on June 20, 1972, which featured an unexplained 18Â˝ minute
gap. The first deleted section, of about five minutes, has been
attributed to human error by Rose Mary
, the President's personal secretary, who admitted
accidentally wiping the section while transcribing the tape. The
gap, while not conclusive proof of wrong-doing by the President,
cast doubt on Nixon's claim that he was unaware of the
cover-up.Frum, David (2000), p. 26
Though Nixon lost much popular support, including from some in his
own party, he rejected accusations of wrongdoing and vowed to stay
in office. He insisted that he had made mistakes, but had no prior
knowledge of the burglary, did not break any laws, and did not
learn of the coverup until early 1973. On November 17, 1973, during
a televised question and answer session with the press, Nixon
In April 1974, Nixon announced the release of 1200 pages of
transcripts of White House conversations between him and his aides.
Despite this, the House Judiciary
, controlled by Democrats, opened impeachment hearings
against the President on May 9, 1974. On July 24, the
Supreme Court then ruled that the tapes must be released to
Jaworski; one of the secret recordings, known as the Smoking Gun tape, was released on
August 5, 1974, and revealed that Nixon knew of the cover-up from
its inception and had administration officials try to stop the
In light of his loss of
political support and the near certainty of impeachment, Nixon
resigned the office of the presidency on August 9, 1974, after
addressing the nation on television the previous evening. Nixon's
resignation letter, addressed to Secretary of State Kissinger,
consisted of one terse sentence: "I hereby resign the Office of
President of the United States."
The resignation speech was delivered on August 8, 1974, at 9:01
p.m. Eastern time
from the Oval Office
of the White House and was carried
live on radio and television. The core of the speech was Nixon's
announcement that Gerald Ford, as Vice President, would succeed to
, effective at noon Eastern time the next day.
Around this announcement, he discussed his feelings about his
presidential work and general political issues that would need
attention once he left. He never admitted to criminal wrongdoing,
although he conceded errors of judgment. During the Watergate
scandal, Nixon's approval rating
fell to 23%. On May 28, 2009, speaking to Republicans in
Litchfield Beach, South
Carolina, Ed Nixon said that his brother did not resign "in
disgrace" but "resigned in honor.
It was a disappointment to
him because his missions were cut short." He also said that his
brother "held the office of president in high regard."
following justices to the Supreme
Court of the United States: Warren E.
as Chief Justice
Harry Andrew Blackmun
Lewis Franklin Powell,
in 1972, and William
later that year. Along with his four Supreme Court
appointments, Nixon appointed
46 judges to
the United States Courts
, and 181 judges to the United States district courts
Nixon formally nominated one person, Charles A. Bane
, for a federal appellate judgeship
was never confirmed.
Nixon issued 926 pardons or commutations
Among notable cases were labor leader Jimmy
(sentence commuted on condition) and mobster Angelo DeCarlo
(convicted of extortion
; served one and a half years; pardoned
due to poor health). DeCarlo's pardon was later investigated, but
no evidence was found of corruption.
During his presidency, Nixon decided to grant clemency in over 20
percent of requests.
Pardon and illness
his resignation, the Nixons returned to their home La Casa
Pacifica in San Clemente, California.
Nixon was said to be in seclusion for a
number of days in his home, first experiencing shock and later
persistent sadness. On September 8, 1974, Ford granted him a "full,
free, and absolute pardon". This ended any possibility of an
indictment. Nixon then released a statement:
Within one month, Ford's approval rating dropped from 71% to 49%.
Nixon later told a former aide that he felt he was chased out of
office by "the establishment" in Washington and leftist
elements in the media, as they considered
him a mortal threat to their domination of national affairs.
As a result of Watergate, Nixon was disbarred by the state of New
York. He had attempted to resign his license, but the state refused
to let him do so unless he admitted wrongdoing in Watergate. He
later resigned his other law licenses, including one in
The evening of the pardon, Nixon experienced great pain in his
lower left abdomen and his left leg had swollen to three times its
normal size. It was determined that phlebitis
, a condition which had afflicted Nixon
the previous June, had recurred. Told that he would surely die if
he did not go to a hospital, Nixon was taken to Long Beach Memorial
Hospital. It was discovered that a clot from his leg had broken off
and traveled to his lung; to treat this, he was placed on an
While Nixon was hospitalized, Watergate special prosecutor Leon
him to testify before a
trial regarding Watergate. Nixon's doctor, John Lungren, said that
Nixon could not sustain a flight to Washington due to his
condition, because he needed to avoid being seated for prolonged
periods. Nixon was released from the hospital on October 4 and soon
filed a motion requesting the judge to revoke the subpoena, which
was rejected. Dr Lungren filed an affidavit, arguing that the
well-being of the former president might be compromised by forcing
him to appear at the trial.
On October 23, Nixon was taken back to the hospital after a
recurrence of swelling. Doctors found serious vascular blockages
and a danger of gangrene
; it was feared
that blood clots might break loose and travel to his heart or brain
with lethal consequences. An eighteen-inch blood clot was found in
a vein leading to Nixon's heart. Surgery was deemed necessary for
his survival; he underwent a ninety-minute operation on October 29.
While recuperating, Nixon fainted, fell out of bed, and fell into a
. He underwent four blood transfusions in
three hours and suffered severe internal bleeding, along with
. His family stayed by his
side, while he was visited by Ford and telephoned by Mao Zedong. He
returned home on November 14. Three leading doctors sent by the
judge in the Watergate trial evaluated Nixon's condition, and
concluded that he was not able to testify. The judge ruled that his
testimony would not be necessary.
By the spring of 1975, Nixon's mental and physical health was
improving. He maintained an office in a Coast Guard
station 300 yards from his home,
first taking a golf cart and later walking the route each day; he
mainly worked on his memoirs. Nixon traveled extensively, both
domestically and internationally. He was a frequent CB Radio
user, which Nixon was not allowed to use
while in the White House for security reasons. He took trips to
, the Middle
, Russia, Africa
, and Asia
. At the invitation of Mao Zedong, Nixon traveled
to China in February 1976. His trip was initially criticized,
including by some within his own party, who argued that
citizen-Nixon was conducting U.S. foreign policy. The
well-publicized trip was deemed a success, however; upon his
return, Nixon prepared a lengthy memorandum on his experiences that
was sent to the White House. He would visit China four more times,
and Greece once at the invitation of then-president
By 1977, Nixon began forming a public-relations comeback effort. In
August of that year, he met with British commentator David Frost
, who paid him $600,000 for a series
of sit-down interviews. They
began on the topic of foreign policy, recounting the leaders he had
known, but the most remembered section of the interviews was that
on Watergate. Nixon admitted that he had "let down the country" and
that "I brought myself down. I gave them a sword and they stuck it
in. And they twisted it with relish. And, I guess, if I'd been in
their position, I'd have done the same thing." Nixon did not admit
to criminal wrongdoing, denied criminal intent, and denied
authorizing payment to the burglars as an incentive for them not to
reveal information. He was criticized at the time by some who
opined that he should not be giving information to Frost that he
had declined to give to federal courts. Nonetheless, the interviews
became well known and were viewed widely across the world,
garnering between 45 and 50 million viewers and making them the
most watched interviews in the history of television. The
encounters were the subject of the 2006 play Frost/Nixon
, which later became a
He soon published his memoirs, RN: The Memoirs of Richard
and a second book, The Real War
. These were the
first of ten books he was to author in his retirement, and their
respective releases enabled Nixon to further his comeback effort by
partaking in book tours. The Nixons moved to New York City in February 1980 to be closer to their
former Shah of Iran died in
Egypt in July 1980, Nixon defied President Jimmy Carter's State Department by attending
He supported Ronald
for president in 1980
, making numerous
television appearances portraying himself as, in biographer Steven
Ambrose's words, "the senior statesman above the fray." He wrote
guest articles for numerous publications and participated in many
television interviews. After 18 months in the New York City
townhouse, Nixon and his wife moved to Saddle
River, New Jersey in 1981.
Throughout the 1980s, Nixon
maintained a routine schedule of speaking engagements and writing,
traveled, and met with many foreign leaders, especially those of
countries. He joined former
Presidents Ford and Carter as representatives of the United States
at the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat
. On a trip to the
Middle East, Nixon made his views known regarding Saudi Arabia and Libya, which
attracted significant U.S. media attention; The Washington
Post ran stories on Nixon's "rehabilitation."
embarked on journeys to Japan, China, and the
On his return from the Soviet Union, Nixon
sent President Ronald Reagan
memorandum that contained foreign policy suggestions and his
personal impressions of Mikhail
. Following this trip, Nixon was ranked by Gallup
as one of the ten most
admired men in the world.
In 1986, Nixon gave an address to a convention of newspaper
publishers, impressing his audience with his tour
of the world. Author Elizabeth Drew wrote that "even
when he was wrong, Nixon still showed that he knew a great deal and
had a capacious memory as well as the capacity to speak with
apparent authority, enough to impress people who had little regard
for him in earlier times." Newsweek
, among other
publications, ran a story on "Nixon's comeback" with the headline
"He's back." He gained respect as an elder statesman in the area of
foreign affairs, being consulted by both Republican and Democratic
successors to the presidency; Reagan sought Nixon's advice in
dealing with Gorbachev.
19, 1990, the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda,
California opened as a private institution, with Nixon and Pat
Richard and Pat Nixon in 1990
They were joined by a throng of people,
including Gerald Ford, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush
and their spouses Betty
, and Barbara
respectively. The property was owned and operated by a
private foundation and was not part of the National Archives' presidential libraries
system until July 11, 2007, when the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and
Museum was officially welcomed into the federal
presidential library system.
In January 1991, the former
president founded the Nixon Center
policy think tank
Pat Nixon died on June 22, 1993 of health problems, including
. Her funeral services were held on the grounds of the
Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace during the week leading up to
her burial on June 26. Richard Nixon was deeply distraught, and
broke down in convulsive sobs for the only time in his adult life.
Inside the building, he delivered a tribute to her. Nixon was
comforted by his family while former presidents Gerald Ford
and their wives attended the ceremony. Some commented
that without Pat, Nixon would not "last a year."
Death and funeral
Nixon suffered a severe stroke
at 5:45 p.m.
April 18, 1994, while preparing to eat dinner in his Park Ridge,
New Jersey home.
It was determined that a blood clot
resulting from his heart condition had formed in his upper heart,
then broken off and traveled to his brain. He was taken to
Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, initially alert, but unable to speak or to move
his right arm or leg.
Damage to the brain caused swelling
) and Nixon slipped
into a deep coma
. On April 22, 1994, he died at
9:08 p.m., with his daughters at his bedside; he was 81.
Nixon's funeral took place on April 27, 1994, the first for an
American president since that of Lyndon B. Johnson
in 1973, which Nixon had presided
over as president. Held at the Nixon Library, eulogists included
then-President Bill Clinton
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole
Governor Pete Wilson
, and the Reverend Billy
. Also in attendance were former Presidents Ford, Carter,
Reagan, George H. W. Bush and their respective first ladies. Nixon
was buried beside Pat on the grounds of the Nixon Library. He was
survived by his two daughters, Tricia and Julie, and four
grandchildren. In keeping with his wishes, his funeral was not a
, though his body did lie
in repose in the Nixon Library lobby from April 26 to the morning
of the funeral services. Despite heavy rain, police estimated that
roughly 50,000 people waited in lines up to 18 hours to file past
the casket and pay their respects.
The graves of President Richard and
first lady Pat Nixon.
No other American has held office in the executive branch of the
federal government as long as Richard Nixon did. He is the only
person in American history to appear on the Republican Party's
presidential ticket five times, to secure the Republican nomination
for president three times, and to have been elected twice to both
the vice presidency and the presidency. With Ronald Reagan
and George H.W. Bush
, Richard Nixon was the chief builder
of the modern Republican
. From 1952 to 1992, at least one of these three men
appeared on the Republican ticket for nine of the eleven
presidential elections in those 40 years.Throughout his career, he
was instrumental in moving the party away from the control of
isolationists and as a Congressman was a persuasive advocate of
containing Soviet Communism.
Although he did not achieve all that he had wished for in the
Middle East, Nixon virtually expelled the Soviet Union from the
region and initiated a long peace process. He began formal
relations with China and improved relations with the Soviet Union.
Domestically, he decentralized government by revenue sharing,
greatly reduced segregation in schools, reduced inflation (until it
rose again as a result of the oil cartels), ended the gold
standard, reduced the crime rate, and pioneered positive
environmental measures. As a result of the Watergate scandal,
however, the mood of the nation was severely affected and the
office of the presidency was demeaned.
Though often referred to as a "conservative" in politics because of
his "Southern strategy
" and his
victory in numerous southern states in 1968, Nixon had a
considerable share of detractors on the right of the political
spectrum. Columnist George Will
questioned Nixon's conservatism, citing the wage-and-price controls
as "the largest peacetime instrusion of government in the economy
in American history, surpassing even the dreams of the New
Nixon had a complex personality, both very secretive and awkward
yet strikingly reflective about himself. He was inclined to
distance himself from people and was formal in all aspects, always
wearing a coat and tie even when home alone. He advised people not
to care about what others thought of them. Some experts have
described him as having a narcissistic
personality. Conrad Black
described him as being "driven"
though also "uneasy with himself in some ways." According to Black,
Nixon "thought that he was doomed to be traduced, double-crossed,
unjustly harassed, misunderstood, underappreciated, and subjected
to the trials of Job
, but that by the
application of his mighty will, tenacity, and diligence he would
ultimately prevail." Biographer Elizabeth Drew summarized Nixon as
a "smart, talented man, but most peculiar and haunted of
presidents." In his account of the Nixon presidency, author Richard
Reeves described Nixon as "a strange man of uncomfortable shyness,
who functioned best alone with his thoughts". Nixon's presidency
was doomed by his personality, Reeves argues: "He assumed the worst
in people, and he brought out the worst in them. [...] He clung to
the idea of being 'tough'. He thought that was what had brought him
to the edge of greatness. But that was what betrayed him. He could
not open himself to other men and he could not open himself to
Nixon frequently brandished the two-finger V
(alternately viewed as the "Victory sign" or "peace sign")
using both hands, an act that became one of his best-known
James MacGregor Burns observed of Nixon, "How can one evaluate such
an idiosyncratic President, so brilliant and so morally lacking?"
, Nixon's former
opponent, commented in 1983, "President Nixon probably had a more
practical approach to the two superpowers, China and the Soviet
Union, than any other president since World
....I think, with the exception of his inexcusable
continuation of the war in Vietnam, Nixon really will get high
marks in history."
- Ferris, Gary W. (1999), p. 209
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