Richard Nixon - Thirty-Seventh President of the United States

Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States
Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States. Consolidated News Pictures/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Richard Nixon's Childhood and Education:

Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California. He grew up in California in poverty, helping out at his father's grocery store. He was raised a Quaker. He had two brothers die of tuberculosis. He went to local public schools. He graduated first in his high school class in 1930. he attended Whittier College from 1930-34 and graduated with a history degree. He then went to Duke University Law School and graduated in 1937. He was then admitted to the bar.

Family Ties:

Nixon was the of Francis "Frank" Anthony Nixon, a gas station owner and grocer and Hannah Milhous, a devout Quaker. He had four brothers. On June 21, 1940, Nixon married Thelma Catherine "Pat" Ryan, a Business Teacher. Together they had two daughters, Patricia and Julie.

Richard Nixon's Career Before the Presidency:

Nixon began practicing law in 1937. He tried his hand at owning a business which failed before joining the navy to serve in World War II. He rose to become a lieutenant commander and resigned in March, 1946. In 1947, he was elected a U.S. Representative. Then, in 1950 he became a U.S. Senator. He served in that capacity until being elected Vice President under Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. He ran for President in 1960 but lost to John F. Kennedy. He also lost the Governorship of California in 1962.

Becoming the President:

In 1968, Richard Nixon became the Republican candidate for President with Spiro Agnew as his Vice President. He defeated Democrat Hubert Humphrey and American Independent George Wallace. Nixon received 43% of the popular vote and 301 electoral votes.

In 1972, he was the obvious choice for renomination with Agnew as his running mate again. He was opposed by Democrat George McGovern. He won with 61% of the vote and 520 electoral votes.

Events and Accomplishments of Richard Nixon’s Presidency:

Nixon inherited the war with Vietnam and during his time in office, he cut the number of soldiers down from over 540,000 troops to 25,000. By 1972, all U.S. ground combat troops were withdrawn.
On April 30, 1970, U.S. and South Vietnamese troops raided Cambodia to try and capture the Communist headquarters. Protests erupted around the nation. The most visible was at Kent State University. Students protesting at the campus were fired on by the Ohio National Guard killing four and wounding nine.

In January 1973, a peace treaty was signed whereby all U.S. forces left withdrew from Vietnam, and all prisoners of war were released. Soon after the agreement, however, fighting resumed, and the Communists eventually won.

In February 1972, President Nixon traveled to China to try and encourage peace and more contact between the two nations. He was the first to visit the country.
Acts to protect the environment were huge during Nixon's time in office. The Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970.<br/>
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon and man took his first step outside of earth. This fulfilled Kennedy's goal to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

When Nixon ran for reelection, it was discovered that five individuals from the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP) had broken into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate business complex. Two reporters for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, uncovered a massive cover-up of the break-in. Nixon had installed a taping system and when the Senate asked for tapes recorded during his time in office he refused to hand them over due to executive privilege. The Supreme Court did not agree with him, and he was forced to give them up. The tapes showed that while Nixon was not involved in the break-in he was involved in its cover-up. In the end, Nixon resigned when he was faced with impeachment. He left office on August 9, 1974.

Post-Presidential Period:

After Richard Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, he retired to San Clemente, California. In 1974, Nixon was pardoned by President Gerald Ford. In 1985, Nixon mediated a dispute between major league baseball and the umpire association. He traveled extensively. He also provided advice to various politicians including the Reagan administration. He wrote about his experiences and foreign policy. Nixon died on April 22, 1994.

Historical Significance:

While many important events occurred during Nixon's administration including the end of the Vietnam War, his visit to China, and putting a man on the moon, his time was marred by the Watergate Scandal. Faith in the office of the presidency declined with the revelations of this event, and the way that the press dealt with the office changed forever from this time on.