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Who is Richard Nixon?

By J. Beam
Updated May 23, 2024
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Richard Nixon was the 37th president of the United States. He served from 1969 to 1974, after Lyndon Johnson and before Gerald Ford, and also served as the vice president under Dwight Eisenhower. Nixon was at the center of the infamous Watergate scandal, which resulted in his resignation.

Born Richard Milhous Nixon on 9 January 1913 in California, one of five brothers. He graduated from Whittier High School and attended Whittier College and later Duke University School of Law, where he graduated third in his class. Nixon served as a reserve officer in the Navy during World War II. He married Thelma Pat Ryan in 1940, and they had two children.

Richard Nixon began his political career in 1946 as a member of the United States House of Representatives, serving California’s 12th district. He served two terms in Congress and was elected to the Senate in 1950. His political reputation grew, and he was given the standing nickname of “Tricky Dick.” In 1952, at the age of 39, he was elected vice president on Dwight Eisenhower’s ticket.

In 1960, Nixon ran for president against John F. Kennedy, but he was narrowly defeated. Nixon also lost the California gubernatorial race in 1962, but he would make an amazing political comeback in the presidential election of 1968. His presidency was praised for ending US involvement in the Vietnam War and opening diplomacy with China, and domestically, he created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Another milestone of Nixon’s presidency included the historical radio address during the Apollo 11 moonwalk in 1969.

Nixon was re-elected president in 1972 in a landslide defeat of George McGovern. His second term would be cut short, however, because of the Watergate scandal, a series of events in which corruption and illegal activities within his administration were uncovered. As an impeachment hearing was scheduled to begin, Nixon resigned as president in August of 1974 and his vice president, Gerald Ford, took office. Ford pardoned Nixon for any federal crimes he may have committed.

With Nixon’s political career tarnished, he avoided the public eye. He did serve as a consultant to both political parties on foreign affairs for several years after his resignation. He wrote several books in his post-presidency years, including his memoir. Nixon died of complications from a stroke on 22 April 1994 at 81 years of age. He is buried beside his wife at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California.

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Discussion Comments
By anon48954 — On Oct 16, 2009

this has good info. :)

By eastwest — On Apr 20, 2008

When Nixon was re-elected, the only state that didn't go for him was Massachusetts. I bet they were proud of themselves after that point!

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