Richard M. Nixon
Born: January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California
Died: April 22, 1994 in
New York, New York
Married to Patricia Ryan Nixon
Reconciliation was the first goal set by President Richard
M. Nixon. The Nation was painfully divided, with turbulence in the cities
and war overseas. During his Presidency, Nixon succeeded in ending American
fighting in Viet Nam and improving relations with the U.S.S.R. and China.
But the Watergate scandal brought fresh divisions to the country and
ultimately led to his resignation.
His election in 1968 had climaxed a career unusual on two counts: his
early success and his comeback after being defeated for President in
1960 and for Governor of California in 1962.
Born in California in 1913, Nixon had a brilliant record at Whittier
College and Duke University Law School before beginning the practice
of law. In 1940, he married Patricia Ryan; they had two daughters, Patricia
(Tricia) and Julie. During World War II, Nixon served as a Navy lieutenant
commander in the Pacific.
On leaving the service, he was elected to Congress
from his California district. In 1950, he won a Senate seat. Two years
selected Nixon, age 39, to be his running mate.
As Vice President, Nixon took on major duties in the Eisenhower Administration.
Nominated for President by acclamation in 1960, he lost by a narrow margin
to John F. Kennedy. In 1968, he again won his party's nomination, and
went on to defeat Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and third-party candidate
George C. Wallace.
His accomplishments while in office included revenue sharing, the end
of the draft, new anticrime laws, and a broad environmental program.
As he had promised, he appointed Justices of conservative philosophy
to the Supreme Court. One of the most dramatic events of his first term
occurred in 1969, when American astronauts made the first moon landing.
Some of his most acclaimed achievements came in his quest for world
stability. During visits in 1972 to Beijing and Moscow, he reduced tensions
with China and the U.S.S.R. His summit meetings with Russian leader Leonid
I. Brezhnev produced a treaty to limit strategic nuclear weapons. In
January 1973, he announced an accord with North Viet Nam to end American
involvement in Indochina. In 1974, his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger,
negotiated disengagement agreements between Israel and its opponents,
Egypt and Syria.
In his 1972 bid for office, Nixon defeated Democratic candidate George
McGovern by one of the widest margins on record.
Within a few months, his administration was embattled over the so-called "Watergate" scandal,
stemming from a break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee
during the 1972 campaign. The break-in was traced to officials of the
Committee to Re-elect the President. A number of administration officials
resigned; some were later convicted of offenses connected with efforts
to cover up the affair. Nixon denied any personal involvement, but the
courts forced him to yield tape recordings which indicated that he had,
in fact, tried to divert the investigation.
As a result of unrelated scandals in Maryland, Vice President Spiro
T. Agnew resigned in 1973. Nixon nominated, and Congress approved, House
Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford as Vice President.
Faced with what seemed almost certain impeachment, Nixon announced on
August 8, 1974, that he would resign the next day to begin "that
process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."
In his last years, Nixon gained praise as an elder statesman. By the
time of his death on April 22, 1994, he had written numerous books on
his experiences in public life and on foreign policy.