President Richard M. Nixon

Nixon as a young lieutenant

Humble Beginnings

Richard M. Nixon was the 37th president of the United States of America. Born in Yorba Linda, California, he was one of five children. He was raised by a mother with strict Quaker beliefs, such as no drinking, dancing or swearing. He passed up a full scholarship to Harvard University to attend Whittier College, a Quaker school. After graduating, he attended law school at Duke University School of Law.

He worked for a while as a lawyer before becoming a navy officer during WWII. His skill at poker during his military career helped finance his first congressional campaign. Upon return to civilian life, he decided to enter the political arena. Nixon represented California in both the House and the Senate. His time in Congress is known for his work on the Alger Hiss spy case.

Nixon with Checkers



Vice Presidency

In 1952, Nixon was elected vice president under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. During the campaign, the media criticized Nixon for an alleged business fund from campaign money for personal use. Nixon successfully defended himself in his famous Checkers speech, saying, among other things, that he had received his cocker spaniel, Checkers, as a campaign gift, but couldn't bear to give him away because his two daughters adored the dog. video on the "Checkers Speech"

Nixon and John F. Kennedy


Aiming High

After two terms as vice president, Nixon tried his hand at running for the presidency. In 1960, Nixon was beat by John F. Kennedy by a small margin in the presidential elections. After another defeat in the elections for the governor of California, Nixon told the press that he was done with politics.

Yet after the major loss of Barry Goldwater to Lyndon B. Johnson in the presidential race of 1964, Nixon's passion for politics was renewed. His foreign travels and the nationwide campaigning he did on behalf on Republican candidates in the 1966 mid-term elections helped him to win the presidency in 1968.

Nixon during the Watergate allegations


The Bad Overshadows the Good

His positive contributions as president, especially in the area of foreign affairs, are overshadowed by his involvement in the Watergate scandal. The investigation uncovered the corruption of the Nixon administration. They committed copious unlawful acts; the administration evaded taxes, accepted illegal campaign contributions, ordered secret bombings, used wiretaps to spy on enemies and harassed opponents. When news of these acts first came out, Nixon tried to play it off as politics. Yet when his aides resigned on bad terms, Nixon's involvement in the cover-up became clear. video on the Nixon's 1972 victory President Nixon



Driven by Paranoia

What is puzzling to many is that Nixon did all these things in a race that wasn't close. All the illegal acts of his Committee to Re-elect the President apply to the 1972 elections, in which he had a huge victory over McGovern. Nixon won 61 percent of the popular vote and received all but 17 votes from the Electoral College. Whatever his reasoning, the illegal acts/cover-up that are known today as the Watergate Scandal forever tarnished Nixon's reputation. His involvement became undeniable after the release of the secret Oval Office tapes. Facing impeachment, Nixon resigned, becoming the only U.S. president to do so.