37th President of the United States
|In office |
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
|Vice President(s)||Spiro Agnew (1969-1973) |
Gerald R. Ford (1973-1974)
|Preceded by||Lyndon B. Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Gerald Ford|
36th Vice President of the United States
|In office |
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
|Preceded by||Alben W. Barkley|
|Succeeded by||Lyndon B. Johnson|
|Born||January 9, 1913 |
Yorba Linda, California
|Died||April 22, 1994 |
New York City
|Spouse||Thelma Catherine Patricia "Pat" (Ryan) Nixon|
|Religion||Quaker (non-practicing) |
Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. He is thus far the only U.S. President to have resigned from office. His resignation came in the face of imminent impeachment related to the Watergate scandal. Nixon's abuse of his office, as well as his broad view of the prerogatives of the president, led many to call his time in the White House the Imperial Presidency.
Nixon is noted for his innovative foreign policy, especially détente with the Soviet Union, his opening of U.S. relations with China, and ending American involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as for his middle-of-the-road domestic policy that combined conservative rhetoric and, in many cases, liberal action, as in his civil rights, environmental, and economic initiatives.
Nixon was the 36th Vice President (1953–1961), serving under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Nixon is the only American to have been elected twice to both the vice presidency and the presidency. Some give Nixon credit for redefining the role of the vice president. During his time in that office, he was a highly visible spokesman for the Eisenhower administration, particularly on issues affecting the Republican Party and international affairs during the Cold War.
Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California to Francis A. Nixon and Hannah Milhous Nixon. He was raised by his mother as an evangelical Quaker. His upbringing is said to have been marked by conservative evangelical Quaker observances such as refraining from drinking, dancing and swearing. His father (known as Frank) was a former member of the Methodist Protestant Church who had converted to Quakerism. Richard Nixon's great-grandfather George Nixon III had been killed at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War while serving in the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
Nixon's parents had five children:
Nixon attended Fullerton High School from 1926-1928 and Whittier High School from 1928-1930. He graduated first in his class, showing a penchant for Shakespeare and Latin. He declined a full-tuition scholarship to Harvard, and attended Whittier College, a local Quaker school, where he co-founded the Orthogonian Society, a fraternity. Nixon was a formidable debater and was elected student body president. A lifelong American football fan, Nixon practiced with the team assiduously, but spent most of his time on the bench. In 1934, he graduated second in his class from Whittier, and went on to Duke University School of Law, where he received a full scholarship and graduated third in his class.
In 1937, Nixon returned to California, was admitted to the bar, and began working in the law office of a family friend in a nearby small-town. The work was mostly routine, and Nixon generally found it to be dull. He later wrote that family law cases caused him particular discomfort, since his reticent Quaker upbringing was severely at odds with the idea of discussing intimate marital details with strangers.
Subsequently, he met Thelma "Pat" Ryan, a high school teacher; they were married on June 21, 1940. They had two daughters: Tricia and Julie.
During World War II, Nixon served as a reserve officer in the Navy. He received his training at Quonset Point, Rhode Island and Ottumwa, Iowa, before serving in the supply corps on several islands in the South Pacific, commanding cargo handling units in the SCAT . There he was known as "Nick" and for his prowess in poker, banking a large sum that helped finance his first campaign for Congress.
Nixon was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1946, defeating Democratic incumbent Jerry Voorhis for California's 12th congressional district. Nixon's campaign alleged that his opponent's CIO PAC support showed that Voorhis was collaborating with communist-controlled labor unions.
Nixon's first major breakthrough came in his two terms in Congress, where his dogged investigation on the House Un-American Activities Committee broke the impasse of the Alger Hiss spy case in 1948. Nixon believed Whittaker Chambers, who alleged that Hiss, a high State Department official, was a Soviet spy. Nixon discovered that Chambers had saved microfilm reproductions of incriminating documents by hiding the film in a pumpkin (these became known as the "Pumpkin Papers"). These documents were alleged both to be accessible only by Hiss, and to have been typed on Hiss's personal typewriter. The discovery that Hiss, who had been an adviser to FDR, could have been a Soviet spy, thrust Nixon into the public eye and made him the hero to FDR's many enemies. In reality, his support for internationalism put him closer to the center of the Republican party, often closer to liberal Republicans than to conservatives.
In 1950, Nixon was elected to the United States Senate over Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas. Accusing her of Communist or fellow traveler sympathies, Nixon called her "the Pink Lady" and said she was "pink right down to her underwear." Gahagan, meanwhile, gave Nixon one of the most enduring nicknames in politics: "Tricky Dick."
|Order:||36th Vice President|
|Term of Office:||January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961|
|Preceded by:||Alben W. Barkley|
|Succeeded by:||Lyndon B. Johnson|
|President:||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
In 1952, he was elected Vice President on Dwight D. Eisenhower's ticket. He was 39 years old.
In September 1952, during the campaign, The New York Post and other publications reported that Nixon had kept a business fund for personal use. Democrats and leading Republicans pressured Eisenhower to remove Nixon from the ticket. Nixon convinced Eisenhower to let him defend himself. Nixon went on TV on September 23 and defended himself in a famous speech. He provided an independent third-party review of the fund's accounting along with a personal summary of his finances, which he cited as exonerating him from wrongdoing, and he charged that the Democratic Presidential candidate, Adlai Stevenson, also had a slush fund. This speech would, however, become better known for its rhetoric, such as when he stated that his wife Pat did not wear mink, but rather "a respectable Republican cloth coat," and that although he had been given a cocker spaniel named "Checkers" in addition to his other campaign contributions, he was not going to give it back because his daughters loved it. As a result, this speech became known as the "Checkers speech." At the end of the broadcast, Nixon intended to appeal to viewers to write to the Republican National Committee to voice their support or opposition. Although the broadcast was cut off before he could make this appeal, his speech resulted in a flood of support, prompting Eisenhower to keep Nixon on the ticket.
Nixon greatly expanded the office of Vice President. Although he had little formal power he had the attention of the media and the Republican party. He demonstrated that the office could be a springboard to the White House as it had not been since the 19th century; most Vice Presidents since have followed his lead and sought the presidency. Nixon was the first Vice President to step in to temporarily run the government. He did so three times when Eisenhower was ill: on the occasions of Eisenhower's heart attack on September 24, 1955; his ileitis in June 1956; and his stroke on November 25, 1957. Despite this, Nixon was forced to announce his own inclusion on the 1956 Eisenhower re-election campaign, which highlighted the lack of rapport he and Eisenhower shared. Nixon's quick thinking was on display on July 24, 1959, at the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow where he and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had an impromptu "kitchen debate" about the merits of capitalism versus communism.
In 1960, he ran for President against John F. Kennedy. The race was close all year long. Nixon campaigned on his experience, but Kennedy said it was time for new blood and suggested the Eisenhower-Nixon administration had allowed the Soviet Union to make gains in the arms race. Kennedy also made much of the stagnant American economy of 1960, telling voters it was time to "get the country moving again." It also did not help that when Eisenhower was asked about major policy decisions that Nixon had helped make, the president responded: "Give me a week and I might think of one." In the first of four televised debates, Kennedy not only looked better physically, he also came off as polished, articulate, and mature. The performance dispelled many people's worries that the young senator was too inexperienced to be president. Nixon, for his part, was recovering from an illness and, with the stubble on his face visible, looked unimpressive. (Nixon's performance in the debate was perceived to be mediocre only in the still-young medium of television, though; many people listening on the radio thought Nixon had won.) Nixon lost the 1960 election narrowly. There were charges of vote fraud in Texas and Illinois, and Nixon supporters challenged the results in both states as well as nine others. All of these challenges failed. The Kennedy camp challenged Nixon's victory in Hawaii. That challenge succeeded, and after all the court battles and recounts were done, Kennedy had gained a greater number of electoral votes than he had held after Election Day.
Nixon wrote Six Crises (1962), a book dealing with his political involvement as a congressman, senator and as Vice-President. The book used six different crises Nixon had experienced throughout his political career to illustrate his political memoirs. The book was not supposed to be an academic work on the subject of crises, rather a method of depicting his political biography in a personal manner. The book won praise from many policy experts and critics.
In 1962, Nixon suffered another defeat, this time in a race for Governor of California. Years of campaigning and losing had worn Nixon down. In his concession speech, Nixon blamed the media for favoring his opponent Pat Brown and stated that it was his "last press conference" and that "you won't have Nixon to kick around anymore." This was widely believed to be the end of his career. In just another 12 months though, John Kennedy would be assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The events that define the tumultuous 1960s were beginning, and before the decade closed a "New Nixon," one who was "tanned, rested, and ready," would win the Presidency in another close election.
Nixon moved to New York City where he became a senior partner in the leading law firm, Nixon Mudge Rose Guthrie & Alexander. During the 1966 Congressional elections, he stumped the country in support of Republican candidates, rebuilding his base in the party. In the election of 1968, he completed a remarkable political comeback by taking the nomination. Nixon's success in the nomination might be attributed to Robert F. Kennedy's assassination after he won the California primary in June 1968. Nixon appealed to what he called the "silent majority" of socially conservative Americans who disliked the hippie counterculture and anti-war demonstrators. Nixon promised peace with honor, and, though never claiming to be able to win the war, Nixon did say that "new leadership will end the war and win the peace in the Pacific". He did not explain in detail his plans to end the war in Vietnam, causing Democratic nominee Hubert H. Humphrey to allege that he must have had some "secret plan." Nixon didn't invent the phrase, but because he did not disavow the term, it soon became part of the campaign. In his memoirs, Nixon wrote that he actually had no such plan. He eventually defeated Humphrey by less than 1% of the popular vote, along with independent candidate George Wallace to become the 37th President of the United States.
Once in office, he proposed the Nixon Doctrine to establish a strategy of turning over the fighting of the war to the Vietnamese. In July 1969, he visited South Vietnam, and met with President Nguyen Van Thieu and with U.S. military commanders. American involvement in the war declined steadily until all American troops were gone in 1973. After the withdrawal of U.S. troops, fighting was left to the South Vietnamese army. Although the South Vietnamese were well supplied with modern arms, their fighting capability was limited by inadequate funding, low morale, and corruption. The lack of funding was primarily because of large funding cutbacks by the U.S. Congress. Nixon was widely praised in the United States for having delivered 'peace with honor', and ended American involvement in the war in Vietnam. However, a part of his strategy was the resumption of the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam should the DRV violate the Peace agreement, which he was confident they would. Watergate, however, made it impossible to carry this out. Nixon, along with his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger also sought a 'decent interval' solution to the problem of South Vietnam, so that that country would survive for long enough for him not to be personally blamed for its ultimate collapse.
Nixon ordered secret bombing campaigns 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, and later escalated the conflict with secretly bombing Laos before Congress cut the funding for the conflict in Vietnam. In ordering the bombings, Nixon realized he would be extending an unpopular war as well as breaching Cambodia's stated neutrality.
During deliberations over Nixon's impeachment, his unorthodox use of executive powers in ordering the bombings was considered as an article of impeachment, but the charge was dropped as not a violation of constitutional powers.
President Nixon's Vietnamization policy sought to build up South Vietnamese forces to replace American troops.
Relations between the Western and Eastern power blocs changed dramatically in the early 1970s. In 1960, the People's Republic of China ended the alliance with its biggest ally, the Soviet Union, in the Sino-Soviet Split. As tension between the two communist nations reached its peak in 1969 and 1970, Nixon, with significant strategic aid from Henry Kissinger, decided to use their conflict to shift the balance of power towards the West in the Cold War. In what later would be known as the "China Card", the Nixon administration deliberately improved relations with China in order to gain a strategic advantage over the Soviet Union, but also gave Moscow a chance to improve relations so as not to be squeezed by a US-China détente. In 1971, a move was made to improve relations when China invited an American table tennis team to China; hence the term "Ping Pong Diplomacy". Nixon sent Henry Kissinger on a secret mission to China in July 1971, after which a stunned world was told that Nixon intended to visit Communist China in 1972. As a result, many countries that had previously opposed the PRC's entry into the United Nations changed their stance. Despite frantic lobbying by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, George H. W. Bush, in October 1971 the UN General Assembly voted to give to the PRC the seat that had been held since 1945 by America's ally Taiwan, and expel Taiwan from the UN. In February 1972 Nixon grabbed the world's attention by himself going to China to have direct talks with Mao. During this visit he privately stated that he believed “There is one China, and Taiwan is a part of China.” Fearing the possibility of a Sino-American alliance, the Soviet Union yielded to American pressure for détente.
Nixon used the improving international environment to address the topic of nuclear peace. The first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks were finally concluded the same year with the SALT I treaty. 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. They did not, however, cut back their military aid to North Vietnam - in fact Chinese military aid to North Vietnam increased during this period. Nixon later explained his strategy:
Nixon strongly supported General Yahya Khan of Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 despite widespread human rights violations against the Bengalis, particularly Hindus, by the Pakistan Army. Though Nixon claimed that his objective was to prevent a war, and safeguard Pakistan's interests (including the issue of refugees), in reality the U.S. President was fearful of 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 Treaty of Friendship with India. He also sought to demonstrate his reliability as a partner to the People's Republic of China, with whom he had been negotiating a rapprochement, and where he planned to visit just a few months later. President Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger downplayed reports of Pakistani genocide in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and risked a confrontation with Moscow to look tough. Many, including Kissinger, have mentioned that the foreign policy "tilt" towards Pakistan had more to do with Nixon's personal like for the dictator and the support to Pakistan was influenced by sentimental considerations and a long standing anti-Indian bias. The Nixon administration was also responsible for illegally providing military supplies to the Pakistani military despite Congressional objections, and against American public opinion which was concerned with the atrocities against East Pakistanis. His decision to help Pakistan in a war at any cost prompted him to send the nuclear-equipped USS Enterprise to the Indian Ocean to try to threaten the Indian military. Though it did little to turn the tide of war, it has been viewed as the trigger for India's subsequent nuclear program. During the crisis Nixon was vocal in abusing the Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi as an "old witch" in private conversations with Henry Kissinger, who is also recorded as making derogatory comments against Indians. Ultimately Nixon's foreign policy initiatives in this matter largely failed as his attempt at a show of strength to impress China was at the cost of dismembering their mutual ally, Pakistan, who felt that once again United States had fallen short as an ally in failing to prevent Bangladeshi independence.
Nixon supported Augusto Pinochet's overthrow of the socialist government of Chile in 1973, but did not instigate the coup.
Israel, a powerful but unofficial American ally in the Middle East was supported by the Nixon administration during the Yom Kippur War. When an Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria --allies to the Soviets--attacked in October 1973, Israel suffered initial losses. On the brink of defeat, Israel pleaded with European powers for help but was ignored for fear of Arab retaliation. Not so Nixon, who, cutting through inter-departmental squabbles and bureaucracy, initiated an air lift of arms that saved Israel from possible defeat. 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. But the victory for its ally and the support provided to them by the US came at the cost of the 1973 oil crisis. Some historians have argued that throughout the war, Nixon's handling of the 1973 oil crisis demonstrated that neither he nor Kissinger could truly grasp the importance of economic factors.
Although often criticized (or applauded) as a conservative by his contemporaries, Nixon's domestic policies often appear centrist, or even liberal, to latter-day observers. As President, Nixon imposed wage and price controls, indexed Social Security for inflation, and created Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The number of pages added to the Federal Register each year doubled under Nixon. He eradicated the last remnants of the gold standard. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), promoted the Legacy of parks program and implemented the Philadelphia Plan, the first significant federal affirmative action program, and dramatically improved salaries for U.S. federal employees worldwide. As a party leader, Nixon helped build the Republican Party (GOP), but he ran his 1972 campaign separately from the party, which perhaps helped the GOP escape some of the damage from Watergate. The Nixon White House was the first to organize a daily press event and daily message for the media, a practice that all subsequent staffs have performed.
Nixon is credited with creating the modern day Imperial Presidency, in which the presidency retains a high level of control over government policy and decisions. In the early 1970s, Nixon impounded billions of dollars in federal spending and expanded the power of the Office of Management and Budget. These encroachments on the power of Congress led to the passage of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
On January 2, 1974, Nixon signed a bill that lowered the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 miles per hour (90 km/h) in order to conserve gasoline during the 1973 energy crisis. This law remained in effect until 1995, though states were allowed to raise the limit to 65 miles per hour in rural areas around 1987.
Committed to wide-ranging bureaucratic reforms, in a last-minute bid to save his presidency, Nixon signed a significant reform of the federal budgeting process and granted wide authority to Congress in shaping the final budget.
The Nixon years saw the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South, after the region had stalled in compliance with the 1954 Supreme Court's Brown ruling. Strategically Nixon sought a middle way between the segregationist George C. Wallace and liberal Democrats, whose support of integration was alienating white ethnics. Nixon 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." Though Nixon thought of appealing to southern whites by slowing school desegregation, he decided to enforce the law after the Supreme Court, in Alexander v. Holmes County (1969), prohibited further delays. Nixon's Cabinet committee on school desegregation, under the leadership of Labor Secretary George P. Schultz, quietly set up local biracial committees to assure smooth compliance without violence or political grandstanding. By fall of 1970, two million southern black children enrolled in newly created unitary fully integrated school districts. "In this sense, Nixon was the greatest school desegregator in American history," historian Dean Kotlowski concluded. In the North, meanwhile, the Brown decision did not apply directly, but in city after city federal judges started ordering busing programs to integrate schools, a policy Nixon opposed.
On July 20, 1969, Nixon addressed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin live via radio during their historic moonwalk. Nixon also made the world's longest distance phone call to Neil Armstrong on the moon. (All U.S. moon landings, and the attempted moon landing of Apollo 13, took place during Nixon's first term.) On January 5, 1972, Nixon approved the development of the Space Shuttle program, a decision that profoundly influenced U.S. efforts to explore and develop space for several decades thereafter.
In 1972, Nixon was re-elected in one of the biggest landslide election victories in U.S. political history, defeating George McGovern and garnering over 60% of the popular vote. He carried 49 of the 50 states, losing only in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
On April 3, 1974, Nixon announced he would pay $432,787.13 in back taxes plus interest after a Congressional committee reported that he had inadvertently underpaid his 1969 and 1972 taxes.
Given the near certainty of both his impeachment (due to the Watergate scandal) by the House of Representatives and his conviction by the Senate, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.
The Nixon Administration comprised an impressive array of talent both in the cabinet and in the White House staff. Among the many people who came to Washington to serve in the administration were one future President (George H. W. Bush); a future Vice President (Dick Cheney); six future secretaries of state (Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, George Shultz, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Colin Powell); five future secretaries of defense (James Schlesinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Casper Weinberger, Frank Carlucci, and Cheney again); a future chairman of the joint chiefs of staff (Powell again), two future secretaries of the treasury (William Simon and Baker again); a future secretary of energy (Schlesinger again); and three future chiefs of staff (Rumsfeld, Cheney and Baker again). Indeed a member of the Nixon Administration has held a cabinet post or been a senior advisor within the subsequent six presidential administrations. That so many key figures of the Ford, Reagan, George H. W. Bush (41), and Bush (43) Administrations first entered government service in the Nixon White House is arguably the most profound and long-lasting legacy of Richard Nixon.
|Vice President||Spiro T. Agnew||1969–1973|
|State||William P. Rogers||1969–1973|
|Treasury||David M. Kennedy||1969–1971|
|John B. Connally||1971–1972|
|Defense||Melvin R. Laird||1969–1973|
|Elliot L. Richardson||1973–1973|
|Justice||John N. Mitchell||1969–1972|
|Richard G. Kleindienst||1972–1973|
|Elliot L. Richardson||1973–1974|
|William B. Saxbe||1974|
|Postmaster General||Winton M. Blount||1969–1974|
|Interior||Walter J. Hickel||1969–1971|
|Rogers C. B. Morton||1971–1974|
|Agriculture||Clifford M. Hardin||1969–1971|
|Commerce||Maurice H. Stans||1969–1972|
|Frederick B. Dent||1973–1974|
|James D. Hodgson||1970–1973|
|Peter J. Brennan||1973–1974|
|Elliot L. Richardson||1970–1973|
|James T. Lynn||1973–1974|
|Transportation||John A. Volpe||1969–1973|
|Claude S. Brinegar||1973–1974|
Nixon appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:
Nixon also made the following unsuccessful Supreme Court nominations:
The term Watergate has come to encompass a large array of illegal and secret activities undertaken by Nixon or his aides during his administration. Some of these began as early as 1969, when Nixon and Kissinger tapped the phones of numerous journalists and administration officials in an effort to stop leaks. Other major or well-known episodes of wrongdoing included the 1971 burglary of Dr. Lewis Fielding in search of the psychiatric records of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press; Nixon's order to have the FBI investigate CBS News reporter Daniel Schorr after he reported critically on the administration; and talk by G. Gordon Liddy about having the newspaper columnist Jack Anderson assassinated.
But these episodes did not come to light until several of Nixon's men were caught breaking into Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC in June 1972. In October 1972, The Washington Post reported that the FBI had determined Nixon aides had spied on and sabotaged numerous Democratic presidential candidates as a part of the operations that led to the infamous Watergate scandal. During the campaign five burglars were arrested on June 17, 1972 in the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office complex. They were subsequently linked to the White House. This became one of a series of major scandals involving the Committee to Re-Elect the President (known as CRP but referred to by opponents as CREEP), including the White House enemies list and assorted "dirty tricks." The ensuing Watergate scandal exposed the Nixon Administration's rampant corruption, illegality, and deceit.
Nixon himself downplayed the scandal as mere politics, but when his aides resigned in disgrace, Nixon's role in ordering an illegal cover-up came to light in the press, courts, and congressional investigations. Nixon evaded taxes, accepted illicit campaign contributions, ordered secret bombings, and harassed opponents with executive agencies, wiretaps, and break-ins. Unlike the tape recordings by earlier Presidents, his secret recordings of White House conversations were revealed and subpoenaed and showed details of his complicity in the cover-up. Nixon was named by the grand jury investigating Watergate as "an unindicted co-conspirator" in the Watergate scandal.
He lost support from some in his own party as well as much popular support after what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre of October 20, 1973, in which he ordered Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor in the Watergate case, to be fired, as well as firing several of his own subordinates who objected to this move. The House Judiciary Committee controlled by Democrats opened formal and public impeachment hearings against Nixon on May 9, 1974. Despite his efforts, one of the secret recordings, known as the "smoking gun" tape, was released on August 5, 1974, and revealed that Nixon authorized hush money to Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt, and also revealed that Nixon ordered the CIA to tell the FBI to stop investigating certain topics because of "the Bay of Pigs thing." Such an order was later withdrawn or never carried out. In light of his loss of political support and the near certainty of both his impeachment by the House of Representatives and his probable conviction by the Senate, he resigned on August 9, 1974, after addressing the nation on television the previous evening.He never admitted criminal wrongdoing, although he later conceded errors of judgment.
On September 8, 1974 a blanket pardon from President Gerald R. Ford, who served as Nixon's second Vice President, effectively ended any possibility of indictment. The pardon was highly controversial and Nixon's critics claimed that the blanket pardon was quid pro quo for his resignation. No evidence of this "corrupt bargain" has ever been proven, and many modern historians dismiss any claims of overt collusion between the two men concerning the pardon. The pardon of Richard Nixon hurt Ford politically, and it was one of the many reasons cited for Ford's defeat in the election of 1976. The Democratic win in the 1974 mid-term elections was astounding, and provided a governing majority that added an extra two decades to their control of the House of Representatives.
It has been alleged that Richard Nixon was an alcoholic who, in 1968, received a supply of the anti-convulsant Dilantin from his friend Jack Dreyfus. Nixon took Dilantin without a prescription for several years. In 1979, close friend and advisor the Reverend Billy Graham remarked about the former president, "He took all those sleeping pills, and through history, drugs and demons have gone together."
In 1976, Nixon was disbarred by the State of New York, and soon resigned his other law licenses.
In his later years Nixon worked hard to rehabilitate his public image, and he enjoyed considerably more success than was anticipated at the time of his resignation. He gained great respect as an elder statesman in the area of foreign affairs, being consulted by both Democratic and Republican successors to the Presidency. He made many foreign visits in his post-presidential years, including his final one, to Russia in March 1994 just one month before his death.
Further tape releases, however, removed any doubt of Nixon's involvement both in the Watergate cover-up and also the illegal campaign finances and intrusive government surveillance that were at the heart of the scandal.
Nixon wrote many books after his departure from politics, including his memoirs.
On Monday, April 18, 1994, at 5:45 PM EDT, Nixon suffered a severe stroke while preparing to eat dinner in his Park Ridge, New Jersey home; his last words were yelling out to a housekeeper for help. It was later determined that a blood clot that had formed in his upper heart as a result of his heart condition broke off and traveled to his brain. He was rushed by ambulance to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. For a day, he was alert, but unable to speak or to move his right arm or leg. Doctors initially said his stroke was minor, but the damage to the brain caused it to swell inside the skull, called cerebral edema, which resulted in his condition worsening over the next few days. Nixon's living will stipulated that he was not to be placed on a respirator to sustain his life. On Thursday, April 21, he slipped into a deep coma, and on Friday, April 22, Nixon died at 9:08 PM at the age of 81 years and 103 days. He was buried beside his wife Pat Nixon (also 81, who had died ten months earlier, on June 22, 1993, of lung cancer) on the grounds of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda.
President Bill Clinton, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and California Republican Governor Pete Wilson spoke at the April 27 funeral, the first for an American president since that of Lyndon B. Johnson on January 25, 1973, which, coincidentally, was presided over by Nixon during his presidency. Also in attendance were former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and their respective first ladies. His two daughters, along with his four grandchildren, survived Nixon.
The Nixon Library contains only Nixon's pre- and post-presidential papers, because his presidential papers have been retained as government evidence. Nixon's attempts to protect his papers and gain tax advantages from them had been one of the important themes of the Watergate affair. Because of disputes over the papers, the library is privately funded and does not, like the other presidential libraries, receive support from the National Archives.
Presidential scholars, both liberal and conservative, rank Richard Nixon near the bottom of the list because of the scandals, but most agree that he presents a special problem because his foreign policy and domestic policy successes stand in dramatic contradiction to the corruption of his top aides and Nixon himself. Political scientist Walter Dean Burnham noted the "dichotomous or schizoid profiles. On some very important dimensions both Wilson and L.B. Johnson were outright failures in my view; while on others they rank very high indeed. Similarly with Nixon." Historian Alan Brinkley said: "There are presidents who could be considered both failures and great or near great (for example, Wilson, Johnson, Nixon)." James MacGregor Burns observed of Nixon, "How can one evaluate such an idiosyncratic president, so brilliant and so morally lacking?"
Nixon's career was frequently dogged by his personality, and the public perception of it. Editorial cartoonists such as Herblock and comedians had fun exaggerating Nixon's appearance and mannerisms, to the point where the line between the human and the caricature version of him became increasingly blurred. He was often portrayed as a sullen loner, with unshaven jowls, slumped shoulders, and a furrowed, sweaty brow. He was also characterized as the epitome of a "square" and the personification of unpleasant adult authority.
Nixon tried to shed these perceptions by staging photo-ops with young people and even cameo appearances on popular TV shows such as Laugh-In and Hee Haw (before he was President). He also frequently brandished the two-finger V sign (alternately viewed as the "Victory sign" or "peace sign") using both hands, an act which became one of his best-known trademarks. Due to his uptight image, many Americans were shocked to hear that the president had a much gruffer, aggressive side, revealed by the sheer amount of swearing and vicious comments seen on the transcripts of the president's White House tapes. This did not help the public perception and fed the comedians even more. Nixon's sense of being persecuted by his "enemies," his grandiose belief in his own moral and political excellence, and his commitment to use ruthless power at all costs led some experts to describe him as having a narcissistic and paranoid personality. During the Watergate scandal, Nixon's approval rating had fallen to 25%.
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|Preceded by |
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives |
from California's 12th congressional district
1947 – 1950
|Succeeded by |
Patrick J. Hillings
|Preceded by |
|United States Senator (Class 3) from California |
1950 – 1953
Served alongside: William F. Knowland
|Succeeded by |
|Preceded by |
|Republican Party Vice Presidential nominee |
1952 (won), 1956 (won)
|Succeeded by |
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
|Preceded by |
Alben W. Barkley
|Vice President of the United States |
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
|Succeeded by |
Lyndon B. Johnson
|Preceded by |
Dwight D. Eisenhower
|Republican Party Presidential nominee |
|Succeeded by |
|Preceded by |
|Republican Party Presidential nominee |
1968 (won), 1972 (won)
|Succeeded by |
|Preceded by |
Lyndon B. Johnson
|President of the United States |
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
|Vice Presidents of the United States of America|
|Adams • Jefferson • Burr • Clinton • Gerry • Tompkins • Calhoun • Van Buren • R Johnson • Tyler • Dallas • Fillmore • King • Breckinridge • Hamlin • A Johnson • Colfax • Wilson • Wheeler • Arthur • Hendricks • Morton • Stevenson • Hobart • Roosevelt • Fairbanks • Sherman • Marshall • Coolidge • Dawes • Curtis • Garner • Wallace • Truman • Barkley • Nixon • L Johnson • Humphrey • Agnew • Ford • Rockefeller • Mondale • Bush • Quayle • Gore • Cheney|
|United States Republican Party Presidential Nominees|
|Frémont • Lincoln • Grant • Hayes • Garfield • Blaine • Harrison • McKinley • Roosevelt • Taft • Hughes • Harding • Coolidge • Hoover • Landon • Willkie • Dewey • Eisenhower • Nixon • Goldwater • Nixon • Ford • Reagan • GHW Bush • Dole • GW Bush|
|United States Republican Party Vice Presidential Nominees|
|Dayton • Hamlin • Johnson • Colfax • Wilson • Wheeler • Arthur • Logan • Morton • Reid • Hobart • Roosevelt • Fairbanks • Sherman • Butler • Fairbanks • Coolidge • Dawes • Curtis • Knox • McNary • Bricker • Warren • Nixon • Lodge • Miller • Agnew • Dole • Bush • Quayle • Kemp • Cheney|