Facts about Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon died at 81 years old
Born: January 9, 1913
Best known as: The U.S. president who resigned after the Watergate scandal

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Richard Nixon Biography

Richard Nixon resigned as United States president in 1974, becoming the first president ever to quit the office.

Nixon was a lawyer and Republican politician who held the posts of U.S. representative (1947-51), senator (1951-53), vice president (1953-61), and finally president of the United States (1969-74). As a fiercely anti-communist senator from California, Nixon was pegged to be Dwight Eisenhower‘s running mate in 1952, despite Nixon’s relative youth: he was 39 when nominated. Eisenhower beat the Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson in both 1952 and 1956 and Nixon served both terms as vice president.

In 1960 Nixon was the Republican candidate against John F. Kennedy in what became one of the closest elections in U.S. history. Defeated by Kennedy, he returned to California and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1962. (After the loss he made his famous bitter farewell to the press, saying “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.”) In a dramatic comeback, Nixon and his running mate, Maryland’s Spiro Agnew, defeated Hubert H. Humphrey in the presidential elections of 1968, then easily won re-election against Democrat George McGovern in 1972.

Although Nixon had an aggressive foreign policy that included successes with China, the Soviet Union and the Middle East, a weak national economy and domestic dissent over the war in Vietnam plagued his administration. His personal style remains a point of public contention: Nixon was either a hard-driving genius or a dirty sneak, depending on the observer’s point of view. After his 1972 re-election, Nixon’s administration was consumed by the developing Watergate scandal, so named for the hotel and office complex where burglars hired by Nixon’s re-election campaign were caught in a sloppy attempt to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee. The White House attempt to cover up their connection led to a formal investigation that came to dominate the news throughout 1973 and 1974.

Vice President Agnew had legal troubles of his own back in Maryland and resigned from office in October of 1973. After months of legal wrangling and political drama, Nixon resigned in shame on 9 August 1974, his involvement in the Watergate cover-up having been proven by recordings he himself had made in the White House. He was succeeded in office by Gerald Ford, the Michigan congressman who had replaced Agnew. Shortly after taking office, Ford granted Nixon a full pardon, freeing him of any potential criminal charges.

Extra credit

Nixon was America’s 37th president… His books include Six Crises (1962) and the memoir In the Arena (1990)… Nixon married the former Patricia Ryan in 1940; she died in 1993 and is buried with her husband at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California… Nixon and his wife had two daughters, Tricia (b. 1946) and Julie (b. 1948). Julie married David Eisenhower, grandson of president Dwight Eisenhower, in 1968; Tricia married Edward Cox in the White House rose garden in 1971… Nixon had a famous Oval Office meeting with Elvis Presley in 1970; the photo of their handshake has become a pop culture icon… Nixon made his famous statement “I am not a crook” in a news conference in Orlando, Florida on 17 November 1973.


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