Richard Nixon Biography

Richard Milhous Nixon was the thirty-seventh President of the United States and the only President to ever resign from office. Read more about him in this brief biography.

Richard Nixon
Quick Facts

Birthday: January 9, 1913

Nationality: American

Famous: Presidents Political Leaders

Died At Age: 81

Sun Sign: Capricorn

Also Known As: Richard Milhous Nixon

Born Country: United States

Born in: Yorba Linda, California, United States

Famous as: 37th President of the United States

Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Pat Ryan

father: Francis A. Nixon

mother: Hannah (Milhous) Nixon, Hannah Milhous Nixon

siblings: Arthur, Donald, Edward, Harold

children: Julie, Tricia

Died on: April 22, 1994

place of death: NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, United States

U.S. State: California

Ideology: Republicans

More Facts

education: Duke University School of Law (1937), Whittier College (1934), Fullerton Union High School (1930)

awards: American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal

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Richard Nixon was a leader of the ‘Republican Party’ who became the 37th president of the United States in 1969. He was subsequently re-elected for his second term in 1972. The most significant achievement of Nixon during his first term of presidency is his role in ending America’s involvement in the ‘Vietnam War.’ The former president followed a foreign policy marked by détente with the Soviet Union and a rapprochement with the People's Republic of China. Richard Nixon was the longest-serving individual to have held the nation’s two highest executive posts (president and vice-president) in the history. He became the only president ever to resign from the office in 1974, when he left the position in the face of inevitable impeachment during the widely condemned ‘Watergate scandal.’

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Richard Nixon
  • Richard Nixon was born on 9 January 1913, in Yorba Linda, California, to Francis A. Nixon and Hannah Milhous Nixon. His childhood was marked by hardship and difficulties. Nixon had four brothers, two of which died before Nixon turned 21. His family ranch failed to produce the expected resource in 1922 and Nixon moved to Whittier, California, where his father opened a grocery store. Nixon initially attended ‘Fullerton High School’ in Fullerton and graduated from ‘Whittier High School’ in 1930. The hard-pressed finance of his family forced him to decline a scholarship to ‘Harvard University’ and he took admission in ‘Whittier College.’ Nixon was a brilliant debater and was elected student – body president. While at ‘Whittier,’ he worked in his family’s store. Nixon was offered a tuition grant to attend ‘Harvard University,’ but due to his older brother Harold's continued illness Richard was forced to look after the store. In 1934, he graduated from ‘Whittier College’ and went on to attend ‘Duke University School of Law’ on a full scholarship and graduated third in his class in June 1937. In 1940, he married Thelma Catherine and moved to Washington D.C.
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Military Service
  • After moving to Washington D.C., Nixon took a job at the Office of Price Administration. He was assigned to the tire rationing division, where he had to deal with replying to correspondence which he did not enjoy and four months later applied for the ‘United States Navy.’ His application was successful and was appointed as a lieutenant junior grade in the ‘U.S Naval Reserve.’ In October 1942, he was assigned as aide to the commander of the ‘Naval Air Station Ottumwa’ in Iowa until May 1943. Nixon was appointed the administrative officer of the ‘Alameda Naval Air Station’ in California. On March 10, 1946, he was relieved of active duty and resigned his commission on New Year's Day 1946. On June 1953, he was promoted to commander. He retired from the ‘U.S. Naval Reserve’ on June 6, 1966.
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Congressional Career
  • Soon after the end of ‘World War II,’ Nixon was approached by some Republicans to contest for a seat in the ‘U.S. House of Representatives,’ which he accepted. He won the seat and represented southern California’s 12th Congressional district. Nixon first gained national attention in 1948 when his investigation on the ‘House Un-American Committee’ broke the deadlock of the Alger Hiss spy case. Alger Hiss, a high State Department official, was alleged to be a Soviet spy. Nixon’s discovery of the films and documents, which were thought to be accessible only by Hiss, made him a national hero and a controversial figure as well. Due to his popularity, Nixon was easily re-elected in 1948.
  • In the 1950 mid-term elections, Nixon defeated Democratic Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas and won a seat in the United States Senate. As a senator, Nixon took a hard line against global communism and labeled it as ‘The Threat.’ Due to his anti- communism stance, he was elected by Eisenhower as his running mate. In the 1952 presidential elections, Eisenhower and Nixon defeated their opponents by seven million votes. As vice-president, Nixon took on major responsibilities and while in office, he officially opened the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Placer County, California. In the 1960 presidential election, he lost by a narrow margin to John F. Kennedy.
Presidency (1969-1974)
  • In 1968, Nixon defeated Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and third party candidate George C. Wallace and became the 37th president of the United States. During his tenure as president, Nixon ended revenue sharing and the draft. He imposed wages and price controls, indexed Social Security for inflation, and created the ‘Supplemental Security Income.’ As president, he eradicated the last remnants of the gold standard and created the ‘Environment Protection Agency’ (EPA). In July 1969, he visited South Vietnam and met President Nguyen Van Thieu and the U.S. military commanders. He replaced American troops with the Vietnam troops, decreasing the American involvement in the ‘Vietnam War.’
  • Nixon believed that the law must be color blind. His tenure as the president was marked by the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South. On July 20, 1969, Nixon addressed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin live via radio during their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk. On January 5, 1972, Nixon approved the development of NASA’s ‘Space Shuttle Program,’ a decision that profoundly influenced American efforts to explore space for several decades thereafter.
Relation with China and the Soviet Union
  • Relations between the Western powers and the Eastern Bloc changed dramatically in the early-1970s. In 1960, the People’s Republic of China spilt with the Soviet Union, following which the tension between the two countries reached its peak in 1969 and 1970. Nixon decided to use their conflict to shift the balance of power towards the West during the ‘Cold War.’ In an attempt to improve the relations, China invited American table tennis team to China in 1971, which was called the ‘Ping Pong Diplomacy.’ Later in 1972, President Nixon traveled to China, where he had direct talks with Mao Zedong.
  • Following his successful visit to China, Nixon traveled to the Soviet Union, where he met with Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev. After an intense session of negotiation, Nixon and Brezhnev came up with agreements for increased trade. They also came up with two landmark arms control treaties: ‘SALTI’ and the ‘Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty,’ which banned the development of systems designed to intercept incoming missiles. They adopted the policy of détente, hoping that it will ensure a ‘peaceful coexistence.’ Both China and the Soviet Union cut back on their diplomatic support for Vietnam and advised Hanoi to reach an agreement with America.
Re-election and the Second Term
  • In 1972, Nixon was re-elected after he defeated Senator George Mc Govern. During his second term as president, he applied the policies of price control to revitalize the stagnating economy. He also increased the spending on Federal employees’ salaries while the economy was ploughed by the 1973-1974 stock market crash. On January 2, 1974, Nixon signed a bill that lowered the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 miles per hour in order to conserve gasoline during the 1973 oil crisis. This law was abolished in 1965, though states were allowed to raise the limit to 65 miles per hour in rural areas only since 1987.
Watergate Scandal and Resignation
  • Nixon resigned from his position over the ‘Watergate Scandal,’ stemming from a break-in at the offices of Democratic national Committee to ‘Watergate Hotel’ in Washington during the 1972 campaign. This became one of the major scandals involving the Committee. The ‘Watergate scandal’ exposed the corruption, illegality, and deceit displayed by people within the Nixon administration. Though Nixon denied the charges, his alleged role in ordering a cover-up came into light through the secret tape recordings of the White House. He had accepted illicit campaign contributions and harassed opponents with executive agencies, break-ins, and wiretaps. The tape recordings were revealed and showed details of his complicity in the cover-up. The scandal made him infamous and he lost support from his own party as well. 20 October 1973 became known as the ‘Saturday Night Massacre.’ As the ‘Watergate’ story continued to dominate headlines, Nixon failed to reassure a suspicious public. Though Nixon never admitted to the crime, he resigned from the office on 9 August 1974.
Later Life
  • As a result of the ‘Watergate scandal,’ Nixon was disbarred from the State of New York. The state refused to let him resign his license unless he admitted wrongdoing in the ‘Watergate scandal.’ On September 8, 1974, he was pardoned by his successor, President Gerald Ford, ending any possibility of an indictment. After his resignation from presidency, Nixon traveled extensively and undertook trips to Europe, the Middle East, Russia, Asia, and Africa. He authored many books on his political experience and foreign policy and gained great respect as an elder Statesman.
  • In 1978, Nixon published his memoir, ‘RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon,’ the first of ten books he was to author in his retirement. On 19 July 1990, the ‘Richard Nixon Library’ opened as a private institution. Former first lady Pat Nixon died on 22 June 1993 of lung cancer.
Death and Funeral
  • Former President Nixon suffered a severe stroke at 5:45 pm on 18 April 1994. A blood clot, resulting from his heart condition, had formed in his upper heart before breaking off and traveling all the way to his brain. Damage to the brain caused swelling and Nixon slipped into a coma, following which he died on 22 April 1994. He was 81 at the time of his death. Nixon’s funeral took place on 27 April 1994. He was buried beside his wife Pat.

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Last Updated
- August 22, 2019

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