Richard Nixon

Born on January 9, 1913, at Yorba Linda, California Richard M. Nixon become

America’s 37th president. The first President of the United Stated to resign from office was

Richard Nixon. Before his midterm retirement in 1974, he had been only the second President to

face impeachment.

In 1968, in a political comeback unprecedented American history, Nixon was elected the

37th President of the United States. This victory followed two major political defeats. In his

first bid for the Presidency in 1960, the Democratic candidate, John F. Kennedy, defeated him.

Two years later he suffered a crushing loss in his campaign for the governship in his own state of

California. He then temporarily retired from politics to practice law.

Before the election of 1960 Nixon’s political career had been a series of unbroken

successes. He was elected to the United States Congress in 1946, entered the United States

Senate as its youngest member in 1951, and two years later, at 39, became the nation’s second

youngest vice-president. Nixon served two terms under Republican candidate Dwight D.

Eisenhower.

In 1969 Nixon was the first President since the start of the two party system to assume

office handicapped by an opposition Congress. His slim margin of the 73 million votes cast

made him the 15th minority President. Nixon, with 301 electoral votes, defeated Vice President

Hubert H. Humphrey.

Renominated in 1972, Nixon polled a record 46 million popular votes and won 49 states.

Although George McGovern, the Democratic candidate, received 17 electoral votes, the

Democrats held control of Congress. In contrast to the close elections of 1960 and 1968, it was a

landslide victory for Nixon. Yet by 1974 his impeachment seemed close as a result of Political

scandals involving staff.

Nixon was born in a house built by his father in Yorba Linda, California, a small farming

community near Los Angeles. His parents ran a small lemon farm. Today, the lemon trees are

gone and the grounds are owned by the Richard M. Nixon Elementary School. The white frame

house is still standing in existence. Young Nixon’s parents were poor. His father, Francis

Anthony Nixon, was of Irish ancestry. He was native of Ohio who came west in 1906. In 1922,

when Nixon was nine, the farm failed and the family moved to Whittier, California. There

Francis Nixon operated a combination general store and gas station. The Nixon boys-there were

five altogether-did chores, helped out in the store, and pumped gas. Nixon’s mother, Hannah

Milhous Nixon, was born in Indiana. The Nixon’s were serious and hardworking Quakers.

Although the Nixons endured several years of hard times, Nixon was able to attend local public

schools and at 17 to enter Whittier College, a small Quaker school.

At Whittier, Nixon quickly developed a taste for politics. He excelled in debating and

won a southern California college speaking contest. He also won his first election, becoming

president of the student body. He was a good student and graduated second in his class. His

greatest disappointment was that he never played first string on the football team. In 1934 Nixon

received a scholarship to Duke University Law School in North Carolina, from which he

graduated third in his class. Nixon then returned to Whittier to practice law. There he met

Thelma Catherine Patricia Ryan, who was then teaching shorthand and typing at the local high

school. They were married in 1940 and later had two daughters, Patricia and Julie. Julie

married David Eisenhower, grandson of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Tricia married

Edward Cox.

Nixon practiced law in Whittier for several years. In 1942 he entered the Navy.


Commissioned a lieutenant, he served for four years and was discharged with the rank of

lieutenant commander. As a Quaker, Nixon could have avoided military service, but he said

later that “the thought never came to mind.”

Nixon was a president who was good for America with relationships to foreign countries.

With his trip to China in 1972, Nixon became the first president to visit a nation not recognized

by the United States.

One event changed all of Nixon’s luck for the rest of his political life. In the year of

1972 a special Senate committee was formed to investigate presidential campaign irregularities

and Watergate. Some of Nixon’s top aids resigned,