President Richard Nixon
from the National Archives
Richard M. Nixon was the 37th President of the United States.
Served as President: 1969-1974
Vice President: Spiro Agnew, Gerald Ford
Age at inauguration: 56
Born: January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California
Died: April 22, 1994 in New York, New York
Married: Patricia Ryan Nixon
Children: Patricia, Julie
Nickname: Tricky Dick
What is Richard M. Nixon most known for?
Richard Nixon is most known for being the only president to resign from office as a result of the Watergate Scandal. He is also known for ending the Vietnam War and improving U.S. relations with the Soviet Union and China.
Richard Nixon grew up the son of a grocer in Southern California. His family was poor and he had a fairly difficult childhood that included two of his brothers dying from illness. Richard was smart, though, and wanted to go to college. He paid his way through Whittier College working nights at his father's grocery store. He enjoyed debate, sports, and drama while in college. He also earned a full scholarship to attend Duke University Law School in North Carolina.
President Nixon meets with Mao Tse-Tung
from the White House Photo Office
After graduating from Duke, Richard moved back home and began practicing law. When World War II broke out, he joined the navy and served in the Pacific theatre of the war where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander before leaving the Navy in 1946.
Before He Became President
After leaving the Navy, Nixon decided to enter politics. He first ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and won a seat in the 1946 elections. Four years later he ran for Senate and won that election as well. Nixon gained a reputation in congress for being anti-communist. This made him popular with the public.
In 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower selected Richard Nixon to be his running mate for president. Nixon served as Eisenhower's vice president for 8 years where he was one of the most active vice president's in U.S. history.
In many ways Nixon redefined the job of vice president doing far more than other vice presidents before him. He attended National Security and cabinet meetings and even ran several of these meetings when Eisenhower was unable to attend. When Eisenhower had a heart attack and was unable to work for six weeks, Nixon effectively ran the country. Nixon also helped shepherd legislation such as The Civil Rights Act of 1957 through congress and traveled the world conducting foreign affairs.
Nixon ran for president in 1960 and lost to John F. Kennedy. He then tried to run for governor of California and lost. He retired from politics after that and went to work on Wall Street in New York. In 1968 Nixon ran for president again, this time he won.
Richard M. Nixon's Presidency
Although Nixon's presidency will forever be marked by the Watergate scandal, there were many other major events and accomplishments during his presidency. They included:
- Man on the Moon - Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon on July 21, 1969. Nixon spoke to the astronauts during their historic moonwalk.
- Visit to China - Communist China had become a closed country, not meeting with the United States. Nixon managed to visit Chairman Mao and opened up important future relations with China.
- Vietnam War - Nixon ended the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. With the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, U.S. troops were pulled out of Vietnam.
- Treaty with the Soviet Union - Nixon also made a historic visit to the Soviet Union, meeting with their leader Leonid Brezhnev and signing two very important treaties: the SALT I Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Both were an effort to reduce arms and the chance of World War III.
In 1972 five men were caught breaking into the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate buildings in Washington D.C. It turned out that these men were working for the Nixon administration. Nixon denied any knowledge of the break-in. He said that his employees had done this without his permission. However, later tapes were discovered that had recorded Nixon discussing the break-ins. He clearly had knowledge of them and had lied.
The congress was getting ready to impeach Nixon and it was believed that the Senate had the votes to kick him out of office. Instead of going through a brutal trial, Nixon resigned and vice president Gerald Ford became president.
by James Anthony Wills
How did he die?
Nixon died from a stroke in 1994. There were five presidents present at his funeral including Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford.
Fun Facts About Richard M. Nixon
- He was once offered the position of players representative in Major League Baseball. He turned it down to continue in politics.
- Nixon's name appeared on five national ballots. He received more total votes over those five elections than any other American politician in history.
- He is the only person born and raised in California to become president.
- It was during Nixon's administration that the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.
- President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon of any crimes he may have committed.
- When he was still lying about the Watergate scandal he made the famous comment "I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got."
- He was very musical and played the violin in his H.S. orchestra. He also played the piano.
Take a ten question quiz about this page.
Biographies for Kids >> US Presidents for Kids