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Home : Biography : American Presidents
BIOGRAPHY : American Presidents

 

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Nixon

Richard Nixon was the first president to the United States to resign from office. Richard resigned in 1974 to avoid being impeached. In 1968, in a political comeback unprecedented in American history, Richard was elected as the 37th president of the United states. This victory followed two major defeats for Richard. In his first bid for the presidency in 1960, he was beaten by John F. Kennedy the Democratic Candidate. Two years later he suffered a crushing loss in his campaign for the governorship of his home state of California. After those 2 devastating losses he retired to practice law. Before the election of 1960 Nixon's political career was a series of unbroken success. He was elected to the United States Congressman 1946, entered the Senate as the youngest member in history, and two years later he became the nation's second youngest vice-president at the age of 39. As vice-president he served 2 terms under Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Richard Milhous Nixon was born in Yourba Linda, a farming village in Orange County, California. He was the second of five sons of Francis (Frank) Nixon and Hanna Milhous Nixon. Frank came from a Scotch-Irish farming family. He was a descendant of James Nixon, who emigrated from Ireland to settle in Delaware in 1753. Richard's father was born near McArthur, Ohio, had to go to work after only six years of school. His last job in Ohio was as a streetcar motorman. One winter day his feet were frostbitten in the car, and he decided to move to a warmer climate. In Whittier, California. There he took a job running a trolley. Whittier a Quaker settlement wan named fro the Quaker poet John Greenlear Whittier and founded in 1887. Here Frank and Hannah met. Hannah was one of nine children of Franklin Milhous whose ancestors had emigrated from Germany to England and then to Ireland. Later they moved to Pennsylvania to practice the Quaker religion freely. When Hannah was born, her parents lived near Butlerville, Indiana. In 1897 they moved to California. Frank met Hannah at a Quaker meetinghouse party in February of 1908. They were married four months later. Frank then changed his religion from Methodist, to Quaker. The year before Richard was born, his father bought land in Yourba Linda. On the land d he built a house and started a lemon grove. Richard's brothers Frances, Donald and Arthur were also born in Yourba Linda. 10 years latter the Nixons gave up the struggles of running an unsuccessful fruit stand and moved back to Whittier. In Whittier the last of the Nixon children, Edward, was born. Frank started a gas station, where he also began to sell some groceries. Later he bought an old house which he turned into a general store. When the boys were old enough to help out they would work at the gas station of in the general store. Richard became interested in politicks because of his father. Frank started a neighborhood debate club. When most children were reading fairy tales Richard was reading the opinion and business pages! Richard's life was never easy. Arthur the second youngest brother of Richard died when he was seven. When Richard was in high school his older brother, Harold, died of tuberculosis. Richard would also get up at four am and drive 12 miles to a produce market then drive back and arrange the counter before school!

When Richard was 17 he went to Whittier College, a Quaker institution that his mother had attended. When he was a sophomore he represented Whittier in more than 50 debates and won most of them. Richard graduated 2nd in his class in 1934 Richard wanted to be a lawyer but his family was out of money because his brother's long illness had use all of the Nixons savings. However, his good college Richard and recommendations from his teachers earned him a scholarship to Duke University, in Durham, NC In Durham Nixon shared a $25 a semester apartment with three other students. to help pay for this share of the rent he took a job at the schools library. Richard was named "Gloomy Gus" because of his tendency to brood. In June of 1937 he graduated third in his class. Five months later Richard was admitted to the California bar. He joined the firm of Wingert and Bewley in Whittier. Latter the firm became Bewley, Knoop, and Nixon. In the Whittier theater group Nixon met "Pat" Ryan, a new teacher in the town high school. Pat was intelligent and attractive, with red hair and brown eyes. ON June 21, 1940, two years after their first meeting, they were married. Thelma Ryan was born on March 16, 1912, in Ely Nevada. Thelma like Richard had a though life. Her Mother died when she was 13 and then her Dad when she was 17. Pat worked many odd jobs to pay her way through collage. She even took a few parts in Hollywood movies. After she married Richard she continued to teach.

In 1942 Richard joined the navy. After World war 2 was over Nixon returned to the United States. He was then assigned to work on Navy contracts while awaiting discharge. Then he received a telephone call that changed his life. A republican citizen's committee in Whittier was considering Nixon as a candidate for Congress in the 12th Congressional District. In December 1945 Nixon accepted the candidacy with the promise that he would "wage a fighting rocking socking campaign." Jerry Voorhis, a Democrat who had represented the 12th District since 1934 was running for reelection. Earlier in his career Voorhis had been an active Socialist. He had become more conservative over the years and was now an outspoken anti-Communist. Despite Voorhis' anti Communist stand the Los Angeles chapter of the left-wing Political Action Committee (PAC) endorsed him, apparently without his knowledge or approval.

 

The theme of Nixon's campaign was "a vote for Nixon is a vote against the Communist-dominated PAC." The approach was successful. On November 5, 1946 Richard Nixon won his first political election. The Nixons' daughter Patricia (called Tricia) was born during the campaign, on February 21, 1946. July their second daughter was born July 5, 1948. Richard knew that he could hold his own in the Senate, so he ran for senate in 1950. Nixon worked as hard as he could . While in Senate he hammered hard at three main issues: the war in Korea, Communism in government, and the high cost of the Democratic party's programs. At the 1952 national convention the Republicans chose him as Eisenhower's running mate in an effort to balance the ticket with a West coast conservative. Eisenhower and Nixon's campaign seamed doomed once an article entitled "Secret Rich Men's Trust Fund Keeps Nixon in Style Far Beyond His Salary." was published in The New York Post. After that Republicans were panic-stricken and begging to have Nixon thrown off the ticket. The secret fund was hardly secret. Nixon was a main without much money, and when he won a seat in the Senate a group of business men publicly solicited funds so Nixon could keep in touch with the voters in his home state while he served in the Senate. Nixon was outraged by this so he went on national TV and delivered what is now known as the "Checkers" speech. In the speech Richard states that he had received money from some business men but used it to campaign not to live the good life. He went on to say that he kept only one thing, a little cocker spaniel named Checkers. "The kids love that dog, and I want to say right now that regardless of what they say, we're going to keep it."

The Republicans easily won the election. The only duties listed for the vice-president are to preside over the Senate and vote if there is a tie. Luckily Eisenhower didn't agree. He had Richard sit in on cabinet meetings and help with many president type duties such as preparing and giving speeches. Because of this he was able to fill in for Eisenhower when he suffered a major hart attack in 1955, abdominal surgery in 1956, and a mild stroke in 1957. In 1960 the Republican's decided to have Richard run for president with running mate Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Voters turned out in record numbers. When all sixty-eight votes were counted John F. Kennedy had become the firs Roman Catholic resident and Nixon came out the looser loosing by about 100,000 votes. Many of Nixon's supporters blamed his defeat on irregularities in the votes in Texas and Illinois. Some blamed it on Richard's poor appearance onseveral debates.

After the loose to Kennedy Nixon ran as the Republican candidate for governor of California. Nixon also lost this race and announced during a press conference that he was done with politics forever. Later he moved to New York where he entered a law practice.



 

 



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