Richard Milhous Nixon was the thirty-seventh president of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. He also had served as the Vice-President of the state under Eisenhower from 1953 to 1961. He is the only person to be elected twice both as president as well as the vice-president of US. He is also the only American President to have resigned from office. After a failed presidential run in 1960, he was finally elected in the 1968 elections. He had served in the Navy as a lieutenant commander in the Pacific before being elected to the Congress and gradually to the presidential position.
Richard Milhous Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California to Francis A. Nixon and Hannah Milhous Nixon. His mother was a Quaker (his father was a convert to Quaker too), and hence his upbringing had been conservative and refrained from activities such as dancing and swearing. He was one of the five siblings, all boys, in the Nixon household.
Richard Nixon graduated from Whittier High School in 1930. Declining a scholarship in the Harvard University due to financial problems, he joined Whittier College. He was a brilliant student. He was good at collegiate drama and an extraordinary debater. He later graduated third from Duke University School of Law. He also served as a second officer in the United States Navy during the Second World War. He had been prolific in poker, and this is where he bagged his financial help to campaign for the Congress for the first time. He later married Thelma “Pat” Ryan on June 21, 1940 and had two daughters.
Richard Milhous Nixon was a president who was not very impressive with his foreign policies but had progressed a lot on the domestic front. Nixon’s domestic policies were often considered as liberal even though Nixon himself was supposed to be conservative. The economy was well controlled by the Nixon administration. Wage and price controls were initiated and inflation was checked. Medicare, health plans and employee benefits were also given importance during Nixon’s time at presidency.
During the 1973 energy crisis, Nixon reduced speed limits to 55 mph to conserve fuel resources. This has been maintained till as recently as 1995. Space programs of the US finally succeeded in landing man on the moon as Neil Armstrong walked on the moon for the first time during Nixon’s term as president on 20th July, 1969. Reforms had been the high point of his presidency.
Richard Nixon had been off the track with his foreign policies as well. He helped US participate more wholly in the Vietnam War and in Cambodia (now Kampuchea) as more troops landed in the war-torn states. The Nixon Doctrine strategically planned to replace American troops with Vietnamese troops to reduce casualties didn’t go down too well with the people of either nation. His unconditional and illegal military support to Yahya Khan during the 1971 war crisis in East Pakistan also did not help him much as Pakistan eventually lost Bangladesh. The show of power also did not affect China and Pakistan too felt cheated and lost out. His only positive achievement was to sign a détente with the USSR and halt nuclear armament.
The Watergate scandal was the death knell for the presidential and political career of Richard Nixon. Journalists and rival administration officials had been tracked, tapped and burgled in order to stop internal administrative information leak to the media outside. This was done jointly by Nixon and his aide Henry Kissinger. These acts, compiled with talks and plans of assassinating top journalists and columnists to stop critical reviews of the Nixon administration came to be known as the Watergate scandal. Although pardoned by President Ford, it put a full stop to his political career.
Nixon, known by his trademark V-sign and his innocuous ability to fight and win, succumbed to a stroke and died at the age of 81 on April 18, 1994.