Richard Milhous Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California, in a house that was built by his father.
The Nixon family ranch failed in 1922, and the family moved to Whittier, California. In an area with many Quakers, Frank Nixon opened a grocery store and gas station.
At the start of his junior year in September 1928, Richard's parents permitted him to transfer to Whittier High School. At Whittier, Nixon suffered his first election defeat when he lost his bid for student body president.
Nixon graduated from Whittier in 1934,although he offered a tuition grant to attend Harvard University but Harold's continued illness(his younger brother) and the need for their mother to care for him meant Richard was needed at the store so he remained in his hometown and attended Whittier College. After graduation he received a full scholarship to attend Duke University School of Law.
The number of scholarships was greatly reduced for second- and third-year students, forcing recipients into intense competition. Nixon not only kept his scholarship but was elected president of the Duke Bar Association, inducted into the Order of the Coif, and graduated third in his class in June 1937.
Richard began practicing in Whittier with the law firm Wingert and Bewley. In 1938,opened up his own branch of Wingert and Bewley in La Habra, California, and became a full partner in the firm the following year.
In January 1938, Nixon was cast in the Whittier Community Players production of The Dark Tower. There he played opposite a high school teacher named Thelma "Pat" Ryan. Nixon described it in his memoirs as "a case of love at first sight" for Nixon only, as Pat Ryan turned down the young lawyer several times before agreeing to date him. Once they began their courtship, Ryan was reluctant to marry Nixon; they dated for two years before she assented to his proposal. They wed in a small ceremony on June 21, 1940.
He applied to join the United States Navy. As a birthright Quaker, he could have claimed exemption from the draft; he might also have been deferred because he worked in government service. But instead of exploiting his circumstance, Nixon sought a commission in the navy. His application was successful, and he was appointed a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S Naval Reserve (U.S. Navy Reserve) on June 15, 1942.
Seeking more excitement, he requested sea duty and on July 2, 1943 was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 25 and the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command (SCAT), supporting the logistics of operations in the South Pacific Theater.
On October 1, 1943, Nixon was promoted to lieutenant. Then Nixon commanded the SCAT forward detachments at Vella Lavella, Bougainville, and finally at Green Island (Nissan Island).
On October 3, 1945, he was promoted to lieutenant commander.
On March 10, 1946, he was relieved of active duty, and he resigned his commission on New Year's Day 1946.
In 1945, Republicans in California's 12th congressional district were frustrated by their inability to defeat Democratic Congressman Jerry Voorhis and sought a consensus candidate who would run a strong campaign against him. They formed a "Committee of 100" to decide on a candidate hoping to avoid internal dissensions which had previously led to Voorhis victories. After the committee failed to attract higher-profile candidates Herman Perry, Whittier's Bank of America branch manager, suggested Nixon, a family friend with whom he had served on the Whittier College Board of Trustees before the war. Perry wrote to Nixon in Baltimore. After a night of excited talk between the Nixons, the naval officer responded to Perry with enthusiasm. Nixon flew to California and was selected by the committee. When he left the Navy at the start of 1946, Nixon and his wife returned to Whittier, where Nixon began a year of intensive campaigning. He contended that Voorhis had been ineffective as a congressman and suggested that Voorhis's endorsement by a group linked to communists meant that Voorhis must have radical views. Nixon won the election, receiving 65,586 votes to Voorhis's 49,994.
By May 1948, Nixon had co-sponsored a "Mundt-Nixon Bill" to implement "a new approach to the complicated problem of internal communist subversion... It provided for registration of all Communist Party members and required a statement of the source of all printed and broadcast material issued by organizations that were found to be Communist fronts." He served as floor manager for the Republican Party. On May 19, 1948, the bill passed the House by 319 to 58 but failed to pass the Senate.
In 1948, Nixon successfully cross-filed as a candidate in his district, winning both major party primaries. and was comfortably reelected.
In 1949, Nixon began to consider running for the United States Senate against the Democratic incumbent, Sheridan Downey. and entered the race in November. Downey, faced with a bitter primary battle with Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas, announced his retirement in March 1950. Nixon and Douglas won the primary elections and engaged in a contentious campaign in which the ongoing Korean War was a major issue. Nixon tried to focus attention on Douglas's liberal voting record. As part of that effort, a "Pink Sheet" was distributed by the Nixon campaign suggesting that, as Douglas's voting record was similar to that of New York Congressman Vito Marcantonio (believed by some to be a communist), their political views must be nearly identical.Nixon won the election by almost twenty percentage points.
In mid-September, the Republican ticket faced a major crisis. The media reported that Nixon had a political fund, maintained by his backers, which reimbursed him for political expenses. Such a fund was not illegal but it exposed Nixon to allegations of possible conflict of interest. With pressure building for Eisenhower to demand Nixon's resignation from the ticket the senator went on television to deliver an address to the nation on September 23, 1952. The address, later termed the Checkers speech, was heard by about 60 million Americans—including the largest television audience up to that point. Nixon emotionally defended himself, stating that the fund was not secret, nor had donors received special favors. He painted himself as a man of modest means (his wife had no mink coat; instead she wore a "respectable Republican cloth coat") and a patriot. The speech would be remembered for the gift which Nixon had received, but which he would not give back: "a little cocker spaniel dog … sent all the way from Texas. And our little girl—Tricia, the 6-year-old—named it Checkers." The speech prompted a huge public outpouring of support for Nixon.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower was nominated for president by the Republicans in 1952. He had no strong preference for a vice presidential candidate, and Republican officeholders and party officials met in a "smoke-filled room" and recommended Nixon to the general, who agreed to the senator's selection.
On September 24, 1955, President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack; his condition was initially believed to be life-threatening. Eisenhower was unable to perform his duties for six weeks. The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution had not yet been proposed, and the Vice President had no formal power to act. Nonetheless, Nixon acted in Eisenhower's stead during this period, presiding over Cabinet meetings and ensuring that aides and Cabinet officers did not seek power.
On April 27, 1958, Richard and Pat Nixon reluctantly embarked on a goodwill tour of South America. In Montevideo, Uruguay, Nixon made an impromptu visit to a college campus where he fielded questions from students on U.S. foreign policy.
In July 1959 President Eisenhower sent Nixon to the Soviet Union for the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow. On July 24, Nixon was touring the exhibits with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev when the two stopped at a model of an American kitchen and engaged in an impromptu exchange about the merits of capitalism versus communism that became known as the "Kitchen Debate".
In 1960 Nixon launched his first campaign for President of the United States. He faced little opposition in the Republican primaries and chose former Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. as his running mate. His Democratic opponent was John F. Kennedy and the race remained close for the duration. Then a new political medium was introduced in the campaign: televised presidential debates. In the first of four such debates Nixon appeared pale, with a five o'clock shadow, in contrast to the photogenic Kennedy. Nixon's performance in the debate was perceived to be mediocre in the visual medium of television, though many people listening on the radio thought that Nixon had won. Nixon narrowly lost the election; Kennedy won the popular vote by only 112,827 votes (0.2 percent).
At the end of his term of office as vice president in January 1961, Nixon and his family returned to California, where he practiced law.
Local and national Republican leaders encouraged Nixon to challenge incumbent Pat Brown for Governor of California in the 1962 election.Despite initial reluctance, Nixon entered the race. The campaign was clouded by public suspicion that Nixon viewed the office as a stepping-stone for another presidential run, some opposition from the far-right of the party, and his own lack of interest in being California's governor. Nixon hoped that a successful run would confirm his status as the nation's leading active Republican politician, and ensure he remained a major player in national politics. Instead, he lost to Brown by more than five percentage points, and the defeat was widely believed to be the end of his political career.
On 1953, he was promoted to commander. And finally he retired in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 6, 1966.
At the end of 1967, Nixon told his family he planned to run for president a second time. Although Pat Nixon did not always enjoy public life (for example, she had been embarrassed by the need to reveal how little the family owned in the Checkers speech), she was supportive of her husband's ambitions. Nixon believed that with the Democrats torn over the issue of the Vietnam War, a Republican had a good chance of winning, although he expected the election to be as close as in 1960.In a three-way race between Nixon, Humphrey, and American Independent Party candidate former Alabama Governor George Wallace, Nixon defeated Humphrey by nearly 500,000 votes (seven-tenths of a percentage point), with 301 electoral votes to 191 for Humphrey and 46 for Wallace.
Nixon was inaugurated as president on January 20, 1969, sworn in by his onetime political rival, Chief Justice Earl Warren. Pat Nixon held the family Bibles open at Isaiah 2:4, which reads, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." In his inaugural address, which received almost uniformly positive reviews, Nixon remarked that "the greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker" a phrase that would later be placed on his gravestone.
In July 1969, Nixon visited South Vietnam, where he met with his U.S. military commanders and President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. Amid protests at home demanding an immediate pullout, he implemented a strategy of replacing American troops with Vietnamese troops, known as "Vietnamization".
After a nearly decade-long national effort, the United States won the race to land astronauts on the Moon on July 20, 1969, with the flight of Apollo 11. Nixon spoke with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their moonwalk. He called the conversation "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House"
He soon instituted phased U.S. troop withdrawals (From Vietnam), but also authorized incursions into Laos, in part to interrupt the Ho Chi Minh trail, which passed through Laos and Cambodia and was used to supply North Vietnamese forces. Nixon announced the ground invasion of Cambodia to the American public on April 30, 1970.
Further protests erupted against what was perceived as an expansion of the conflict, and the unrest escalated to violence when Ohio National Guardsmen shot and killed four unarmed students on May 4.
Nixon's responses to protesters included an impromptu, early morning meeting with them at the Lincoln Memorial on May 9, 1970.
Nixon entered his name on the New Hampshire primary ballot on January 5, 1972, effectively announcing his candidacy for reelection. Virtually assured the Republican nomination, the President had initially expected his Democratic opponent to be Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy (brother of the late President), but he was largely removed from contention after the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident. Instead, Maine Senator Edmund Muskie became the front runner, with South Dakota Senator George McGovern in a close second place.
Nixon used the improving international environment to address the topic of nuclear peace. Following the announcement of his visit to China, the Nixon administration concluded negotiations for him to visit the Soviet Union. The President and First Lady arrived in Moscow on May 22, 1972 and met with Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party; Alexei Kosygin, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers; and Nikolai Podgorny, the head of state, among other leading Soviet officials.Nixon engaged in intense negotiations with Brezhnev. Out of the summit came agreements for increased trade and two landmark arms control treaties: SALT I, the first comprehensive limitation pact signed by the two superpowers, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned the development of systems designed to intercept incoming missiles. Nixon and Brezhnev proclaimed a new era of "peaceful coexistence". A banquet was held that evening at the Kremlin.
On May 24, 1972, Nixon approved a five-year cooperative program between NASA and the Soviet space program, culminating in the 1975 joint mission of an American Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft linking in space.
On June 10, McGovern won the California primary and secured the Democratic nomination.
The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included "dirty tricks," such as bugging the offices of political opponents, and the harassment of activist groups and political figures. The activities were brought to light after five men were caught breaking into the Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972.
The following month, Nixon was renominated at the 1972 Republican National Convention. He dismissed the Democratic platform as cowardly and divisive.
Nixon was ahead in most polls for the entire election cycle, and was reelected on November 7, 1972 in one of the largest landslide election victories in American history. He defeated McGovern with over 60 percent of the popular vote, losing only in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
In July 1973, White House aide Alexander Butterfield testified under oath to Congress that Nixon had a secret taping system that recorded his conversations and phone calls in the Oval Office. These tapes were subpoenaed by Watergate Special Counsel Archibald Cox; Nixon provided transcripts of the conversations but not the actual tapes, citing executive privilege.
The House Judiciary Committee opened impeachment hearings against the President on May 9, 1974, which were televised on the major TV networks. These hearings culminated in votes for impeachment.
During the previous two years, Nixon had made considerable progress in U.S.-Soviet relations, and he embarked on a second trip to the Soviet Union in 1974. He arrived in Moscow on June 27 to a welcome ceremony, cheering crowds, and a state dinner at the Grand Kremlin Palace that evening. Nixon and Brezhnev met in Yalta, where they discussed a proposed mutual defense pact, détente, and MIRVs. Nixon considered proposing a comprehensive test-ban treaty, but he felt that he would not have time to complete it during his presidency. There were no significant breakthroughs in these negotiations.
On July 24, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the full tapes, not just selected transcripts, must be released.
In light of his loss of political support and the near-certainty that he would be impeached and removed from office, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974, after addressing the nation on television the previous evening.The resignation speech was delivered from the Oval Office and was carried live on radio and television. Nixon stated that he was resigning for the good of the country and asked the nation to support the new president.
The Ford White House considered a pardon of Nixon, even though it would be unpopular in the country. Nixon, contacted by Ford emissaries, was initially reluctant to accept the pardon, but then agreed to do so. Ford insisted on a statement of contrition, but Nixon felt he had not committed any crimes and should not have to issue such a document. Ford eventually agreed, and on September 8, 1974, he granted Nixon a "full, free, and absolute pardon", which ended any possibility of an indictment.
Nixon suffered a severe stroke on April 18, 1994, while preparing to eat dinner in his Park Ridge, New Jersey home. A blood clot resulting from the atrial fibrillation he had suffered for many years had formed in his upper heart, broken off, and traveled to his brain. He was taken to New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, initially alert but unable to speak or to move his right arm or leg. Damage to the brain caused swelling (cerebral edema), and Nixon slipped into a deep coma.
He died at 9:08 p.m. on April 22, 1994, with his daughters at his bedside. He was 81 years old.