The Real Getter sets goals and takes action until he or she achieve them.

The Presidency of Richard Nixon

The presidency of Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1974 was a tumultuous time in American history, marked by a series of significant events that would shape the nation’s future. From the end of the Vietnam War to the historic visit to China, Nixon’s presidency was defined by both triumphs and controversies. Despite his numerous accomplishments, such as establishing the Environmental Protection Agency and signing groundbreaking legislation, including the Clean Water Act, his legacy is often overshadowed by the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to his resignation. In this article, we will explore the life, achievements, and success philosophies of Richard Nixon, shedding light on the man behind one of the most consequential presidencies in American history.

Early Life and Education

Birth and Family Background

Richard Nixon was born on January 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, California. He came from a modest family background, with his father, Frank Nixon, working as a farmer and his mother, Hannah Milhous Nixon, as a housewife. Richard Nixon was the second of five children in the family.

Education and Early Career

Nixon attended local schools in Yorba Linda and completed his high school education at Fullerton Union High School. He then went on to pursue higher education at Whittier College, where he became known for his dedication to academics and extracurricular activities. Nixon graduated from Whittier College in 1934 and proceeded to study law at Duke University School of Law. After completing his law degree, he returned to California and began practicing law, eventually gaining recognition for his skills as a lawyer.

Political Career Before Presidency

Congressional Service

Nixon’s political career took off in the late 1940s when he successfully ran for the United States House of Representatives. He served as a representative from California’s 12th congressional district from 1947 to 1950, gaining a reputation for his anti-communist stance and his involvement in the investigation of Alger Hiss, a former State Department official accused of being a Soviet spy. Nixon’s role in this investigation boosted his national prominence.

Vice President under Eisenhower

In 1952, Richard Nixon was chosen as the running mate of Republican presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Eisenhower-Nixon ticket won the election, and Nixon went on to serve as Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During his time as Vice President, Nixon was heavily involved in international diplomacy and represented the United States on various diplomatic missions.

See also  The Life and Legacy of Abraham Lincoln

Defeat in the 1960 Presidential Election

In 1960, Nixon ran for the presidency himself as the Republican candidate. He faced off against John F. Kennedy in one of the closest and most contentious presidential elections in American history. Despite his strong performance in the televised debates, Nixon ultimately lost the election by a narrow margin. This defeat was a significant setback for Nixon, but it did not mark the end of his political career.

Return to Private Life

Following his defeat in the 1960 presidential election, Richard Nixon decided to take a temporary break from politics and focus on his legal career. He joined a prominent law firm in New York City and dedicated himself to practicing law. However, even during this period, Nixon remained active in political circles and maintained close connections with fellow Republicans.

Campaigns and Election

1968 Presidential Campaign

In 1968, Richard Nixon made a comeback on the national political stage by launching his campaign for the presidency once again. He sought the Republican nomination and presented himself as a candidate who could restore law and order to a nation deeply divided by social unrest and anti-war protests.

Primary Opponents

During the Republican primary campaign, Nixon faced formidable opponents, including Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York, and Ronald Reagan, the Governor of California. However, Nixon’s experience and name recognition worked to his advantage, and he emerged as the Republican Party’s nominee.

General Election

In the general election, Nixon faced Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee, and George Wallace, a third-party candidate. Nixon campaigned on a platform that promised to bring an end to the Vietnam War and address the domestic challenges facing the country.

Electoral College Results

Ultimately, Nixon won the 1968 presidential election, receiving 301 electoral votes compared to Humphrey’s 191. Despite his victory, Nixon’s presidency would face significant challenges and turmoil during his time in office.

Domestic Policies

Law and Order Agenda

One of the key pillars of Richard Nixon’s domestic policies was his law and order agenda. He sought to address the rising crime rates and social unrest that characterized the late 1960s and early 1970s. Nixon advocated for a tougher approach to law enforcement, supporting stricter sentencing guidelines and increased resources for police departments.

Environmental Policy

Nixon’s presidency also saw the emergence of the modern environmental movement. In response to growing concerns about pollution and its impact on public health, Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. The EPA was tasked with enforcing environmental regulations and protecting the nation’s natural resources.

Social and Economic Programs

Nixon implemented a range of social and economic programs during his presidency, with a focus on reducing inequality and poverty. He expanded funding for social services and welfare programs, including the creation of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program to assist elderly and disabled individuals. Additionally, he supported affirmative action policies aimed at addressing racial disparities.

Desegregation Efforts

Nixon took steps towards advancing civil rights and desegregation, particularly in the realm of education. He enforced court-ordered desegregation plans in Southern schools and implemented the Philadelphia Plan, which aimed to increase minority representation in the construction industry through affirmative action.

Welfare Reform

Nixon also pushed for welfare reform, advocating for a shift towards work-based assistance rather than solely providing cash benefits. He proposed the Family Assistance Plan, which would have replaced the existing welfare system with a guaranteed annual income for eligible families. Although the plan did not pass Congress, it laid the groundwork for future welfare reform efforts.

See also  Gerald Ford: A Life History

Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy

Opening of Relations with China

One of Richard Nixon’s most significant foreign policy achievements was the opening of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. In 1972, Nixon made a historic visit to China, meeting with Chinese leaders including Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai. This visit marked a crucial turning point in U.S.-China relations, leading to increased cooperation and trade between the two nations.

Vietnam War and Peace Negotiations

Nixon inherited the ongoing Vietnam War from his predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson. Faced with a war that had deeply divided the American public, Nixon pursued a policy known as “Vietnamization,” gradually transferring the responsibility for combat operations to South Vietnamese forces. He also engaged in peace negotiations with North Vietnam, eventually leading to the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, which brought an end to direct U.S. involvement in the war.

Détente with the Soviet Union

Nixon pursued a policy of détente with the Soviet Union, aiming to ease Cold War tensions and promote dialogue between the two superpowers. In 1972, he signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, which placed limitations on nuclear weapons testing and increased transparency in arms control.

Middle East and Israel

Nixon played a significant role in the Middle East peace process by working to improve relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors. He supported Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and facilitated negotiations that led to the ceasefire between Israel and Egypt. Nixon’s efforts helped lay the groundwork for future peace agreements in the region.

Latin America and Allende’s Chile

In Latin America, Nixon’s policies were marked by both support for anti-communist governments and controversial interventions. One notable event was the ousting of Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973, which was supported by the Nixon administration. The intervention in Chile continues to be a subject of debate and criticism.

Watergate Scandal

Break-In and Cover-Up

The Watergate scandal is a defining event in Richard Nixon’s presidency. In 1972, a group of men broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters located in the Watergate complex. The subsequent investigation revealed that the break-in was connected to Nixon’s re-election campaign, and evidence of a widespread cover-up emerged.

Investigation and Media Coverage

The investigation into the Watergate scandal was led by journalists, Congress, and a special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Media coverage of the scandal brought public awareness of the extent of the cover-up, undermining public trust in the Nixon administration.


As the scandal unfolded and pressure mounted, Richard Nixon faced the possibility of impeachment. On August 8, 1974, he announced his resignation as President of the United States, becoming the first and, to date, the only President to voluntarily leave office. Vice President Gerald Ford succeeded him, granting Nixon a full pardon for any crimes he may have committed during his presidency.

Social and Cultural Impact

Civil Rights and Equality

Richard Nixon’s presidency had a mixed impact on civil rights and equal rights. While he took steps towards desegregation and implemented affirmative action policies, critics argue that his administration’s approach to civil rights was often motivated by political calculations rather than a commitment to equality.

Women’s Rights and ERA

Nixon expressed support for women’s rights and gender equality, but the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) did not gain sufficient support during his presidency to be ratified. However, the women’s movement continued to gain momentum during this time, with Nixon appointing more women to government positions than any of his predecessors.

See also  The Leadership Legacy of John F. Kennedy

Conservative Shift in Politics

Nixon’s presidency marked a significant shift towards conservatism in American politics. His emphasis on law and order, opposition to student protests, and appointments of conservative Supreme Court justices helped solidify a conservative ideology that would shape American politics for decades to come.

Counterculture and Opposition

The presidency of Richard Nixon coincided with a period of significant social and cultural change in the United States. The counterculture movement, opposition to the Vietnam War, and heightened activism by marginalized groups challenged Nixon’s administration and contributed to the growing divisions within American society.

Economic Policies and Challenges


Richard Nixon faced a challenging economic environment during his presidency, characterized by a combination of stagnant economic growth and high inflation, known as stagflation. The post-World War II economic boom had come to an end, leading to increased unemployment and rising prices.

Wage and Price Controls

In an attempt to combat inflation, Nixon implemented wage and price controls in 1971. These policies aimed to freeze wages and prices for a period of time, but they ultimately proved ineffective and complicated the functioning of the economy.

Energy Crisis

The 1973 oil crisis, triggered by an embargo imposed by oil-producing nations in response to U.S. support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War, further exacerbated the economic challenges faced by the Nixon administration. The crisis led to soaring energy prices, fuel shortages, and increased dependence on foreign oil.

Nixon Shock and Economic Policy Shifts

In 1971, Nixon announced a series of economic policy shifts that came to be known as the “Nixon Shock.” These included the suspension of the convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold, which effectively ended the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates. This decision had far-reaching implications for the global economy and marked a significant shift in economic policy.

Legacy and Historical Assessment

Watergate’s Lasting Impact

The Watergate scandal left an indelible mark on Richard Nixon’s presidency and American politics as a whole. It eroded public trust in government institutions and reinforced the importance of transparency, accountability, and the free press. Watergate also led to significant reforms in campaign finance laws and ethics regulations.

Foreign Policy Achievements

Despite the controversy surrounding his presidency, Richard Nixon is recognized for several significant foreign policy achievements. His opening of relations with China and pursuit of détente with the Soviet Union laid the foundation for future diplomatic breakthroughs and helped shape the global political landscape.

Domestic Policy Legacy

Nixon’s domestic policy legacy is complex and subject to debate. While he made strides in areas such as desegregation, environmentalism, and welfare reform, his approach to civil rights and the economy remains controversial. Some argue that his policies laid the groundwork for future reforms, while others view his presidency as perpetuating systemic inequalities.

Public Perception and Historical Views

Public perception of Richard Nixon’s presidency has evolved over time. While he faced intense criticism during his time in office and following his resignation, some historians have reassessed his presidency, highlighting his foreign policy achievements and examining the broader context in which his decisions were made. Nixon’s turbulent presidency continues to captivate historians and political observers alike.

Later Life and Death

Post-Presidential Activities

Following his resignation, Richard Nixon largely retreated from public life. He focused on rehabilitating his image and writing his memoirs, which were published in 1978. He also undertook several international speaking engagements and traveled extensively, covering a wide range of topics including foreign policy, politics, and world affairs.

Writing, Memoirs, and Public Speaking

Richard Nixon’s post-presidential years were marked by his writing endeavors. In addition to his memoirs, he authored numerous books on foreign policy, international relations, and political philosophy. Nixon also engaged in public speaking, sharing his perspectives on national and international issues.

Death and Funeral

Richard Nixon passed away on April 22, 1994, at the age of 81. His death sparked a public debate about his legacy, as well as expressions of condolences from political leaders and the public. Nixon’s funeral was held in his hometown of Yorba Linda, California, and he was later buried next to his wife, Pat Nixon, at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.