Richard Milhous Nixon
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms.
Related to Richard Milhous Nixon: Nixon administration
Nixon, Richard Milhous,1913–94, 37th President of the United States (1969–74), b. Yorba Linda, Calif.
Political Career to 1968
A graduate of Whittier College and Duke law school, he practiced law in Whittier, Calif., from 1937 to 1942, was briefly with the Office of Emergency Management, and served during World War II with the navy in the South Pacific. In 1946 he was elected to Congress as a Republican. In the House of Representatives he became nationally known for his work on the House Committee on Un-American Activities, where he was credited with forcing the famous confrontation between Alger HissHiss, Alger
, 1904–96, American public official, b. Baltimore. After serving (1929–30) as secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Hiss practiced law in Boston and New York City.
..... Click the link for more information. and Whittaker ChambersChambers, Whittaker,
1901–61, U.S. journalist and spy, b. Philadelphia. He joined the U.S. Communist party in 1925 and wrote for its newspaper before engaging (1935–38) in espionage for the USSR. He left the party in 1939 and began working for Time magazine.
..... Click the link for more information. , thus precipitating the perjury case against Hiss. In 1950 he was elected to the U.S. Senate after a particularly bitter electoral campaign. In the Senate, Nixon denounced President Truman's policy in Asia, supported Gen. Douglas MacArthur's proposal to expand the Korean War, and attacked the Democratic administration as favorable to socialism.
He was elected to the vice presidency on the Republican ticket with Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. He made frequent official trips abroad, notably in 1958 to South America, where he faced a hostile demonstration in Venezuela, and in 1959 to the USSR, where he engaged in a much-publicized informal debate with Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Nixon received the Republican presidential nomination in 1960 with only a minimum of opposition and campaigned in support of the Eisenhower administration policies. He was defeated but gained almost as much of the popular vote as the successful John F. Kennedy. Nixon returned to politics in 1962, winning the Republican nomination for governor of California. After losing the election he returned to the practice of law.
In 1968 Nixon again won the Republican nomination for president; Spiro T. AgnewAgnew, Spiro Theodore
, 1918–96, 39th Vice President of the United States (1969–73), b. Baltimore. Admitted to the bar in 1949, he entered politics as a Republican and was elected (1961) chief executive of Baltimore co.
..... Click the link for more information. was his running mate. In a low-key campaign, Nixon promised to bring peace with honor in Vietnam and to unite a nation deeply divided by the Vietnam War and the racial crisis. He defeated his two opponents, Hubert H. Humphrey and George C. Wallace, but won only a plurality of the popular vote.
As President, Nixon began the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam. He achieved (1973) a cease-fire accord with North Vietnam, but only after he had ordered invasions of Cambodia (1970) and Laos (1971) and the saturation bombing of North Vietnam. In other areas of foreign policy, Nixon eased cold war tensions. He initiated strategic arms limitation talks with the Soviet Union in 1969 and visited (1972) the People's Republic of China.
At home, Nixon reversed many of the social and economic welfare policies of President Lyndon B. Johnson. He vetoed much new health, education, and welfare legislation and impounded congressionally approved funds for domestic programs that he opposed. Nixon's Southern strategy, through which he hoped to woo the South into the Republican party, led him to weaken the federal government's commitment to racial equality and to sponsor antibusing legislation in Congress. Nixon's first term in office was also beset by economic troubles. A severe recession and serious inflation brought about the imposition (1971) of a wide-reaching system of wage and price controls.
Despite these problems, Nixon and Agnew easily won reelection in 1972. Widespread popular distrust of his Democratic opponent, Senator George S. McGovern, brought Nixon a landslide victory. (Agnew was forced to resign in 1973, however, on charges of corruption that dated to when he was Baltimore co. executive, and Gerald R. FordFord, Gerald Rudolph,
1913–2006, 38th president of the United States (1974–77), b. Omaha, Nebr. He was originally named Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but his parents were divorced when he was two, and when his mother remarried he assumed the name of his stepfather.
..... Click the link for more information. was nominated by Nixon and confirmed by Congress to succeed Agnew.)
Second Term: The Watergate Affair
Soon after his reelection Nixon's popularity plummeted as the growing revelations of the Watergate affairWatergate affair,
in U.S. history, series of scandals involving the administration of President Richard M. Nixon; more specifically, the burglarizing of the Democratic party national headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C.
..... Click the link for more information. indicated pervasive corruption in his administration, and there was widespread criticism of the amount of government money spent on his private residences. Further problems ensued when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) found that Nixon's donation of papers to the federal government, which had been taken as a deduction on his federal income tax returns, had been made after a law went into effect disallowing such deductions. The IRS assessed (1974) Nixon for the back taxes plus interest.
Many public officials and private citizens questioned Nixon's fitness to remain in office, and in 1974 the House of Representatives initiated impeachment proceedings. The House Committee on the Judiciary, which conducted the impeachment inquiry, subpoenaed Nixon's tape-recorded conversations relating to the Watergate affair and finally received (Apr. 30) transcripts of most, but not all, of the tapes. Nixon also released transcripts of these conversations to the public, continuing to profess noninvolvement in the Watergate coverup despite growing evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile, Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski subpoenaed tapes that had been previously requested but that were not among those included in the transcripts. Nixon refused to relinquish these, basing his refusal on claims of "executive privilege," i.e., the confidentiality of executive communications whose release might endanger national security. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ruled that President Nixon must surrender these tapes to Jaworski.
The House Judiciary Committee had already completed its investigations and subsequently recommended (July 27–30) three articles of impeachment against the President. These charged him with obstruction of justice in the investigation of the break-in at the Democratic national headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex; abuse of power through misuse of the Internal Revenue Service for political purposes, illegal wiretapping, establishment of a private investigative unit that engaged in unlawful activities, and interference with the lawful activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency, the Dept. of Justice, and other government bodies; and failure to comply with subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee.
On Aug. 5, Nixon made public the transcripts of three conversations covered by the Supreme Court ruling, and the tapes indicated that he had, six days after the Watergate break-in, ordered the FBI to halt its investigation of the burglary. Nixon's revelation provoked widespread calls for his resignation; finally, responding to pressure from his closest advisers, he resigned on Aug. 9, the first U.S. President ever to do so. He left the White House immediately and returned to his estate in San Clemente, Calif. His successor, Gerald Ford, granted him a full pardon for any illegal acts that he might have committed while President, thus quashing the possibility of criminal proceedings against the former President. Subsequently, four of his close associates, including John Mitchell, H. R. Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman, were convicted (Jan. 1, 1975) on charges arising from the affair. In retirement Nixon continued to comment, often influentially, on foreign affairs, writing several books on the topic, as well as his memoirs.
See his Six Crises (1962) and memoirs (1978); biographies by F. Mankiewicz (1973), S. Ambrose (3 vol., 1987–91), C. L. Sulzberger (1987), R. Morris (1990), H. S. Parmet (2007), and E. Thomas (2015); G. Wills, Nixon Agonistes (1970); W. Safire, Before the Fall (1975, repr. 1988); F. Schurmann, The Foreign Politics of Richard Nixon (1987); B. Woodward and C. Bernstein, The Final Days (1987); J. McGinnis, The Selling of the President (1988); S. I. Kutler, The Wars of Watergate (1990); T. Wicker, One of Us (1991); I. Gellman, The Contender (1999); A. Summers, The Arrogance of Power (with R. Swan, 2000); R. Reeves, President Nixon (2001); D. Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow (2003); R. Dallek, Nixon and Kissinger (2007); R. Perlstein, Nixonland (2008) and The Invisible Bridge (2014); J. Frank, Ike and Dick (2013); D. Brinkley and L. A. Nichter, ed., The Nixon Tapes 1971–1972 (2014) and The Nixon Tapes 1973 (2015); J. W. Dean, The Nixon Defense (2014); T. Weiner, One Man against the World (2015).
Nixon, Richard Milhous
Born Jan. 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, Calif. American statesman.
Nixon studied law. He graduated from Whittier College (California) in 1934 and from Duke University (Durham, N.C.) in 1937. From 1937 to 1942 he practiced law as a partner in a law firm. During World War II he worked in a government administrative body for implementing emergency measures (January-August, 1942) and served in the US Navy as a lieutenant commander. He began his political career in California. In 1946 and 1948 he was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1950 he was elected a senator from California. (Nixon was a member of the Republican Party.)
From 1953 to 1961, Nixon served in the Eisenhower administration as vice-president. He was defeated in the presidential election of 1960. In 1961 he returned to law practice in California, but in 1963 he moved to New York, joining a leading American law firm—Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander, and Mitchell. At the same time, he joined the boards of directors of a number of large firms. He continued to participate in US politics, working for the Republican Party. In 1968, Nixon won the presidential election, and in 1969 he took office as president of the United States. In 1972 he was elected to a second term.
The initial period of Nixon’s presidency coincided with an economic recession, which gave way to a depression from which the USA did not begin to recover until 1972. Responding to the acute currency and financial crisis that gripped world capitalism in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Nixon administration devalued the dollar twice (in 1971 and 1973).
In foreign policy the Nixon administration continued to pursue a course of strengthening and expanding the global position of American imperialism and did not refrain from the direct use of military force, as was evident in US attempts to win an aggressive war against the peoples of Indochina. However, under the influence of changes in the world balance of forces as a result of the growth of the power of the USSR and of the entire socialist commonwealth, the Nixon administration arrived at a more realistic evaluation of American potential in the international arena and reviewed many of its foreign policy positions. The “Nixon doctrine,” which was promulgated in 1969–70, envisioned a reduction in direct participation by American armed forces in “local wars.” The burden of material expenditures in the struggle against liberation movements would shift to America’s allies. However, America would continue to fulfill its international obligations within the scope of military blocs and bilateral agreements. With regard to US relations with socialist states, Nixon introduced the concept of a transition from an “era of confrontation to an era of negotiations.” The final failure of attempts to achieve a military resolution of the Vietnam conflict impelled the Nixon administration to sign an accord (January 1973) putting an end to the war and providing for the establishment of peace in Vietnam.
Beginning in the 1970’s, under the impact of factors that have already been mentioned, a shift toward a more positive attitude was observed in the Nixon administration’s approach to relations between the USA and the USSR. As a result of Soviet-American summit meetings held between 1972 and 1974, the two countries signed a number of important agreements based on the principle of peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems and directed at the prevention of nuclear war, as well as at the limitation of strategic arms and the development of broad economic and scientific and technological cooperation between the USSR and the USA.
On Aug. 9, 1974, Nixon resigned from office under the pressure of internal political circumstances associated with the Watergate affair.