Nixon, Richard (Milhous)(1913–94) thirty-seventh U.S. president; born in Yorba Linda, Calif. Born to Quaker parents, he graduated from Whittier College (Calif.) (1934) and Duke University Law School (1937). He practiced law in Whittier, Calif., and briefly served with the Office of Price Administration (1942) before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II (1942–46). He won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives (Rep., Calif.; 1947–51) in a campaign noted for his accusation that his Democratic opponent was supported by Communists. As a member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, he gained fame for his part in the Alger Hiss spy case. He then went on to the U.S. Senate (1951–53), again after suggesting that his Democratic opponent was tainted by Communist associations. He became Eisenhower's vice-president in 1952 and was unusally visible and active in that role. In 1958 he faced down hostile demonstrations in Peru and Venezuela, and in 1959 he had his famous "kitchen debate" with Khrushchev at an American exhibit in Moscow. After narrowly losing the presidency to Kennedy in 1960, he lost a bid for governor of California in 1962, apparently ending his political career. But he came back to win the presidency in 1968, promising a quick end to the Vietnam war; in reality he enlarged and continued America's active role until 1973. His administration was marked by social unrest at home, but he had some accomplishments in foreign relations, notably a 1972 arms treaty with the U.S.S.R. and opening of relations with Communist China. Reelected by a landslide in 1972, Nixon was brought down by revelations of administration misdeeds collectively known as "Watergate." Facing certain impeachment, in August 1974 he became the first U.S. president to resign. He retired from public life for some years and concentrated on writing a series of books on political affairs; but eventually he began to make public appearances at home and abroad, in person and in the media, and he ended by attaining something of the status of an "elder statesman."
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
(1913–) 37th U.S. president (1969–1974); nicknamed “Tricky Dicky.” [Am. Hist.: Kane, 523]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.