Richard M. Nixon

— 37th President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery


January 20, 1969 to August 9, 1974

BORN: January 9, 1913
Yorba Linda, California
April 22, 1994 New York, New York
OCCUPATION: Congressman, senator, lawyer
Thelma Catherine (Pat) Ryan, 1940
Patricia, Julie

Young Richard Nixon once told his parents, "I would like to become a lawyer – an honest lawyer, one who can't be bought by crooks."

Decades later, during his troubled presidency, Nixon went on national television and told the people of America, "I am not a crook."

In 1974, he resigned his office under the threat of impeachment, the only U.S. president ever to do so.

The scandal revolved around an incident now known simply as "Watergate," named after the Washington hotel and office complex where five employees of the Republican Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP) were caught in the act of burglarizing the Democratic party's national headquarters.

Over the next two years, numerous wrongdoings were uncovered by newspapers. Nixon was caught in a web that wound tighter around him as he and his associates tried to cover them up.

After realizing that he faced almost certain impeachment, Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974.

Nixon grew up in a poor family. He nearly died twice as a child, the first time as a result of a head wound and the second time from pneumonia. Every morning before school, he would carry produce in from Los Angeles, wash it, and set up the display in his father's grocery store.

While a student at the Duke University Law School, Nixon was given the nickname of "Gloomy Gus" by his classmates because he was always so serious.

His first elected office was that of U.S. representative. From there he became U.S. senator before becoming Dwight Eisenhower's vice president. From 1963 through 1968, Nixon practiced law in New York. He edged Hubert Humphrey by less than one percentage point in the 1968 presidential election.

Included among Nixon's accomplishments as president are:

1. Steadily reducing and finally ending the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
2. Dramatically improving relations with China.
3. Signing treaties with the Soviet Union to limit arms buildups.
4. Placing the first man on the moon.
5. Creating the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which sets product safety standards.

Nixon was pardoned for any crimes he may have committed by President Gerald R. Ford.

In his later years, Nixon re-emerged into public view as the author of autobiographical and foreign policy books. He also received recognition as an elder statesman.

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