Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961.
Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. After completing his undergraduate work at Whittier College, he graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law. He and his wife, Pat Nixon, moved to Washington to work for the federal government in 1942. He subsequently served in the United States Navy during World War II. Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. His pursuit of the Hiss Case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist, and elevated him to national prominence. He was the running mate ofDwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election. Nixon served for eight years as vice president. He waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, and lost a race for Governor of California in 1962. In 1968 he ran again for the presidency and was elected.
Although Nixon initially escalated the war in Vietnam, he subsequently ended US involvement in 1973. Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972 opened diplomatic relations between the two nations, and he initiated détente and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year. Domestically, his administration generally embraced policies that transferred power from Washington to the states. Among other things, he initiated wars oncancer and drugs, imposed wage and price controls, enforced desegregation of Southern schools and established the Environmental Protection Agency. Though he presided over Apollo 11, he scaled back manned space exploration. He was reelected by a landslide in 1972.
Nixon's second term saw an Arab oil embargo, the resignation of his vice president, Spiro Agnew, and a continuing series of revelations about the Watergate scandal. The scandal escalated, costing Nixon much of his political support, and on August 9, 1974, he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachmentand removal from office. After his resignation, he was controversially issued a pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford. In retirement, Nixon's work authoring several books and undertaking many foreign trips helped to rehabilitate his public image as an elder statesman. He suffered a debilitating stroke on April 18, 1994, and died four days later at the age of 81. Nixon remains a source of considerable interest among historians and the public.
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 his heart condition 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.
Nixon's funeral took place on April 27, 1994—the first for an American president since Lyndon B. Johnson's in 1973, over which Nixon had presided. Eulogists at the Nixon Library ceremony included then-President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, California Governor Pete Wilson, and the Reverend Billy Graham. Also in attendance were former Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and their wives.
Richard Nixon rests beside his wife Pat on the grounds of the Nixon Library. He was survived by his two daughters, Tricia and Julie, and four grandchildren. In keeping with his wishes, his funeral was not a full state funeral, though his body did lie in repose in the Nixon Library lobby from April 26 to the morning of the funeral services. Mourners waited in line up to eight hours in chilly, wet weather to pay their respects. At its peak, the line to pass by Nixon's casket was three miles long with an estimated 42,000 people waiting to pay their respects.
John F. Stacks of Time magazine said of Nixon shortly after his death, "An outsize energy and determination drove him on to recover and rebuild after every self-created disaster that he faced. To reclaim a respected place in American public life after his resignation, he kept traveling and thinking and talking to the world's leaders ... and by the time Bill Clinton came to the White House [in 1993], Nixon had virtually cemented his role as an elder statesman. Clinton, whose wife served on the staff of the committee that voted to impeach Nixon, met openly with him and regularly sought his advice." Tom Wicker of The New York Times noted that Nixon had been equalled only by Franklin Roosevelt in being five times nominated on a major party ticket and, quoting Nixon's 1962 farewell speech, wrote, "Richard Nixon's jowly, beard-shadowed face, the ski-jump nose and the widow's peak, the arms upstretched in the V-sign, had been so often pictured and caricatured, his presence had become such a familiar one in the land, he had been so often in the heat of controversy, that it was hard to realize the nation really would not 'have Nixon to kick around anymore'." Ambrose said of the reaction to Nixon's death, "To everyone's amazement, except his, he's our beloved elder statesman."
Upon Nixon's death, almost all of the news coverage mentioned Watergate, but for the most part, the coverage was favorable to the former president. The Dallas Morning News stated, "History ultimately should show that despite his flaws, he was one of our most farsighted chief executives." This offended some; columnist Russell Baker complained of "a group conspiracy to grant him absolution".Cartoonist Jeff Koterba of the Omaha World-Herald depicted History before a blank canvas, his subject Nixon, as America looks on eagerly. The artist urges his audience to sit down; the work will take some time to complete, as "this portrait is a little more complicated than most".