1969-1974RepublicanJanuary 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, CaliforniaApril 22, 1994, in New York, New York
Vice PresidentsFirst LadyPrevious OccupationsStates in Union
Spiro T. Agnew (resigned in 1973)
Gerald R. Ford
Thelma Patricia Ryan Nixon (Wife)Lawyer, Public Official50


Nixon’s parents were Francis Antony and Hannah Milhous Nixon. Nixon married Thelma Catherine Ryan (Patricia) in 1940. They had two daughters: Patricia and Julie.


Nixon’s presidency began with a strong, successful first term. When he took office the nation continued to be divided over the Vietnam War. Nixon was committed to peace and world stability. He withdrew American troops from Vietnam and ended the draft. Nixon also traveled to China and the Soviet Union, the first U.S. president to do so. While in Moscow Nixon met with Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev and succeeded in negotiating the strategic arms limitations treaty (SALT) to limit nuclear weapons. Nixon was reelected to a second term by a wide margin. However, his presidency ultimately ended in scandal and disgrace. In June of 1972 five burglars were caught planting wiretapping devices in the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Building in Washington, D.C. From the very beginning of the investigations, Nixon vehemently denied any previous knowledge of or association with the Watergate incident. An intensive investigation ultimately revealed that Nixon and most of his appointees had been illegally recording conversations at the White House, the Executive Office Building, and Camp David. These recordings proved that Nixon not only knew about the Watergate burglary, but also participated in its cover-up. Three articles of impeachment were brought against Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee: obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and the unconstitutional defiance of its subpoenas. Nixon was advised to resign, and at first he refused. However, learning that he would not win an impeachment trial, Nixon resigned the presidency in a televised address on August 8, 1974. He was the first and only president to have resigned.

Nixon’s successor, President Gerald Ford, issued to him a “full, free, and absolute pardon [for all federal crimes that he] committed or may have committed or taken part in” as president. Nixon accepted the pardon.


On accepting the Republican nomination for president, Nixon declared, “Let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth––to see it like it is, and tell it like it is––to find the truth, to speak the truth, and to live the truth.” (1968)

“Let historians not record that when America was the most powerful nation in the world we passed on the other side of the road and allowed the last hopes for peace and freedom of millions of people to be suffocated by the forces of totalitarianism. And so tonight––to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans––I ask for your support.” (Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam; November 3, 1969)

During a televised question-and-answer session with the press, Nixon asserted, “I made mistakes but in all my years of public life I have never profited, never profited from public service. I’ve earned every cent. And in all of my years in public life I have never obstructed justice. . . . I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.” (November 17, 1973)

At This Time

1969: Following an attack on a U.S. plane on April 15, Nixon orders that reconnaissance flights off of North Korea be resumed • Nixon declares the Guam Doctrine, later known as the Nixon Doctrine, which specifies that though the U.S. will continue to recognize its treaty agreements, the U.S. also expects its allies to provide the human resources needed for its own defense • Nixon discloses his program for welfare reform, which includes the Family Assistance Plan • In November Nixon reveals that North Vietnam has rejected the administration’s secret peace offers, and he proposes a plan to withdraw troops slowly and in secret • Nixon signs the Selective Service Reform bill, ensuring that draftees are selected by a lottery system • A Gallup Poll indicates that 70% of those questioned feel that the influence of religion is declining in the U.S • The Woodstock Music and Art Fair is held near Bethel, New York, and more than 300,000 people attend • The Apollo 11 lands its lunar module on the moon July 20, astronaut Neil Armstrong steps on the moon July 21, and the crew returns July 24 • Two Mariner space probes send back pictures of the surface of Mars • 1970: The administration announces that it will seek to end de jure segregation (racial separation that is enforced by law) • Nixon signs an executive order ending occupational and parental deferments for the draft • In June Nixon addresses the nation through television, asking for wage and price restraint • Nixon approves and signs the Postal Reorganization Act, which establishes an independent U.S. Postal Service • In September Nixon meets with Israeli Premier Golda Meir to talk about problems in the Middle East • In a televised address, Nixon proposes a five-point peace plan for Indochina, which includes a “cease-fire in place” and the negotiated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam • Nixon signs the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970, which gives the Secretary of Labor the responsibility of setting workplace safety standards for jobs • Nixon signs a clean air bill that mandates that car manufacturers reduce certain pollutants by 90% • Student protests against the Vietnam War at Kent State University result in four students being killed by the National Guard • The films Paint Your Wagon starring Joshua Logan and True Grit starring John Wayne premiere • The world population in millions totals 760 in China, 550 in India, 243 in the U.S.S.R., and 205 in the U.S. • 1971: Nixon signs a Wage-Price Controls Bill, extending his authority to impose restraints on wages, prices, salaries, and rents to help curb inflation for another year • Nixon signs an Emergency Employment Act, which sets aside $2.25 billion to create public service jobs at state and local levels • In August Nixon declares a 90-day freeze on wages and prices, known as Phase One of his economic program; he announces Phase Two in October • Nixon signs an extension of the Economic Stabilization Act, to provide another year to stabilize the economy • The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts opens in Washington, D.C. • Cigarette commercials are banned from television • 1972: In late February President and Mrs. Nixon arrive in China • A joint announcement, later known as the Shanghai Communique, is released by the U.S. and China, which calls for both countries to normalize their relations and for the U.S. to withdraw gradually from Taiwan • In April Nixon enacts legislation devaluing the dollar • On national television, Nixon announces that he has ordered the mining (spreading of bombs below the water) of North Vietnamese ports and the bombing of military targets in North Vietnam • In May Nixon arrives in the Soviet Union for a summit meeting • On June 17 the police arrest five intruders inside Democratic Headquarters in Washington, D.C.’s Watergate Building––this begins the “Watergate” scandal • In August Nixon declares at a news conference that no one on the White House staff, in the administration, or anyone “presently employed” was involved in the Watergate break-in • Nixon endorses a bill that calls for revenue sharing with the states and grants over $30 billion to state and local governments over a period of five years • Nixon enhances the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the sale and use of pesticides • During the month of October Nixon signs sixty bills, one of which provides more than $5 billion in benefits for the aged, blind, and disabled, while also increasing Social Security taxes • On November 7 Nixon is re-elected in a landslide, and the next day he asks all agency directors, federal department heads, and presidential appointees to resign • Strict measures to prevent hijacking are implemented at U.S. airports • American swimmer Mark Spitz wins a record seven gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Munich • The U.S. military draft is phased out, and entry into the armed forces is now voluntary • 1973: Phase Three of the economic plan is announced, which ends wage and price controls in most industries • On January 27 the Paris Peace Accords are signed by all parties at war in Vietnam • Nixon declares a freeze on all prices for sixty days, with the exception of raw agricultural products and rents • On July 16 Federal Aviation Administrator Alexander Butterfield confirms that a taping system exists in the Oval Office as he testifies before the Senate Watergate Committee • In July Phase Four of the economic program is revealed, in which the freeze is lifted on all foods except beef and health-care products • On July 23 Nixon claims executive privilege and refuses to turn over the subpoenaed tapes to the Senate Watergate Committee • On December 21 Nixon increases Social Security benefits • Fighting breaks out in the Middle East between Arabs and Israelis • An unstable ceasefire remains in force as peace talks begin and break apart several times • The Arab oil-producing countries plan to embargo shipments to the U.S., western Europe, and Japan in retaliation for their support of Israel • The oil embargo triggers an energy crisis in the industrialized world • The U.S. Supreme Court rules that individual states can not prohibit abortions during the first six months of pregnancy • Three American Skylab missions are completed successfully • 1974: In his State of the Union address, Nixon refuses to resign and demands an end to the Watergate investigation • On July 24 the Supreme Court orders Nixon to turn over 64 tapes to the Senate Watergate Committee in an 8-0 ruling • The tapes reveal that Nixon not only knew about the Watergate burglary, but also participated in the cover-up • Three days later three articles of impeachment are brought against Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee: obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and the unconstitutional defiance of its subpoenas • On August 8 Nixon resigns the presidency, effective at noon the next day, in a televised address • The following day Nixon leaves for California • Gerald Ford becomes the 38th President of the U.S. • Worldwide inflation contributes to dramatic increases in the cost of fuel, food, and materials • Economic growth slows to almost zero in most industrialized nations • Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward publish All the President’s Men • Four U.S. Episcopal bishops defy church law and ordain 11 women as priests • The U.S. Mariner 10 satellite transmits detailed pictures of both Venus and Mercury • India becomes the sixth nation to explode a nuclear device • Frank Robinson becomes the first African-American to manage a major league baseball team, the Cleveland Indians

Did You Know?

Nixon was the first president to visit all 50 states, as well as the first president to visit China and the U.S.S.R.

Nixon’s favorite president was Woodrow Wilson, whom he admired for his efforts to establish world peace. Nixon hung a picture of Wilson in his own office. After his inauguration, Nixon had Wilson’s presidential desk moved into the Oval Office so he could also use it. Nixon apparently was in the habit of working at the desk with his feet resting on it. His heels marred the surface, and a White House aid sent the desk to be refinished while Nixon was traveling abroad. When Nixon returned, he was not happy to see the repairs: “I didn’t order that. I want to leave my mark on this place just like other Presidents!”

In addition to the Watergate Scandal, other controversies damaged Nixon’s administration. Vice President Spiro Agnew was involved in bribery and tax-evasion schemes. He subsequently resigned in October 1973. Nixon’s own personal finances were later scrutinized, and it was determined that he had also been involved in tax evasion and owed more than $400,000 in taxes.

Learn More

Field Trips for Richard Milhous Nixon

Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace
Yorba Linda, California

The twenty-two galleries of the museum memorialize Richard Nixon’s political career. Interactive video and touchscreen technology present the highlights and timeline of important events of his presidency, including the Watergate scandal. On the grounds are the gravesites of Mr. and Mrs. Nixon, which are surrounded by a beautiful English country garden, and the restored 1912 farmhouse where Nixon was born.

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