Richard Nixon Biography

Served: January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
Born: January 9, 1913
Birthplace: Yorba Linda, California
Died: April 22, 1994
Occupation: Lawyer
Political Party: Republican
Spouse: Pat Ryan


A Popular President Loses Support Amid Scandal

Richard Nixon is generally remembered for one thing: Watergate. As the 37th president of the United States, Nixon became deeply embroiled in scandal during his second term and was left with no option but to resign from office or be impeached.

In addition to serving as president, he also served one term as representative, a partial term as senator, and two terms as vice president.

A Modest Upbringing and Academic Success

Nixon did not have an easy childhood. His family was poor and two of his siblings died of tuberculosis. However, in part because of his modest upbringing, Nixon became a hard worker and received high academic marks.

He graduated from Whittier College in 1934 and attended Duke University School of Law. In 1937, he graduated from Duke third in his class. He was admitted to the California bar in 1937 and began practicing commercial litigation, gaining great success in a short amount of time.

In 1940, Nixon married Thelma “Pat” Ryan, whom he met while participating in a theater production. They had two children and soon moved to Washington, D.C., with Nixon joining the Navy. After completing officer’s candidate school, he was appointed an ensign. Through various promotions, Nixon was eventually made lieutenant commander.

Richard Nixon’s Pets

MORE PETS! Check out our photo gallery of selected White House pets

Watergate: The Scandal That Cost Nixon the Presidency

In 1946, Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives, and in 1950 he was elected to the Senate. He went on to serve as vice president for eight years. In 1960, he lost his bid in the presidential campaign to John F. Kennedy. Finally, in 1968, he ran for president and won the election.

During Nixon’s first term, he was able to end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In addition, Nixon launched various domestic programs, including fighting drugs, space exploration, and reforming health care and welfare. In 1972, he won re-election.

Most of Nixon’s shortened second term was engulfed in the Watergate scandal. Many of his political supporters abandoned Nixon at this time, and in 1974 he was faced with either resigning the presidency or a definite impeachment. Rather than be removed from office, Nixon chose to resign:

Did You Know…?

  • Nixon lost the first election he ever participated in, which was for high school student body president.
  • After graduating from Duke University, Nixon applied to the FBI. Because he never heard back, he assumed he had not been accepted, but years later he learned that he had in fact been hired, but the appointment had been nixed because of budget cuts.
  • After Nixon resigned as president, Gerald Ford became his successor. As a newly assigned president, Ford issued a presidential pardon for Nixon, even though public opinion was against it at the time.
Our comprehensive list of White House pets begins here...
1789-1850 | 1850-1889 | 1889-1953 | 1953-present