Richard Nixon

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Richard Nixon, a republican and the 37th President of the United States had a very interesting childhood. He was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba California. His parents were Frank Nixon and Hannah Milhous. Jonathon Aiken who wrote "Nixon: A Life" said that Frank, Richard Nixon's father, had a miserable childhood; his mother died when he was eight and his father remarried a harsh woman. Frank hated her so much that he ran away and worked for $.25 a day. He met Hannah Milhous, a middle class Quaker. They were attracted to each other and got married. Frank and Hannah came from opposite backgrounds "" Frank was not Quaker, had no educational background, had anti- establishment political theories (the Milhous's were staunch republicans), and he was very loud, stubborn, and he could only see his side of an argument. The Milhous's very generally quiet people who believed strongly in privacy and could see both sides of an argument.

Hannah and Frank did get married and had four children, Harold, Richard, Donald and Arthur.

Richard Nixon grew up on the lemon farm his father owned. His family was rather poor and he would often have to sacrifice things. Richard was an extremely bright child and he often memorized stories and poems. His mother could see he was naturally gifted. Richard would listen to his parents talk about politics and he heard a lot about Woodrow Wilson (who he later admired very much). Richard skipped second grade because he already knew the second grade work. Although his mother was very strict and gentle his father was very harsh. Frank would often punish the children for minor transgressions.

Frank was so stubborn he refused to believe pasteurized milk was healthy. He would say it was a waste of money and insisted the family get all of the milk straight from the family cow. This was probably not the best idea because all of the children came down with some sort of lung infection. Doctors noticed a shadow on Richard's lung and thought it might be the beginnings of tuberculosis. They ordered him not to play sports of any kind, which made him increasingly unpopular. Richard was didn't have many friends in his childhood but had adult friends such as his mother, grandmother, and teachers. Frank's lemon farm failed and he opened a store instead. The whole family helped out with the store.

Richard went to Whittier High School where he joined the debate club and became a wonderful public speaker. His younger brother Arthur got tuberculosis and died. Richard and his family were shocked but Richard did not let that slow him down and he kept studying and always was in the top of his class. Richard was offered scholarships to Harvard and Yale but he had to turn them down because they only covered tuition and they could not afford to pay for a dorm and transportation with the depression starting and they had to pay for Harold's (Richard's older brother) medication for tuberculosis.

Richard wound up going to Whittier College and was not disappointed about not going to Harvard or Yale. Richard's spot in his chest cleared and he was allowed to play sports. He joined the football team but did not play much. Richard became popular and joined many after school activities as well as working in his father's store. He would only sleep about four hours every night because of his crammed schedule.

All of Richard's hard work and the obstacles in his childhood helped him to become a stronger person and helped prepare him for the many challenges he faced in his Presidency.

Resources: Aitken, Jonathan. "Nixon; A Life", Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc. 1993.

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