Richard Nixon, US President

Essay by Finken May 2004

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Richard M Nixon was born on the 9th of January 1913 in Yorba Linda, and when he was nine his family moved to Whittier in California. This was where his father ran a little petrol station and grocery store.

When he was 17 he entered Whittier College, a Quaker institution where Student politics and debates distinguished his college years. In 1934 he won a scholarship to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. At Duke however Nixon didn't participate in any of the political activities he had been so active in at Whittier, but he studied traditional law.

He wanted a career in the FBI, but instead he returned to Whittier and the town's oldest law firm. When Nixon's firm opened in the neighbouring town of La Habra, his firm acted as the town government's legal advisers. Most of the work was in prosecuting, which he excelled in.

At this time Nixon had been active in a theatrical group.

Here he met Thelma Patricia Ryan, a schoolteacher, whom he married in 1940.

He had expected to move into a large city firm, but because of the 2nd world war he was forced to move to Washington DC in 1942. He joined the navy and became a lieutenant and served there the rest of the war.

Before he was released from duty he was contacted by a Republican group, and he became a member of the Republican Party. He won the Republican primary, and later beat the famous Democrat, Jerry Voorhees in the general election.

The first post-war elections were held in 1946. Here the Republicans feasted on grievances caused by wartime rationing and post-war demobilisation. The Republicans were in control for the first time since the thirties, and Nixon became a member of Congress. Here he hunted down communists.