ORIGINAL PRESIDENTS DWIGHT EISENHOWER & RICHARD NIXON PRESS PHOTO 1958 For Sale
ORIGINAL PRESIDENTS DWIGHT EISENHOWER & RICHARD NIXON PRESS PHOTO 1958:
A GREAT VINTAGE PHOTO FROM 1958 OF DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER AND RICHARD NIXON, HIS VICE PRESIDENT. PHOTO MEASURES APPROXIMATELY 7 X 9 1/8 INCHES
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (/ˈaɪzənhaʊ.ər/ EYE-zən-how-ər; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he was a five-star general in the Army and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful Invasion of Normandy in 1944–45 from the Western Front.
Eisenhower was born David Dwight Eisenhower in Denison, Texas, and he was raised in Kansas in a large family of mostly Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry. His family had a strong religious background. His mother was a Lutheran, married as a River Brethren, and later became a Jehovah's Witness. Eisenhower, however, did not belong to any organized church until 1952. He cited constant relocation during his military career as one reason. He graduated from West Point in 1915 and later married Mamie Doud, with whom he had two sons. During World War I, he was denied a request to serve in Europe and instead commanded a unit that trained tank crews. Following the war, he served under various generals and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 1941. After the United States entered World War II, Eisenhower oversaw the invasions of North Africa and Sicily before supervising the invasions of France and Germany. After the war, he served as Army Chief of Staff (1945–1948) and then took on the role as president of Columbia University (1948–1953). In 1951–52, he served as the first Supreme Commander of NATO.
In 1952, Eisenhower entered the presidential race as a Republican to block the isolationist foreign policies of Senator Robert A. Taft, who opposed NATO and wanted no foreign entanglements. He won that election and the 1956 election in landslides, both times defeating Adlai Stevenson II. He became the first Republican to win since Herbert Hoover in 1928. Eisenhower's main goals in office were to contain the spread of communism and reduce federal deficits. In 1953, he threatened to use nuclear weapons until China agreed to peace terms in the Korean War. China did agree and an armistice resulted which remains in effect. His New Look policy of nuclear deterrence prioritized inexpensive nuclear weapons while reducing funding for expensive Army divisions. He continued Harry S. Truman's policy of recognizing Taiwan as the legitimate government of China, and he won congressional approval of the Formosa Resolution. His administration provided major aid to help the French fight off Vietnamese Communists in the First Indochina War. After the French left, he gave strong financial support to the new state of South Vietnam. He supported military coups in Iran and Guatemala. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, he condemned the Israeli, British, and French invasion of Egypt, and he forced them to withdraw. He also condemned the Soviet invasion during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 but took no action. During the Syrian Crisis of 1957 he approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria's pro-Western neighbors. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, Eisenhower authorized the establishment of NASA, which led to the Space Race. He deployed 15,000 soldiers during the 1958 Lebanon crisis. Near the end of his term, he failed to set up a summit meeting with the Soviets when a U.S. spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. He approved the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was left to John F. Kennedy to carry out.
On the domestic front, Eisenhower was a moderate conservative who continued New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security. He covertly opposed Joseph McCarthy and contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking executive privilege. He signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and sent Army troops to enforce federal court orders which integrated schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. His largest program was the Interstate Highway System. He promoted the establishment of strong science education via the National Defense Education Act. His two terms saw widespread economic prosperity except for a minor recession in 1958. In his farewell address to the nation, he expressed his concerns about the dangers of massive military spending, particularly deficit spending and government contracts to private military manufacturers. Historical evaluations of his presidency place him among the upper tier of American presidents.Contents1 Family background2 Early life and education3 Personal life4 World War I4.1 In service of generals5 World War II5.1 Operations Torch and Avalanche5.2 Supreme Allied commander and Operation Overlord5.3 Liberation of France and victory in Europe6 After World War II6.1 Military Governor in Germany and Army Chief of Staff6.2 1948 presidential election6.3 President at Columbia University and NATO Supreme Commander6.4 Presidential campaign of 19526.5 Election of 19567 Presidency (1953–1961)7.1 Interstate Highway System7.2 Foreign policy7.2.1 Space Race7.2.2 Korean War, Free China and Red China7.2.3 The Middle East and Eisenhower doctrine7.2.4 Southeast Asia7.2.5 1960 U-2 incident7.3 Civil rights7.4 Relations with Congress7.5 Judicial appointments7.5.1 Supreme Court7.6 States admitted to the Union7.7 Health issues7.8 End of presidency8 Post-presidency, death and funeral9 Legacy and memory9.1 Tributes and memorials10 Awards and decorations11 Promotions12 Family tree13 See also14 References15 Bibliography15.1 General biographies15.2 Military career15.3 Civilian career15.4 Primary sources16 External linksFamily background
The Eisenhower family home, Abilene, KansasThe Eisenhauer (German for "iron hewer/miner") family migrated from Karlsbrunn in Nassau-Saarbrücken, to America, first settling in York, Pennsylvania, in 1741, and in the 1880s moving to Kansas. Accounts vary as to how and when the German name Eisenhauer was anglicized to Eisenhower. Eisenhower's Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors, who were primarily farmers, included Hans Nikolaus Eisenhauer of Karlsbrunn, who migrated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1741.
Hans's great-great-grandson, David Jacob Eisenhower (1863–1942), was Eisenhower's father and was a college-educated engineer, despite his own father Jacob's urging to stay on the family farm. Eisenhower's mother, Ida Elizabeth (Stover) Eisenhower, born in Virginia, of German Protestant ancestry, moved to Kansas from Virginia. She married David on September 23, 1885, in Lecompton, Kansas, on the campus of their alma mater, Lane University.
David owned a general store in Hope, Kansas, but the business failed due to economic conditions and the family became impoverished. The Eisenhowers then lived in Texas from 1889 until 1892, and later returned to Kansas, with $24 (equivalent to $669 in 2018) to their name at the time. David worked as a railroad mechanic and then at a creamery. By 1898, the parents made a decent living and provided a suitable home for their large family.
Early life and educationDwight David Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas, the third of seven sons. His mother originally named him David Dwight but reversed the two names after his birth to avoid the confusion of having two Davids in the family. All of the boys were called "Ike", such as "Big Ike" (Edgar) and "Little Ike" (Dwight); the nickname was intended as an abbreviation of their last name. By World War II, only Dwight was still called "Ike".
In 1892, the family moved to Abilene, Kansas, which Eisenhower considered his hometown. As a child, he was involved in an accident that cost his younger brother an eye; he later referred to this as an experience that taught him the need to be protective of those under him. Dwight developed a keen and enduring interest in exploring the outdoors. He learned about hunting and fishing, cooking, and card playing from an illiterate named Bob Davis who camped on the Smoky Hill River.
While Eisenhower's mother was against war, it was her collection of history books that first sparked Eisenhower's early and lasting interest in military history. He persisted in reading the books in her collection and became a voracious reader on the subject. Other favorite subjects early in his education were arithmetic and spelling.
His parents set aside specific times at breakfast and at dinner for daily family Bible reading. Chores were regularly assigned and rotated among all the children, and misbehavior was met with unequivocal discipline, usually from David. His mother, previously a member (with David) of the River Brethren sect of the Mennonites, joined the International Bible Students Association, later known as Jehovah's Witnesses. The Eisenhower home served as the local meeting hall from 1896 to 1915, though Eisenhower never joined the International Bible Students. His later decision to attend West Point saddened his mother, who felt that warfare was "rather wicked", but she did not overrule his decision. While speaking of himself in 1948, Eisenhower said he was "one of the most deeply religious men I know" though unattached to any "sect or organization". He was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in 1953.
Eisenhower attended Abilene High School and graduated with the class of 1909. As a freshman, he injured his knee and developed a leg infection that extended into his groin, and which his doctor diagnosed as life-threatening. The doctor insisted that the leg be amputated but Dwight refused to allow it, and surprisingly recovered, though he had to repeat his freshman year. He and brother Edgar both wanted to attend college, though they lacked the funds. They made a pact to take alternate years at college while the other worked to earn the tuitions.
Edgar took the first turn at school, and Dwight was employed as a night supervisor at the Belle Springs Creamery. When Edgar asked for a second year, Dwight consented and worked for a second year. At that time, a friend "Swede" Hazlett was applying to the Naval Academy and urged Dwight to apply to the school, since no tuition was required. Eisenhower requested consideration for either Annapolis or West Point with his U.S. Senator, Joseph L. Bristow. Though Eisenhower was among the winners of the entrance-exam competition, he was beyond the age limit for the Naval Academy. He then accepted an appointment to West Point in 1911.Eisenhower (third from left) and Omar Bradley (second from right) were members of the 1912 West Point football team.At West Point, Eisenhower relished the emphasis on traditions and on sports, but was less enthusiastic about the hazing, though he willingly accepted it as a plebe. He was also a regular violator of the more detailed regulations, and finished school with a less than stellar discipline rating. Academically, Eisenhower's best subject by far was English. Otherwise, his performance was average, though he thoroughly enjoyed the typical emphasis of engineering on science and mathematics.
In athletics, Eisenhower later said that "not making the baseball team at West Point was one of the greatest disappointments of my life, maybe my greatest". He made the varsity football team and was a starter as running back and linebacker in 1912, when he tackled the legendary Jim Thorpe of the Carlisle Indians. Eisenhower suffered a torn knee while being tackled in the next game, which was the last he played; he re-injured his knee on horseback and in the boxing ring, so he turned to fencing and gymnastics.
Eisenhower later served as junior varsity football coach and cheerleader. He graduated in the middle of the class of 1915, which became known as "the class the stars fell on", because 59 members eventually became general officers.
Personal lifeMain article: Family of Dwight D. EisenhowerWhile Eisenhower was stationed in Texas, he met Mamie Doud of Boone, Iowa. They were immediately taken with each other. He proposed to her on Valentine's Day in 1916. A November wedding date in Denver was moved up to July 1 due to the pending U.S. entry into World War I. They moved many times during their first 35 years of marriage.
The Eisenhowers had two sons. Doud Dwight "Icky" Eisenhower (1917–1921) died of scarlet fever at the age of three. Eisenhower was mostly reticent to discuss his death. Their second son, John Eisenhower (1922–2013), was born in Denver, Colorado. John served in the United States Army, retired as a brigadier general, became an author and served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 1969 to 1971. Coincidentally, John graduated from West Point on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He married Barbara Jean Thompson on June 10, 1947. John and Barbara had four children: David, Barbara Ann, Susan Elaine and Mary Jean. David, after whom Camp David is named, married Richard Nixon's daughter Julie in 1968.Mamie Eisenhower, painted in 1953 by Thomas E. StephensEisenhower was a golf enthusiast later in life, and he joined the Augusta National Golf Club in 1948. He played golf frequently during and after his presidency and was unreserved in expressing his passion for the game, to the point of golfing during winter; he ordered his golf balls painted black so he could see them better against snow on the ground. He had a small, basic golf facility installed at Camp David, and became close friends with the Augusta National Chairman Clifford Roberts, inviting Roberts to stay at the White House on several occasions. Roberts, an investment broker, also handled the Eisenhower family's investments. Roberts also advised Eisenhower on tax aspects of publishing his memoirs, which proved financially lucrative.
Oil painting was one of Eisenhower's hobbies. He began painting while at Columbia University, after watching Thomas E. Stephens paint Mamie's portrait. In order to relax, Eisenhower painted about 260 oils during the last 20 years of his life. The images were mostly landscapes, but also portraits of subjects such as Mamie, their grandchildren, General Montgomery, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. Wendy Beckett stated that Eisenhower's work, "simple and earnest, rather cause us to wonder at the hidden depths of this reticent president". A conservative in both art and politics, he in a 1962 speech denounced modern art as "a piece of canvas that looks like a broken-down Tin Lizzie, loaded with paint, has been driven over it".
Angels in the Outfield was Eisenhower's favorite movie. His favorite reading material for relaxation were the Western novels of Zane Grey. With his excellent memory and ability to focus, Eisenhower was skilled at card games. He learned poker, which he called his "favorite indoor sport", in Abilene. Eisenhower recorded West Point classmates' poker losses for payment after graduation, and later stopped playing because his opponents resented having to pay him. A friend reported that after learning to play contract bridge at West Point, Eisenhower played the game six nights a week for five months. Eisenhower continued to play bridge throughout his military career. While stationed in the Philippines, he played regularly with President Manuel Quezon. During WWII, an unwritten qualification for an officer's appointment to Eisenhower's staff was the ability to play a sound game of bridge. He played even during the stressful weeks leading up to the D-Day landings. His favorite partner was General Alfred Gruenther, considered the best player in the U.S. Army; he appointed Gruenther his second-in-command at NATO partly because of his skill at bridge. Saturday night bridge games at the White House were a feature of his presidency. He was a strong player, though not an expert by modern standards. The great bridge player and popularizer Ely Culbertson described his game as classic and sound with "flashes of brilliance", and said that "You can always judge a man's character by the way he plays cards. Eisenhower is a calm and collected player and never whines at his losses. He is brilliant in victory but never commits the bridge player's worst crime of gloating when he wins." Bridge expert Oswald Jacoby frequently participated in the White House games, and said, "The President plays better bridge than golf. He tries to break 90 at golf. At bridge, you would say he plays in the 70s."
World War ISee also: Military career of Dwight D. EisenhowerAfter graduation in 1915, Second Lieutenant Eisenhower requested an assignment in the Philippines, which was denied. He served initially in logistics and then the infantry at various camps in Texas and Georgia until 1918. In 1916, while stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Eisenhower was football coach for St. Louis College, now St. Mary's University. Eisenhower was an honorary member of the Sigma Beta Chi fraternity at St. Mary's University. In late 1917, while he was in charge of training at Ft. Oglethorpe in Georgia, his wife Mamie had their first son.
When the U.S. entered World War I, he immediately requested an overseas assignment but was again denied and then assigned to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. In February 1918, he was transferred to Camp Meade in Maryland with the 65th Engineers. His unit was later ordered to France, but to his chagrin he received orders for the new tank corps, where he was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel in the National Army. He commanded a unit that trained tank crews at Camp Colt – his first command – at the site of "Pickett's Charge" on the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Civil War battleground. Though Eisenhower and his tank crews never saw combat, he displayed excellent organizational skills, as well as an ability to accurately assess junior officers' strengths and make optimal placements of personnel.
Once again his spirits were raised when the unit under his command received orders overseas to France. This time his wishes were thwarted when the armistice was signed a week before his departure date. Completely missing out on the warfront left him depressed and bitter for a time, despite receiving the Distinguished Service Medal for his work at home. In World War II, rivals who had combat service in the first great war (led by Gen. Bernard Montgomery) sought to denigrate Eisenhower for his previous lack of combat duty, despite his stateside experience establishing a camp, completely equipped, for thousands of troops, and developing a full combat training schedule.
In service of generals
Eisenhower (far right) with three unidentified men in 1919, four years after graduating from West PointAfter the war, Eisenhower reverted to his regular rank of captain and a few days later was promoted to major, a rank he held for 16 years. The major was assigned in 1919 to a transcontinental Army convoy to test vehicles and dramatize the need for improved roads in the nation. Indeed, the convoy averaged only 5 mph from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco; later the improvement of highways became a signature issue for Eisenhower as President.
He assumed duties again at Camp Meade, Maryland, commanding a battalion of tanks, where he remained until 1922. His schooling continued, focused on the nature of the next war and the role of the tank in it. His new expertise in tank warfare was strengthened by a close collaboration with George S. Patton, Sereno E. Brett, and other senior tank leaders. Their leading-edge ideas of speed-oriented offensive tank warfare were strongly discouraged by superiors, who considered the new approach too radical and preferred to continue using tanks in a strictly supportive role for the infantry. Eisenhower was even threatened with court-martial for continued publication of these proposed methods of tank deployment, and he relented.
From 1920, Eisenhower served under a succession of talented generals – Fox Conner, John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur and George Marshall. He first became executive officer to General Conner in the Panama Canal Zone, where, joined by Mamie, he served until 1924. Under Conner's tutelage, he studied military history and theory (including Carl von Clausewitz's On War), and later cited Conner's enormous influence on his military thinking, saying in 1962 that "Fox Conner was the ablest man I ever knew." Conner's comment on Eisenhower was, "[He] is one of the most capable, efficient and loyal officers I have ever met." On Conner's recommendation, in 1925–26 he attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he graduated first in a class of 245 officers. He then served as a battalion commander at Fort Benning, Georgia, until 1927.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Eisenhower's career in the post-war army stalled somewhat, as military priorities diminished; many of his friends resigned for high-paying business jobs. He was assigned to the American Battle Monuments Commission directed by General Pershing, and with the help of his brother Milton Eisenhower, then a journalist at the Agriculture Department, he produced a guide to American battlefields in Europe. He then was assigned to the Army War College and graduated in 1928. After a one-year assignment in France, Eisenhower served as executive officer to General George V. Mosely, Assistant Secretary of War, from 1929 to February 1933. Major Dwight D. Eisenhower graduated from the Army Industrial College (Washington, DC) in 1933 and later served on the faculty (it was later expanded to become the Industrial College of the Armed Services and is now known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy).
His primary duty was planning for the next war, which proved most difficult in the midst of the Great Depression. He then was posted as chief military aide to General Douglas MacArthur, Army Chief of Staff. In 1932 he participated in the clearing of the Bonus March encampment in Washington, D.C. Although he was against the actions taken against the veterans and strongly advised MacArthur against taking a public role in it, he later wrote the Army's official incident report, endorsing MacArthur's conduct.
In 1935 he accompanied MacArthur to the Philippines, where he served as assistant military adviser to the Philippine government in developing their army. Eisenhower had strong philosophical disagreements with MacArthur regarding the role of the Philippine Army and the leadership qualities that an American army officer should exhibit and develop in his subordinates. The resulting antipathy between Eisenhower and MacArthur lasted the rest of their lives.
Historians have concluded that this assignment provided valuable preparation for handling the challenging personalities of Winston Churchill, George S. Patton, George Marshall, and General Montgomery during World War II. Eisenhower later emphasized that too much had been made of the disagreements with MacArthur, and that a positive relationship endured. While in Manila, Mamie suffered a life-threatening stomach ailment but recovered fully. Eisenhower was promoted to the rank of permanent lieutenant colonel in 1936. He also learned to fly, making a solo flight over the Philippines in 1937, and obtained his private pilot's license in 1939 at Fort Lewis. Also around this time, he was offered a post by the Philippine Commonwealth Government, namely by then Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon on recommendations by MacArthur, to become the chief of police of a new capital being planned, now named Quezon City, but he declined the offer.
Eisenhower returned to the United States in December 1939 and was assigned as commanding officer (CO) of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington, later becoming the regimental executive officer. In March 1941 he was promoted to colonel and assigned as chief of staff of the newly activated IX Corps under Major General Kenyon Joyce. In June 1941, he was appointed chief of staff to General Walter Krueger, Commander of the Third Army, at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. After successfully participating in the Louisiana Maneuvers, he was promoted to brigadier general on October 3, 1941. Although his administrative abilities had been noticed, on the eve of the American entry into World War II he had never held an active command above a battalion and was far from being considered by many as a potential commander of major operations.
World War IIAfter the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Eisenhower was assigned to the General Staff in Washington, where he served until June 1942 with responsibility for creating the major war plans to defeat Japan and Germany. He was appointed Deputy Chief in charge of Pacific Defenses under the Chief of War Plans Division (WPD), General Leonard T. Gerow, and then succeeded Gerow as Chief of the War Plans Division. Next, he was appointed Assistant Chief of Staff in charge of the new Operations Division (which replaced WPD) under Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, who spotted talent and promoted accordingly.
At the end of May 1942, Eisenhower accompanied Lt. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, commanding general of the Army Air Forces, to London to assess the effectiveness of the theater commander in England, Maj. Gen. James E. Chaney. He returned to Washington on June 3 with a pessimistic assessment, stating he had an "uneasy feeling" about Chaney and his staff. On June 23, 1942, he returned to London as Commanding General, European Theater of Operations (ETOUSA), based in London and with a house on Coombe, Kingston upon Thames, and took over command of ETOUSA from Chaney. He was promoted to lieutenant general on July 7.
Operations Torch and Avalanche
Eisenhower as a major general, 1942In November 1942, Eisenhower was also appointed Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force of the North African Theater of Operations (NATOUSA) through the new operational Headquarters Allied (Expeditionary) Force Headquarters (A(E)FHQ). The word "expeditionary" was dropped soon after his appointment for security reasons.[failed verification] The campaign in North Africa was designated Operation Torch and was planned underground within the Rock of Gibraltar. Eisenhower was the first non-British person to command Gibraltar in 200 years.
French cooperation was deemed necessary to the campaign, and Eisenhower encountered a "preposterous situation"[according to whom?] with the multiple rival factions in France. His primary objective was to move forces successfully into Tunisia, and intending to facilitate that objective, he gave his support to François Darlan as High Commissioner in North Africa, despite Darlan's previous high offices of state in Vichy France and his continued role as commander-in-chief of the French armed forces. The Allied leaders were "thunderstruck"[according to whom?] by this from a political standpoint, though none of them had offered Eisenhower guidance with the problem in the course of planning the operation. Eisenhower was severely criticized[by whom?] for the move. Darlan was assassinated on December 24 by Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle. Eisenhower did not take action to prevent the arrest and extrajudicial execution of Bonnier de La Chapelle by associates of Darlan acting without authority from either Vichy or the Allies, considering it a criminal rather than a military matter. Eisenhower later appointed, as High Commissioner, General Henri Giraud, who had been installed by the Allies as Darlan's commander-in-chief, and who had refused to postpone the execution.General Eisenhower, General Patton (standing to the left) and President Roosevelt in Sicily, 1943Operation Torch also served as a valuable training ground for Eisenhower's combat command skills; during the initial phase of Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel's move into the Kasserine Pass, Eisenhower created some confusion in the ranks by some interference with the execution of battle plans by his subordinates. He also was initially indecisive in his removal of Lloyd Fredendall, commanding U.S. II Corps. He became more adroit in such matters in later campaigns. In February 1943, his authority was extended as commander of AFHQ across the Mediterranean basin to include the British Eighth Army, commanded by General Sir Bernard Montgomery. The Eighth Army had advanced across the Western Desert from the east and was ready for the start of the Tunisia Campaign. Eisenhower gained his fourth star and gave up command of ETOUSA to become commander of NATOUSA.
After the capitulation of Axis forces in North Africa, Eisenhower oversaw the invasion of Sicily. Once Mussolini, the Italian leader, had fallen in Italy, the Allies switched their attention to the mainland with Operation Avalanche. But while Eisenhower argued with President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill, who both insisted on unconditional terms of surrender in exchange for helping the Italians, the Germans pursued an aggressive buildup of forces in the country. The Germans made the already tough battle more difficult by adding 19 divisions and initially outnumbering the Allied forces 2 to 1.
Supreme Allied commander and Operation OverlordIn December 1943, President Roosevelt decided that Eisenhower – not Marshall – would be Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. The following month, he resumed command of ETOUSA and the following month was officially designated as the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), serving in a dual role until the end of hostilities in Europe in May 1945. He was charged in these positions with planning and carrying out the Allied assault on the coast of Normandy in June 1944 under the code name Operation Overlord, the liberation of Western Europe and the invasion of Germany.Eisenhower speaks with men of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, on June 5, 1944, the day before the D-Day invasion.Eisenhower, as well as the officers and troops under him, had learned valuable lessons in their previous operations, and their skills had all strengthened in preparation for the next most difficult campaign against the Germans—a beach landing assault. His first struggles, however, were with Allied leaders and officers on matters vital to the success of the Normandy invasion; he argued with Roosevelt over an essential agreement with De Gaulle to use French resistance forces in covert and sabotage operations against the Germans in advance of Overlord. Admiral Ernest J. King fought with Eisenhower over King's refusal to provide additional landing craft from the Pacific. Eisenhower also insisted that the British give him exclusive command over all strategic air forces to facilitate Overlord, to the point of threatening to resign unless Churchill relented, which he did. Eisenhower then designed a bombing plan in France in advance of Overlord and argued with Churchill over the latter's concern with civilian casualties; de Gaulle interjected that the casualties were justified in shedding the yoke of the Germans, and Eisenhower prevailed. He also had to skillfully manage to retain the services of the often unruly George S. Patton, by severely reprimanding him when Patton earlier had slapped a subordinate, and then when Patton gave a speech in which he made improper comments about postwar policy.From left, front row includes army officers Simpson, Patton, Spaatz, Eisenhower, Bradley, Hodges and Gerow in 1945The D-Day Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, were costly but successful. Two months later (August 15), the invasion of Southern France took place, and control of forces in the southern invasion passed from the AFHQ to the SHAEF. Many thought that victory in Europe would come by summer's end, but the Germans did not capitulate for almost a year. From then until the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945, Eisenhower, through SHAEF, commanded all Allied forces, and through his command of ETOUSA had administrative command of all U.S. forces on the Western Front north of the Alps. He was ever mindful of the inevitable loss of life and suffering that would be experienced on an individual level by the troops under his command and their families. This prompted him to make a point of visiting every division involved in the invasion. Eisenhower's sense of responsibility was underscored by his draft of a statement to be issued if the invasion failed. It has been called one of the great speeches of history:
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.
Liberation of France and victory in Europe
Eisenhower with Allied commanders following the signing of the German Instrument of Surrender at ReimsOnce the coastal assault had succeeded, Eisenhower insisted on retaining personal control over the land battle strategy, and was immersed in the command and supply of multiple assaults through France on Germany. Field Marshal Montgomery insisted priority be given to his 21st Army Group's attack being made in the north, while Generals Bradley (12th U.S. Army Group) and Devers (Sixth U.S. Army Group) insisted they be given priority in the center and south of the front (respectively). Eisenhower worked tirelessly to address the demands of the rival commanders to optimize Allied forces, often by giving them tactical latitude; many historians conclude this delayed the Allied victory in Europe. However, due to Eisenhower's persistence, the pivotal supply port at Antwerp was successfully, albeit belatedly, opened in late 1944, and victory became a more distinct probability.Eisenhower as General of the Army, 1945In recognition of his senior position in the Allied command, on December 20, 1944, he was promoted to General of the Army, equivalent to the rank of Field Marshal in most European armies. In this and the previous high commands he held, Eisenhower showed his great talents for leadership and diplomacy. Although he had never seen action himself, he won the respect of front-line commanders. He interacted adeptly with allies such as Winston Churchill, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and General Charles de Gaulle. He had serious disagreements with Churchill and Montgomery over questions of strategy, but these rarely upset his relationships with them. He dealt with Soviet Marshal Zhukov, his Russian counterpart, and they became good friends.
In December 1944, the Germans launched a surprise counter offensive, the Battle of the Bulge, which the Allies turned back in early 1945 after Eisenhower repositioned his armies and improved weather allowed the Air Force to engage. German defenses continued to deteriorate on both the eastern front with the Soviets and the western front with the Allies. The British wanted to capture Berlin, but Eisenhower decided it would be a military mistake for him to attack Berlin, and said orders to that effect would have to be explicit. The British backed down, but then wanted Eisenhower to move into Czechoslovakia for political reasons. Washington refused to support Churchill's plan to use Eisenhower's army for political maneuvers against Moscow. The actual division of Germany followed the lines that Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin had previously agreed upon. The Soviet Red Army captured Berlin in a very large-scale bloody battle, and the Germans finally surrendered on May 7, 1945.
In 1945 Eisenhower anticipated that someday an attempt would be made to recharacterize Nazi crimes as propaganda (Holocaust denial) and took steps against it by demanding extensive still and movie photographic documentation of Nazi death camps.
After World War IIMilitary Governor in Germany and Army Chief of Staff
General Eisenhower served as military governor of the American zone (highlighted) in Allied-occupied Germany from May through November 1945Following the German unconditional surrender, Eisenhower was appointed military governor of the American occupation zone, located primarily in Southern Germany, and headquartered at the IG Farben Building in Frankfurt am Main. Upon discovery of the Nazi concentration camps, he ordered camera crews to document evidence of the atrocities in them for use in the Nuremberg Trials. He reclassified German prisoners of war (POWs) in U.S. custody as Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEFs), who were no longer subject to the Geneva Convention. Eisenhower followed the orders laid down by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in directive JCS 1067, but softened them by bringing in 400,000 tons of food for civilians and allowing more fraternization. In response to the devastation in Germany, including food shortages and an influx of refugees, he arranged distribution of American food and medical equipment. His actions reflected the new American attitudes of the German people as Nazi victims not villains, while aggressively purging the ex-Nazis.General Eisenhower (left) in Warsaw, Poland, 1945In November 1945, Eisenhower returned to Washington to replace Marshall as Chief of Staff of the Army. His main role was rapid demobilization of millions of soldiers, a job that was delayed by lack of shipping. Eisenhower was convinced in 1946 that the Soviet Union did not want war and that friendly relations could be maintained; he strongly supported the new United Nations and favored its involvement in the control of atomic bombs. However, in formulating policies regarding the atomic bomb and relations with the Soviets, Truman was guided by the U.S. State Department and ignored Eisenhower and the Pentagon. Indeed, Eisenhower had opposed the use of the atomic bomb against the Japanese, writing, "First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon." Initially, Eisenhower hoped for cooperation with the Soviets. He even visited Warsaw in 1945. Invited by Bolesław Bierut and decorated with the highest military decoration, he was shocked by the scale of destruction in the city. However, by mid-1947, as East–West tensions over economic recovery in Germany and the Greek Civil War escalated, Eisenhower agreed with a containment policy to stop Soviet expansion.
1948 presidential electionIn June 1943, a visiting politician had suggested to Eisenhower that he might become President of the United States after the war. Believing that a general should not participate in politics, Merlo J. Pusey wrote that "figuratively speaking, [Eisenhower] kicked his political-minded visitor out of his office". As others asked him about his political future, Eisenhower told one that he could not imagine wanting to be considered for any political job "from dogcatcher to Grand High Supreme King of the Universe", and another that he could not serve as Army Chief of Staff if others believed he had political ambitions. In 1945 Truman told Eisenhower during the Potsdam Conference that if desired, the president would help the general win the 1948 election, and in 1947 he offered to run as Eisenhower's running mate on the Democratic ticket if MacArthur won the Republican nomination.
As the election approached, other prominent citizens and politicians from both parties urged Eisenhower to run for president. In January 1948, after learning of plans in New Hampshire to elect delegates supporting him for the forthcoming Republican National Convention, Eisenhower stated through the Army that he was "not available for and could not accept nomination to high political office"; "life-long professional soldiers", he wrote, "in the absence of some obvious and overriding reason, [should] abstain from seeking high political office". Eisenhower maintained no political party affiliation during this time. Many believed he was forgoing his only opportunity to be president: Republican Thomas E. Dewey was considered the probable winner and would presumably serve two terms, meaning that Eisenhower, at age 66 in 1956, would be too old to have another chance to run.
President at Columbia University and NATO Supreme Commander
The Supreme Commanders of the Four Powers on June 5, 1945, in Berlin: Bernard Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Georgy Zhukov and Jean de Lattre de TassignyIn 1948 Eisenhower became President of Columbia University, an Ivy League university in New York City, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. The assignment was described as not being a good fit in either direction. During that year Eisenhower's memoir, Crusade in Europe, was published. Critics regarded it as one of the finest U.S. military memoirs, and it was a major financial success as well. Eisenhower's profit on the book was substantially aided by an unprecedented ruling by the U.S. Department of the Treasury that Eisenhower was not a professional writer, but rather, marketing the lifetime asset of his experiences, and thus he had to pay only capital gains tax on his $635,000 advance instead of the much higher personal tax rate. This ruling saved Eisenhower about $400,000.
Eisenhower's stint as the president of Columbia University was punctuated by his activity within the Council on Foreign Relations, a study group he led as president concerning the political and military implications of the Marshall Plan, and The American Assembly, Eisenhower's "vision of a great cultural center where business, professional and governmental leaders could meet from time to time to discuss and reach conclusions concerning problems of a social and political nature". His biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook suggested that this period served as "the political education of General Eisenhower", since he had to prioritize wide-ranging educational, administrative, and financial demands for the university. Through his involvement in the Council on Foreign Relations, he also gained exposure to economic analysis, which would become the bedrock of his understanding in economic policy. "Whatever General Eisenhower knows about economics, he has learned at the study group meetings," one Aid to Europe member claimed.
Eisenhower accepted the presidency of the university to expand his ability to promote "the American form of democracy" through education. He was clear on this point to the trustees involved in the search committee. He informed them that his main purpose was "to promote the basic concepts of education in a democracy". As a result, he was "almost incessantly" devoted to the idea of the American Assembly, a concept he developed into an institution by the end of 1950.
Within months of beginning his tenure as the president of the university, Eisenhower was requested to advise U.S. Secretary of Defense James Forrestal on the unification of the armed services. About six months after his appointment, he became the informal Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. Two months later he fell ill, and he spent over a month in recovery at the Augusta National Golf Club. He returned to his post in New York in mid-May, and in July 1949 took a two-month vacation out-of-state. Because the American Assembly had begun to take shape, he traveled around the country during mid-to-late 1950, building financial support from Columbia Associates, an alumni association.
Eisenhower was unknowingly building resentment and a reputation among the Columbia University faculty and staff as an absentee president who was using the university for his own interests. As a career military man, he naturally had little in common with the academics.
The contacts gained through university and American Assembly fund-raising activities would later become important supporters in Eisenhower's offer for the Republican party nomination and the presidency. Meanwhile, Columbia University's liberal faculty members became disenchanted with the university president's ties to oilmen and businessmen, including Leonard McCollum, the president of Continental Oil; Frank Abrams, the chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey; Bob Kleberg, the president of the King Ranch; H. J. Porter, a Texas oil executive; Bob Woodruff, the president of the Coca-Cola Corporation; and Clarence Francis, the chairman of General Foods.
As the president of Columbia, Eisenhower gave voice and form to his opinions about the supremacy and difficulties of American democracy. His tenure marked his transformation from military to civilian leadership. His biographer Travis Beal Jacobs also suggested that the alienation of the Columbia faculty contributed to sharp intellectual criticism of him for many years.
The trustees of Columbia University refused to accept Eisenhower's resignation in December 1950, when he took an extended leave from the university to become the Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and he was given operational command of NATO forces in Europe. Eisenhower retired from active service as an army general on May 31, 1952, and he resumed his presidency of Columbia. He held this position until January 20, 1953, when he became the President of the United States.
NATO did not have strong bipartisan support in Congress at the time that Eisenhower assumed its military command. Eisenhower advised the participating European nations that it would be incumbent upon them to demonstrate their own commitment of troops and equipment to the NATO force before such would come from the war-weary United States.
At home, Eisenhower was more effective in making the case for NATO in Congress than the Truman administration had been. By the middle of 1951, with American and European support, NATO was a genuine military power. Nevertheless, Eisenhower thought that NATO would become a truly European alliance, with the American and Canadian commitments ending after about ten years.
Presidential campaign of 1952Main article: 1952 United States presidential election
Eisenhower button from the 1952 campaignPresident Truman sensed a broad-based desire for an Eisenhower candidacy for president, and he again pressed him to run for the office as a Democrat in 1951. But Eisenhower voiced his disagreements with the Democratic Party and declared himself to be a Republican. A "Draft Eisenhower" movement in the Republican Party persuaded him to declare his candidacy in the 1952 presidential election to counter the candidacy of non-interventionist Senator Robert A. Taft. The effort was a long struggle; Eisenhower had to be convinced that political circumstances had created a genuine duty for him to offer himself as a candidate, and that there was a mandate from the public for him to be their President. Henry Cabot Lodge and others succeeded in convincing him, and he resigned his command at NATO in June 1952 to campaign full-time.
Eisenhower defeated Taft for the nomination, having won critical delegate votes from Texas. His campaign was noted for the simple slogan "I Like Ike". It was essential to his success that Eisenhower express opposition to Roosevelt's policy at Yalta and to Truman's policies in Korea and China—matters in which he had once participated. In defeating Taft for the nomination, it became necessary for Eisenhower to appease the right wing Old Guard of the Republican Party; his selection of Richard Nixon as the Vice-President on the ticket was designed in part for that purpose. Nixon also provided a strong anti-communist presence, as well as some youth to counter Ike's more advanced age.1952 electoral vote resultsEisenhower insisted on campaigning in the South in the general election, against the advice of his campaign team, refusing to surrender the region to the Democratic Party. The campaign strategy was dubbed "K1C2" and was intended to focus on attacking the Truman and Roosevelt administrations on three issues: Korea, Communism, and corruption. In an effort to accommodate the right, he stressed that the liberation of Eastern Europe should be by peaceful means only; he also distanced himself from his former boss President Truman.
Two controversies tested him and his staff during the campaign, but they did not affect the campaign. One involved a report that Nixon had improperly received funds from a secret trust. Nixon spoke out adroitly to avoid potential damage, but the matter permanently alienated the two candidates. The second issue centered on Eisenhower's relented decision to confront the controversial methods of Joseph McCarthy on his home turf in a Wisconsin appearance. Just two weeks before the election, Eisenhower vowed to go to Korea and end the war there. He promised to maintain a strong commitment against Communism while avoiding the topic of NATO; finally, he stressed a corruption-free, frugal administration at home.
Eisenhower defeated Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson II in a landslide, with an electoral margin of 442 to 89, marking the first Republican return to the White House in 20 years. He also brought a Republican majority in the House, by eight votes, and in the Senate, evenly divided with Vice President Nixon providing Republicans the majority.
Eisenhower was the last president born in the 19th century, and he was the oldest president-elect at age 62 since James Buchanan in 1856. He was the third commanding general of the Army to serve as president, after George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant, and the last to have not held political office prior to being president until Donald Trump entered office in January 2017.
Election of 1956Main article: 1956 United States presidential election
1956 electoral vote resultsThe United States presidential election of 1956 was held on November 6, 1956. Eisenhower, the popular incumbent, successfully ran for re-election. The election was a re-match of 1952, as his opponent in 1956 was Stevenson, a former Illinois governor, whom Eisenhower had defeated four years earlier. Compared to the 1952 election, Eisenhower gained Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia from Stevenson, while losing Missouri. His voters were less likely to bring up his leadership record. Instead what stood out this time, "was the response to personal qualities— to his sincerity, his integrity and sense of duty, his virtue as a family man, his religious devotion, and his sheer likeableness."
Presidency (1953–1961)Main article: Presidency of Dwight D. EisenhowerTruman and Eisenhower had minimal discussions about the transition of administrations due to a complete estrangement between them as a result of campaigning. Eisenhower selected Joseph M. Dodge as his budget director, then asked Herbert Brownell Jr. and Lucius D. Clay to make recommendations for his cabinet appointments. He accepted their recommendations without exception; they included John Foster Dulles and George M. Humphrey with whom he developed his closest relationships, as well as Oveta Culp Hobby. His cabinet consisted of several corporate executives and one labor leader, and one journalist dubbed it "eight millionaires and a plumber." The cabinet was known for its lack of personal friends, office seekers, or experienced government administrators. He also upgraded the role of the National Security Council in planning all phases of the Cold War.
Prior to his inauguration, Eisenhower led a meeting of advisors at Pearl Harbor addressing foremost issues; agreed objectives were to balance the budget during his term, to bring the Korean War to an end, to defend vital interests at lower cost through nuclear deterrent, and to end price and wage controls. He also conducted the first pre-inaugural cabinet meeting in history in late 1952; he used this meeting to articulate his anti-communist Russia policy. His inaugural address was also exclusively devoted to foreign policy and included this same philosophy as well as a commitment to foreign trade and the United Nations.February 1959 White House PortraitEisenhower made greater use of press conferences than any previous president, holding almost 200 over his two terms. He saw the benefit of maintaining a good relationship with the press, and he saw value in them as a means of direct communication with the American people.
Throughout his presidency, Eisenhower adhered to a political philosophy of dynamic conservatism. He described himself as a "progressive conservative" and used terms such as "progressive moderate" and "dynamic conservatism" to describe his approach. He continued all the major New Deal programs still in operation, especially Social Security. He expanded its programs and rolled them into the new cabinet-level agency of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, while extending benefits to an additional ten million workers. He implemented racial integration in the Armed Services in two years, which had not been completed under Truman.
In a private letter, Eisenhower wrote:Should any party attempt to abolish social security and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group of course, that believes you can do these things [...] Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
When the 1954 Congressional elections approached, it became evident that the Republicans were in danger of losing their thin majority in both houses. Eisenhower was among those who blamed the Old Guard for the losses, and he took up the charge to stop suspected efforts by the right wing to take control of the GOP. He then articulated his position as a moderate, progressive Republican: "I have just one purpose… and that is to build up a strong progressive Republican Party in this country. If the right wing wants a fight, they are going to get it… before I end up, either this Republican Party will reflect progressivism or I won't be with them anymore."
Eisenhower initially planned on serving only one term, but he remained flexible in case leading Republicans wanted him to run again. He was recovering from a heart attack late in September 1955 when he met with his closest advisors to evaluate the GOP's potential candidates; the group concluded that a second term was well advised, and he announced that he would run again in February 1956. Eisenhower was publicly noncommittal about having Nixon as the Vice President on his ticket; the question was an especially important one in light of his heart condition. He personally favored Robert B. Anderson, a Democrat who rejected his offer, so Eisenhower resolved to leave the matter in the hands of the party. In 1956, Eisenhower faced Adlai Stevenson again and won by an even larger landslide, with 457 of 531 electoral votes and 57.6-percent of the popular vote. The level of campaigning was curtailed out of health considerations.
Eisenhower made full use of his valet, chauffeur, and secretarial support; he rarely drove or even dialed a phone number. He was an avid fisherman, golfer, painter, and bridge player, and preferred active rather than passive forms of entertainment. On August 26, 1959, he was aboard the maiden flight of Air Force One, which replaced the Columbine as the presidential aircraft.
Interstate Highway SystemMain article: Interstate Highway System
Remarks in Cadillac Square, DetroitMENU0:00President Eisenhower delivered remarks about the need for a new highway program at Cadillac Square in Detroit on October 29, 1954Text of speech excerptProblems playing this file? See media help.Eisenhower championed and signed the bill that authorized the Interstate Highway System in 1956. He justified the project through the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 as essential to American security during the Cold War. It was believed that large cities would be targets in a possible war, so the highways were designed to facilitate their evacuation and ease military maneuvers.
Eisenhower's goal to create improved highways was influenced by difficulties that he encountered during his involvement in the Army's 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy. He was assigned as an observer for the mission, which involved sending a convoy of Army vehicles coast to coast. His subsequent experience with the German autobahn limited-access road systems during the concluding stages of World War II convinced him of the benefits of an Interstate Highway System. The system could also be used as a runway for airplanes, which would be beneficial to war efforts. Franklin D. Roosevelt put this system into place with the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944. He thought that an interstate highway system would be beneficial for military operations and would also provide a measure of continued economic growth for the nation. The legislation initially stalled in Congress over the issuance of bonds to finance the project, but the legislative effort was renewed and Eisenhower signed the law in June 1956.
Foreign policyMain article: Foreign policy of the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration
Eisenhower with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
U.S. President Eisenhower visits the Republic of China and its President Chiang Kai-shek in Taipei.
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev during his 11-day U.S. visit as guest of President Eisenhower, September 1959In 1953 the Republican Party's Old Guard presented Eisenhower with a dilemma by insisting he disavow the Yalta Agreements as beyond the constitutional authority of the Executive Branch; however, the death of Joseph Stalin in March 1953 made the matter a moot point. At this time Eisenhower gave his Chance for Peace speech in which he attempted, unsuccessfully, to forestall the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union by suggesting multiple opportunities presented by peaceful uses of nuclear materials. Biographer Stephen Ambrose opined that this was the best speech of Eisenhower's presidency.
Nevertheless, the Cold War escalated during his presidency. When the Soviet Union successfully tested a hydrogen bomb in late November 1955, Eisenhower, against the advice of Dulles, decided to initiate a disarmament proposal to the Soviets. In an attempt to make their refusal more difficult, he proposed that both sides agree to dedicate fissionable material away from weapons toward peaceful uses, such as power generation. This approach was labeled "Atoms for Peace".
The U.N. speech was well received but the Soviets never acted upon it, due to an overarching concern for the greater stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Indeed, Eisenhower embarked upon a greater reliance on the use of nuclear weapons, while reducing conventional forces, and with them the overall defense budget, a policy formulated as a result of Project Solarium and expressed in NSC 162/2. This approach became known as the "New Look", and was initiated with defense cuts in late 1953.
In 1955 American nuclear arms policy became one aimed primarily at arms control as opposed to disarmament. The failure of negotiations over arms until 1955 was due mainly to the refusal of the Russians to permit any sort of inspections. In talks located in London that year, they expressed a willingness to discuss inspections; the tables were then turned on Eisenhower, when he responded with an unwillingness on the part of the U.S. to permit inspections. In May of that year the Russians agreed to sign a treaty giving independence to Austria, and paved the way for a Geneva summit with the U.S., U.K. and France. At the Geneva Conference Eisenhower presented a proposal called "Open Skies" to facilitate disarmament, which included plans for Russia and the U.S. to provide mutual access to each other's skies for open surveillance of military infrastructure. Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev dismissed the proposal out of hand.
In 1954 Eisenhower articulated the domino theory in his outlook towards communism in Southeast Asia and also in Central America. He believed that if the communists were allowed to prevail in Vietnam, this would cause a succession of countries to fall to communism, from Laos through Malaysia and Indonesia ultimately to India. Likewise, the fall of Guatemala would end with the fall of neighboring Mexico. That year the loss of North Vietnam to the communists and the rejection of his proposed European Defence Community (EDC) were serious defeats, but he remained optimistic in his opposition to the spread of communism, saying "Long faces don't win wars". As he had threatened the French in their rejection of EDC, he afterwards moved to restore West Germany, as a full NATO partner. In 1954, he also induced Congress to create an Emergency Fund for International Affairs in order to support America's use of cultural diplomacy to strengthen international relations throughout Europe during the cold Eisenhower's leadership and Dulles' direction, CIA activities increased under the pretense of resisting the spread of communism in poorer countries; the CIA in part deposed the leaders of Iran in Operation Ajax, of Guatemala through Operation Pbsuccess, and possibly the newly independent Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville). In 1954 Eisenhower wanted to increase surveillance inside the Soviet Union. With Dulles' recommendation, he authorized the deployment of thirty Lockheed U-2's at a cost of $35 million (equivalent to $326.54 million in 2018). The Eisenhower administration also planned the Bay of Pigs Invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba, which John F. Kennedy was left to carry out.
Space RaceFurther information: Space Race
President Eisenhower with Wernher von Braun, 1960Eisenhower and the CIA had known since at least January 1957, nine months before Sputnik, that Russia had the capability to launch a small payload into orbit and was likely to do so within a year. He may also privately have welcomed the Russian satellite for its legal implications: By launching a satellite, Russia had in effect acknowledged that space was open to anyone who could access it, without needing permission from other nations.
On the whole, Eisenhower's support of the nation's fledgling space program was officially modest until the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957, gaining the Cold War enemy enormous prestige around the world. He then launched a national campaign that funded not just space exploration but a major strengthening of science and higher education. The Eisenhower administration determined to adopt a non-aggressive policy that would allow "space-crafts of any state to overfly all states, a region free of military posturing and launch Earth satellites to explore space". His Open Skies Policy attempted to legitimize illegal Lockheed U-2 flyovers and Project Genetrix while paving the way for spy satellite technology to orbit over sovereign territory, however Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev declined Eisenhower's proposal at the Geneva conference in July 1955. In response to Sputnik being launched in October 1957, Eisenhower created NASA as a civilian space agency in October 1958, signed a landmark science education law, and improved relations with American scientists.
Fear spread through the United States that the Soviet Union would invade and spread communism, so Eisenhower wanted to not only create a surveillance satellite to detect any threats but ballistic missiles that would protect the United States. In strategic terms, it was Eisenhower who devised the American basic strategy of nuclear deterrence based upon the triad of B-52 bombers, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
NASA planners projected that human spaceflight would pull the United States ahead in the Space Race as well as accomplishing their long time goal; however, in 1960, an Ad Hoc Panel on Man-in-Space concluded that "man-in-space can not be justified" and was too costly. Eisenhower later resented the space program and its gargantuan price tag—he was quoted as saying, "Anyone who would spend $40 billion in a race to the moon for national prestige is nuts."
Korean War, Free China and Red ChinaIn late 1952 Eisenhower went to Korea and discovered a military and political stalemate. Once in office, when the Chinese communists began a buildup in the Kaesong sanctuary, he threatened to use nuclear force if an armistice was not concluded. His earlier military reputation in Europe was effective with the Chinese communists. The National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Strategic Air Command (SAC) devised detailed plans for nuclear war against Red China. With the death of Stalin in early March 1953, Russian support for a Chinese communists hard-line weakened and Red China decided to compromise on the prisoner issue.Eisenhower in Korea with General Chung Il-kwon, and Baik Seon-yup, 1952In July 1953, an armistice took effect with Korea divided along approximately the same boundary as in 1950. The armistice and boundary remain in effect today. The armistice, concluded despite opposition from Secretary Dulles, South Korean President Syngman Rhee, and also within Eisenhower's party, has been described by biographer Ambrose as the greatest achievement of the administration. Eisenhower had the insight to realize that unlimited war in the nuclear age was unthinkable, and limited war unwinnable.
A point of emphasis in Ike's campaign had been his endorsement of a policy of liberation from communism as opposed to a policy of containment. This remained his preference despite the armistice with Korea. Throughout his terms Eisenhower took a hard-line attitude toward Red China, as demanded by conservative Republicans, with the goal of driving a wedge between Red China and the Soviet Union.
Eisenhower continued Truman's policy of recognizing the Republic of China (Free China) as the legitimate government of China, not the Beijing regime. There were localized flare-ups when the People's Liberation Army began shelling the islands of Quemoy and Matsu in September 1954. Eisenhower received recommendations embracing every variation of response to the aggression of the Chinese communists. He thought it essential to have every possible option available to him as the crisis unfolded.
The Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of China was signed in December 1954. He requested and secured from Congress their "Free China Resolution" in January 1955, which gave Eisenhower unprecedented power in advance to use military force at any level of his choosing in defense of Free China and the Pescadores. The Resolution bolstered the morale of the Chinese nationalists, and signaled to Beijing that the U.S. was committed to holding the line.
Eisenhower openly threatened the Chinese communists with use of nuclear weapons, authorizing a series of bomb tests labeled Operation Teapot. Nevertheless, he left the Chinese communists guessing as to the exact nature of his nuclear response. This allowed Eisenhower to accomplish all of his objectives—the end of this communist encroachment, the retention of the Islands by the Chinese nationalists and continued peace. Defense of the Republic of China from an invasion remains a core American policy.
By the end of 1954 Eisenhower's military and foreign policy experts—the NSC, JCS and State Dept.—had unanimously urged him, on no less than five occasions, to launch an atomic attack against Red China; yet he consistently refused to do so and felt a distinct sense of accomplishment in having sufficiently confronted communism while keeping world peace.
The Middle East and Eisenhower doctrine
Eisenhower with the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1959)Even before he was inaugurated Eisenhower accepted a request from the British government to restore the Shah of Iran (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) to power. He therefore authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. This resulted in an increased strategic control over Iranian oil by U.S. and British companies.
In November 1956, Eisenhower forced an end to the combined British, French and Israeli invasion of Egypt in response to the Suez Crisis, receiving praise from Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Simultaneously he condemned the brutal Soviet invasion of Hungary in response to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. He publicly disavowed his allies at the United Nations, and used financial and diplomatic pressure to make them withdraw from Egypt. Eisenhower explicitly defended his strong position against Britain and France in his memoirs, which were published in 1965.
After the Suez Crisis the United States became the protector of unstable friendly governments in the Middle East via the "Eisenhower Doctrine". Designed by Secretary of State Dulles, it held the U.S. would be "prepared to use armed force ... [to counter] aggression from any country controlled by international communism". Further, the United States would provide economic and military aid and, if necessary, use military force to stop the spread of communism in the Middle East.Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon with their host, King Saud of Saudi Arabia, at the Mayflower Hotel (1957)Eisenhower applied the doctrine in 1957–58 by dispensing economic aid to shore up the Kingdom of Jordan, and by encouraging Syria's neighbors to consider military operations against it. More dramatically, in July 1958, he sent 15,000 Marines and soldiers to Lebanon as part of Operation Blue Bat, a non-combat peace-keeping mission to stabilize the pro-Western government and to prevent a radical revolution from sweeping over that country.
The mission proved a success and the Marines departed three months later. The deployment came in response to the urgent request of Lebanese president Camille Chamoun after sectarian violence had erupted in the country. Washington considered the military intervention successful since it brought about regional stability, weakened Soviet influence, and intimidated the Egyptian and Syrian governments, whose anti-West political position had hardened after the Suez Crisis.
Most Arab countries were skeptical about the "Eisenhower doctrine" because they considered "Zionist imperialism" the real danger. However, they did take the opportunity to obtain free money and weapons. Egypt and Syria, supported by the Soviet Union, openly opposed the initiative. However, Egypt received American aid until the Six-Day War in 1967.
As the Cold War deepened, Dulles sought to isolate the Soviet Union by building regional alliances of nations against it. Critics sometimes called it "pacto-mania".
Southeast AsiaEarly in 1953, the French asked Eisenhower for help in French Indochina against the Communists, supplied from China, who were fighting the First Indochina War. Eisenhower sent Lt. General John W. "Iron Mike" O'Daniel to Vietnam to study and assess the French forces there. Chief of Staff Matthew Ridgway dissuaded the President from intervening by presenting a comprehensive estimate of the massive military deployment that would be necessary. Eisenhower stated prophetically that "this war would absorb our troops by divisions."
Eisenhower did provide France with bombers and non-combat personnel. After a few months with no success by the French, he added other aircraft to drop napalm for clearing purposes. Further requests for assistance from the French were agreed to but only on conditions Eisenhower knew were impossible to meet – allied participation and congressional approval. When the French fortress of Dien Bien Phu fell to the Vietnamese Communists in May 1954, Eisenhower refused to intervene despite urgings from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Vice President and the head of NCS.
Eisenhower responded to the French defeat with the formation of the SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) Alliance with the U.K., France, New Zealand and Australia in defense of Vietnam against communism. At that time the French and Chinese reconvened Geneva peace talks; Eisenhower agreed the U.S. would participate only as an observer. After France and the Communists agreed to a partition of Vietnam, Eisenhower rejected the agreement, offering military and economic aid to southern Vietnam. Ambrose argues that Eisenhower, by not participating in the Geneva agreement, had kept the U.S. out of Vietnam; nevertheless, with the formation of SEATO, he had in the end put the U.S. back into the conflict.
In late 1954, Gen. J. Lawton Collins was made ambassador to "Free Vietnam" (the term South Vietnam came into use in 1955), effectively elevating the country to sovereign status. Collins' instructions were to support the leader Ngo Dinh Diem in subverting communism, by helping him to build an army and wage a military campaign. In February 1955, Eisenhower dispatched the first American soldiers to Vietnam as military advisors to Diem's army. After Diem announced the formation of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, commonly known as South Vietnam) in October, Eisenhower immediately recognized the new state and offered military, economic, and technical assistance.
In the years that followed, Eisenhower increased the number of U.S. military advisors in South Vietnam to 900 men. This was due to North Vietnam's support of "uprisings" in the south and concern the nation would fall. In May 1957 Diem, then President of South Vietnam, made a state visit to the United States for ten days. President Eisenhower pledged his continued support, and a parade was held in Diem's honor in New York City. Although Diem was publicly praised, in private Secretary of State John Foster Dulles conceded that Diem had been selected because there were no better alternatives.
After the election of November 1960, Eisenhower in briefing with John F. Kennedy pointed out the communist threat in Southeast Asia as requiring prioritization in the next administration. Eisenhower told Kennedy he considered Laos "the cork in the bottle" with regard to the regional threat.
1960 U-2 incidentMain article: 1960 U-2 incident
A U-2 reconnaissance aircraft in flightOn May 1, 1960, a U.S. one-man U-2 spy plane was reportedly shot down at high altitude over Soviet Union airspace. The flight was made to gain photo intelligence before the scheduled opening of an East-West summit conference, which had been scheduled in Paris, 15 days later. Captain Francis Gary Powers had bailed out of his aircraft and was captured after parachuting down onto Russian soil. Four days after Powers disappeared, the Eisenhower Administration had NASA issue a very detailed press release noting that an aircraft had "gone missing" north of Turkey. It speculated that the pilot might have fallen unconscious while the autopilot was still engaged, and falsely claimed that "the pilot reported over the emergency frequency that he was experiencing oxygen difficulties."
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced that a "spy-plane" had been shot down but intentionally made no reference to the pilot. As a result, the Eisenhower Administration, thinking the pilot had died in the crash, authorized the release of a cover story claiming that the plane was a "weather research aircraft" which had unintentionally strayed into Soviet airspace after the pilot had radioed "difficulties with his oxygen equipment" while flying over Turkey. The Soviets put Captain Powers on trial and displayed parts of the U-2, which had been recovered almost fully intact.
The Four Power Paris Summit in May 1960 with Eisenhower, Nikita Khrushchev, Harold Macmillan and Charles de Gaulle collapsed because of the incident. Eisenhower refused to accede to Khrushchev's demands that he apologize. Therefore, Khrushchev would not take part in the summit. Up until this event, Eisenhower felt he had been making progress towards better relations with the Soviet Union. Nuclear arms reduction and Berlin were to have been discussed at the summit. Eisenhower stated it had all been ruined because of that "stupid U-2 business".
The affair was an embarrassment for United States prestige. Further, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a lengthy inquiry into the U-2 incident. In Russia, Captain Powers made a forced confession and apology. On August 19, 1960, Powers was convicted of espionage and sentenced to imprisonment. On February 10, 1962, Powers was exchanged for Rudolf Abel in Berlin and returned to the U.S.
Civil rightsWhile President Truman had begun the process of desegregating the Armed Forces in 1948, actual implementation had been slow. Eisenhower made clear his stance in his first State of the Union address in February 1953, saying "I propose to use whatever authority exists in the office of the President to end segregation in the District of Columbia, including the Federal Government, and any segregation in the Armed Forces". When he encountered opposition from the services, he used government control of military spending to force the change through, stating "Wherever Federal Funds are expended ..., I do not see how any American can justify ... a discrimination in the expenditure of those funds".
When Robert B. Anderson, Eisenhower's first Secretary of the Navy, argued that the U.S. Navy must recognize the "customs and usages prevailing in certain geographic areas of our country which the Navy had no part in creating," Eisenhower overruled him: "We have not taken and we shall not take a single backward step. There must be no second class citizens in this country."
The administration declared racial discrimination a national security issue, as Communists around the world used the racial discrimination and history of violence in the U.S. as a point of propaganda attack.
Eisenhower told District of Columbia officials to make Washington a model for the rest of the country in integrating black and white public school children. He proposed to Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and of 1960 and signed those acts into law. The 1957 act for the first time established a permanent civil rights office inside the Justice Department and a Civil Rights Commission to hear testimony about abuses of voting rights. Although both acts were much weaker than subsequent civil rights legislation, they constituted the first significant civil rights acts since 1875.
In 1957 the state of Arkansas refused to honor a federal court order to integrate their public school system stemming from the Brown decision. Eisenhower demanded that Arkansas governor Orval Faubus obey the court order. When Faubus balked, the president placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal control and sent in the 101st Airborne Division. They escorted and protected nine black students' entry to Little Rock Central High School, an all-white public school, marking the first time since the Reconstruction Era the federal government had used federal troops in the South to enforce the U. S. Constitution. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote to Eisenhower to thank him for his actions, writing "The overwhelming majority of southerners, Negro and white, stand firmly behind your resolute action to restore law and order in Little Rock".
Eisenhower's administration contributed to the McCarthyist Lavender Scare with President Eisenhower issuing his Executive Order 10450 in 1953. During Eisenhower's presidency thousands of lesbian and gay applicants were barred from federal employment and over 5,000 federal employees were fired under suspicions of being homosexual. From 1947 to 1961 the number of firings based on sexual orientation were far greater than those for membership in the Communist party, and government officials intentionally campaigned to make "homosexual" synonymous with "Communist traitor" such that LGBT people were treated as a national security threat stemming from the belief they were susceptible to blackmail and exploitation.
Relations with CongressEisenhower had a Republican Congress for only his first two years in office; in the Senate, the Republican majority was by a one-vote margin. Senator Robert A. Taft assisted the President greatly in working with the Old Guard, and was sorely missed when his death (in July 1953) left Eisenhower with his successor William Knowland, whom Eisenhower disliked.
This prevented Eisenhower from openly condemning Joseph McCarthy's highly criticized methods against communism. To facilitate relations with Congress, Eisenhower decided to ignore McCarthy's controversies and thereby deprive them of more energy from involvement of the White House. This position drew criticism from a number of corners. In late 1953, McCarthy declared on national television that the employment of communists within the government was a menace and would be a pivotal issue in the 1954 Senate elections. Eisenhower was urged to respond directly and specify the various measures he had taken to purge the government of communists.
Among Eisenhower's objectives in not directly confronting McCarthy was to prevent McCarthy from dragging the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) into McCarthy's witch hunt for communists, which would interfere with, and perhaps delay, the AEC's important work on H-bombs. The administration had discovered through its own investigations that one of the leading scientists on the AEC, J. Robert Oppenheimer, had urged that the H-bomb work be delayed. Eisenhower removed him from the agency and revoked his security clearance, though he knew this would create fertile ground for McCarthy.
In May 1955, McCarthy threatened to issue subpoenas to White House personnel. Eisenhower was furious, and issued an order as follows: "It is essential to efficient and effective administration that employees of the Executive Branch be in a position to be completely candid in advising with each other on official matters ... it is not in the public interest that any of their conversations or communications, or any documents or reproductions, concerning such advice be disclosed." This was an unprecedented step by Eisenhower to protect communication beyond the confines of a cabinet meeting, and soon became a tradition known as executive privilege. Ike's denial of McCarthy's access to his staff reduced McCarthy's hearings to rants about trivial matters, and contributed to his ultimate downfall.
In early 1954, the Old Guard put forward a constitutional amendment, called the Bricker Amendment, which would curtail international agreements by the Chief Executive, such as the Yalta Agreements. Eisenhower opposed the measure. The Old Guard agreed with Eisenhower on the development and ownership of nuclear reactors by private enterprises, which the Democrats opposed. The President succeeded in getting legislation creating a system of licensure for nuclear plants by the AEC.
The Democrats gained a majority in both houses in the 1954 election. Eisenhower had to work with the Democratic Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (later U.S. president) in the Senate and Speaker Sam Rayburn in the House, both from Texas. Joe Martin, the Republican Speaker from 1947 to 1949 and again from 1953 to 1955, wrote that Eisenhower "never surrounded himself with assistants who could solve political problems with professional skill. There were exceptions, Leonard W. Hall, for example, who as chairman of the Republican National Committee tried to open the administration's eyes to the political facts of life, with occasional success. However, these exceptions were not enough to right the balance."
Speaker Martin concluded that Eisenhower worked too much through subordinates in dealing with Congress, with results, "often the reverse of what he has desired" because Members of Congress, "resent having some young fellow who was picked up by the White House without ever having been elected to office himself coming around and telling them 'The Chief wants this'. The administration never made use of many Republicans of consequence whose services in one form or another would have been available for the asking."
Judicial appointmentsSupreme CourtMain articles: Dwight D. Eisenhower Supreme Court candidates and Dwight D. Eisenhower judicial appointmentsEisenhower appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:
Earl Warren, 1953 (Chief Justice)John Marshall Harlan II, 1954William J. Brennan, 1956Charles Evans Whittaker, 1957Potter Stewart, 1958Whittaker was unsuited for the role and soon retired. Stewart and Harlan were conservative Republicans, while Brennan was a Democrat who became a leading voice for liberalism. In selecting a Chief Justice, Eisenhower looked for an experienced jurist who could appeal to liberals in the party as well as law-and-order conservatives, noting privately that Warren "represents the kind of political, economic, and social thinking that I believe we need on the Supreme Court ... He has a national name for integrity, uprightness, and courage that, again, I believe we need on the Court". In the next few years Warren led the Court in a series of liberal decisions that revolutionized the role of the Court.
States admitted to the UnionAlaska – January 3, 1959 49th stateHawaii – August 21, 1959 50th stateHealth issuesEisenhower began chain smoking cigarettes at West Point, often three or four packs a day. He joked that he "gave [himself] an order" to stop cold turkey in 1949. But Evan Thomas says the true story was more complex. At first he removed cigarettes and ashtrays, but that did not work. He told a friend:
I decided to make a game of the whole business and try to achieve a feeling of some superiority ... So I stuffed cigarettes in every pocket, put them around my office on the desk ... [and] made it a practice to offer a cigarette to anyone who came in ... while mentally reminding myself as I sat down, "I do not have to do what that poor fellow is doing."He was the first president to release information about his health and medical records while in office, but people around him deliberately misled the public about his health. On September 24, 1955, while vacationing in Colorado, he had a serious heart attack. Dr. Howard Snyder, his personal physician, misdiagnosed the symptoms as indigestion, and failed to call in the help that was urgently needed. Snyder later falsified his own records to cover his blunder and to protect Eisenhower's need to portray he was healthy enough to do his job.
The heart attack required six weeks' hospitalization, during which time Nixon, Dulles, and Sherman Adams assumed administrative duties and provided communication with the President. He was treated by Dr. Paul Dudley White, a cardiologist with a national reputation, who regularly informed the press of the President's progress. Instead of eliminating him as a candidate for a second term as President, his physician recommended a second term as essential to his recovery.
As a consequence of his heart attack, Eisenhower developed a left ventricular aneurysm, which was in turn the cause of a mild stroke on November 25, 1957. This incident occurred during a cabinet meeting when Eisenhower suddenly found himself unable to speak or move his right hand. The stroke had caused aphasia. The president also suffered from Crohn's disease, chronic inflammatory condition of the intestine, which necessitated surgery for a bowel obstruction on June 9, 1956. To treat the intestinal block, surgeons bypassed about ten inches of his small intestine. His scheduled meeting with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was postponed so he could recover at his farm. He was still recovering from this operation during the Suez Crisis. Eisenhower's health issues forced him to give up smoking and make some changes to his dietary habits, but he still indulged in alcohol. During a visit to England he complained of dizziness and had to have his blood pressure checked on August 29, 1959; however, before dinner at Chequers on the next day his doctor General Howard Snyder recalled Eisenhower "drank several gin-and-tonics, and one or two gins on the rocks ... three or four wines with the dinner".
The last three years of Eisenhower's second term in office were ones of relatively good health. Eventually after leaving the White House, he suffered several additional and ultimately crippling heart attacks. A severe heart attack in August 1965 largely ended his participation in public affairs. In August 1966 he began to show symptoms of cholecystitis, for which he underwent surgery on December 12, 1966, when his gallbladder was removed, containing 16 gallstones. After Eisenhower's death in 1969 (see below), an autopsy unexpectedly revealed an adrenal pheochromocytoma, a benign adrenaline-secreting tumor that may have made the President more vulnerable to heart disease. Eisenhower suffered seven heart attacks from 1955 until his death.
End of presidency
The official White House portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower by James Anthony WillsThe 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1951, and it set term limits to the presidency of two terms. Truman as the incumbent was not covered. Eisenhower became the first U.S. president constitutionally prevented from running for re-election to a third term.
Eisenhower was also the first outgoing President to come under the protection of the Former Presidents Act; two living former Presidents, Herbert Hoover and Harry S. Truman, left office before the Act was passed. Under the act, Eisenhower was entitled to receive a lifetime pension, state-provided staff and a Secret Service detail.
In the 1960 election to choose his successor, Eisenhower endorsed Nixon over Democrat John F. Kennedy. He told friends, "I will do almost anything to avoid turning my chair and country over to Kennedy." He actively campaigned for Nixon in the final days, although he may have done Nixon some harm. When asked by reporters at the end of a televised press conference to list one of Nixon's policy ideas he had adopted, Eisenhower joked, "If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don't remember." Kennedy's campaign used the quote in one of its campaign commercials. Nixon narrowly lost to Kennedy. Eisenhower, who was the oldest president in history at that time (then 70), was succeeded by the youngest elected president, as Kennedy was 43.
It was originally intended for President Eisenhower to have a more active role in the campaign as he wanted to respond to attacks Kennedy made on his administration. However, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower expressed concern to Second Lady Pat Nixon about the strain campaigning would put on his heart and wanted the President to back out of it without letting him know of her intervention. Vice President Nixon himself also received concern from White House physician Major General Howard Snyder, who informed him that he could not approve a heavy campaign schedule for the President and his health problems had been exacerbated by Kennedy's attacks. Nixon then convinced Eisenhower not to go ahead with the expanded campaign schedule and limit himself to the original schedule. Nixon reflected that if Eisenhower had carried out his expanded campaign schedule he might have had a decisive impact on the outcome of the election, especially in states that Kennedy won with razor-thin margins. It was years later before Mamie told Dwight why Nixon changed his mind on Dwight's farewell address, January 17, 1961. Length 15:30.On January 17, 1961, Eisenhower gave his final televised Address to the Nation from the Oval Office. In his farewell speech, Eisenhower raised the issue of the Cold War and role of the U.S. armed forces. He described the Cold War: "We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method ..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex."
He elaborated, "we recognize the imperative need for this development ... the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist ... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
Because of legal issues related to holding a military rank while in a civilian office, Eisenhower had resigned his permanent commission as General of the Army before entering the office of President of the United States. Upon completion of his Presidential term, his commission was reactivated by Congress and Eisenhower again was commissioned a five-star general in the United States Army.
Post-presidency, death and funeral
Eisenhower speaks to the press at the 1964 Republican National Convention
President Lyndon Johnson with Eisenhower aboard Air Force One in October 1965
Eisenhower's funeral service
Graves of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Doud Dwight "Icky" Eisenhower and Mamie Eisenhower in Abilene, KansasFollowing the presidency, Eisenhower moved to the place where he and Mamie had spent much of their post-war time. The home was a working farm adjacent to the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 70 miles from his ancestral home in Elizabethville, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. They also maintained a retirement home in Palm Desert, California. In 1967 the Eisenhowers donated the Gettysburg farm to the National Park Service.
After leaving office, Eisenhower did not completely retreat from political life. He flew to San Antonio, where he had been stationed years earlier, to support John W. Goode, the unsuccessful Republican candidate against the Democrat Henry B. Gonzalez for Texas' 20th congressional district seat. He addressed the 1964 Republican National Convention, in San Francisco, and appeared with party nominee Barry Goldwater in a campaign commercial from his Gettysburg retreat. That endorsement came somewhat reluctantly because Goldwater had in the late 1950s criticized Eisenhower's administration as "a dime-store New Deal". On January 20, 1969, the day Nixon was inaugurated as President, Eisenhower issued a statement praising his former vice president and calling it a "day for rejoicing".
On the morning of March 28, 1969, Eisenhower died in Washington, D.C., of congestive heart failure at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; he was 78 years old. The following day, his body was moved to the Washington National Cathedral's Bethlehem Chapel, where he lay in repose for 28 hours. He was then transported to the United States Capitol, where he lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda March 30–31. A state funeral service was conducted at the Washington National Cathedral on March 31. The president and First Lady, Richard and Pat Nixon, attended, as did former president Lyndon Johnson. Also among the 2,000 invited guests were several Heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle of France and the Shah of Iran. The service included the singing of Faure's The Palms, and the playing of Onward, Christian Soldiers.
That evening, Eisenhower's body was placed onto a special funeral train for its journey from the nation's capital through seven states to his hometown of Abilene, Kansas. First incorporated into President Abraham Lincoln's funeral in 1865, a funeral train would not be part of a U.S. state funeral again until 2018. Eisenhower is buried inside the Place of Meditation, the chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Center in Abeline. As requested, he was buried in a Government Issue casket, and wearing his World War II uniform, decorated with: Army Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit. Buried alongside Eisenhower are his son Doud, who died at age 3 in 1921, and wife Mamie, who died in 1979.
President Richard Nixon eulogized Eisenhower in 1969, saying:
Some men are considered great because they lead great armies or they lead powerful nations. For eight years now, Dwight Eisenhower has neither commanded an army nor led a nation; and yet he remained through his final days the world's most admired and respected man, truly the first citizen of the world.
Legacy and memoryEisenhower's reputation declined in the immediate years after he left office. During his presidency, he was widely seen by critics as an inactive, uninspiring, golf-playing president. This was in stark contrast to his vigorous young successor, John F. Kennedy, who was 26 years his junior. Despite his unprecedented use of Army troops to enforce a federal desegregation order at Central High School in Little Rock, Eisenhower was criticized for his reluctance to support the civil rights movement to the degree that activists wanted. Eisenhower also attracted criticism for his handling of the 1960 U-2 incident and the associated international embarrassment, for the Soviet Union's perceived leadership in the nuclear arms race and the Space Race, and for his failure to publicly oppose McCarthyism.
In particular, Eisenhower was criticized for failing to defend George Marshall from attacks by Joseph McCarthy, though he privately deplored McCarthy's tactics and claims.
Historian John Lewis Gaddis has summarized a more recent turnaround in evaluations by historians:
Historians long ago abandoned the view that Eisenhower's was a failed presidency. He did, after all, end the Korean War without getting into any others. He stabilized, and did not escalate, the Soviet–American rivalry. He strengthened European alliances while withdrawing support from European colonialism. He rescued the Republican Party from isolationism and McCarthyism. He maintained prosperity, balanced the budget, promoted technological innovation, facilitated (if reluctantly) the civil rights movement and warned, in the most memorable farewell address since Washington's, of a "military–industrial complex" that could endanger the nation's liberties. Not until Reagan would another president leave office with so strong a sense of having accomplished what he set out to do.Eisenhower signs the legislation that changes Armistice Day to Veterans Day, June 1, 1954
President John F. Kennedy meets with Eisenhower at Camp David, April 22, 1961, three days after the failed Bay of Pigs InvasionAlthough conservatism in politics was strong during the 1950s, and Eisenhower generally espoused conservative sentiments, his administration concerned itself mostly with foreign affairs (an area in which the career-military president had more knowledge) and pursued a hands-off domestic policy. Eisenhower looked to moderation and cooperation as a means of governance.
Although he sought to slow or contain the New Deal and other federal programs, he did not attempt to repeal them outright. In doing so, Eisenhower was popular among the liberal wing of the Republican Party. Conservative critics of his administration thought that he did not do enough to advance the goals of the right; according to Hans Morgenthau, "Eisenhower's victories were but accidents without consequence in the history of the Republican party."
Since the 19th century, many if not all presidents were assisted by a central figure or "gatekeeper", sometimes described as the president's private secretary, sometimes with no official title at all. Eisenhower formalized this role, introducing the office of White House Chief of Staff – an idea he borrowed from the United States Army. Every president after Lyndon Johnson has also appointed staff to this position. Initially, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter tried to operate without a chief of staff, but each eventually appointed one.
As president, Eisenhower also initiated the "up or out" policy that still prevails in the U.S. military. Officers who are passed over for promotion twice, are then usually honorably but quickly discharged, in order to make way for younger, and more able officers. (As an army officer, Eisenhower had been stuck at the rank of major for 16 years in the interwar period.)
On December 20, 1944, Eisenhower was appointed to the rank of General of the Army, placing him in the company of George Marshall, Henry "Hap" Arnold, and Douglas MacArthur, the only four men to achieve the rank in World War II. Along with Omar Bradley, they were the only five men to achieve the rank since the August 5, 1888 death of Philip Sheridan, and the only five men to hold the rank of five-star general. The rank was created by an Act of Congress on a temporary basis, when Public Law 78–482 was passed on December 14, 1944, as a temporary rank, subject to reversion to permanent rank six months after the end of the war. The temporary rank was then declared permanent on March 23, 1946 by Public Law 333 of the 79th Congress, which also awarded full pay and allowances in the grade to those on the retired list. It was created to give the most senior American commanders parity of rank with their British counterparts holding the ranks of field marshal and admiral of the fleet. This second General of the Army rank is not the same as the post-Civil War era version because of its purpose and five stars.
Frank Gasparro's obverse design (left) and reverse design (right) of the Presidential Medal of Appreciation award during Eisenhower's official visit to the State of Hawaii from June 20–25, 1960Eisenhower founded People to People International in 1956, based on his belief that citizen interaction would promote cultural interaction and world peace. The program includes a student ambassador component, which sends American youth on educational trips to other countries.
During his second term as president, Eisenhower distinctively preserved his presidential gratitude by awarding individuals a special memento. This memento was a series of specially designed U.S. Mint presidential appreciation medals. Eisenhower presented the medal as an expression of his appreciation and the medal is a keepsake reminder for the recipient.
The development of the appreciation medals was initiated by the White House and executed by the United States Mint, through the Philadelphia Mint. The medals were struck from September 1958 through October 1960. A total of twenty designs are cataloged with a total mintage of 9,858. Each of the designs incorporates the text "with appreciation" or "with personal and official gratitude" accompanied with Eisenhower's initials "D.D.E." or facsimile signature. The design also incorporates location, date, and/or significant event. Prior to the end of his second term as President, 1,451 medals were turned in to the Bureau of the Mint and destroyed. The Eisenhower appreciation medals are part of the Presidential Medal of Appreciation Award Medal Series.
Tributes and memorialsMain article: List of memorials to Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower Interstate System sign south of San Antonio, Texas
Bronze statue of Eisenhower in the Capitol rotundaThe Interstate Highway System is officially known as the "Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways" in his honor. It was inspired in part by Eisenhower's own Army experiences in World War II, where he recognized the advantages of the autobahn system in Germany. Commemorative signs reading "Eisenhower Interstate System" and bearing Eisenhower's permanent 5-star rank insignia were introduced in 1993 and now are displayed throughout the Interstate System. Several highways are also named for him, including the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290) near Chicago. the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 west of Denver, and Interstate 80 in California.
Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy is a senior war college of the Department of Defense's National Defense University in Washington, DC. Eisenhower graduated from this school when it was previously known as the Army Industrial College. The school's building on Fort Lesley J. McNair, when it was known as the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, was dedicated as Eisenhower Hall in 1960.
Eisenhower was honored on a US one dollar coin, minted from 1971 to 1978. His centenary was honored on a commemorative dollar coin issued in 1990.
In 1969 four major record companies – ABC Records, MGM Records, Buddha Records and Caedmon Audio – released tribute albums in Eisenhower's honor.
In 1999 the United States Congress created the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, to create an enduring national memorial in Washington, D.C.. In 2009 the commission chose the architect Frank Gehry to design the memorial. The memorial will stand on a four-acre site near the National Mall on Maryland Avenue, SW across the street from the National Air and Space Museum.
In December 1999 he was listed on Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th century. In 2009 he was named to the World Golf Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Achievement category for his contributions to the sport.
Awards and decorations
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The star of the Soviet Order of Victory awarded to Eisenhower
The coat of arms granted to Eisenhower upon his incorporation as a knight of the Danish Order of the Elephant in 1950. The anvil represents the fact that his name is derived from the German for "iron hewer".U.S. Military DecorationsBronze oak leaf clusterBronze oak leaf clusterBronze oak leaf clusterBronze oak leaf cluster Army Distinguished Service Medal w/ 4 oak leaf clusters Navy Distinguished Service Medal Legion of MeritU.S. Service Medals Mexican Border Service Medal World War I Victory Medal American Defense Service MedalSilver starBronze starBronze star European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal w/ 7 campaign stars World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal w/ "Germany" claspBronze star National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service starInternational and Foreign Awards Order of the Liberator San Martin, Grand Cross (Argentina) Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash (Austria) Order of Leopold, Grand Cordon (Belgium) Croix de guerre w/ palm (Belgium) Order of the Southern Cross, Grand Cross (Brazil) Order of Military Merit (Brazil), Grand Cross Order of Aeronautical Merit, Grand Cross (Brazil) War Medal (Brazil) Campaign Medal (Brazil) Order of Merit, Grand Cross (Chile) Order of the Cloud and Banner, with Special Grand Cordon, (China) Military Order of the White Lion, Grand Cross (Czechoslovakia) War Cross 1939–1945 (Czechoslovakia) Order of the Elephant, Knight (Denmark) Order of Abdon Calderón, First Class (Ecuador) Order of Ismail, Grand Cordon (Egypt) Order of Solomon, Knight Grand Cross with Cordon (Ethiopia) Order of the Queen of Sheba, Member (Ethiopia) Legion of Honour, Grand Cross (France) Order of Liberation, Companion (France) Military Medal (France) Croix de guerre w/ palm (France) Royal Order of George I, Knight Grand Cross with Swords (Greece) Order of the Redeemer, Knight Grand Cross (Greece) Cross of Military Merit, First Class (Guatemala) National Order of Honour and Merit, Grand Cross with Gold Badge (Haiti) Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Knight Grand Cross (Holy See) Military Order of Italy, Knight Grand Cross (Italy) Order of the Chrysanthemum, Collar (Japan) Order of the Oak Crown, Grand Cross (Luxembourg)LUX Military Medal ribbon.PNG Military Medal (Luxembourg) Order pro merito Melitensi, KGC (Sovereign Military Order of Malta) Order of the Aztec Eagle, Collar (Mexico) Medal of Military Merit (Mexico) Medal of Civic Merit (Mexico) Order of Ouissam Alaouite, Grand Cross (Morocco) Order of the Netherlands Lion, Knight Grand Cross (Netherlands) Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, Grand Cross (Norway) Order of Nishan-e-Pakistan, First Class (Pakistan) Order of Manuel Amador Guerrero, Grand Officer (Panama) Orden Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Grand Cross (Panama) Order of Sikatuna, Grand Collar (Philippines) Legion of Honor (Philippines), Chief Commander (Philippines) Distinguished Service Star, (Philippines) Order of Polonia Restituta, Grand Cross (Poland) Order of Virtuti Militari, First Class (Poland) Cross of Grunwald, First Class (Poland) Order of the Royal House of Chakri, Knight (Thailand) Order of Glory, Grand Cordon (Tunisia) Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Cross (United Kingdom) Order of Merit, Member (United Kingdom) Africa Star, with "8" and "1" numerical devices (United Kingdom) Order of Victory, Star (USSR) Order of Suvorov, First Class (USSR) The Royal Yugoslav Commemorative War Cross (Yugoslavia)PromotionsNo insignia Cadet, United States Military Academy: June 14, 1911No pin insignia in 1915 Second Lieutenant, Regular Army: June 12, 1915US-O2 insignia.svg First Lieutenant, Regular Army: July 1, 1916US-O3 insignia.svg Captain, Regular Army: May 15, 1917US-O4 insignia.svg Major, National Army: June 17, 1918US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel, National Army: October 20, 1918US-O3 insignia.svg Captain, Regular Army: June 30, 1920(Reverted to permanent rank.)US-O4 insignia.svg Major, Regular Army: July 2, 1920US-O3 insignia.svg Captain, Regular Army: November 4, 1922(Discharged as major and appointed as captain due to reduction of Army.)US-O4 insignia.svg Major, Regular Army: August 26, 1924US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army: July 1, 1936US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel, Army of the United States: March 6, 1941US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General, Army of the United States: September 29, 1941US-O8 insignia.svg Major General, Army of the United States: March 27, 1942US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General, Army of the United States: July 7, 1942US-O10 insignia.svg General, Army of the United States: February 11, 1943US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General, Regular Army: August 30, 1943US-O8 insignia.svg Major General, Regular Army: August 30, 1943US-O11 insignia.svg General of the Army, Army of the United States: December 20, 1944US-O11 insignia.svg General of the Army, Regular Army: April 11, 1946Note – Eisenhower relinquished his active duty status when he became president on January 20, 1953. He was returned to active duty when he left office eight years later.
Family treeDwight D. Eisenhower(1890–1969) Mamie Doud(1896–1979) Richard Nixon(1913–1994) Pat Ryan(1912–1993) Doud Eisenhower(1917–1921) John Eisenhower(1922–2013) Barbara Thompson(1926–2014)Edward Cox(1946–present) Tricia Nixon(1946–present) Julie Nixon(1948–present) David Eisenhower(1948–present) FernandoEchavarría-Uribe Anne Eisenhower(1949–present) Susan Eisenhower(1951–present) John Mahon Mary Eisenhower(1955–present) Ralph AtwaterAndrea Catsimatidis(1989–present) Christopher Cox(1979–present) Anthony Cheslock(1977–present) Jennie Eisenhower(1978–present) Alex Eisenhower(1980–present) Tara Brennan(1979–present) Melanie Eisenhower(1984–present) Adriana Echavarria(1969–present) Amelia Eisenhower Mahon(1981/82–present) Merrill Eisenhower Atwater(1981–present)See also"And I don't care what it is", phrase by Eisenhower, 1952, on religionAtoms for Peace, a speech to the UN General Assembly in December 1953Committee on Scientists and EngineersEisenhower baseball controversyEisenhower dollarEisenhower method for time managementEisenhower National Historic SiteEisenhower on U.S. Postage stampsEisenhower Presidential CenterPeople to People Student Ambassador ProgramKay SummersbyIke: Countdown to D-Day – a 2004 American television film about the decisions Eisenhower made as Supreme Commander that led to the successful D-Day invasion of World War IIPressure – a 2014 British play on Eisenhower's part in the meteorological decisions leading up to D-Day; he was played in the premiere production by Malcolm SinclairGeneral:
History of the United States (1945–1964)List of Presidents of the United States, sortable by previous experienceHistorical rankings of United States Presidents
Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was an American politician who served as the 37th president of the United States from 1969 until his resignation in 1974. The only president to resign from the office, he previously served as the nation's 36th vice president from 1953 to 1961, and as a representative and senator from California.
Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. He completed his undergraduate studies at Whittier College, then graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law. He and his wife Pat moved to Washington in 1942 to work for the federal government. He served on active duty in the Navy Reserve during World War II. He 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 of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election, and he served for eight years as vice president, becoming the second-youngest vice president in history at age 40. He waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, and he lost a race for governor of California to Pat Brown in 1962. In 1968, he ran for the presidency again and was elected, defeating Vice President Hubert Humphrey in a close and contentious election.
Nixon ended American involvement in the war in Vietnam in 1973, ending the military draft that same year. Nixon's visit to China in 1972 eventually led to diplomatic relations between the two nations, and he initiated détente and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year. His administration generally transferred power from federal control to state control. He imposed wage and price controls for 90 days, enforced desegregation of Southern schools, established the Environmental Protection Agency, and began the War on Cancer. He also presided over the Apollo 11 moon landing, which signaled the end of the moon race. He was re-elected in one of the largest electoral landslides in American history in 1972 when he defeated George McGovern.
In his second term, Nixon ordered an airlift to resupply Israeli losses in the Yom Kippur War, leading to the oil crisis at home. By late 1973, the Watergate scandal escalated, costing Nixon much of his political support. On August 9, 1974, he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment and removal from office—the only time an American president has done so. After his resignation, he was issued a controversial pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford. In 20 years of retirement, Nixon wrote his memoirs and nine other books and undertook many foreign trips, helping to rehabilitate his image into that of an elder statesman. He suffered a debilitating stroke on April 18, 1994, and died four days later at age 81.Contents1 Early life1.1 Primary and secondary education1.2 College and law school education2 Early career and marriage3 Military service4 Rising politician4.1 Congressional career (1947–1953)4.2 Vice presidency (1953–1961)4.3 1960 and 1962 elections; wilderness years5 1968 presidential election6 Presidency (1969–1974)6.1 Foreign policy6.2 Domestic policy6.3 Space policy6.4 Reelection, Watergate scandal, and resignation7 Post-presidency (1974–1994)7.1 Pardon and illness7.2 Return to public life7.3 Author and elder statesman8 Death and funeral9 Legacy10 Personality and public image11 See also12 Notes12.1 Explanatory notes12.2 Citations13 References13.1 Bibliography13.2 Nixon Library13.3 Other sources14 Further reading15 External linksEarly lifeRichard Milhous Nixon was born on January 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, California, in a house that was built by his father. His parents were Hannah (Milhous) Nixon and Francis A. Nixon. His mother was a Quaker, and his father converted from Methodism to the Quaker faith. Through his mother, Nixon was a descendant of the early American settler Thomas Cornell, who was also an ancestor of Ezra Cornell, the founder of Cornell University, as well as of Jimmy Carter and Bill Gates.Nixon (second from right) makes his newspaper debut in 1916, contributing five cents to a fund for war orphans. His brother Donald is to his right.Nixon's upbringing was marked by evangelical Quaker observances of the time such as refraining from alcohol, dancing, and swearing. Nixon had four brothers: Harold (1909–33), Donald (1914–87), Arthur (1918–25), and Edward (1930–2019). Four of the five Nixon boys were named after kings who had ruled in historical or legendary Britain; Richard, for example, was named after Richard the Lionheart.
Nixon's early life was marked by hardship, and he later quoted a saying of Eisenhower to describe his boyhood: "We were poor, but the glory of it was we didn't know it". The Nixon family ranch failed in 1922, and the family moved to Whittier, California. In an area with many Quakers, Frank Nixon opened a grocery store and gas station. Richard's younger brother Arthur died in 1925 at the age of seven after a short illness. Richard was twelve years old when a spot was found on his lung. With a family history of tuberculosis, he was forofferden to play sports. Eventually, the spot was found to be scar tissue from an early bout of pneumonia.
Primary and secondary education
Nixon at Whittier High School, 1930Young Richard attended East Whittier Elementary School, where he was president of his eighth-grade class. His parents believed that attending Whittier High School had caused Richard's older brother Harold to live a dissolute lifestyle before he fell ill of tuberculosis (he died of the disease in 1933), so they sent Richard to the larger Fullerton Union High School. He had to ride a school bus for an hour each way during his freshman year, and he received excellent grades. Later, he lived with an aunt in Fullerton during the week. He played junior varsity football, and seldom missed a practice, even though he was rarely used in games. He had greater success as a debater, winning a number of championships and taking his only formal tutelage in public speaking from Fullerton's Head of English, H. Lynn Sheller. Nixon later remembered Sheller's words, "Remember, speaking is conversation ... don't shout at people. Talk to them. Converse with them." Nixon said he tried to use the conversational tone as much as possible.
At the start of his junior year in September 1928, Richard's parents permitted him to transfer to Whittier High School. At Whittier, Nixon suffered his first election defeat when he lost his offer for student body president. He often rose at 4 a.m., to drive the family truck into Los Angeles and purchase vegetables at the market. He then drove to the store to wash and display them before going to school. Harold had been diagnosed with tuberculosis the previous year; when their mother took him to Arizona in the hopes of improving his health, the demands on Richard increased, causing him to give up football. Nevertheless, Richard graduated from Whittier High third in his class of 207 students.
College and law school educationNixon was offered a tuition grant to attend Harvard University but Harold's continued illness and the need for their mother to care for him meant Richard was needed at the store. He remained in his hometown and attended Whittier College with his expenses covered by a bequest from his maternal grandfather. Nixon played for the basketball team; he also tried out for football but lacked the size to play. He remained on the team as a substitute and was noted for his enthusiasm. Instead of fraternities and sororities, Whittier had literary societies. Nixon was snubbed by the only one for men, the Franklins; many members of the Franklins were from prominent families, but Nixon was not. He responded by helping to found a new society, the Orthogonian Society. In addition to the society, schoolwork, and work at the store, Nixon found time for a large number of extracurricular activities, becoming a champion debater and gaining a reputation as a hard worker. In 1933, he became engaged to Ola Florence Welch, daughter of the Whittier police chief. The two broke up in 1935.
After graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in history from Whittier in 1934, Nixon received a full scholarship to attend Duke University School of Law. The school was new and sought to attract top students by offering scholarships. It paid high salaries to its professors, many of whom had national or international reputations. The number of scholarships was greatly reduced for second- and third-year students, forcing recipients into intense competition. Nixon not only kept his scholarship but was elected president of the Duke Bar Association, inducted into the Order of the Coif, and graduated third in his class in June 1937.
Early career and marriageAfter graduating from Duke, Nixon initially hoped to join the FBI. He received no response to his letter of application and learned years later that he had been hired, but his appointment had been canceled at the last minute due to budget cuts. Instead, he returned to California and was admitted to the bar in 1937. He began practicing in Whittier with the law firm Wingert and Bewley, working on commercial litigation for local petroleum companies and other corporate matters, as well as on wills. In later years, Nixon proudly stated that he was the only modern president to have previously worked as a practicing attorney. Nixon was reluctant to work on divorce cases, disliking frank sexual talk from women. In 1938, he opened up his own branch of Wingert and Bewley in La Habra, California, and became a full partner in the firm the following year.
In January 1938 Nixon was cast in the Whittier Community Players production of The Dark Tower. There he played opposite a high school teacher named Thelma "Pat" Ryan. Nixon described it in his memoirs as "a case of love at first sight"—for Nixon only, as Pat Ryan turned down the young lawyer several times before agreeing to date him. Once they began their courtship, Ryan was reluctant to marry Nixon; they dated for two years before she assented to his proposal. They wed in a small ceremony on June 21, 1940. After a honeymoon in Mexico, the Nixons began their married life in Whittier. They had two daughters, Tricia (born 1946) and Julie (born 1948).
Lieutenant Commander Richard Nixon, United States Navy (circa 1945)In January 1942 the couple moved to Washington, D.C., where Nixon took a job at the Office of Price Administration. In his political campaigns, Nixon would suggest that this was his response to Pearl Harbor, but he had sought the position throughout the latter part of 1941. Both Nixon and his wife believed he was limiting his prospects by remaining in Whittier. He was assigned to the tire rationing division, where he was tasked with replying to correspondence. He did not enjoy the role, and four months later applied to join the United States Navy. As a birthright Quaker, he could have by law claimed exemption from the draft; he might also have been deferred because he worked in government service. In spite of that, Nixon sought a commission in the navy. His application was successful, and he was appointed a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S Naval Reserve (U.S. Navy Reserve) on June 15, 1942.
In October 1942, he was assigned as aide to the commander of the Naval Air Station Ottumwa in Iowa until May 1943. Seeking more excitement, he requested sea duty and on July 2, 1943, was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 25 and the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command (SCAT), supporting the logistics of operations in the South Pacific Theater. On October 1, 1943, Nixon was promoted to lieutenant. Nixon commanded the SCAT forward detachments at Vella Lavella, Bougainville, and finally at Green Island (Nissan Island). His unit prepared manifests and flight plans for R4D/C-47 operations and supervised the loading and unloading of the transport aircraft. For this service, he received a Navy Letter of Commendation (awarded a Navy Commendation Ribbon which was later updated to the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal) from his commanding officer for "meritorious and efficient performance of duty as Officer in Charge of the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command". Upon his return to the U.S., Nixon was appointed the administrative officer of the Alameda Naval Air Station in California. In January 1945 he was transferred to the Bureau of Aeronautics office in Philadelphia to help negotiate the termination of war contracts, and received his second letter of commendation, from the Secretary of the Navy  for "meritorious service, tireless effort, and devotion to duty". Later, Nixon was transferred to other offices to work on contracts and finally to Baltimore. On October 3, 1945, he was promoted to lieutenant commander. On March 10, 1946, he was relieved of active duty. He resigned his commission on New Year's Day 1946. On June 1, 1953, he was promoted to commander. He retired in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 6, 1966.
Bronze starBronze star Navy and Marine CorpsCommendation Medal American Campaign MedalAsiatic-Pacific Campaign Medalwith two stars World War II Victory Medal Armed Forces Reserve Medalwith silver hourglass deviceRising politicianCongressional career (1947–1953)For more information on Nixon's congressional election campaigns, see 1946 California's 12th congressional district election and 1950 United States Senate election in California.House of Representatives
Nixon's congressional campaign flyerIn 1945, Republicans in California's 12th congressional district were frustrated by their inability to defeat Democratic Congressman Jerry Voorhis and sought a consensus candidate who would run a strong campaign against him. They formed a "Committee of 100" to decide on a candidate hoping to avoid internal dissensions which had previously led to Voorhis victories. After the committee failed to attract higher-profile candidates Herman Perry, Whittier's Bank of America branch manager, suggested Nixon, a family friend with whom he had served on the Whittier College Board of Trustees before the war. Perry wrote to Nixon in Baltimore. After a night of excited talk between the Nixons, the naval officer responded to Perry with enthusiasm. Nixon flew to California and was selected by the committee. When he left the Navy at the start of 1946, Nixon and his wife returned to Whittier, where Nixon began a year of intensive campaigning. He contended that Voorhis had been ineffective as a congressman and suggested that Voorhis's endorsement by a group linked to communists meant that Voorhis must have radical views. Nixon won the election, receiving 65,586 votes to Voorhis's 49,994.Nixon campaigning for the Senate, 1950In Congress, Nixon supported the Taft–Hartley Act of 1947, a federal law that monitors the activities and power of labor unions, and he served on the Education and Labor Committee. He was part of the Herter Committee, which went to Europe to report on the need for U.S. foreign aid. Nixon was the youngest member of the committee and the only Westerner. Advocacy by Herter Committee members, including Nixon, led to congressional passage of the Marshall Plan.
In his memoirs, Nixon recounts that he joined the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) "at the end of 1947." However, he was already a HUAC member in early February 1947, when he heard "Enemy Number One" Gerhard Eisler and his sister Ruth Fischer testify. On February 18, 1947, Nixon referred to Eisler's belligerence toward HUAC in his maiden speech to the House. Also by early February 1947, fellow U.S. Representative Charles J. Kersten had introduced him to Father John Francis Cronin in Baltimore, who shared with Nixon his 1945 privately circulated paper "The Problem of American Communism in 1945,"  with much information from the FBI's William C. Sullivan (who by 1961 would head domestic intelligence under J. Edgar Hoover).
By May 1948, Nixon had co-sponsored a "Mundt-Nixon Bill" to implement "a new approach to the complicated problem of internal communist subversion ... It provided for registration of all Communist Party members and required a statement of the source of all printed and broadcast material issued by organizations that were found to be Communist fronts." He served as floor manager for the Republican Party. On May 19, 1948, the bill passed the House by 319 to 58 but failed to pass the Senate. (The Nixon Library cites this bill's passage as Nixon's first significant victory in Congress.)
Nixon first gained national attention in August 1948 when his persistence as a HUAC member helped break the Alger Hiss spy case. While many doubted Whittaker Chambers's allegations that Hiss, a former State Department official, had been a Soviet spy, Nixon believed them to be true and pressed for the committee to continue its investigation. Under suit for defamation filed by Hiss, Chambers produced documents corroborating his allegations. These included paper and microfilm copies that Chambers turned over to House investigators after having hidden them overnight in a field; they became known as the "Pumpkin Papers". Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1950 for denying under oath he had passed documents to Chambers. In 1948, Nixon successfully cross-filed as a candidate in his district, winning both major party primaries, and was comfortably reelected.
Nixon campaigns in Sausalito, California, 1950In 1949, Nixon began to consider running for the United States Senate against the Democratic incumbent, Sheridan Downey, and entered the race in November. Downey, faced with a bitter primary battle with Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas, announced his retirement in March 1950. Nixon and Douglas won the primary elections and engaged in a contentious campaign in which the ongoing Korean War was a major issue. Nixon tried to focus attention on Douglas's liberal voting record. As part of that effort, a "Pink Sheet" was distributed by the Nixon campaign suggesting that, as Douglas's voting record was similar to that of New York Congressman Vito Marcantonio (believed by some to be a communist), their political views must be nearly identical. Nixon won the election by almost twenty percentage points. During this campaign, Nixon was first called "Tricky Dick" by his opponents for his campaign tactics.1950 California Senate election results by county:Nixon: 50-59% 60-69% 70-79%Douglas: 50-59%In the Senate, Nixon took a prominent position in opposing global communism, traveling frequently and speaking out against it. He maintained friendly relations with his fellow anti-communist, controversial Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy, but was careful to keep some distance between himself and McCarthy's allegations. Nixon also criticized President Harry S. Truman's handling of the Korean War. He supported statehood for Alaska and Hawaii, voted in favor of civil rights for minorities, and supported federal disaster relief for India and Yugoslavia. He voted against price controls and other monetary restrictions, benefits for illegal immigrants, and public power.
Vice presidency (1953–1961)General Dwight D. Eisenhower was nominated for president by the Republicans in 1952. He had no strong preference for a vice presidential candidate, and Republican officeholders and party officials met in a "smoke-filled room" and recommended Nixon to the general, who agreed to the senator's selection. Nixon's youth (he was then 39), stance against communism, and political base in California—one of the largest states—were all seen as vote-winners by the leaders. Among the candidates considered along with Nixon were Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft, New Jersey Governor Alfred Driscoll and Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen. On the campaign trail, Eisenhower spoke to his plans for the country, leaving the negative campaigning to his running mate.Front cover of literature for the Eisenhower–Nixon campaign, 1952In mid-September, the Republican ticket faced a major crisis. The media reported that Nixon had a political fund, maintained by his backers, which reimbursed him for political expenses. Such a fund was not illegal but it exposed Nixon to allegations of possible conflict of interest. With pressure building for Eisenhower to demand Nixon's resignation from the ticket the senator went on television to deliver an address to the nation on September 23, 1952. The address, later termed the Checkers speech, was heard by about 60 million Americans—including the largest television audience up to that point. Nixon emotionally defended himself, stating that the fund was not secret, nor had donors received special favors. He painted himself as a man of modest means (his wife had no mink coat; instead she wore a "respectable Republican cloth coat") and a patriot. The speech would be remembered for the gift which Nixon had received, but which he would not give back: "a little cocker spaniel dog ... sent all the way from Texas. And our little girl—Tricia, the 6-year-old—named it Checkers." The speech prompted a huge public outpouring of support for Nixon. Eisenhower decided to retain him on the ticket, which proved victorious in the November election.
Eisenhower gave Nixon responsibilities during his term as vice president—more than any previous vice president. Nixon attended Cabinet and National Security Council meetings and chaired them when Eisenhower was absent. A 1953 tour of the Far East succeeded in increasing local goodwill toward the United States and prompted Nixon to appreciate the potential of the region as an industrial center. He visited Saigon and Hanoi in French Indochina. On his return to the United States at the end of 1953, Nixon increased the amount of time he devoted to foreign relations.
Biographer Irwin Gellman, who chronicled Nixon's congressional years, said of his vice presidency:
Eisenhower radically altered the role of his running mate by presenting him with critical assignments in both foreign and domestic affairs once he assumed his office. The vice president welcomed the president's initiatives and worked energetically to accomplish White House objectives. Because of the collaboration between these two leaders, Nixon deserves the title, "the first modern vice president".
Despite intense campaigning by Nixon, who reprised his strong attacks on the Democrats, the Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress in the 1954 elections. These losses caused Nixon to contemplate leaving politics once he had served out his term. On September 24, 1955, President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack; his condition was initially believed to be life-threatening. Eisenhower was unable to perform his duties for six weeks. The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution had not yet been proposed, and the Vice President had no formal power to act. Nonetheless, Nixon acted in Eisenhower's stead during this period, presiding over Cabinet meetings and ensuring that aides and Cabinet officers did not seek power. According to Nixon biographer Stephen Ambrose, Nixon had "earned the high praise he received for his conduct during the crisis ... he made no attempt to seize power".Vice President Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev speak as the press looks on in part of what came to be known as the Kitchen Debate, July 24, 1959.His spirits buoyed, Nixon sought a second term, but some of Eisenhower's aides aimed to displace him. In a December 1955 meeting, Eisenhower proposed that Nixon not run for reelection in order to give him administrative experience before a 1960 presidential run and instead become a Cabinet officer in a second Eisenhower administration. Nixon believed such an action would destroy his political career. When Eisenhower announced his reelection offer in February 1956, he hedged on the choice of his running mate, stating that it was improper to address that question until he had been renominated. Although no Republican was opposing Eisenhower, Nixon received a substantial number of write-in votes against the President in the 1956 New Hampshire primary election. In late April, the President announced that Nixon would again be his running mate. Eisenhower and Nixon were reelected by a comfortable margin in the November 1956 election.
In early 1957, Nixon undertook another major foreign trip, this time to Africa. On his return, he helped shepherd the Civil Rights Act of 1957 through Congress. The bill was weakened in the Senate, and civil rights leaders were divided over whether Eisenhower should sign it. Nixon advised the President to sign the bill, which he did. Eisenhower suffered a mild stroke in November 1957, and Nixon gave a press conference, assuring the nation that the Cabinet was functioning well as a team during Eisenhower's brief illness.Los Angeles Times
San Francisco ChronicleIn the context of the Cold War, important American newspapers showed as main news on their covers of May 9 of 1958 the protests of students of the National University of San Marcos, the oldest university in the Americas, during Richard Nixon's then controversial visit to their institution in Lima, Peru.On April 27, 1958, Richard and Pat Nixon reluctantly embarked on a goodwill tour of South America. In Montevideo, Uruguay, Nixon made an impromptu visit to a college campus, where he fielded questions from students on U.S. foreign policy. The trip was uneventful until the Nixon party reached Lima, Peru, where he was met with student demonstrations. Nixon went to the historical campus of National University of San Marcos, the oldest university in the Americas, got out of his car to confront the students, and stayed until forced back into the car by a volley of thrown objects. At his hotel, Nixon faced another mob, and one demonstrator spat on him. In Caracas, Venezuela, Nixon and his wife were spat on by anti-American demonstrators and their limousine was attacked by a pipe-wielding mob. According to Ambrose, Nixon's courageous conduct "caused even some of his bitterest enemies to give him some grudging respect". Reporting to the cabinet after the trip, Nixon claimed there was "absolute proof that [the protestors] were directed and controlled by a central Communist conspiracy." Secretary of State John Foster Dulles concurred in this view; Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles sharply rebuked it.
In July 1959 President Eisenhower sent Nixon to the Soviet Union for the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow. On July 24, Nixon was touring the exhibits with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev when the two stopped at a model of an American kitchen and engaged in an impromptu exchange about the merits of capitalism versus communism that became known as the "Kitchen Debate".
1960 and 1962 elections; wilderness yearsMain article: 1960 United States presidential election
1960 electoral vote resultsIn 1960 Nixon launched his first campaign for President of the United States. He faced little opposition in the Republican primaries and chose former Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. as his running mate. His Democratic opponent was John F. Kennedy and the race remained close for the duration. Nixon campaigned on his experience but Kennedy called for new blood and claimed the Eisenhower–Nixon administration had allowed the Soviet Union to overtake the U.S. in ballistic missiles (the "missile gap").
A new political medium was introduced in the campaign: televised presidential debates. In the first of four such debates Nixon appeared pale, with a five o'clock shadow, in contrast to the photogenic Kennedy. Nixon's performance in the debate was perceived to be mediocre in the visual medium of television, though many people listening on the radio thought Nixon had won. Nixon narrowly lost the election; Kennedy won the popular vote by only 112,827 votes (0.2 percent).Outgoing Vice President Nixon and incoming Vice President Lyndon Johnson leave the White House on the morning of January 20, 1961, for the Kennedy–Johnson inauguration ceremonies.There were charges of voter fraud in Texas and Illinois, both states won by Kennedy. Nixon refused to consider contesting the election, feeling a lengthy controversy would diminish the United States in the eyes of the world and the uncertainty would hurt U.S. interests. At the end of his term of office as vice president in January 1961, Nixon and his family returned to California, where he practiced law and wrote a bestselling book, Six Crises, which included coverage of the Hiss case, Eisenhower's heart attack, and the Fund Crisis, which had been resolved by the Checkers speech.
Local and national Republican leaders encouraged Nixon to challenge incumbent Pat Brown for Governor of California in the 1962 election. Despite initial reluctance, Nixon entered the race. The campaign was clouded by public suspicion that Nixon viewed the office as a stepping-stone for another presidential run, some opposition from the far-right of the party, and his own lack of interest in being California's governor. Nixon hoped a successful run would confirm his status as the nation's leading active Republican politician, and ensure he remained a major player in national politics. Instead, he lost to Brown by more than five percentage points, and the defeat was widely believed to be the end of his political career. In an impromptu concession speech the morning after the election, Nixon blamed the media for favoring his opponent, saying, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference." The California defeat was highlighted in the November 11, 1962, episode of ABC's Howard K. Smith: News and Comment, titled "The Political Obituary of Richard M. Nixon". Alger Hiss appeared on the program, and many members of the public complained that it was unseemly to give a convicted felon air time to attack a former vice president. The furor drove Smith and his program from the air, and public sympathy for Nixon grew.Nixon shows his papers to an East German officer to cross between the sectors of the divided City of Berlin, 1963.In 1963 the Nixon family traveled to Europe, where Nixon gave press conferences and met with leaders of the countries he visited. The family moved to New York City, where Nixon became a senior partner in the leading law firm Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander. When announcing his California campaign, Nixon had pledged not to run for president in 1964; even if he had not, he believed it would be difficult to defeat Kennedy, or after his assassination, Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson.
In 1964, he supported Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater for the Republican nomination for U.S. President; when Goldwater won the nomination, Nixon was selected to introduce him at the convention. Although he thought Goldwater unlikely to win, Nixon campaigned for him loyally. The election was a disaster for the Republicans; Goldwater's landslide loss to Johnson was matched by heavy losses for the party in Congress and among state governors.
Nixon was one of the few leading Republicans not blamed for the disastrous results, and he sought to build on that in the 1966 Congressional elections. He campaigned for many Republicans, seeking to regain seats lost in the Johnson landslide, and received credit for helping the Republicans make major gains that year.
1968 presidential electionMain articles: Richard Nixon 1968 presidential campaign and 1968 United States presidential election
Nixon and Johnson meet at the White House before Nixon's nomination, July 1968.At the end of 1967, Nixon told his family he planned to run for president a second time. Although Pat Nixon did not always enjoy public life (for example, she had been embarrassed by the need to reveal how little the family owned in the Checkers speech), she was supportive of her husband's ambitions. Nixon believed that with the Democrats torn over the issue of the Vietnam War, a Republican had a good chance of winning, although he expected the election to be as close as in 1960.Text on automobile trash bag given away by the Nixon campaign in California, 1968One of the most tumultuous primary election seasons ever began as the Tet Offensive was launched in January 1968. President Johnson withdrew as a candidate in March, after doing unexpectedly poorly in the New Hampshire primary. In June, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a Democratic candidate, was assassinated just moments after his victory in the California primary. On the Republican side, Nixon's main opposition was Michigan Governor George Romney, though New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and California Governor Ronald Reagan each hoped to be nominated in a brokered convention. Nixon secured the nomination on the first ballot. He selected Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate, a choice which Nixon believed would unite the party, appealing both to Northern moderates and to Southerners disaffected with the Democrats.Nixon during his presidential campaign, July 1968Nixon's Democratic opponent in the general election was Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who was nominated at a convention marked by violent protests. Throughout the campaign, Nixon portrayed himself as a figure of stability during a period of national unrest and upheaval. He appealed to what he later called the "silent majority" of socially conservative Americans who disliked the hippie counterculture and the anti-war demonstrators. Agnew became an increasingly vocal critic of these groups, solidifying Nixon's position with the right.
Nixon waged a prominent television advertising campaign, meeting with supporters in front of cameras. He stressed that the crime rate was too high, and attacked what he perceived as a surrender by the Democrats of the United States' nuclear superiority. Nixon promised "peace with honor" in the Vietnam War and proclaimed that "new leadership will end the war and win the peace in the Pacific". He did not release specifics of how he hoped to end the war, resulting in media intimations that he must have a "secret plan". His slogan of "Nixon's the One" proved to be effective.1968 electoral vote resultsJohnson's negotiators hoped to reach a truce, or at least a cessation of bombings, in Vietnam prior to the election. On October 22, 1968, candidate Nixon received information that Johnson was preparing a so-called "October surprise" to elect Humphrey in the last days of the campaign, and his administration had abandoned three non-negotiable conditions for a bombing halt. Whether the Nixon campaign interfered with any ongoing negotiations between the Johnson administration and the South Vietnamese by engaging Anna Chennault, a prominent Chinese-American fundraiser for the Republican party, remains an ongoing controversy. While notes uncovered in 2016 may support such a contention, the context of said notes remains of debate. It is not clear whether the government of South Vietnam needed much encouragement to opt out of a peace process they considered disadvantageous.
In a three-way race between Nixon, Humphrey, and American Independent Party candidate former Alabama Governor George Wallace, Nixon defeated Humphrey by nearly 500,000 votes (seven-tenths of a percentage point), with 301 electoral votes to 191 for Humphrey and 46 for Wallace. In his victory speech, Nixon pledged that his administration would try to bring the divided nation together. Nixon said: "I have received a very gracious message from the Vice President, congratulating me for winning the election. I congratulated him for his gallant and courageous fight against great odds. I also told him that I know exactly how he felt. I know how it feels to lose a close one."
Presidency (1969–1974)Main article: Presidency of Richard Nixon
Nixon is sworn in as the 37th President by Chief Justice Earl Warren on January 20, 1969, with the new First Lady, Pat, holding the family Bible.Nixon was inaugurated as president on January 20, 1969, sworn in by his onetime political rival, Chief Justice Earl Warren. Pat Nixon held the family Bibles open at Isaiah 2:4, which reads, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." In his inaugural address, which received almost uniformly positive reviews, Nixon remarked that "the greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker"—a phrase that would later be placed on his gravestone. He spoke about turning partisan politics into a new age of unity:
In these difficult years, America has suffered from a fever of words; from inflated rhetoric that promises more than it can deliver; from angry rhetoric that fans discontents into hatreds; from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of persuading. We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.
Foreign policyMain article: Foreign policy of the Richard Nixon administrationThe relationship between Nixon and Henry Kissinger, his National Security Advisor was unusually close. It has been compared to the relationships of Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House, or Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins. In all three cases, State Department was relegated to a backseat role in developing foreign-policy. Historian David Rothkopf has compared the personalities of Nixon and Kissinger:
They were a fascinating pair. In a way, they complemented each other perfectly. Kissinger was the charming and worldly Mr. Outside who provided the grace and intellectual-establishment respectability that Nixon lacked, disdained and aspired to. Kissinger was an international citizen. Nixon very much a classic American. Kissinger had a worldview and a facility for adjusting it to meet the times, Nixon had pragmatism and a strategic vision that provided the foundations for their policies. Kissinger would, of course, say he was not political like Nixon—but in fact he was just as political as Nixon, just as calculating, just as relentlessly ambitious ... these self-made men were driven as much by their need for approval and their neuroses as by their strengths.ChinaMain article: 1972 Nixon visit to China
President Nixon shakes hands with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai upon arriving in Beijing, 1972
Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai toast during Nixon's 1972 visit to ChinaNixon laid the groundwork for his overture to China before he became president, writing in Foreign Affairs a year before his election: "There is no place on this small planet for a billion of its potentially most able people to live in angry isolation." Assisting him in this venture was Kissinger, in charge of his United States National Security Council and future Secretary of State. They collaborated closely, bypassing Cabinet officials. With relations between the Soviet Union and China at a nadir—border clashes between the two took place during Nixon's first year in office—Nixon sent private word to the Chinese that he desired closer relations. A breakthrough came in early 1971, when Chairman Mao invited a team of American table tennis players to visit China and play against top Chinese players. Nixon followed up by sending Kissinger to China for clandestine meetings with Chinese officials. On July 15, 1971, it was simultaneously announced by Beijing and by Nixon (on television and radio) that the President would visit China the following February. The announcements astounded the world. The secrecy allowed both sets of leaders time to prepare the political climate in their countries for the contact.
In February 1972, Nixon and his wife traveled to China. Kissinger briefed Nixon for over 40 hours in preparation. Upon touching down, the President and First Lady emerged from Air Force One and greeted Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Nixon made a point of shaking Zhou's hand, something which then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had refused to do in 1954 when the two met in Geneva. Over 100 television journalists accompanied the president. On Nixon's orders, television was strongly favored over printed publications, as Nixon felt that the medium would capture the visit much better than print. It also gave him the opportunity to snub the print journalists he despised.
Nixon and Kissinger met for an hour with Mao and Zhou at Mao's official private residence, where they discussed a range of issues. Mao later told his doctor that he had been impressed by Nixon, whom he considered forthright, unlike the leftists and the Soviets. He said he was suspicious of Kissinger, though the National Security Advisor referred to their meeting as his "encounter with history". A formal banquet welcoming the presidential party was given that evening in the Great Hall of the People. The following day, Nixon met with Zhou; the joint communique following this meeting recognized Taiwan as a part of China, and looked forward to a peaceful solution to the problem of reunification. When not in meetings, Nixon toured architectural wonders including the Forofferden City, Ming Tombs, and the Great Wall. Americans received their first glimpse into Chinese life through the cameras which accompanied Pat Nixon, who toured the city of Beijing and visited communes, schools, factories, and hospitals.
The visit ushered in a new era of Sino-American relations. Fearing the possibility of a Sino-American alliance, the Soviet Union yielded to pressure for détente with the United States.
Vietnam WarMain articles: Vietnam War, Vietnamization, and Role of the United States in the Vietnam War
Nixon delivers an address to the nation about the incursion in CambodiaWhen Nixon took office, about 300 American soldiers were dying each week in Vietnam, and the war was broadly unpopular in the United States, with ongoing violent protests against the war. The Johnson administration had agreed to suspend bombing in exchange for negotiations without preconditions, but this agreement never fully took force. According to Walter Isaacson, soon after taking office, Nixon had concluded that the Vietnam War could not be won and he was determined to end the war quickly. He sought some arrangement which would permit American forces to withdraw, while leaving South Vietnam secure against attack.
Nixon approved a secret B-52 carpet bombing campaign of North Vietnamese (and, later, allied Khmer Rouge) positions in Cambodia in March 1969 (code-named Operation Menu), without the consent of Cambodian leader Norodom Sihanouk. In mid-1969, Nixon began efforts to negotiate peace with the North Vietnamese, sending a personal letter to North Vietnamese leaders, and peace talks began in Paris. Initial talks, however, did not result in an agreement. In May 1969 he publicly proposed to withdraw all American troops from South Vietnam provided North Vietnam also did so and for South Vietnam to hold internationally supervised elections with Viet Cong participation.Nixon visits American troops in South Vietnam, July 1969In July 1969, Nixon visited South Vietnam, where he met with his U.S. military commanders and President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. Amid protests at home demanding an immediate pullout, he implemented a strategy of replacing American troops with Vietnamese troops, known as "Vietnamization". He soon instituted phased U.S. troop withdrawals, but also authorized incursions into Laos, in part to interrupt the Ho Chi Minh trail, which passed through Laos and Cambodia and was used to supply North Vietnamese forces. Nixon announced the ground invasion of Cambodia to the American public on April 30, 1970. Further protests erupted against what was perceived as an expansion of the conflict, and the unrest escalated to violence when Ohio National Guardsmen shot and killed four unarmed students on May 4. Nixon's responses to protesters included an impromptu, early morning meeting with them at the Lincoln Memorial on May 9, 1970. Documents uncovered from the Soviet archives after 1991 reveal that the North Vietnamese attempt to overrun Cambodia in 1970 was launched at the explicit request of the Khmer Rouge and negotiated by Pol Pot's then-second-in-command, Nuon Chea. Nixon's campaign promise to curb the war, contrasted with the escalated bombing, led to claims that Nixon had a "credibility gap" on the issue. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 150,000 people were killed during the bombing of Cambodia between 1970 and 1973.
In 1971, excerpts from the "Pentagon Papers", which had been leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, were published by The New York Times and The Washington Post. When news of the leak first appeared, Nixon was inclined to do nothing; the Papers, a history of United States' involvement in Vietnam, mostly concerned the lies of prior administrations and contained few real revelations. He was persuaded by Kissinger that the Papers were more harmful than they appeared, and the President tried to prevent publication. The Supreme Court eventually ruled for the newspapers.
As U.S. troop withdrawals continued, conscription was reduced and in 1973 ended; the armed forces became all-volunteer. After years of fighting, the Paris Peace Accords were signed at the beginning of 1973. The agreement implemented a cease fire and allowed for the withdrawal of remaining American troops without requiring the 160,000 North Vietnam Army regulars located in the South to withdraw. Once American combat support ended, there was a brief truce, before fighting broke out again. North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam in 1975.
Latin American policySee also: U.S. intervention in Chile § 1973 coup, and Operation Condor
Nixon and Mexican president Gustavo Díaz Ordaz riding a presidential motorcade in San Diego, California, September 1970Nixon had been a firm supporter of Kennedy during the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion and 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. On taking office in 1969, he stepped up covert operations against Cuba and its president, Fidel Castro. He maintained close relations with the Cuban-American exile community through his friend, Bebe Rebozo, who often suggested ways of irritating Castro. These activities concerned the Soviets and Cubans, who feared Nixon might attack Cuba and break the understanding between Kennedy and Khrushchev which had ended the missile crisis. In August 1970, the Soviets asked Nixon to reaffirm the understanding; despite his hard line against Castro, Nixon agreed. The process had not yet been completed when the Soviets began expanding their base at the Cuban port of Cienfuegos in October 1970. A minor confrontation ensued, which was concluded with an understanding that the Soviets would not use Cienfuegos for submarines bearing ballistic missiles. The final round of diplomatic notes, reaffirming the 1962 accord, were exchanged in November.
The election of Marxist candidate Salvador Allende as President of Chile in September 1970 spurred Nixon and Kissinger to pursue a vigorous campaign of covert resistance to Allende,:25 first designed to convince the Chilean congress to confirm Jorge Alessandri as the winner of the election and then messages to military officers in support of a coup. Other support included strikes organized against Allende and funding for Allende opponents. It was even alleged that "Nixon personally authorized" $700,000 in covert funds to print anti-Allende messages in a prominent Chilean newspaper.:93 Following an extended period of social, political, and economic unrest, General Augusto Pinochet assumed power in a violent coup d'état on September 11, 1973; among the dead was Allende.
Nixon meets with Brezhnev during the Soviet leader's trip to the U.S., 1973Nixon used the improving international environment to address the topic of nuclear peace. Following the announcement of his visit to China, the Nixon administration concluded negotiations for him to visit the Soviet Union. The President and First Lady arrived in Moscow on May 22, 1972, and met with Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party; Alexei Kosygin, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers; and Nikolai Podgorny, the head of state, among other leading Soviet officials.
Nixon engaged in intense negotiations with Brezhnev. Out of the summit came agreements for increased trade and two landmark arms control treaties: SALT I, the first comprehensive limitation pact signed by the two superpowers, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned the development of systems designed to intercept incoming missiles. Nixon and Brezhnev proclaimed a new era of "peaceful coexistence". A banquet was held that evening at the Kremlin.
Nixon and Kissinger planned to link arms control to détente and to the resolution of other urgent problems through what Nixon called "linkage." David Tal argues:
The linkage between strategic arms limitations and outstanding issues such as the Middle East, Berlin and, foremost, Vietnam thus became central to Nixon's and Kissinger's policy of détente. Through employment of linkage, they hoped to change the nature and course of U.S. foreign policy, including U.S. nuclear disarmament and arms control policy, and to separate them from those practiced by Nixon's predecessors. They also intended, through linkage, to make U.S. arms control policy part of détente ... His policy of linkage had in fact failed. It failed mainly because it was based on flawed assumptions and false premises, the foremost of which was that the Soviet Union wanted strategic arms limitation agreement much more than the United States did.Seeking to foster better relations with the United States, China and the Soviet Union both cut back on their diplomatic support for North Vietnam and advised Hanoi to come to terms militarily. Nixon later described his strategy:
I had long believed that an indispensable element of any successful peace initiative in Vietnam was to enlist, if possible, the help of the Soviets and the Chinese. Though rapprochement with China and détente with the Soviet Union were ends in themselves, I also considered them possible means to hasten the end of the war. At worst, Hanoi was bound to feel less confident if Washington was dealing with Moscow and Beijing. At best, if the two major Communist powers decided that they had bigger fish to fry, Hanoi would be pressured into negotiating a settlement we could accept.
During the previous two years, Nixon had made considerable progress in U.S.-Soviet relations, and he embarked on a second trip to the Soviet Union in 1974. He arrived in Moscow on June 27 to a welcome ceremony, cheering crowds, and a state dinner at the Grand Kremlin Palace that evening. Nixon and Brezhnev met in Yalta, where they discussed a proposed mutual defense pact, détente, and MIRVs. Nixon considered proposing a comprehensive test-ban treaty, but he felt he would not have time to complete it during his presidency. There were no significant breakthroughs in these negotiations.
Middle Eastern policyNixon meets with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, June 1974As part of the Nixon Doctrine, the U.S. avoided giving direct combat assistance to its allies and instead gave them assistance to defend themselves. During the Nixon administration, the U.S. greatly increased arms sales to the Middle East, particularly Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Nixon administration strongly supported Israel, an American ally in the Middle East, but the support was not unconditional. Nixon believed Israel should make peace with its Arab neighbors and that the United States should encourage it. The president believed that—except during the Suez Crisis—the U.S. had failed to intervene with Israel, and should use the leverage of the large U.S. military aid to Israel to urge the parties to the negotiating table. The Arab-Israeli conflict was not a major focus of Nixon's attention during his first term—for one thing, he felt that no matter what he did, American Jews would oppose his reelection.[a]
On October 6, 1973, an Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria, supported with arms and materiel by the Soviet Union, attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Israel suffered heavy losses and Nixon ordered an airlift to resupply Israeli losses, cutting through inter-departmental squabbles and bureaucracy and taking personal responsibility for any response by Arab nations. More than a week later, by the time the U.S. and Soviet Union began negotiating a truce, Israel had penetrated deep into enemy territory. The truce negotiations rapidly escalated into a superpower crisis; when Israel gained the upper hand, Egyptian President Sadat requested a joint U.S.-USSR peacekeeping mission, which the U.S. refused. When Soviet Premier Brezhnev threatened to unilaterally enforce any peacekeeping mission militarily, Nixon ordered the U.S. military to DEFCON3, placing all U.S. military personnel and bases on alert for nuclear war. This was the closest that the world had come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Brezhnev backed down as a result of Nixon's actions.
Because Israel's victory was largely due to U.S. support, the Arab OPEC nations retaliated by refusing to sell crude oil to the U.S., resulting in the 1973 oil crisis. The embargo caused gasoline shortages and rationing in the United States in late 1973, and was eventually ended by the oil-producing nations as peace in the Middle East took hold.
After the war, and under Nixon's presidency, the U.S. reestablished relations with Egypt for the first time since 1967. Nixon used the Middle East crisis to restart the stalled Middle East Peace Negotiations; he wrote in a confidential memo to Kissinger on October 20:
I believe that, beyond a doubt, we are now facing the best opportunity we have had in 15 years to build a lasting peace in the Middle East. I am convinced history will hold us responsible if we let this opportunity slip by ... I now consider a permanent Middle East settlement to be the most important final goal to which we must devote ourselves.
Nixon made one of his final international visits as president to the Middle East in June 1974, and became the first President to visit Israel.
Domestic policyEconomyFurther information: Nixon shock and 1970s energy crisis
Nixon at the Washington Senators' 1969 Opening Day. Team owner Bob Short (arms folded) and Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn (hand on mouth) can also be seen. Marine Corps Aide to the President Jack Brennan sits in uniform behind Nixon.At the time Nixon took office in 1969, inflation was at 4.7 percent—its highest rate since the Korean War. The Great Society had been enacted under Johnson, which, together with the Vietnam War costs, was causing large budget deficits. Unemployment was low, but interest rates were at their highest in a century. Nixon's major economic goal was to reduce inflation; the most obvious means of doing so was to end the war. This could not be accomplished overnight, and the U.S. economy continued to struggle through 1970, contributing to a lackluster Republican performance in the midterm congressional elections (Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress throughout Nixon's presidency). According to political economist Nigel Bowles in his 2011 study of Nixon's economic record, the new president did little to alter Johnson's policies through the first year of his presidency.
Nixon was far more interested in foreign affairs than domestic policies, but believed that voters tend to focus on their own financial condition, and that economic conditions were a threat to his reelection. As part of his "New Federalism" views, he proposed grants to the states, but these proposals were for the most part lost in the congressional budget process. However, Nixon gained political credit for advocating them. In 1970, Congress had granted the President the power to impose wage and price freezes, though the Democratic majorities, knowing Nixon had opposed such controls through his career, did not expect Nixon to actually use the authority. With inflation unresolved by August 1971, and an election year looming, Nixon convened a summit of his economic advisers at Camp David. He then announced temporary wage and price controls, allowed the dollar to float against other currencies, and ended the convertibility of the dollar into gold. Bowles points out,
by identifying himself with a policy whose purpose was inflation's defeat, Nixon made it difficult for Democratic opponents ... to criticize him. His opponents could offer no alternative policy that was either plausible or believable since the one they favored was one they had designed but which the president had appropriated for himself.
Nixon's policies dampened inflation through 1972, although their aftereffects contributed to inflation during his second term and into the Ford administration.
After Nixon won re-election, inflation was returning. He reimposed price controls in June 1973. The price controls became unpopular with the public and businesspeople, who saw powerful labor unions as preferable to the price board bureaucracy. The controls produced food shortages, as meat disappeared from grocery stores and farmers drowned chickens rather than sell them at a loss. Despite the failure to control inflation, controls were slowly ended, and on April 30, 1974, their statutory authorization lapsed.
Governmental initiatives and organization
President Nixon delivers the 1971 State of the Union Address at the U.S. CapitolNixon advocated a "New Federalism", which would devolve power to state and local elected officials, though Congress was hostile to these ideas and enacted few of them. He eliminated the Cabinet-level United States Post Office Department, which in 1971 became the government-run United States Postal Service.
Nixon was a late supporter of the conservation movement. Environmental policy had not been a significant issue in the 1968 election, and the candidates were rarely asked for their views on the subject. Nixon broke new ground by discussing environmental policy in his State of the Union speech in 1970. He saw that the first Earth Day in April 1970 presaged a wave of voter interest on the subject, and sought to use that to his benefit; in June he announced the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He relied on his domestic advisor John Ehrlichman, who favored protection of natural resources, to keep him "out of trouble on environmental issues." Other initiatives supported by Nixon included the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Environmental Policy Act required environmental impact statements for many Federal projects. Nixon vetoed the Clean Water Act of 1972—objecting not to the policy goals of the legislation but to the amount of money to be spent on them, which he deemed excessive. After Congress overrode his veto, Nixon impounded the funds he deemed unjustifiable.
In 1971, Nixon proposed health insurance reform—a private health insurance employer mandate,[b] federalization of Medicaid for poor families with dependent minor children, and support for health maintenance organizations (HMOs). A limited HMO bill was enacted in 1973. In 1974, Nixon proposed more comprehensive health insurance reform—a private health insurance employer mandate[b] and replacement of Medicaid by state-run health insurance plans available to all, with income-based premiums and cost sharing.Graph demonstrating increases in U.S. incarceration rateNixon was concerned about the prevalence of domestic drug use in addition to drug use among American soldiers in Vietnam. He called for a War on Drugs and pledged to cut off sources of supply abroad. He also increased funds for education and for rehabilitation facilities.
As one policy initiative, Nixon called for more money for sickle-cell research, treatment, and education in February 1971 and signed the National Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act on May 16, 1972.[c] While Nixon called for increased spending on such high-profile items as sickle-cell disease and for a War on Cancer, at the same time he sought to reduce overall spending at the National Institutes of Health.
Civil rightsThe Nixon presidency witnessed the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South. Nixon sought a middle way between the segregationist Wallace and liberal Democrats, whose support of integration was alienating some Southern whites. Hopeful of doing well in the South in 1972, he sought to dispose of desegregation as a political issue before then. Soon after his inauguration, he appointed Vice President Agnew to lead a task force, which worked with local leaders—both white and black—to determine how to integrate local schools. Agnew had little interest in the work, and most of it was done by Labor Secretary George Shultz. Federal aid was available, and a meeting with President Nixon was a possible reward for compliant committees. By September 1970, less than ten percent of black children were attending segregated schools. By 1971, however, tensions over desegregation surfaced in Northern cities, with angry protests over the busing of children to schools outside their neighborhood to achieve racial balance. Nixon opposed busing personally but enforced court orders requiring its use.
Some scholars, such as James Morton Turner and John Isenberg, believe that Nixon, who had advocated for civil rights in his 1960 campaign slowed down desegregation as president, appealing to the racial conservatism of Southern whites, who were angered by the civil rights movement. This, he hoped, would boost his election chances in 1972.
In addition to desegregating public schools, Nixon implemented the Philadelphia Plan in 1970—the first significant federal affirmative action program. He also endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment after it passed both houses of Congress in 1972 and went to the states for ratification. He also pushed for African American civil rights and economic equity through a concept known as black capitalism. Nixon had campaigned as an ERA supporter in 1968, though feminists criticized him for doing little to help the ERA or their cause after his election. Nevertheless, he appointed more women to administration positions than Lyndon Johnson had.
Space policyFurther information: Space policy of the United States
Nixon visiting the Apollo 11 astronauts in quarantine aboard USS HornetAfter a nearly decade-long national effort, the United States won the race to land astronauts on the Moon on July 20, 1969, with the flight of Apollo 11. Nixon spoke with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their moonwalk. He called the conversation "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House".
Nixon was unwilling to keep funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the high level seen during the 1960s as NASA prepared to send men to the Moon. NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine drew up ambitious plans for the establishment of a permanent base on the Moon by the end of the 1970s and the launch of a manned expedition to Mars as early as 1981. Nixon rejected both proposals due to the expense. Nixon also canceled the Air Force Manned Orbital Laboratory program in 1969, because unmanned spy satellites were a more cost-effective way to achieve the same reconnaissance objective. NASA cancelled the last three planned Apollo lunar missions to place Skylab in orbit more efficiently and free money up for the design and construction of the Space Shuttle.
On May 24, 1972, Nixon approved a five-year cooperative program between NASA and the Soviet space program, culminating in the 1975 joint mission of an American Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft linking in space.
Reelection, Watergate scandal, and resignation1972 presidential campaignMain article: 1972 United States presidential election
1972 electoral vote resultsNixon believed his rise to power had peaked at a moment of political realignment. The Democratic "Solid South" had long been a source of frustration to Republican ambitions. Goldwater had won several Southern states by opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but had alienated more moderate Southerners. Nixon's efforts to gain Southern support in 1968 were diluted by Wallace's candidacy. Through his first term, he pursued a Southern Strategy with policies, such as his desegregation plans, that would be broadly acceptable among Southern whites, encouraging them to realign with the Republicans in the aftermath of the civil rights movement. He nominated two Southern conservatives, Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court, but neither was confirmed by the Senate.
Nixon entered his name on the New Hampshire primary ballot on January 5, 1972, effectively announcing his candidacy for reelection. Virtually assured the Republican nomination, the President had initially expected his Democratic opponent to be Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy (brother of the late President), who was largely removed from contention after the July 1969 Chappaquiddick incident. Instead, Maine Senator Edmund Muskie became the front runner, with South Dakota Senator George McGovern in a close second place.
On June 10, McGovern won the California primary and secured the Democratic nomination. The following month, Nixon was renominated at the 1972 Republican National Convention. He dismissed the Democratic platform as cowardly and divisive. McGovern intended to sharply reduce defense spending and supported amnesty for draft evaders as well as abortion rights. With some of his supporters believed to be in favor of drug legalization, McGovern was perceived as standing for "amnesty, abortion and acid". McGovern was also damaged by his vacillating support for his original running mate, Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton, dumped from the ticket following revelations that he had received treatment for depression. Nixon was ahead in most polls for the entire election cycle, and was reelected on November 7, 1972, in one of the largest landslide election victories in American history. He defeated McGovern with over 60 percent of the popular vote, losing only in Massachusetts and D.C.
WatergateMain articles: Watergate scandal and Impeachment process of Richard Nixon
Nixon fielding questions at a press conference, October 26, 1973The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included "dirty tricks," such as bugging the offices of political opponents, and the harassment of activist groups and political figures. The activities were brought to light after five men were caught breaking into the Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972. The Washington Post picked up on the story; reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward relied on an informant known as "Deep Throat"—later revealed to be Mark Felt, associate director at the FBI—to link the men to the Nixon administration. Nixon downplayed the scandal as mere politics, calling news articles biased and misleading. A series of revelations made it clear that the Committee to Re-elect President Nixon, and later the White House, was involved in attempts to sabotage the Democrats. Senior aides such as White House Counsel John Dean faced prosecution; in total 48 officials were convicted of wrongdoing.A demonstrator demanding Nixon's impeachment, October 1973In July 1973, White House aide Alexander Butterfield testified under oath to Congress that Nixon had a secret taping system and recorded his conversations and phone calls in the Oval Office. These tapes were subpoenaed by Watergate Special Counsel Archibald Cox; Nixon provided transcripts of the conversations but not the actual tapes, citing executive privilege. With the White House and Cox at loggerheads, Nixon had Cox fired in October in the "Saturday Night Massacre"; he was replaced by Leon Jaworski. In November, Nixon's lawyers revealed that a tape of conversations held in the White House on June 20, 1972, had an 18 1⁄2 minute gap. Rose Mary Woods, the President's personal secretary, claimed responsibility for the gap, saying that she had accidentally wiped the section while transcribing the tape, but her story was widely mocked. The gap, while not conclusive proof of wrongdoing by the President, cast doubt on Nixon's statement that he had been unaware of the cover-up.
Though Nixon lost much popular support, even from his own party, he rejected accusations of wrongdoing and vowed to stay in office. He admitted he had made mistakes but insisted that he had no prior knowledge of the burglary, did not break any laws, and did not learn of the cover-up until early 1973. On October 10, 1973, Vice President Agnew resigned for reasons unrelated to Watergate: he was convicted on charges of bribery, tax evasion and money laundering during his tenure as governor of Maryland. Believing his first choice, John Connally, would not be confirmed by Congress, Nixon chose Gerald Ford, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, to replace Agnew. One researcher suggests Nixon effectively disengaged from his own administration after Ford was sworn in as Vice President on December 6, 1973.
On November 17, 1973, during a televised question-and-answer session, with 400 Associated Press managing editors Nixon said, "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."Nixon announces the release of edited transcripts of the Watergate tapes, April 29, 1974The legal battle over the tapes continued through early 1974, and in April Nixon announced the release of 1,200 pages of transcripts of White House conversations between himself and his aides. The House Judiciary Committee opened impeachment hearings against the President on May 9, 1974, which were televised on the major TV networks. These hearings culminated in votes for impeachment. On July 24, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the full tapes, not just selected transcripts, must be released.
The scandal grew to involve a slew of additional allegations against the President, ranging from the improper use of government agencies to accepting gifts in office and his personal finances and taxes; Nixon repeatedly stated his willingness to pay any outstanding taxes due, and later paid $465,000 (equivalent to $2.4 million in 2018) in back taxes in 1974.
MENU0:00Nixon Oval Office meeting with H.R. Haldeman "Smoking Gun" Conversation June 23, 1972 Full TranscriptEven with support diminished by the continuing series of revelations, Nixon hoped to fight the charges. But one of the new tapes, recorded soon after the break-in, demonstrated that Nixon had been told of the White House connection to the Watergate burglaries soon after they took place, and had approved plans to thwart the investigation. In a statement accompanying the release of what became known as the "Smoking Gun Tape" on August 5, 1974, Nixon accepted blame for misleading the country about when he had been told of White House involvement, stating that he had had a lapse of memory. Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, Senator Barry Goldwater, and House Minority Leader John Jacob Rhodes met with Nixon soon after. Rhodes told Nixon he faced certain impeachment in the House. Scott and Goldwater told the president that he had, at most, only 15 votes in his favor in the Senate, far fewer than the 34 needed to avoid removal from office.
Nixon's resignation speech as president, August 8, 1974In light of his loss of political support and the near-certainty that he would be impeached and removed from office, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974, after addressing the nation on television the previous evening. The resignation speech was delivered from the Oval Office and was carried live on radio and television. Nixon said he was resigning for the good of the country and asked the nation to support the new president, Gerald Ford. Nixon went on to review the accomplishments of his presidency, especially in foreign policy. He defended his record as president, quoting from Theodore Roosevelt's 1910 speech Citizenship in a Republic:
Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, "whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly".
Nixon's speech received generally favorable initial responses from network commentators, with only Roger Mudd of CBS stating that Nixon had not admitted wrongdoing. It was termed "a masterpiece" by Conrad Black, one of his biographers. Black opined that "What was intended to be an unprecedented humiliation for any American president, Nixon converted into a virtual parliamentary acknowledgement of almost blameless insufficiency of legislative support to continue. He left while devoting half his address to a recitation of his accomplishments in office."
President Ronald Reagan meets with his three immediate predecessors, Ford, Carter and Nixon at the White House, October 1981; the three former presidents would represent the United States at the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.Pardon and illnessFurther information: Pardon of Richard Nixon
President Ford announcing his decision to pardon Nixon, September 8, 1974, in the Oval OfficeFollowing his resignation, the Nixons flew to their home La Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, California. According to his biographer, Jonathan Aitken, "Nixon was a soul in torment" after his resignation. Congress had funded Nixon's transition costs, including some salary expenses, though reducing the appropriation from $850,000 to $200,000. With some of his staff still with him, Nixon was at his desk by 7 a.m.—with little to do. His former press secretary, Ron Ziegler, sat with him alone for hours each day.
Nixon's resignation had not put an end to the desire among many to see him punished. The Ford White House considered a pardon of Nixon, even though it would be unpopular in the country. Nixon, contacted by Ford emissaries, was initially reluctant to accept the pardon, but then agreed to do so. Ford insisted on a statement of contrition, but Nixon felt he had not committed any crimes and should not have to issue such a document. Ford eventually agreed, and on September 8, 1974, he granted Nixon a "full, free, and absolute pardon", which ended any possibility of an indictment. Nixon then released a statement:
I was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate, particularly when it reached the stage of judicial proceedings and grew from a political scandal into a national tragedy. No words can describe the depth of my regret and pain at the anguish my mistakes over Watergate have caused the nation and the presidency, a nation I so deeply love, and an institution I so greatly respect.
In October 1974, Nixon fell ill with phlebitis. Told by his doctors that he could either be operated on or die, a reluctant Nixon chose surgery, and President Ford visited him in the hospital. Nixon was under subpoena for the trial of three of his former aides—Dean, Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman—and The Washington Post, disbelieving his illness, printed a cartoon showing Nixon with a cast on the "wrong foot". Judge John Sirica excused Nixon's presence despite the defendants' objections. Congress instructed Ford to retain Nixon's presidential papers—beginning a three-decade legal battle over the documents that was eventually won by the former president and his estate. Nixon was in the hospital when the 1974 midterm elections were held, and Watergate and the pardon were contributing factors to the Republican loss of 43 seats in the House and three in the Senate.
Return to public lifeIn December 1974, Nixon began planning his comeback despite the considerable ill-will against him in the country. He wrote in his diary, referring to himself and Pat,
So be it. We will see it through. We've had tough times before and we can take the tougher ones that we will have to go through now. That is perhaps what we were made for—to be able to take punishment beyond what anyone in this office has had before particularly after leaving office. This is a test of character and we must not fail the test.President Jimmy Carter, former Presidents Gerald Ford and Nixon meet at the White House in preparation for the funeral of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, 1978.By early 1975, Nixon's health was improving. He maintained an office in a Coast Guard station 300 yards from his home, at first taking a golf cart and later walking the route each day; he mainly worked on his memoirs. He had hoped to wait before writing his memoirs; the fact that his assets were being eaten away by expenses and lawyer fees compelled him to begin work quickly. He was handicapped in this work by the end of his transition allowance in February, which compelled him to part with many of his staff, including Ziegler. In August of that year, he met with British talk-show host and producer David Frost, who paid him $600,000 (equivalent to $2.8 million in 2018) for a series of sit-down interviews, filmed and aired in 1977. They began on the topic of foreign policy, recounting the leaders he had known, but the most remembered section of the interviews was that on Watergate. Nixon admitted he had "let down the country" and that "I brought myself down. I gave them a sword and they stuck it in. And they twisted it with relish. And, I guess, if I'd been in their position, I'd have done the same thing." The interviews garnered 45–50 million viewers—becoming the most-watched program of its kind in television history.
The interviews helped improve Nixon's financial position—at one point in early 1975 he had only $500 in the bank—as did the sale of his Key Biscayne property to a trust set up by wealthy Nixon friends such as Bebe Rebozo. In February 1976, Nixon visited China at the personal invitation of Mao. Nixon had wanted to return to China, but chose to wait until after Ford's own visit in 1975. Nixon remained neutral in the close 1976 primary battle between Ford and Reagan. Ford won, but was defeated by Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter in the general election. The Carter administration had little use for Nixon and blocked his planned trip to Australia, causing the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to withhold its official invitation.
In 1976, Nixon was disbarred by the New York State Bar Association for obstruction of justice in the Watergate affair. Nixon chose not to present any defense. In early 1978, Nixon went to the United Kingdom. He was shunned by American diplomats and by most ministers of the James Callaghan government. He was welcomed, however, by the Leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher, as well as by former prime ministers Lord Home and Sir Harold Wilson. Two other former prime ministers, Harold Macmillan and Edward Heath, declined to meet him. Nixon addressed the Oxford Union regarding Watergate:
Some people say I didn't handle it properly and they're right. I screwed it up. Mea culpa. But let's get on to my achievements. You'll be here in the year 2000 and we'll see how I'm regarded then.
Author and elder statesman
Nixon speaking with Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping and U.S. President Jimmy Carter at the White House, 1979In 1978, Nixon published his memoirs, RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, the first of ten books he was to author in his retirement. The book was a bestseller and attracted a generally positive critical response. Nixon visited the White House in 1979, invited by Carter for the state dinner for Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping. Carter had not wanted to invite Nixon, but Deng had stated he would visit Nixon in California if the former president was not invited. Nixon had a private meeting with Deng and visited Beijing again in mid-1979.
On August 10, 1979, the Nixons purchased a 12‐room condominium occupying the seventh floor of 817 Fifth Avenue New York City after being rejected by two Manhattan co-ops. When the deposed Shah of Iran died in Egypt in July 1980, Nixon defied the State Department, which intended to send no U.S. representative, by attending the funeral. Though Nixon had no official credentials, as a former president he was seen as the American presence at its former ally's funeral. Nixon supported Ronald Reagan for president in 1980, making television appearances portraying himself as, in biographer Stephen Ambrose's words, "the senior statesman above the fray". He wrote guest articles for many publications both during the campaign and after Reagan's victory. After eighteen months in the New York City townhouse, Nixon and his wife moved in 1981 to Saddle River, New Jersey.Nixon in 1992Throughout the 1980s, Nixon maintained an ambitious schedule of speaking engagements and writing, traveled, and met with many foreign leaders, especially those of Third World countries. He joined former Presidents Ford and Carter as representatives of the United States at the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. On a trip to the Middle East, Nixon made his views known regarding Saudi Arabia and Libya, which attracted significant U.S. media attention; The Washington Post ran stories on Nixon's "rehabilitation". Nixon visited the Soviet Union in 1986 and on his return sent President Reagan a lengthy memorandum containing foreign policy suggestions and his personal impressions of Mikhail Gorbachev. Following this trip, Nixon was ranked in a Gallup poll as one of the ten most admired men in the world.Nixon visiting President Bill Clinton in the White House family quarters, March 1993In 1986, Nixon addressed a convention of newspaper publishers, impressing his audience with his tour d'horizon of the world. At the time, political pundit Elizabeth Drew wrote, "Even when he was wrong, Nixon still showed that he knew a great deal and had a capacious memory, as well as the capacity to speak with apparent authority, enough to impress people who had little regard for him in earlier times." Newsweek ran a story on "Nixon's comeback" with the headline "He's back".
On July 19, 1990, the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California opened as a private institution with the Nixons in attendance. They were joined by a large crowd of people, including Presidents Ford, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, as well as their wives, Betty, Nancy, and Barbara. In January 1994, the former president founded the Nixon Center (today the Center for the National Interest), a Washington policy think tank and conference center.
Pat Nixon died on June 22, 1993, of emphysema and lung cancer. Her funeral services were held on the grounds of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace. Former President Nixon was distraught throughout the interment and delivered a tribute to her inside the library building.
Death and funeralMain article: Death and funeral of Richard NixonNixon 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 the atrial fibrillation he had suffered for many years 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.Five U.S. Presidents (including then-incumbent President Bill Clinton) and their wives attending the funeral of Richard Nixon, April 27, 1994Nixon's funeral took place on April 27, 1994, in Yorba Linda, California. Eulogists at the Nixon Library ceremony included 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 was buried 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 service. Mourners waited in line for 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.
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 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".
Hunter S. Thompson wrote a scathing piece denouncing Nixon for Rolling Stone, entitled "He Was a Crook" (which also appeared a month later in The Atlantic). In his article, Thompson described Nixon as "a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy."
The graves of President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat NixonHistorian and political scientist James MacGregor Burns asked of Nixon, "How can one evaluate such an idiosyncratic president, so brilliant and so morally lacking?" Nixon's biographers disagree on how he will be perceived by posterity. According to Ambrose, "Nixon wanted to be judged by what he accomplished. What he will be remembered for is the nightmare he put the country through in his second term and for his resignation." Irwin Gellman, who chronicled Nixon's Congressional career, suggests that "he was remarkable among his congressional peers, a success story in a troubled era, one who steered a sensible anti-Communist course against the excess of McCarthy". Aitken feels that "Nixon, both as a man and as a statesman, has been excessively maligned for his faults and inadequately recognised for his virtues. Yet even in a spirit of historical revisionism, no simple verdict is possible."
Some historians say Nixon's Southern Strategy turned the Southern United States into a Republican stronghold, while others deem economic factors more important in the change. Throughout his career, Nixon moved his party away from the control of isolationists, and as a Congressman he was a persuasive advocate of containing Soviet communism. According to his biographer Herbert Parmet, "Nixon's role was to steer the Republican party along a middle course, somewhere between the competitive impulses of the Rockefellers, the Goldwaters, and the Reagans."Richard Nixon's Presidential Library and Museum located in Yorba Linda, CaliforniaNixon's stance on domestic affairs has been credited with the passage and enforcement of environmental and regulatory legislation. In a 2011 paper on Nixon and the environment, historian Paul Charles Milazzo points to Nixon's creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and to his enforcement of legislation such as the 1973 Endangered Species Act, stating that "though unsought and unacknowledged, Richard Nixon's environmental legacy is secure". Nixon himself did not consider the environmental advances he made in office an important part of his legacy; some historians contend that his choices were driven more by political expediency than any strong environmentalism.
Nixon saw his policies on Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union as central to his place in history. Nixon's onetime opponent George McGovern commented in 1983, "President Nixon probably had a more practical approach to the two superpowers, China and the Soviet Union, than any other president since World War II [...] With the exception of his inexcusable continuation of the war in Vietnam, Nixon really will get high marks in history." Political scientist Jussi Hanhimäki disagrees, saying that Nixon's diplomacy was merely a continuation of the Cold War policy of containment by diplomatic, rather than military means. Historian Christopher Andrew concludes that "Nixon was a great statesman on the world stage as well as a shabby practitioner of electoral politics in the domestic arena. While the criminal farce of Watergate was in the making, Nixon's inspirational statesmanship was establishing new working relationships both with Communist China and with the Soviet Union."
Historian Keith W. Olson has written that Nixon left a legacy of fundamental mistrust of government, rooted in Vietnam and Watergate. In surveys of historians and political scientists, Nixon is generally ranked as a below average president. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998, both sides tried to use Nixon and Watergate to their advantage: Republicans suggested that Clinton's misconduct was comparable to Nixon's, while Democrats contended that Nixon's actions had been far more serious than Clinton's. Another legacy, for a time, was a decrease in the power of the presidency as Congress passed restrictive legislation in the wake of Watergate. Olson suggests that legislation in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks restored the president's power.
Personality and public imageNixon's career was frequently dogged by his persona and the public's perception of it. Editorial cartoonists and comedians often exaggerated his appearance and mannerisms, to the point where the line between the human and the caricature became increasingly blurred. He was often portrayed with unshaven jowls, slumped shoulders, and a furrowed, sweaty brow.Nixon and Elvis Presley in December 1970: "The President & The King"Nixon had a complex personality, both very secretive and awkward, yet strikingly reflective about himself. He was inclined to distance himself from people and was formal in all aspects, wearing a coat and tie even when home alone. Nixon biographer Conrad Black described him as being "driven" though also "uneasy with himself in some ways". According to Black, Nixon
thought that he was doomed to be traduced, double-crossed, unjustly harassed, misunderstood, underappreciated, and subjected to the trials of Job, but that by the application of his mighty will, tenacity, and diligence, he would ultimately prevail.Bebe Rebozo, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and Nixon relax before dinner at Key Biscayne, Florida, December 1971Nixon sometimes drank to excess, especially during 1970 when things were not going well for him. He also had trouble battling insomnia, for which he was prescribed sleeping pills. According to Ray Price, he sometimes took them in together. Nixon also took dilantin, recommended by Jack Dreyfus. That medicine is usually prescribed for anti-seizure attacks, but in Nixon's case it was to battle depression. His periodic overindulgences, especially during stressful times such as during Apollo 13, concerned Price and others, including then-advisor Ehrlichman and long-time valet Manolo Sanchez. Author and former British politician David Owen deemed Nixon an alcoholic.
Biographer Elizabeth Drew summarized Nixon as a "smart, talented man, but most peculiar and haunted of presidents". In his account of the Nixon presidency, author Richard Reeves described Nixon as "a strange man of uncomfortable shyness, who functioned best alone with his thoughts". Nixon's presidency was doomed by his personality, Reeves argues:
He assumed the worst in people and he brought out the worst in them ... He clung to the idea of being "tough". He thought that was what had brought him to the edge of greatness. But that was what betrayed him. He could not open himself to other men and he could not open himself to greatness.
Nixon believed that putting distance between himself and other people was necessary for him as he advanced in his political career and became president. Even Bebe Rebozo, by some accounts his closest friend, did not call him by his first name. Nixon stated of this,
Even with close friends, I don't believe in letting your hair down, confiding this and that and the other thing—saying, "Gee, I couldn't sleep" ... I believe you should keep your troubles to yourself. That's just the way I am. Some people are different. Some people think it's good therapy to sit with a close friend and, you know, just spill your guts ... [and] reveal their inner psyche—whether they were breast-fed or bottle-fed. Not me. No way.
When Nixon was told that most Americans felt that they did not know him even at the end of his career, he replied, "Yeah, it's true. And it's not necessary for them to know."
See alsoMurray Chotiner, Nixon's campaign manager and aide