Richard Nixon was the 37th president of the United States of America. He was born in Yorba Linda, California, on January 9, 1913. He finished law school when he was 24, and joined the Navy in 1942. World War Two was underway and Nixon was sent to the Pacific. When the war was over, he entered politics. He ran as a Republican, and in 1946 was elected to Congress. The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union was underway. Nixon made a name for himself as an anti-communist, winning him support among conservatives. In 1950 he was elected to the Senate and in January 1959 he became vice president to Dwight Eisenhower. He went to Moscow to meet with Soviet premier Khrushchev, and began talks on US-Soviet détente.
In 1960 he ran for president, but was narrowly defeated by John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In 1962, he lost California’s gubernatorial race. His political career appeared to be fading. But a few years later, he ran for the presidency again. This time he won. On January 20, 1969, Nixon took office. Nixon focused on foreign policy. The US was involved in the Vietnam War, a difficult conflict that aimed to stop communist expansion in Asia. Nixon reduced the number of troops in Vietnam, but the war remained deeply unpopular at home. However, the policy of détente that he had begun years before had led to improved relations with Communist countries. These successes, along with an improved economy, got Nixon re-elected. His second term began in January 1973.
A few months later, Nixon was caught up in the Watergate scandal. The scandal implicated Nixon and his staff in acts against the rival Democratic party, including attempted illegal surveillance. Many of Nixon’s senior staff members were dismissed, but he insisted he had nothing to do with the events. However, tape recordings showed that he did, and further irregularities linked to campaign finance emerged in the ensuing investigations. The seriousness of the investigation forced Nixon to become the first American president to step down. He resigned on August 9, 1974. He was replaced by his vice-president, Gerald Ford, who a few weeks later offered him a presidential pardon for any crimes committed. Retreating to private life, Nixon devoted himself to writing extensively on foreign policy. He died in New York on April 22, 1994. He was 81. Richard Nixon’s signature is on a plaque left at the moon. During his first term, American astronauts became the first men to walk on the moon’s surface.