The Political Career of Richard Nixon

The Political Career of Richard Nixon

1. Nixon\'s Beginning in Politics

2. Emergence in National Politics
A. The Hiss Case
B. Nixon\'s Political Obituary
C. Resurgence as a presidential candidate

3. The 37th President
A. Nixon\'s Appointment\'s
B. Foreign Policy
1. Nixon\'s plans for Europe
2. Vietnam
C. Domestic Policy

4. Nixon\'s Second Administration
A. Reelection
B. Watergate

A few weeks after the United States entered World War II a young man
named Richard Nixon went to Washington, D.C. In January 1942 he took a job with
the Office of Price Administration. Two months later he applied for a Navy
commission, and in September 1942 he was commissioned a lieutenant, junior grade.
During much of the war he served as an operations officer with the South Pacific
Combat Air Transport Command, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander.
After the war Nixon returned to the United States, where he was assigned
to work on Navy contracts while awaiting discharge. He was working in Baltimore,
Maryland, when he received a telephone call that changed his life. A Republican
citizen\'s committee in Whittier was considering Nixon as a candidate for
Congress in the 12th Congressional District. In December 1945 Nixon accepted the
candidacy with the promise that he would "wage a fighting, rocking, socking
campaign." Jerry Voorhis, a Democrat who had represented the 12th District
since 1936, was running for reelection. Earlier in his career Voorhis had been
an active Socialist. He had become more conservative over the years and was now
an outspoken anti-Communist. Despite Voorhis\' anti-Communist stand the Los
Angeles chapter of the left-wing Political Action Committee (PAC) endorsed him,
apparently without his knowledge or approval. The theme of Nixon\'s campaign
was "a vote for Nixon is a vote against the Communist-dominated PAC." The
approach was successful. On November, 5 1946, Richard Nixon won his first
political election. The Nixons\' daughter Patricia (called Tricia) was born
during the campaign, on February 21, 1946. Their second daughter, Julie, was
born July 5, 1948.
As a freshman congressman, Nixon was assigned to the Un-American
Activities Committee. It was in this capacity that in August 1948 he heard the
testimony of Whittaker Chambers, a self-confessed former Communist espionage
agent. Chambers named Alger Hiss, a foreign policy advisor during the Roosevelt
years, as an accomplice while in government service. Hiss, a former State
Department aide, asked for and obtained a hearing before the committee. He made
a favorable impression, and the case would then have been dropped had not Nixon
urged investigation into Hiss\'s testimony on his relationship with Chambers.
The committee let Nixon pursue the case behind closed doors. He brought Chambers
and Hiss face to face. Chambers produced evidence proving that Hiss had passed
State Department secrets to him. Among the exhibits were rolls of microfilm
which Chambers had hidden in a pumpkin on his farm near Westminster, Md., as a
precaution against theft. On December 15, 1948, a New York federal grand jury
indict ed Hiss for perjury. After two trials he was convicted, on Jan. 21, 1950,
and sentenced to five years in prison. The Hiss case made Nixon nationally
famous. While the case was still in the courts, Nixon decided to run for the
Senate. In his senatorial campaign he attacked the Harry S. Truman
Administration and his opponent, Helen Gahagan Douglas, for being "soft" toward
the Communists.
Nixon won the election, held on Nov. 7, 1950, by 680,000 votes, and at
38 he became the youngest member of the Senate. His Senate career was uneventful,
and he was able to concentrate all his efforts on the upcoming 1952
presidential election. The "Secret Fund" Nixon did his work well. He hammered
hard at three main issues--the war in Korea, Communism in government, and the
high cost of the Democratic party\'s programs. At their 1952 national convention
the Republicans chose him as Eisenhower\'s running mate, to balance the ticket
with a West coast conservative.
Only a few days after the young senator\'s triumph his political career
seemed doomed. The New York Post printed a story headed "Secret Rich Men\'s Trust
Fund Keeps Nixon in Style Far Beyond His Salary." The public was shocked. The
Republicans were panic-stricken. Prominent members of the party urged Eisenhower
to dump Nixon before it was too late.
There was really nothing secret about the fund. Nixon was a man of
limited means, and when he won his Senate seat a group of businessmen had
publicly solicited funds to enable him to keep in touch with the voters in his
home state while he served