Richard Milhous Nixon (* 9. January 1913 in Yorba Linda , California ; † 22. April 1994 in New York City ) was an American politician of the Republican Party and from 1969 to 1974 the 37th President of the United States . As a result of the Watergate affair , Nixon was the only US president in history to resign.
Nixon's parents were Francis Anthony ("Frank") Nixon (1878-1956) and Hannah Milhous Nixon (1885-1967). Hannah came from a German-American family whose original name was Milhausen - hence Nixon's middle name Milhous . His upbringing strictly followed the rules of Quakerism . Hannah Nixon raised her son to be an evangelical Quaker in the hope that he would eventually become a missionary . The family was abstinent from alcohol ; Gambling, dancing and swearing were frowned upon. Nixon's father, Frank, had been a Methodist before his marriage and converted for his wife's sake .
Nixon's father ran a grocery and gasoline store. Nixon always spoke of his parents with great awe. He called his mother "a Quaker saint" and began his memoir with the sentence: "I was born in a house my father built himself". The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Museum was later built next to the original house in Yorba Linda . Today the house is open to the public for tours. However, Nixon grew up in the small town of Whittier , a few miles from home. While this area is now densely populated, back then it consisted only of arable land. Nixon had four brothers: Harold, Arthur, Donald and Edward. Arthur died at the age of seven and Harold succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 23 .
Studies, career beginnings and military service
Nixon attended Fullerton High School. The Harvard Club of California awarded him their award for the best academic achievement in the state. Nixon had the ability to memorize and recite long excerpts from Latin poems as well as Shakespeare . The Harvard Prize was a scholarship that paid for all tuition fees. However, the sum was not sufficient, because board and lodging were not included and the illnesses of the brothers were a great financial burden for the family. Instead of Harvard , Nixon attended Quaker Whittier College. There he founded his own fraternity, the Orthogonian Society, which competed with the established Franklin Society. Nixon, who loved football , tried to qualify for the university team. However, his talent for the game was low and he spent most of the time "on the bench". During a game, Nixon lost his front teeth and was given a bridge that was later satirized in countless caricatures as an overbite and baring dentition. Nixon was elected president of the student body, and his greatest achievement was the organization of the first school ball - something that until then had always been forbidden according to Quaker tradition.
In 1934, Nixon finished college second in his senior year and began law school at Duke University , which awarded him a scholarship. One of the conditions of this scholarship was a certain grade point average. Although Nixon actually had no trouble getting good grades, he was under great psychological pressure. In his sophomore year, that pressure led him to persuade a friend to help him break into the dean's office to see the files. Nixon was not punished for this. For many years the press described this youth prank as "Nixon's first break-in". Nixon passed his exams as a third grader. In an environment shaped by the global economic crisis , however, his efforts to find accommodation in one of the well-known New York law firms failed because Duke University was not yet one of the elite universities. Nixon passed the California bar exam and worked in a small law firm. He later admitted he was concerned about family law cases. His upbringing had always emphasized reserve and conservatism in personal matters, and he found the intimate details of a marriage very embarrassing.
It was at this time that he met Patricia "Pat" Ryan . She was a high school teacher in Whittier and starred in an amateur play alongside Nixon. At first Patricia wasn't interested in Nixon. However, he never gave up on soliciting them. He even drove her in his car on dates with other men. Eventually, Nixon's persistence paid off, and the two married on June 21, 1940 at the Mission Inn in Riverside . The marriage resulted in two daughters: Patricia "Tricia" Nixon (born February 21, 1946 in Whittier), married to Edward F. Cox since 1971, and Julie Nixon (born July 25, 1948 in Washington DC), who became David Eisenhower in 1968 , the grandson of Dwight D. Eisenhower , married.
During World War II , Nixon served in the US Navy . Because of his birth as a Quaker, he would have had the right to refuse military service without any disadvantage. Even so, he decided to join the Navy. In his memoirs, Nixon later stated that he hated Hitler and that the attack on Pearl Harbor shocked him. During the war, Nixon was a supply officer in the Pacific War . His superiors considered him an excellent officer and leader and promoted him to the rank of lieutenant commander . While in the Navy, he also met his future Secretary of State, William P. Rogers .
In 1946, Nixon was elected to Congress for Republicans . His opponent was the liberal politician Jerry Voorhis . Nixon's election campaign was aggressive. As a deputy to Nixon dedicated the Committee on Un-American Activities ( House Un-American Activities Committee , a parliamentary forums of the HUAC,) anti-communist panic at the beginning of the Cold War was dominant opinion in the United States. Nixon gained particular prominence in the affair surrounding the former State Department employee , Alger Hiss , whom he accused of spying for the Soviet Union in the 1930s . By appearing in person before a grand jury on December 15, 1948 , Nixon was instrumental in ensuring that Whittaker Chambers , the sole witness, would not be prosecuted for perjury despite contradicting statements he made under oath before the HUAC that Hiss was later sentenced to several years in prison. Whether Hiss was actually guilty is still controversial today. This success and Nixon's further anti-communist engagement in the HUAC were ultimately decisive for his further political rise. In 1951 he became a US Senator for California . During this election campaign he prevailed against the challenger Helen Gahagan Douglas . Nixon defamed her in the hysterical, anti-communist climate of the McCarthy era as a sympathizer of the communists. The Independent Review gave him the nickname "Tricky Dick", which he never got rid of.
Under Dwight D. Eisenhower , Nixon was Vice President of the United States for eight years from 1953 to 1961 . His candidacy was controversial. He successfully defended himself against the allegations of corruption with a spectacular television appearance, the so-called Checkers speech , in which he declared that the only gift he had ever accepted was his cocker spaniel Checkers , and that he had only kept it for the sake of it not to “break the heart” of his little daughter Patricia. This address was watched by 60 million people, making it the show with the largest television audience in history. During his time as Vice President he represented the President twice after Eisenhower's heart attack. Vice President Nixon's kitchen debate with Nikita Khrushchev and the fact that he was pelted with tomatoes and stones during a trip to South America caused a worldwide sensation .
In the 1960 presidential election he was defeated by a very narrow number of votes to John F. Kennedy . In 1962, Nixon's political career seemed to have come to an end when, after another defeat in the gubernatorial elections in California, he berated journalists and announced his departure from politics at what he called a “last” press conference . However, he soon reversed this decision.
After he was able to leave the internal party competitors George W. Romney , Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan behind in the Primarys , Nixon prevailed in the presidential election in 1968 with Spiro Agnew as running mate against Hubert H. Humphrey and became the 37th President of the USA elected. He also benefited from the internal disputes and power struggles of the Democrats , who were also weakened by the murder of their promising presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy . The decisive factor was that shortly before the presidential election he had ensured that Lyndon B. Johnson's peace negotiations in Paris to settle the Vietnam War failed. In order to prevent a possible negotiation success of the Democrats at the time, Nixon had contacted South Vietnamese President Thiệu through Anna Chennault and urged him to boycott the Paris talks. Since the CIA had installed a bug in Thiệu's office and the FBI had installed another in the South Vietnamese embassy in Washington, Johnson learned of these machinations, which constituted treason, before the election, but he decided not to make them public. In the election on November 5, 1968, Nixon secured 301 electoral votes with 43.4 percent of the vote. His democratic rival Humphrey did little worse in terms of votes (42.7 percent), but was only able to secure 191 electoral votes.
In his eight years as Eisenhower's vice president, Nixon had developed an aversion to cabinet meetings. When he moved into the White House, he was determined from the start to rule himself with the help of his advisers. His key advisors were Bob Haldeman (Chief of Staff), Henry Kissinger (Security and Foreign Policy) and John Ehrlichman (Home Affairs). Its vice-presidents were Spiro Agnew (1969 to 1973) and, after his resignation in his second term, Gerald Ford (1973 to 1974).
The greatest challenge Nixon encountered when he took office was the Vietnam War , which he had "inherited" from his predecessors and which divided the nation. During the 1968 election campaign, Nixon announced that he would support the peace negotiations that the government under President Johnson had now begun . Meanwhile, Nixon and some of his advisors had secret talks with the South Vietnamese, whom Nixon promised a better solution to the conflict if they delayed negotiations with the communist north until Nixon assumed his presidency in January 1969. He decided to gradually withdraw 550,000 soldiers from Southeast Asia in 1969. At the same time, Kissinger extended the war to neutral Cambodia and Laos . With numerous bombings (Operation Christmas Bombing, December 1972) Nixon tried to wear down the enemy. In 1973 he concluded a peace that in fact amounted to a delayed surrender .
In terms of economic policy, Nixon tried to cope with inflation in the USA. In an experiment reminiscent of a planned economy , wages and prices were to be frozen by state regulation in several phases (phases I to IV). Families, low wage earners, and the unemployed were to be supported through his 1969 Family Assistance Plan .
Nixon established a number of agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the national environmental agency . His initiative (1969) to set up a so-called third pillar of NATO , in which a committee was set up to improve environmental conditions, also became important in terms of environmental policy . The intended pioneering role of NATO in defense against environmental threats did not materialize; Issues such as acid rain or the greenhouse effect were addressed there for the first time by Nixon's representative, who later became UN ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan , on an international level and triggered extensive preparatory work at the administrative level. Implementation and treatment, which was also perceived by the public, took place, among other things, in Stockholm in 1972 at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment .
In the "Order No. 4 ”he put in 1970 as the first president. Quotas for the employment of minorities in government contracts were set, in 1971 the order was extended to women and a program for the targeted conclusion of contracts with companies owned by minorities was passed by federal authorities
In July 1970 he sent a special message to Congress in which he called for the self-determination of the Indians and an end to the termination policy . The American Indian policy should be limited to the protection and promotion of the indigenous population and no longer force the abandonment of their traditional way of life through resettlement in cities. Specifically, Nixon's address, which he had spent six months preparing for, contained seven legislative proposals, some of which laid the foundations for future Indian policy. From 1975 onwards , the Indian reservations were supported by law to take over state welfare programs. Land was also returned to the Taos and subsidies for the economy in the reserves increased. For the most part, Nixon's Indian policy is seen as the most progressive since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Highly controversial was and is Nixon's "war on drugs," a series of domestic policies to combat the use of marijuana and heroin. Journalist Dan Baum published in Harper's magazine 2016 notes of John Ehrlichman , Nixon's advisor and close confidante. Ehrlichman described the motives for Nixon's " War on Drugs " in an interview with Baum in 1994 :
“The 1968 Nixon campaign and the government that followed had two enemies: the anti-war leftists and the blacks. Do you understand what I mean by that? We knew we couldn't forbid being anti-war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and the blacks with heroin, and severely punishing both, we could discredit those groups . We could arrest their leaders, search their homes, end their meetings, and denigrate them on the news night after night. Did we know we lied about the drugs? Of course we knew that! "
The Huffington Post published quotes from Nixon in 2016, including derogatory remarks about African Americans. Nixon called these the 'little Negro bastards' on welfare [who] live 'like a bunch of dogs' ("the little Negro bastards who live on welfare like a pack of dogs").
In 1971, Nixon announced an initiative in science policy under the motto War on Cancer , the aim of which was to cure cancer within the next 25 years. He was in the adoption of the relevant law (National Cancer Act) expressed the hope that this would apply in the coming years as the most important act of his term. In fiscal policy, the US gave up the gold backing of the US dollar in the same year , a big step towards the final end of the Bretton Woods system in 1973.
In terms of foreign policy, in a time marked by the Cold War , Nixon was concerned with a policy of détente and disarmament ( SALT , ABM Treaty ). He was the first President of the United States to make state visits to the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China (see Richard Nixon's Visit to China in 1972 ). On February 21, 1972, Nixon arrived in Beijing and held talks with Mao Zedong , which are considered the culmination of so-called ping-pong diplomacy . They agreed to normalize diplomatic relations and Nixon pledged to withdraw US troops from the Republic of China (Taiwan) . On May 22, 1972 he arrived in Moscow; four days later, Nixon and the Soviet leader and party leader Brezhnev signed the SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) agreement .
The “ Nixon Doctrine ” was formulated as early as 1969, which provided for greater regional ownership, especially for the states in Asia; the role of the USA should in future only be that of a regulatory power in the background. As part of its policy of detente he supported - after initial skepticism - the Ostpolitik of Willy Brandt .
In the presidential election of November 7, 1972 , Nixon defeated the challenger George McGovern . He was confirmed in office by a large majority, received over 60 percent of the vote, and won a majority in all states except Massachusetts .
Today, the name Nixon is primarily associated with the Watergate scandal, which ended Nixon's political career. On August 8, 1974, he announced in a televised address that he would resign the following day. He came so that an impending impeachment proceedings (impeachment) ago (more than two-thirds of the senators were ready to relieve him of the office), and he is still the only US president who is resigned. Gerald Ford succeeded him as president under the constitution . He led the term to an end and ran for the presidential election in November 1976 , but lost it to Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter .
Defense Secretary James Rodney Schlesinger considered his boss incapacitated in the final phase of Nixon's term of office and issued the directive that "any urgent order from the president" (he aimed primarily at nuclear weapons operations) must not be carried out without his prior consent checked.
Later years and death
Less than a month after his resignation, Nixon was unconditionally pardoned by Gerald Ford in relation to "all violations of the United States that he, Richard Nixon, has, or may have been involved in, committed":
“… A full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974. ”
Ford's decision to pardon Nixon was very controversial.
At the time, Nixon was seriously ill. He suffered from phlebitis and had to undergo an operation. In addition, despite Ford's act of grace, he had no immunity from civil lawsuits. Many people, including several former political opponents, wanted to sue Nixon. He also had to resign from the state bar associations in California and New York, thereby losing his license to practice law and no longer being allowed to work as a lawyer. This reduced Nixon's income considerably.
In 1977 David Frost conducted a series of interviews with the former American president. In the process, he got Nixon to admit that he had betrayed the interests of the American people.
To get his personal finances back in order, Nixon wrote his memoir. These were published in 1978 and immediately became a bestseller. He sold his California home, La Casa Pacifica, in San Clemente , to move to New York so he could be closer to the politically influential Americans. At that time, Nixon was still considered an outcast. When he tried to buy an exclusive condo on New York's Park Avenue , the board of owners turned the application down. Instead of the condominium, he bought a Manhattan townhouse. A few years later, Nixon and his wife, Pat, moved to Saddle River, New Jersey . He stubbornly denied having ordered the Watergate break-in and instigated the other crimes he was accused of.
When the former Shah of Persia died in Cairo in July 1980, Nixon opposed the State Department, which did not send a US representative to the memorial service. Without official accreditation, he attended the former US ally's ceremony as a former US president.
In the meantime, Nixon was trying to get a new image as an " Elder Statesman ". He wrote several books on various subjects of world politics, which gradually gave him more respect. Despite everything, he remained a controversial figure. He defended his right not to hand over his papers and records from his presidency. His library and research center, which was opened in 1990 next to the property of his old parents' house, had to be financed exclusively with private money because the US government did not want to participate.
In 1985 he was accepted as a foreign member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts .
Pat Nixon died in the summer of 1993. In April 1994, Nixon suffered a stroke and died of its consequences on the 22nd of the same month. He was buried next to Pat Nixon on the grounds of his parents' home and library in Yorba Linda . His funeral was broadcast in the mass media, but it was not an official state funeral. Compared to most ceremonies for statesmen, it was therefore modest, although not only the then President Bill Clinton , but also all ex-presidents living at the time, Gerald Ford , Jimmy Carter , Ronald Reagan and George Bush , took part in it.
The grave inscription is a quote from his inaugural speech in 1969 and reads: “ The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker ” (German : “ The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker ”).
Influence on the political culture of the USA
Throughout his life, Nixon was a controversial figure in his country's political life. His personality, political style and ideology were effective and controversial well beyond his term in office. The Economist magazine described Nixon as an influential party leader who combined harsh populist rhetoric with pragmatic politics: his reform-oriented domestic policy (including environmental protection with the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency , the introduction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the fight against cancer ) Hand in hand with strong criticism of his central enemy, the political and media " establishment ". With this policy, Nixon shaped the Republican Party in the long term and made it successful - Nixon's style still has an impact on politicians like Donald Trump or Boris Johnson in the present . Political scientist Douglas Schoen argued in a similar way, particularly with regard to Nixon's Southern Strategy : "Nixon's effect on life in America is still enormous today: He is the spiritual father of the well-known separation into red and blue states that still characterize political geography today" .
In his eulogy for the late president, Senator Bob Dole , while Nixon's presidency chaired the Republican National Committee , said the second half of the twentieth century would in future be referred to as the " Age of Nixon ".
As early as 1952, the Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson had criticized Nixon's political methods: “There is a land of slander and intimidation [...] a land of anonymous calls, swindling, jostling, attacking, everything just to win. This is Nixon Land. But America is something else. "Former Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater , in retrospect, criticized Nixon's negative impact on political culture in a similar way:" Truth is the foundation of every society. The lack of truthfulness was at the core of Richard Nixon's failure [...] His lies will be remembered longer than his legitimate work. He was the most insincere person I've met in my life. "
Afterlife in pop culture
The character Richard Nixon is the protagonist of several films, the directors of the person mainly in connection with the Watergate affair. Robert Altman's 1984 feature film Secret Honor offers a look at Nixon's perspective as well as an alternate take on the Watergate affair. In 1995, shortly after Nixon's death, Oliver Stone's film Nixon was released in cinemas. At the end of the film, Stone uses pictures from the funeral, and one hears a few words of the obituary with which then incumbent US President Bill Clinton diplomatically acknowledged Nixon's achievements. Ron Howard's 2008 film Frost / Nixon tells the story of the Nixon interviews that took place in 1977 between Richard Nixon and British talk show host David Frost. The 2013 documentary Our Nixon traces a picture of his presidency based on the Super 8 films of Nixon's closest confidante. The film drama Elvis & Nixon was made in 2016 .
In popular music, representatives of the American counterculture movement in particular have written numerous songs about and against Nixon. For example, Arlo Guthrie took stock of Nixon's controversial office with his song Presidential Rag . Frank Zappa wrote songs like Son of Orange County and Dickie's such an asshole (Dick is short for Richard), which are to be understood as a statement about Nixon and the Watergate affair. In 1973 Loudon Wainwright's hit Dead Skunk , which is about a run-over skunk, was understood, among other things, as an allegory of President Nixon, who had been hit by the Watergate scandal.
With the line of text "Richard Nixon back again" in 1989 , Billy Joel mentioned Nixon's political comeback in 1968 in the last verse of We Didn't Start the Fire . James Taylor's song Line 'Em Up (1997) addressed Nixon's departure from the staff of the White House after his resignation, where the staff had been lined up and Nixon walked along and shook hands with everyone. The Manic Street Preachers released the song The Love of Richard Nixon on their album Lifeblood in 2004 .
In addition, Richard Nixon, more or less clichéd, is repeatedly the subject of cinematic quotations. In the 1991 film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Land , Spock cites the saying “ Only Nixon could go to China ”, which was coined at the time, as an “old volcanic proverb”. In 1999, Nixon was ridiculed in the movie I Love Dick . In the same year was subsequently away from the head and body ( A Head in the Polls ) Nixon's head as "president of the Earth" in the animated series Futurama introduced. He appears there as a recurring figure. The 2004 film Assassination of Richard Nixon by Niels Mueller uses Nixons as a symbol of American domestic politics in the 1970s. In the comic adaptation Watchmen - The Guardians from 2009, Nixon is deliberately portrayed negatively. Also in the comic adaptation of 2014 X-Men: Future is Past , Nixon is again portrayed negatively. In the first half of the first season of the science fiction series For All Mankind , Nixon is the indirect antagonist of the main characters.
Richard Nixon's secret sound recordings were first released in August 2013. Among other things, it contained statements hostile to Jews and blacks . He also called Willy Brandt an "idiot" and called Indira Gandhi an "old witch".
In the critical biography of former BBC journalist Anthony Summers , The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon , the author publishes that Nixon had severe drinking problems and was likely dependent on the prescription drug Dilantin .
According to Guinness World Records , he holds the world record for the most person featured on the cover of the US magazine The New York Times of all time. He was seen on the cover picture 55 times in total.
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- Statesmen of Our Time - Political Profiles and Personal Encounters. Bonn Aktuell, Stuttgart 1987, ISBN 3-87959-317-5 .
- Secondary literature
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- J. Edward Lee, HC Toby Haynsworth: Nixon, Ford, and the Abandonment of South Vietnam. McFarland, Jefferson, NC [et. a.] 2002, ISBN 0-7864-1302-6 .
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- See Brian Robertson: The Forgotten Man: Richard Nixon, Masculinity, and the Path to Power in Southern California. In: California History. Vol. 94, no. 2, summer 2017, , pp. 22-40.
- Jeff Kisseloff: Hiss, Alger . In: Peter Knight (Ed.): Conspiracy Theories in American History. To Encyclopedia . ABC Clio, Santa Barbara, Denver and London 2003, Vol. 1, pp. 314 f.
- See Ingrid Winther Scobie: Helen Gahagan Douglas and Her 1950 Senate Race with Richard M. Nixon. In: Southern California Quarterly. Vol. 58, No. 1, Spring 1976, , pp. 113-126.
- See Richard J. Ellis: Presidential Lightning Rods: The Politics of Blame Avoidance. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence 2021, ISBN 978-0-7006-3089-9 , pp. 55-72 (= 4 The Vice President as Lightning Rod: Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey ).
- John B. Thompson: Political Scandal: Power and Visability in the Media Age . Polity Press, Cambridge 2000, ISBN 978-0-7456-7443-8 , pp. 291 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
- Robert Dallek : Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President . 1st edition. Oxford University Press , New York 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-515921-9 , pp. 356 ( Google Books ).
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- TV report: The Cold War - Vietnam War - A superpower runs dead on YouTube
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- #FAMILIESSUCCEED: PRESIDENT NIXON'S FAMILY ASSISTANCE PLAN. Retrieved February 23, 2019 .
- Kai F. Hünemörder : The Early History of the Global Environmental Crisis and the Formation of German Environmental Policy (1950–1973) . Franz Steiner Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-515-08188-7 .
- Richard Nixon and the Origins of Affirmative Action , Dean J. Kotlowski, The Historian, Vol. 60, no. 3, 1998
- MORE HISTORY OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION POLICIES FROM THE 1960s , American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, accessed November 8, 2020
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- Legalize it all
- Health scientist blacklisting and the meaning of marijuana in the oval Office in the early 1970s
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- Interview by Matthias Kolb with Elisabeth Drew: "It smells like obstruction of justice" . In: sueddeutsche.de . May 15, 2017, ISSN 0174-4917 ( sueddeutsche.de [accessed May 15, 2017]).
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- Copy of Bill Clinton's Eulogy for Richard Nixon ( Memento of May 18, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
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- Andreas Weigel: Animal songs. " Scope " for World Animal Day. ORF , Ö1 , "Playrooms" from October 4, 2009. 5:30 pm - 5:56 pm.
- The 100 Best References in Billy Joel's “We Didn't Start the Fire,” medium.com, August 3, 2018
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|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Nixon, Richard Milhous (full name)|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||American politician, 37th President of the USA (1969–1974)|
|DATE OF BIRTH||January 9, 1913|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Yorba Linda , California , United States|
|DATE OF DEATH||April 22, 1994|
|PLACE OF DEATH||New York City , New York , United States|