Richard Nixon was the 37th president of the United States and is the only one to resign from office, following the Watergate scandal. His presidency was also marked by the first moon landings.
Richard Milhous Nixon was born in California on 9 January 1913. He studied law and joined a law firm in his home state. In 1940, he married Patricia Ryan and they had two daughters. During World War Two, Nixon served with the US Navy in the Pacific.
Nixon was elected to Congress in 1946 and in 1950 he won a seat in the Senate, representing California.
In 1952, at the age of 39, Nixon was selected by Dwight Eisenhower to be his running mate in Eisenhower's presidential campaign. They won a resounding victory. As vice president, Nixon frequently stood in for Eisenhower at home and on trips abroad. Nixon and Eisenhower easily won re-election in 1956.
Nixon was nominated as the Republican candidate to run for president in 1960, but lost by a narrow margin to John F Kennedy. He returned to his former career as a lawyer. In 1968, he again received the Republican Party's nomination and won the presidential election.
The most important issue facing Nixon when he became president was the war in Vietnam. He began to withdraw American troops, but in April 1970, authorised the invasion of Cambodia to pursue North Vietnamese troops. Simultaneously, Nixon pursued a policy of improving relations with China and the Soviet Union, and in 1972 he visited both Beijing and Moscow.
Later the same year, Nixon was re-elected president in a landslide victory. In January 1973, a ceasefire was signed between the US and North Vietnam.
During the 1972 election campaign there was a break-in at the offices of the Democratic Party's national headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington DC. Five men connected with Nixon's campaign team were arrested. Evidence of a cover-up was gradually uncovered and President Nixon was himself implicated. On 8 August 1974, following months of a growing sense of scandal, he announced his resignation. Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as president.
During his retirement Nixon travelled widely and published seven books. He died of a stroke on 22 April 1994.