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Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford as Presidents Essay

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President Richard M. Nixon

Francis Anthony Nixon was the father of Richard Nixon. Francis Anthony was staying in Yorba Linda together with his wife Hannah Milhouse when she gave birth to Richard M. Nixon. Yorba Linda is located in California, U.S.A. (Kelly 1). Nixon was married to Thelma Catherine Ryan. He grew up in Yorba Linda which was also his hometown. He escaped death when he was in the Navy during a typhoon incident and also when he was attacked by Pneumonia. His brother died of tuberculosis thus making him face the great challenge of living without his brother (MultiEducator 1). At 27, he married Patricia Ryan with whom they raised two daughters namely, Patricia and Julie. Patricia was commonly known as Tricia.

School Life and Education

Nixon went to Fullerton and later Whittier High School where he graduated as a top student. Nixon later attended Whittier College in his late teens. He was later admitted to Duke University Law School after coming second in a class of 85 from his college. In addition to excellent academic performance, Nixon was also the leader of the student’s body in the college. At Duke University, he was able to finish second in his class. The class had 37 students who included some of the high ranking government officials he would, later on, rub shoulders with. That was in the year 1937.

His career path

In 1937 Nixon gained entry into the Californian legislature where he began practicing law. Nixon also had a business plan. He was one of the partners who opened a company for manufacturing orange juice in 1940. After the failure of this company, Nixon joined the Navy in 1946. In the Navy, he rose in ranks to a lieutenant commander and served in the pacific especially in logistics during the Japanese campaigns.

Political path

After the Second World War, Nixon became interested in politics. Thus he contested and defeated Jerry Voorhis to become the United States representative from California. This was an ominous task because by then, Jerry Voorhis was a five-time democratic representative who coupled up also as the incumbent. Due to his charisma, Richard Nixon was able to contest and win a senate seat in 1950. during this period he excelled in political matters and in matters concerning policymaking thus winning the favor of General Eisenhower who nominated him to be his running mate. At this time Nixon was 39 years of age.

When General Eisenhower contested for presidency, he won, becoming the 34th U.S president. Consequently, his successful contest made Nixon become his vice president. In 1960, when he contested for his party ticket, Nixon was nominated for president by acclamation. Nixon however, lost narrowly to President John F. Kennedy because Kennedy was much stronger especially in congressional seats. In 1968, Nixon successfully contested again for his party nomination and won. Finally, when he contested for his presidential election, Nixon became victorious. One of the ways in which Nixon became a national figure is when he took over the position as chairman of the house Un-American Activist Special Subcommittee.

The subcommittee was given the task of investigating government officials to find out whether they were ex-communists. During this period, the commission was involved in similar major cases such that the case was called the Alger Hiss case. Nixon was well known for using attack mechanisms which made him succeed in most of his campaigns. For instance in 1950, when he became a senate, his triumph against his predecessor was due to his claims that Helen Douglas, the former senator was a communist sympathizer. During the 1952 presidential campaigns, when Nixon was the nominated vice president, he was faced with accusations that he had a slush fund.

Nixon admitted these accusations saying that the purpose of that money was for political reasons. He gave a televised speech on this admitting that he also received a dog as a present for his daughter, which was called checkers. Some of the achievements of Richard Nixon were also in the cabinet where he was able to preside over cabinet meetings when the President was not present.

In his first presidential campaigns, Nixon lost to President John F. Kennedy in 1960 (Presidential pet museum 3). Two years later he lost another election in his state of California to the then powerful Edmund Brown. He resigned from campaigning during this year. Richard Nixon took a six-year break from national active politics and was only involved in helping republicans retain or win congressional and senate seats. During the whole of this period, Nixon was working for a law firm in New York. He was also involved with environmental agencies where he was able to accomplish much in the area of environmental programs. In 1972, Nixon made a major come back. He contested for president with George McGovern and won by a historic margin, one of the widest ever recorded in the history of America.

Accomplishments of President Richard M. Nixon

Richard M. Nixon took over leadership when the country was divided into war overseas and violence in the cities. He succeeded in ending the American campaign in Viet Nam. Nixon also succeeded in improving the relationship between the United States and the former U.S.S.R and China.

Nixon’s Domestic Achievements

While in office, Nixon accomplished his mission in revenue sharing. This revenue sharing program restored a measure of the balance between the state and federal relations. In the business sector, Nixon imposed strong policies that we’re able to fight against inflation (Hoff 2). The policies came into force in the year 1971 and their operations were nationwide. Richard Nixon was able to take the United States out of the gold standard in which the freeze was terminated and permanently alternated by the intertwined high-grade system of wage-price controls (Barone 11). By the end of 1973, very few controls remained.

It was during his tenure that there was the end of the peace-time draft and new time anticrime laws were formed. He helped restore peace to the campuses of the nation. Nixon managed to cut back and reduce the expenditure on wasteful programs like those of LBJ’s great society. Programs such as these had been notorious for squandering public funds. He also used his administrative policies to reduce demonstrations in the streets by campus and ghetto communities. He ensured that there was freedom of the press and giving of invaluable education concerning the constitutional rights to the public.

Nixon’s administration caused congress to reassert its authority. Before then the congressional authority was dormant and there was an alarming rate of growth of powers of the president. Thus this dangerous growth was finally arrested by Nixon’s administration (McDougall 22).

A council on environmental quality was set. The council’s main role was to recognize, formulate legislature and implement projects that tackle pollution and consumption. During President Nixon’s administration, Nixon appointed justices of conservative philosophy to the Supreme Court of America thus making a major milestone in the legislature. As a scientific accomplishment, the first astronauts to land on the moon was during his period, which was in 1969. This was during his first term as president. Nixon managed to fulfill his promise of uniting the country. This was manifested when Americans united in one accord to demand his impeachment or resignation (Wallechinsky, & Wallacetrivia 4).

Nixon’s foreign Policies

His years of leadership marked a key turning point in the U.S. under his leadership. The United States made a major turn around from its role as policeman of the world (Wallechinsky & Wallacetrivia 1). It was during his tenure that the dangers of the cold war subsided.

Other achievements were his focus on the stability of the world such that he was able to negotiate peace deals with major stakeholders of the world. President Nixon pursued two major policies. He initiated the improvement of his relationship with China. America established, for the first time since the early 50s, a good relationship with the Chinese leadership. He was able to hold a series of meetings with the Russian leader Leonid I. Brezhnev in which they negotiated crucial peace deals to bring back global stability. These meetings resulted in a treaty that focused on limiting strategic nuclear weapons. Hence the series of meetings were accompanied by the signing of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) treaty which addresses matters such as major nuclear rearmament. To explain further, this policy that he pursued with the U.S.S.R was called Détente.

Détente was a strategy that was designed to find ways in which the U.S.S.R and the U.S. would begin to work together despite their differences. Working together was aimed at reducing tension that existed between the two countries. One year later he announced that he was ending the American campaign in North Vietnam. He managed to bring home the prisoners of war and the American troops who were fighting in Vietnam and some other parts of this region. Ending this war was part of his foreign policy. He decreased the U.S involvement by leaving more and more of ground war to the Vietnamese (Geo-evolution 4).

This was termed Vietnamization. It resulted in war in Cambodia where Vietnamese sanctuaries were destroyed. The destruction caused widespread accusations on the president. Demonstrations were held at Kent University. The National Guard killed four students during the demonstration. His National security advisor, Henry Kissinger was also involved in a series of negotiations aimed at ending the war in Vietnam and in preventing war between Israel and Egypt. Thus the US and North Vietnam signed a peace treaty in 1973. These peace treaties resulted in the return of American POW, ceasefire, and then the continued presence of civilian advisory groups. A process of ending the war and reaching an agreement of peace was also initiated. However, this peace failed and it led to the conquest of the South by the North.

Failures of President Richard M. Nixon

The Watergate scandal

Within a few months after his reelection, Nixon’s administration was faced with what was later called the Watergate scandal. The scandal emanated from a break-in which was traced back to 1972. It emerged at the Democratic National Committee during his campaign for the second term in office (The white house 9). This happened within the officials of the committee when they were still planning to reelect the president. This building was housing the offices of the Democratic Party. The watergate scandal got out of hand for President Richard Nixon when it was revealed that Nixon was involved in trying to cover up his staff. Some officials resigned.

As the investigations continued, it was revealed that Nixon had taped all his conversations and recorded his telephone calls during the time of the cover-up. Thus the tapes became the evidence that worked against President Nixon. Nixon was forced by the courts to give up those tapes after which he was proved guilty of the offense of covering up the issue. As a further blow, Nixon’s vice president resigned from office after he was involved in a corruption scandal in Maryland. Because of the resignation of his vice president, Nixon nominated Gerald R. Ford in 1973 and the nomination was largely approved by congress and the senate. During this time Gerald was the house minority leader and was popular with the majority of politicians nationwide.

The end of Nixon’s rule

President Richard M. Nixon is quite famous in history because of his policies and his unification of the American people. He is also the first president ever to resign from office because of the Watergate scandal that has been discussed above.

President Nixon resigned because he was faced with an imminent impeachment that was emanating from the senate and the house of congress. On August 8, 1974, President Nixon announced that he was going to resign from office the following day, which is on August 9, 1974 (the white house 11). Nixon resigned because the House drew up articles aimed at impeaching him. Thus instead of being impeached, he opted for resignation. His reason for the resignation was to begin the desperately needed process of healing in America.

Despite all this, Nixon, in his last years gained a lot of praise as a good statesman. By the end of his life, the former president Nixon had written a number of books recounting his experience in public life and matters concerning foreign policies that took place during his period. Thus, as a recap, Nixon became the first president in the history of America, ever to resign. Nixon was also the first President of the U.S. who paid a visit to China and the first president ever to nominate a vice president under the 25th amendment which had been implemented. Nixon died in the year 1994.

President Gerald R. Ford

Gerald R. Ford was the 38th president of the U.S.A. President Ford succeeded President Richard M. Nixon in the White House in the year 1974 when Nixon resigned. Ford was the first and the only president not elected by American Voters in the history of America.

Gerald R. Ford was born Leslie King Jr. on 14 July 1913 (Kelly 1). He was born in Omaha. He used to be known as Jerry by his friends (Bibliography in Naval History 1). His parents divorced. This is because the father was a wife-beating alcoholic. His mother later moved to Grand Rapids where she married a successful businessman Gerald R. Ford who was the owner of a paint store in 1916 (Miller Center Public Affairs, 2010).

Thus Gerald R. Ford senior adopted Jerry and gave him his name consequently causing Jerry to become Gerald Rudolf Ford Junior. This was during Jerry’s teenagehood after he had graduated from college. Thus Leslie officially changed his name after he had graduated from college. Gerald often hailed the marriage between his mother and his new husband with much respect, while always talking good about his stepfather. When Gerald Jr. engaged in politics, he married Elizabeth Bloomer, just before he was elected to the congress. The couple raised four children namely: Michael, John, Steve, and Susan.


Former President Gerald R. Ford graduated from the former South High School in 1931 where his classwork achievements were mainly in history and Government. He finished near the top of his class. Apart from the academic performance that made him famous, he was also named as the most popular senior student by his classmates. Ford majored in economics at college. He also held a series of jobs that supplemented his education budget.

Ford was educated at the University of Michigan where he graduated in 1935 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was an outstanding student both in class and in the field during his entire school period. He was a member of the school football team at the University of Michigan where he also excelled in this field. Ford was offered contracts by the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions to which he refused to accept, one of the reasons being he wanted to resign from sports. This was because he wanted to join a law school. At Yale where he was enrolled with difficulties, he emerged near the top of the class. Despite going there on a trial basis in 1938, Ford emerged the top third of his class in January 1941.

Career path

As a teenager, Ford worked at a local restaurant and played football.

Ford began practicing law in 1941 during which his interest in politics grew more and more. During this period, he became more and more interested in politics. He helped Wendell Willkie in his presidential contest unsuccessfully. Later on, he joined a group of republican reformers known as the “Home Front,” The home front opposed the local republican machine. The local republicans were headed by Frank McKay who was a ruthless leader.

In the Second World War, Ford was recruited in the Navy to engage the Japanese forces in the pacific. He rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant commander. His entry into the navy put his career path on hold. Ford was called to duty in April 1942 where he served as an officer aboard the Monterey which was a light aircraft carrier that was operating in the pacific. It was stationed in the Pacific where they were engaging the Japanese soldiers. He was involved in many victorious battles in the pacific numbering ten. Ford nearly died during a typhoon in the pacific when he came near to being thrown out of the deck of this vessel. He was also a good leader during this time of war.

In the pacific campaign, Ford has commissioned an ensign on April 13, 1942, where he served 47 months actively on duty. He was an instructor in the Navy’s V-5 which was a cadet program. This was because he had an advantage since he had a good background in being a coach. Ford taught elementary seamanship, ordnance, gunnery, first aid, and military drill at the preflight school in Carolina. He was later promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade on June 2, 1942. He was then promoted to lieutenant in 1943.

Shortly after the war, he went back to Grand Rapids where he started practicing law. It appears that the practice of law made him more and more interested in politics. Thus in 1948, Ford entered into republican politics after serving in the Michigan bar, and in the supreme court of the U.S.A. Gerald was admitted to the Michigan State Bar in 1941 and was later on admitted to practice in the supreme court of the U.S.A. The University of Michigan gave Gerald Rudolf Ford an honorary degree after which other universities like Albino, Aquinas, and Spring Arbor colleges followed suit.

Several other colleges beyond his State also gave him honorary degrees including Methodist University in 1977. Ford also obtained a Ph.D. in Public Administration from American International University where he had gone back to study in order to boost his career growth.

Sports history

President Ford was also an outstanding athlete. Ford won most city and state football trophies during his entire school period. In 1934, Ford was known as the most valuable player in Michigan and the neighboring communities hailed him. He was also selected by ‘sports illustrated’ where they gave him an award because he was among the top football players who had the most contribution to their fellow citizens during that time. All this happened in 1959, the period after which he was given an award of a gold medal from the National Football Foundation because he familiarized so much with the game.

When he joined Yale Law School in 1935, which was the school of his dreams, he went there as an assistant coach. He took a job at Yale where he was paid $2,400 per year. With this money, he was able to pay various debts. His entry into Yale also gave him the opportunity to rub shoulders with future senators. For instance, Robert Taft, Jr., and William Proxmire are the senators who were among his football students. Apart from football, Ford also coached boxing despite his unfamiliarity with the sport.

Political path

In 1948 Ford began to bid for congress although quietly. Michigan was heavily republican. It was therefore a big challenge for Ford to contest especially over the five-term incumbent Bartel Jonkman. Jonkman was also a strong ally of Franck McKay. In his contest, he won against Fred J. Barr, Jr. This was because he had been propelled into victory by a combination of attack strategies coupled with the type of campaign typical of an internationalist. Ford was able to win his elections twelve times. During this time he gained knowledge and experience on how the government works. He advocated against the communists. This he did by supporting both the republican and the democratic presidents who aimed at containing The U.S.S.R and Chinese communism.

During his time as congress, Ford emerged among Nixon’s strongest defendants when Nixon was involved in a controversy after they had been nominated and elected. The contests of the congress, the losses the party had succumbed and the presidential elections worked for the good of Ford. As a result of all these activities, He was able to chair the House Republican conference in 2963. Ford also took the lead according to rank as a republican in the house because he had successfully challenged the House Minority leader Charles A. Halleck.

Ford occupied the ideological grounds of the Republicans between the two extremes. He nominated his fellow Michigander Governor Gorge Romney for President. Romney lost to President Lyndon B. Johnson. During the time of Nixon’s contests, Ford was able to provide invaluable support to Nixon’s presidency. In 1968 he supported the successful run of Nixon’s presidency. Nixon’s administration did not treat Ford with good respect.

They wished him away as an intellectual lightweight. Ford still supported President Nixon’s Policies thus making him become one of the most loyal allies of the President. Ford was reelected to congress when Nixon was reelected. Ford is reported to have put the blame on the inability of the republicans to take over control of the house in that election, on Nixon. He believed that Nixon had refused to campaign for the congressmen who belonged to the republican party.

Major scandals that rocked Nixon’s administration propelled Ford into power. Ford was nominated as the next Vice president by President Nixon under the new rules that were being assimilated into the constitution. This was because Ford was viewed as the only candidate who would be supported by the senate and the house. Nixon feared a double confrontation from the congress because had he chosen someone else who was unpopular with the congress and senate majority, this would further hurt his image since the Watergate scandal was still looming. Thus the senate gave Ford 92 against 3 and the House gave him 387 against 35. Ford finally became the Vice president and when Nixon resigned he became the first president to assume office without the American Vote.

President Ford’s achievements

When taking the oath of office Ford stated that he was assuming office under weird circumstances (The white house 1). This was because he was taking over from President Nixon who had resigned because he was implicated with the Watergate scandal. Several challenges were facing Ford. He had to devise ways in which he had to fight inflation, how to revive the economy which was depressed, how to solve the problem of persistent energy shortages, and also brokering peace in the global arena.

President Ford’s methods of solving these problems were geared at containing the trend that the public was dependent on the government intervention to their societal problems. His principles shifted from spending as a means of solving the American economic and societal problems. Thus he thought this would be a long-term solution for Americans.

Ford was well known for his integrity and openness thereby making him increase in popularity during part of his administration. This is also the reason that had made him popular throughout the years when he served in congress. During his tenure, President Ford granted Nixon a full pardon of the Watergate scandal and all other accusations against His predecessor (The Associates, 11). This, later on, calmed down earlier controversies brought about by the Watergate scandal (The White House 6). Ford established his policies during his first year in office despite a large number of Democrats in the congress, which had been a heavy blow for the former President Nixon.

First, he was able to get rid of inflation and afterward tackled recession because it had grown to become a big problem for the nation’s economy. Ford buttressed his efforts to put up measures aimed at trying to stimulate sustainable economic growth. He was able to help businesses operate more freely by reducing their taxes. Ford was also able to ease the controls which were being practiced by a regulatory agency. In the international scene, Ford was able to maintain the superiority of the United States after the collapse of Cambodia and South Vietnam as a result of the withdrawal of the U.S from Vietnam. Ford’s administration presided over the final withdrawal of U.S troops from Vietnam (Cincotta 13). Ford was also faced with the challenge of preventing a new war in the Middle East (Kissinger, 2007).

His aid to Israel and Egypt was aimed at bringing the two countries together so that they could accept a peace agreement to increase the global stability which President Ford desperately fought for. The treaty with the U.S.S.R continued to hold. The two leaders of the US and the U.S.S.R finally settled on a policy of new limitations on nuclear weapons and rearmament programs.

The end of Ford’s rule

When he contested for nomination for the presidency in the Republican Party, Ford won. However, Ford lost the elections to the former Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter because of many reasons ranging from the pardon to his predecessor to the failure of Republicans to take control of the congress. Ford is largely hailed as a leader who helped in healing America. The reason for his defeat is partly because he had pardoned his predecessor on the wrongs he had done especially the Watergate scandal. This pardon was viewed as something that had been planned by the two presidents. Ford died in the year 2006.


We have been able to see that President Nixon and President Ford were long time friends. During their administration period, they were faced with many challenges. The Watergate scandal faced President Nixon while Ford was defeated when he contested for elections partly because he pardoned the former President Nixon. The two presidents had almost similar foreign policies. As we have been able to see, President Ford was engaged in completing President Nixon’s initiatives. Thus President Ford completed his predecessor’s initiatives before beginning to implement his domestic and foreign policies. In domestic policies, the two presidents are hailed because they managed to fulfill their promises to improve the lives of the American people.

Works Cited

Barone, Michael. Nixon’s America. 1999. Web.

Biographies in Naval History. President Gerald R. Ford. 2007. Web.

Cincotta, Howard. America.gov. Engaging the world. Memorial Service at Cathedral Recalls Ford’s Achievements. 2007. Web.

Geo-evolution. Policy successes and failures of Johnson and Nixon. 2010. Web.

Hoff, Joan. Re-evaluating Richard Nixon: his domestic achievements. 2009. Web.

Kelly, Martin. . 2010. Web.

Kelly, Martin. . 2010. Web.

Kissinger, Henry. Ford Presidential Library & Museum. Secretary Henry Eulogy for President Ford. 2007. Web.

McDougall, A. Walter. Why I Think History Will Be Kind to Nixon. 2004. Web.

Miller center public affairs. Gerald Rudolf Ford (1913-2006). 2010. Web.

MultiEducator. History Central Richard Nixon. 2000. Web.

Presidential Pet Museum. President Richard M. Nixon. 2010. Web.

The Associates. Gerald Dies at 93. 2010. Web.

The white house. Presidents. 2010. Web.

Wallechinsky David & Wallacetrivia, Irving. President Richard M. Nixon: Pros and Achievements of His Presidency. 1981. Web.

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