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Richard Milhous Nixon

Political Career to 1968

A graduate of Whittier College and Duke law school, he practiced law in Whittier, Calif., from 1937 to 1942, was briefly with the Office of Emergency Management, and served during World War II with the navy in the South Pacific. In 1946 he was elected to Congress as a Republican. In the House of Representatives he became nationally known for his work on the House Committee on Un-American Activities, where he was credited with forcing the famous confrontation between Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers, thus precipitating the perjury case against Hiss. In 1950 he was elected to the U.S. Senate after a particularly bitter electoral campaign. In the Senate, Nixon denounced President Truman's policy in Asia, supported Gen. Douglas MacArthur's proposal to expand the Korean War, and attacked the Democratic administration as favorable to socialism.

He was elected to the vice presidency on the Republican ticket with Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. He made frequent official trips abroad, notably in 1958 to South America, where he faced a hostile demonstration in Venezuela, and in 1959 to the USSR, where he engaged in a much-publicized informal debate with Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Nixon received the Republican presidential nomination in 1960 with only a minimum of opposition and campaigned in support of the Eisenhower administration policies. He was defeated but gained almost as much of the popular vote as the successful John F. Kennedy. Nixon returned to politics in 1962, winning the Republican nomination for governor of California. After losing the election he returned to the practice of law.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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