Convict / Presidential Advisor
Date Of Birth:
16 October 1931
Date Of Death:
21 April 2012
Place Of Birth:
Best Known As:
The jailed Watergate conspirator who became an evangelical Christian leader
Charles "Chuck" Colson is the Watergate conspirator who pled guilty to obstructing justice, went to jail, and then had a religious awakening that led him to found the outreach group known as Prison Fellowship Ministries. Charles Colson was born in New England and graduated from Brown University. After serving in the Marine Corps from 1953-55, he became an assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and his life in politics was on its way. A Republican, he served on the staff of Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, and spent much of the 1960s at the law firm of Gadsby and Hannah. When Richard Nixon won election as president in 1968, he appointed Colson as Counsel to the President. Colson quickly gained a reputation as the White House pit bull, so fiercely loyal that he once said he would walk over his own grandmother to get Nixon re-elected in 1972. During the Watergate scandal of 1973-74, authorities discovered that Colson had been involved with the White House "Plumbers" -- a covert group whose job was to fix information leaks and discredit the Democrats. Among other crimes, after the release of the Pentagon Papers, Colson ordered the Plumbers to break into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, looking for incriminating information. President Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974, and Colson was convicted of obstructing justice. While serving seven months in prison, he had a religious awakening and became a strong evangelical Christian. In 1976 he founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, and spent the rest of his career counseling prisoners and their families. A prolific author, he also founded the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
In his Memoirs (1978), Richard Nixon said of Colson: “His instinct for the political jugular and his ability to get things done made him a lightning rod for my own frustrations at the timidity of most Republicans in responding to attacks from the Democrats and the media.”
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