Happening today

Live chat: Join us at noon for a discussion about Nixon's legacywith Lily Geismer, assistant professor of history at Claremont McKenna College, who specializes in 20th century politics.


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Live broadcast: Watch Washington, D.C.'s celebration as it happens, starting at 4 p.m.

Timeline

Jan. 9, 1913: Richard Nixon is born in Yorba Linda, California, to Frank and Hannah Milhous Nixon.

1928-1930: Attends Whittier High School.

1930-1934: Nixon attends Whittier College in Whittier, California.

1934-1937: Nixon attends Duke University Law School in Durham, North Carolina.

Nov. 9, 1937: Admitted to California Bar and joins law firm of Wingert and Bewley in Whittier.

Jan. 1, 1939: Becomes a partner in the reorganized law firm of Bewley, Knoop and Nixon; opens a branch office in La Habra, Calif.

June 21, 1940: Nixon marries Thelma Catherine ("Pat") Ryan in Riverside, Calif.

Jan. 9, 1942: Nixon moves to Washington, D.C., to join the Office of Price Administration, the federal agency charged with regulating wartime prices and and overseeing rationing.

September 2, 1942:Receives commission as Navy Lieutenant (junior grade) 1943-1945 Nixon serves active duty in the U.S. Navy. Nixon is assigned to South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command as a ground officer; he serves at New Caledonia, Bougainville, and Green Island.

February 21, 1946: Daughter Patricia ("Tricia") Nixon is born. March 10, 1946 Discharged from U.S. Naval Reserve and leaves military as lieutenant commander.

November 5, 1946: Elected to Congress, defeating incumbent Jerry Voorhis.

January 3, 1947: Nixon is sworn in as Representative for the Twelfth Congressional District of California. His tenure lasts until his resignation in November 1950 following his election to the Senate.

July 5, 1948: Daughter Julie Nixon is born.

November 7, 1950: Nixon is elected as Senator for California and serves from December 1, 1950, until January 1, 1953.

July 11, 1952: Receives the Republican Vice-Presidential nomination.

September 23, 1952: In a nationally televised speech, Nixon responds to charges of improper use of campaign funds, which had jeopardized his spot on the Republican national ticket. During his defense, and after refuting the charges, he states that his wife wears only a "respectable Republican cloth coat" and the only gift he has kept was Checkers, the family's cocker spaniel--giving the appearance its other name, the "Checkers speech".

November 4, 1952: Nixon is elected Vice President of the United States on the ticket of President Dwight Eisenhower.

January 20, 1953: Inaugurated as Vice President August 13, 1953 Made chairman of the President's committee on government contracts.

November 6, 1956: Nixon is re-elected Vice President of the United States to President Dwight Eisenhower.

January 21, 1957: Inauguration Day.

July 24, 1959: Nixon participates in spontaneous the "Kitchen Debate" with Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev in a model kitchen in the American National Exhibition in Moscow. Nixon's strong showing against the Soviet leader gives him a new standing in the United States.

July 27, 1960: Nixon receives Republican nomination for President.

September 26, 1960-October 21, 1960: Nixon-Kennedy debates.

November 8, 1960: Loses Presidential election.

November 6, 1962: Nixon is defeated in California gubernatorial race by Democratic incumbent Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. After his defeat becomes clear, Nixon tells reporters "You won't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference."

August 8, 1968: Nominated as Republican candidate for President.

November 5, 1968: Nixon is elected 37th President of the United States.

December 22, 1968: Nixon's daughter Julie marries Dwight David Eisenhower II, grandson of former president Dwight Eisenhower.

January 20, 1969: Richard Milhous Nixon inaugurated President of the United States on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

March 17, 1969: (Eastern Standard Time) Nixon orders secret bombings of Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese supply routes and base camps, commencing with "Operation Breakfast."

May 1969: Nixon orders FBI wiretaps to track the sources of leaks revealing secret bombings of Cambodia.

May 13, 1969: Delivers special message to Congress on reforming military draft June 8 Meets with Republic of Vietnam President Nguyen Van Thieu on Midway Island; announces troop reduction in Vietnam.

July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 lands on the moon. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin become the first people to walk on the moon.

July 25, 1969: Nixon outlines what became known as the Nixon Doctrine whereby the United States would provide arms and aid--but not military forces--to its Asian allies, who would provide their own military forces in resisting communist aggression.

November 24, 1969: Signs Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty.

January 1, 1970: Signs National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

April 1, 1970: President Richard Nixon signs the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law, banning cigarette television advertisements in the United States, starting on January 1, 1971.

April 11, 1970: Apollo 13 (Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Jack Swigert) is launched toward the Moon. On April 13, an oxygen tank in the spacecraft explodes, forcing the crew to abort the mission. They return safely to Earth on April 17.

April 30, 1970: Announces the launching of military attacks on enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia.

May 4, 1970: National Guardsmen fire on antiwar demonstrators at Kent State University protesting the American invasion of Cambodia, killing four and wounding nine students.

July 9, 1970: Announces plan to establish the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

December 21, 1970: Elvis Presley meets President Nixon in the Oval Office December 31 Signs Clean Air Act of 1970.

February 11, 1971: Signs Executive Order 11582, "Observance of Holidays by GovernmentAgencies," announcing the new Federal holiday calendar. This change adds Columbus Day as a legal public holiday and designates certain Mondays for five of the nine holidays.

February 16, 1971: Begins secretly recording conversations and meetings in the Oval Office and in the Cabinet Room.

March 1, 1971: A bomb explodes in the men's room on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol; the Weather Underground claims responsibility.

June 10, 1971: Ends U.S.-China trade embargo.

June 12, 1971: Daughter Patricia ("Tricia") Nixon marries Edward Ridley Finch Cox at the White House.

July 9, 1971: Nixon sends National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger to Peking, China, to arrange with Prime Minister Chou en Lai a visit for President Nixon.

August 5, 1971: Establishes the National Business Council for Consumer Affairs.

August 15, 1971: Under the authority of the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970, announces Phase I of the Economic Stabilization Program, a new economic policy of wage and price controls and a new international economic system that results in the end of the gold standard.

September 3, 1971: Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin is signed by the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and France to establish trade and travel relations between West Berlin and West Germany and communications between East Berlin and West Berlin.

January 7, 1972: Announces candidacy for a second Presidential term.

February 21-28, 1972: Visits People's Republic of China.

May 20-June 1, 1972: Visits Austria, U.S.S.R., Iran, and Poland and signs the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT).

June 17, 1972: Five burglars from a domestic espionage network working for the Commitee to Re-Elect the President are arrested inside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Washington, D.C., Watergate office complex.

June 23, 1972: Haldeman and Nixon discuss the progress of the FBI's investigation, especially the tracing of the source of money found on the burglars. They propose having the CIA ask the FBI to halt its investigation of the Watergate break-in by claiming that the break-in was a national security operation.

August 1, 1972: A $25,000 cashier check designated for the Nixon campaign is found in the bank account of a Watergate burglar.

August 23, 1972: Accepts the Presidential nomination of the Republication National Convention in the Convention Hall, Miami Beach, Florida.

November 7, 1972: Nixon is re-elected to a second term in the largest land-slide victory in American political history. December 18-30 "Christmas bombing" of North Vietnam.

December 30, 1972: Announces halt to bombing in North Vietnam.

January 20, 1973: Inauguration for Nixon's second term.

January 23, 1973: Announces agreement reached on end to Vietnam War.

January 27, 1973: Peace treaty ending the Vietnam War signed in Paris.

January 30, 1973: James McCord and G. Gordon Liddy convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping.

February 12, 1973: First group of Vietnam Prisoners of War (POWs) returns.

March 21, 1973: Conversation among President Nixon, John Dean, and H. R. Haldeman. Dean recaps the history of the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up for the President. Dean tells the President that the cover-up is "a cancer on the Presidency" that must be excised or his Presidency would be in danger.

April 30, 1973: Accepts the resignations of Assistant to the President H. R. Haldeman, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs John D. Ehrlichman, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, and Counsel to the President John Dean. Accepts responsibility for the Watergate affair.

May 1, 1973: Senate votes for a resolution calling for the appointment of a Watergate special prosecutor July 16 During his testimony at the public hearings of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, Alexander Butterfield publicly reveals the existence of the White House taping system and details specifics of how the system worked.

July 31, 1973: Representative Robert F. Drinan (D-Mass.) introduces impeachment resolution in Congress.

October 10, 1973: Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigns after corruption charges beginning when he was county executive of Baltimore County, Maryland. Gerald R. Ford replaced Agnew as Vice President.

November 17, 1973: To the Associated Press managing editors, Nixon says, "People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook."

December 6, 1973: Gerald R. Ford becomes Vice President.

February 6, 1974: House of Representatives votes to proceed with their Presidential impeachment probe.

April 29, 1974: Announces that Nixon is publishing transcripts of forty-six taped conversations subpoenaed by the Watergate Special Prosecutor and the House Judiciary Committee.

July 24, 1974: Supreme Court rules in U.S. v. Nixon that President Nixon must hand over subpoenaed tapes to John Sirica, U.S. District Court Chief Judge.

July 27 -30, 1974: House Judiciary Committee adopts three articles of impeachment against the President.

August 8, 1974: In a television broadcast, Nixon announces to the nation that his resignation that would be effective the next day.

August 9, 1974: Leaves office. At 10:00 a.m. boards helicopter on the South Grounds of the White House and flies to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. From there, flies to El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, California aboard the Spirit of 76.

September 8, 1974: Nixon accepts the pardon of President Gerald Ford "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."

June 22, 1993: Mrs. Nixon dies at home in Park Ridge, New Jersey.

April 22, 1994: Nixon dies in New York City.


Photo Galleries: Historical look at President Richard Nixon | The Richard Nixon Centennial Birthday Celebration at The Richard Nixon Presidential Library
Related story: President Nixon's brother remembers him on the 100th anniversary of his birth

When Michel Chenelle teaches U.S. history, she points out the light and dark faces of President Richard Milhous Nixon.

There's Nixon the diplomat, who had famously opened the door to China. And there's Nixon of Watergate, who had infamously resigned in disgrace.

"He's known for Watergate and China," said Chenelle, who teaches eighth-grade history at Chime Institute in the San Fernando Valley community of Woodland Hills. "He opened up relations with China. (But) the Watergate scandal really left people disillusioned."

On Wednesday, on what would have been his 100th birthday, the nation's 37th president and Southern California's native son is both reviled and revered - and increasingly held up for acclaim.

Then there are the lingering popular images of Nixon.

Think of Nixon and picture the bulldog anti-communist with the bushy brows, ski-jump nose and stubborn 5 o'clock shadow.

Think of Nixon and remember the commander in chief who shook hands with Mao Zedong and who presided over a withdrawal from an unpopular war in Vietnam.

Then think of the man known as Tricky Dick and recall the political spying and "dirty tricks." The White House "plumbers" who broke into Democratic headquarters at Watergate. The profane White House tapes. And the "Deep Throat" revelations by the press.

Nixon, a seemingly paranoid figure implicated in a protracted political cover-up, resigned from office in 1974, ahead of near-certain impeachment. In all, the convictions of 48 government officials resulted from the Watergate affair. Today, tack on the suffix "gate" and affix a euphemism for scandal.

"Nixon was like a character out of Shakespeare, or the Bible," said Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College who teaches a course on Nixon. "With enormous strengths and virtues. And enormous vices and weaknesses.

"Ironically, in some ways, Nixon was the most liked president between Roosevelt and Obama."

To mark the centennial of the president's birth, the Richard Nixon Foundation is hosting a VIP gala tonight in Washington, with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Nixon daughters Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the largest gathering of friends and family in 40 years.

Last Sunday at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, loyal supporters laid a White House wreath from President Barack Obama. A Nixon centennial exhibit is being prepared for February.

For in hindsight, many say, the late 20th century belongs to the Age of Nixon - a fiscally conservative Republican moderate who left a progressive legacy on his nation.

In the aftermath of the first Earth Day, Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Natural Resources, pushed for the Clean Air Act, signed the Endangered Species Act, and created more national parks than any other president.

In the wake of national civil rights legislation, Nixon was the first president to broadly desegregate schools in the South. He also instituted the first federal equal opportunity hiring for blacks. And returned more federal land than ever to Native American tribes.

Nixon was the first president to propose legislation for universal health care and launched the so-called War on Cancer.

He was also the only Republican president ever to support the Equal Rights Amendment for women. He also hired more women in his administration to date and launched more federal initiatives for women's rights.

He was also the last GOP president ever to field a balanced budget.

"When I think of the legacy of Nixon, I think of substantial - and complicated," said Lawrence Becker, a political scientist at Cal State Northridge and an expert on the U.S. presidency. "No matter where you are on the political spectrum, you have strong feelings about the Nixon presidency."

By now, most have heard the story about the whiz kid born of Quaker parents a century ago today in the clapboard farmhouse his father, Frank, built out of a kit in the middle of a large lemon grove.

It was so cold, his mother, Hannah, elected to bear her fifth at her Yorba Linda home rather than risk driving to a hospital.

After his father's farm failed, the family moved to Whittier, where Frank ran a grocery store and gas station.

The young Nixon woke up at 4 o'clock each morning to buy produce for the store in downtown Los Angeles, 36 miles away, then get back and clean it in time for school.

He was a staunch anti-communist, a crack debater and earnest athlete who would ultimately be accepted at Harvard. Instead, he attended Whittier College, where he ran for senior class president, promising to bring dancing to the Quaker campus. He won. And the Quakers danced.

To this day, there are campus markers for the Orthogonian Society he founded after being snubbed by a men's society on campus composed of more prominent families. He graduated second in his class.

"As far as the college goes, he's the identifiable graduate," said Joe Dmohowski, librarian for Whittier College for nearly 30 years. "I'm proud of it.

"I think Nixon is a very important historical figure. ... You'll find more fans of Nixon here than anywhere in the world except China."

It was Nixon who, after earning a law degree at Duke, returned to Whittier to be a small-town lawyer and marry Patricia Ryan. After serving as a naval officer in World War II, they returned to Los Angeles County.

A fervent anti-communist, Nixon was the McCarthy before Sen. Joe McCarthy.

Tugged by politics, the GOP candidate defeated a Democratic congressman by implying he'd been a communist. As a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, he investigated the Soviet spy Alger Hiss, then went on to serve as a California senator.

In 1952, he was nominated to be Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's vice presidential running mate. Accused of illegal use of campaign funds, he delivered his famous Checkers speech, a half-hour defense before a TV audience of 60 million.

He said every dime had been honestly earned.

"Pat doesn't have a mink coat," Nixon said. "But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat."

He then went on to say that the only campaign gift was a family cocker spaniel named Checkers.

The comeback speech, however, contrasts starkly with one he made a decade later after he lost a challenge to California Gov. Pat Brown. Blaming the media for his loss, he said: "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference."

It was earlier, in 1960, that Nixon lost the presidency by a whisker to the Massachusetts Democrat Sen. John F. Kennedy. In their famous TV debates, Kennedy came off as a young prince behind the camera. Nixon, recovering from the flu, came off as the sweaty man behind the 5 o'clock shadow.

When polled later, TV watchers thought Kennedy won, while radio listeners gave the debate to Nixon.

"It was awful," said Toni Plume, 61, of Tarzana, who as a girl had watched the debate with her family in their Los Angeles home, with the only TV on the block. "It was embarrassing - a train wreck."

It was at a solemn ceremony at the Nixon Library that the Cold War president, first elected in 1968, was celebrated as anything but.

A keen internationalist, Nixon had ended the contentious war in Vietnam. Opened the door to China and its future prosperity. Signed the first strategic arms limitation treaty with the Soviet Union, sowing the seeds for its demise.

And despite the bigoted language against Jews heard on the Nixon tapes, he'd helped save Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

After he resigned the presidency, he became an elder statesman for numerous administrations on both sides of the political aisle.

"I never understood how a man who had so much to lose, could lose it," said Joann Wysocki, 75, of Wilmington, among 1,800 fans to show up before noon to the ceremonies at the Nixon Library. "He did good - he made a mistake - but he did good. He was a man of humble birth who rose to the heights."

Nearby was Nixon's black marble headstone, where he has rested since 1994. After his funeral, residents waited four hours to read the words Nixon said himself at his first Inaugural Address: "The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker."

Chenelle, as an eighth-grade girl in San Diego, had once campaigned for Sen. George McGovern against Nixon's re-election, and once hung a giant anti-Nixon poster on her wall.

She hated him then, the registered Libertarian said. But she respects him more now.

"He's still not one of my favorite presidents," she said. "But I appreciate his political acumen. He was a great politician. He was a real go-getter."


Richard Nixon says goodbye with a victorious salute to his staff members outside the White House as he boards a helicopter after resigning the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974. Nixon was the first president in American history to resign the nation's highest office. His resignation came after approval of an impeachment article against him by the House Judiciary Committee for withholding evidence from Congress. He stepped down as the 37th president with a 2,026-day term, urging Americans to rally behind Gerald R. Ford. President Ford fully pardoned Nixon one month later. (AP Photo)


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