Playwright Herb Brown employs four other characters in the play
to help reveal the personal and political relationship between Eisenhower and
Nixon.Biographical material is
presented on each below.
Thomas E. Dewey
Despite losing two presidential elections (1944, 1948),
Thomas E. Dewey was still the most powerful Republican in the party in the
early 1950s.In part because he did not
want the Robert Taft-conservative wing of the party to dominate and in part
because he really believed that an Eisenhower-Nixon ticket had the best chance
to win back the White House (which the Democrats had held since 1933), and in
part because he wanted to get even for his losses, Dewey worked hard to bring
the two candidates together on the ticket.He was genuinely taken with Nixon’s strengths—his intensity, his ability
to present complex issues clearly and without notes, his understanding of how
politics worked.And he believed that
Eisenhower was the best prepared candidate to be president.He cajoled, flattered, and threatened
Eisenhower (suggesting that Douglas MacArthur might
run and win—Eisenhower had no love lost for the bombastic general).Dewey came up with the idea of a national
television broadcast and sold Nixon and Eisenhower on it; thus was born the
“Checkers” speech .Robert A. Taft was known as “Mr. Republican,” but it was really Thomas
Dewey who shaped the comeback of the party in the 1950s.And, as the play notes, Dewey was able to get
President Eisenhower to appoint many of his friends (see Other
THOMAS EDMUND DEWEY (b. March 24, 1902, Owosso, Mich., U.S.--d. March 16, 1971, Bal Harbour,
Fla.), vigorous U.S. prosecuting attorney whose successful racket-busting
career won him three terms as governor of New York (1943-55). A long-time
Republican leader, he was his party's presidential nominee in 1944 and 1948 but
lost in both elections.
Dewey graduated from
the University of Michigan in 1923 and received his law degree from ColumbiaUniversity in 1925. Admitted to the New York bar in 1926, Dewey launched his government career
five years later as chief assistant to the U.S. attorney for the southern district of the state. Between
1935 and 1937 he garnered national attention as special prosecutor in an
investigation of organized crime in New York; he obtained 72 convictions out of 73 prosecutions of
long-established racketeers. Elected district attorney in 1937, Dewey continued
to impress the electorate with his legal acumen and with his personal drive and
Although unsuccessful in his first bid for governor (1938),
Dewey was elected for three successive terms beginning in 1942. In
office he earned a reputation for political moderation and administrative
efficiency, putting the state on a pay-as-you-go basis for capital building,
reorganizing departments, and establishing the first state agency to eliminate
discrimination in employment.
As Republican nominee for president in 1944, Dewey was
neither expected nor able to overcome the enormous wartime prestige of the
incumbent, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The pollsters flatly predicted
victory for his candidacy in 1948, however, though the political picture was
confused by the entrance of two minority extremist factions--the Progressives
and the States' Rights (Dixiecrat) Party. Waging a
noncommittal campaign purposely designed to avoid offending any segment of the
electorate, Dewey was unexpectedly defeated by President Harry S.
Truman, who surprisingly retained the loyalty of both farm and labour circles.
As a leader of the
eastern Republicans at the 1952 national convention, he played a key role in
the nominations of General Dwight D. Eisenhower for president and Senator
Richard M. Nixon for vice president. At the end of his third term as governor
(1955), Dewey returned to a lucrative private law practice. He remained
a close adviser to Republican administrations but thought his age precluded
acceptance of an offer by President Nixon in 1968 to serve as chief justice of
the U.S. Supreme Court.
is a suspect source, but I include it here as an example of “media” coverage
and conspiracy-mongering (which may or many not have some elements of truth).
Thomas E. Dewey
began his career in racket busting in 1931, when he accepted a position as
chief assistant to the U.S. Attorney of New York, George Medalie.
In 1935, he was appointed as to go to work on Organized Crime by Governor
Herbert H. Lehman, after the expulsion of District Attorney William C. Dodge
for having been involved with the Tammany Hall scandals.
Dewey began his
crusade on crime by attacking prostitution, loan sharks, numbers and gambling,
which all eventually lead to the mob bosses running New York City, namely Lucky Luciano,
a man that actually saved Dewey's life.
In 1935, Dutch
Schultz proposed the killing of Dewey. Schultz was also being investigated by
Dewey, which forced Schultz to go into hiding. While in hiding, LaGuardia, New York's mayor at the time, was crunching down on Schultz's slot machine
operations, causing Schultz to loose money. This angered the gangster so much
that he brought his proposal to the Commission. But his proposal was denied.
"You can't go around bumping off big shots like him," Jonnie Torrio, an elder statesman in the crime syndicate, told
Schultz. But Schultz didn't care. He decided he would take the matter into his
own hands. If the Commission wouldn't help him, he would do the job himself.
Word of Schultz's plans reached the Commission, where top
figures such as Luciano and Meyer Lanksy,
decided it was time to do something as well -- kill Dutch Schultz. If Schultz
had succeeded in killing such a prominent figure such as Dewey, the public outcry
against their entire empire would be threatened. Schultz had to go. Dutch
Schultz was shot, but not murdered in the Chophouse, a common hang out for him
and his crew. Charles "The Bug" Workman had done the deed, but not
good enough. Schultz lingered in a crazed state for two days after the
shooting, rambling on while police kept a bedside vigil with a stenographer
trying their best to record who was the individual that had shot him and three
enough, by saving Dewey's life, the Commission put itself in jeopardy.
In 1936, Dewey
put Luciano on trial for running a "chain
store" of prostitution rings all over New York City. Since Luciano was smart enough to pay his taxes, and kept clean
books, it would not be easy to convict him of tax evasion like his counter part
in Chicago, Al Capone. But Dewey did succeed -- Luciano,
the recognized boss of bosses, was sent to prison on 90 counts of prostitution
and sentenced thirty to fifty years, the stiffest penalty ever given for
prostitution. This was the first big dent into the armor of the National Crime
But Dewey did
not stop at Organized Crime. In 1937 he would be elected to District Attorney
of New York, where he prosecuted and won a conviction against Tammany Hall boss
James J. Hines who ran a $1 million numbers racket throughout Harlem. Also, with the help of
another Assistant D.A., Burton Turkus, Dewey was
credited with sending other mob members such as Gurrah
Shapiro and Louis LepkeBuchalter
to the electric chair.
death in 1944, Louis Lepke, a major crime figure in
the National Syndicate, offered a deal to Dewey that could have possibly
ensured him the highest elected position in the United States, the Presidency.
Lepke, having been involved
in racketeering throughout the country, offered to give information on top
figures within the Roosevelt cabinet that reportedly had links to the
National Crime Syndicate, namely Sidney Hillman, the president of the
Amalgamated Clothing Workers and a top advisor to the president. Dewey turned
down the offer, sending Lepke to the chair.
year, at the Republican National Convention, Dewey was nominated to compete
against Franklin D. Roosevelt, but ended up loosing badly. After his defeat,
many began to question some of his ethics while in office as the District
Attorney. Although Dewey had put away Lucky Luciano,
he had also approved Luciano's transfer to a low
security prison in 1942 and eventual parole and deportation to Italy in 1946.
In 1942, it was
reported that German U-boats were spotted in the New YorkHarbor, and many boats were
being sabotaged, namely a huge luxury liner, the Normandie,
which was being refurbished into a troop carrier for the war. There are a few
different stories regarding this particular incident. One is that Albert Anastasia, along
with some other members of the mob, wanted to get Luciano
out of jail so badly that they set up the sinking of the Normandie
as an example of what could possibly happen to other ships in the New York harbor if the National
Crime Syndicate wanted it to happen. And if Luciano
was to be released, then the Syndicate would ensure that nothing else happened
to ships that were in port there. Since the New York piers was the biggest
launching point of almost all Naval ships during the war, not to mention the
fish market and other goods were being shipped in and out of everyday, it was
immeasurable how important it was to keep those docks safe and working.
behind Luciano's good fortune after the sinking of
the Normandie was that he agreed to help
federal investigators not only protect the docks, but contact crime bosses in
Sicily to help the Allied powers defeat Mussolini by helping U.S. Military Intelligence
infiltrate the Axis-held island and eventually liberate all of Italy. In return
for his invaluable help in serving his country, federal agents worked with
Dewey to have Luciano eventually released from
"The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano," Luciano states that Dewey was "on the take" the
entire time he was in office, and had paid Dewey $90,000 to help with his
presidential campaign in return for his freedom. This, as well as other
allegations, ruined Dewey's reputation as a crime buster. He refused to appear
at the Kefauver committee to answer for questions
regarding Luciano's release and other matters
regarding gambling in upstate New York. Dewey was also found
to be a major stock holder in Mary Carter Paints, which was a company that
backed the building of the Bahamas casino's run by Meyer
Lansky. Knowledge of this didn't seem to bother Dewey, but it did his critics.
He was called by one as going "from racketbuster
Popular journalism of the era
became particularly intrigued with district attorneys when they joined with law
enforcement in widely publicized campaigns against organized crime. The most
famous crusading district attorney of the time was New
York's Thomas E. Dewey, who was appointed
special prosecutor in New York City by
Governor Herbert Lehman in 1935. Dewey's prosecutions of Lucky Luciano and other mobsters ultimately let to his own
election as Governor and several runs for the White House. According to Stolberg, the
manner in which Dewey's work as a prosecutor led to campaigns for national
office demonstrates "the degree to which crime and those who battled it
had taken the center stage in the national consciousness.10
In the late 1930s newsreels featured Dewey's crime-busting prosecutions, and
lengthy articles about him appeared in most of the nation's leading journals of
news and politics--Atlantic Monthly, Nation, NewRepublic, Newsweek,
and Time. Reader's Digest and Literary Digest also ran
articles, as did even Woman's Home Companion.
Perhaps the most widely read of these reports
was a five-part series which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post
16, 1937 and January
15, 1938. The Post could trace its lineage to Philadelphia in the
1820s, and a century later in time it was far and away the nation's most
popular periodical. During the 1920s the length of a weekly issue grew to over
200 pages, and circulation averaged 2.4 million annually.11
The start of the Great Depression initially reduced the Post's length
and circulation, but by 1937 the magazine had regained its prior length and
raised its circulation to over 3 million.12
Actual purchasers and subscribers shared the magazine with friends and family
members, and readers could also flip through the Post in waiting rooms,
hotel lobbies, and trains. One observer said, "The magazine was simply
unavoidable--as much an American staple as wheat."13
The Post's articles on
Dewey were written by Forrest Davis and heavily illustrated. Davis cast
Dewey as "St. George" confronting the "racketeering dragon in New
Installments in the series chronicled Dewey's dismantling of the poultry racket
and the Broadway theater racket. The Post literally pictured Dewey not
only as special prosecutor but also as a boy growing up in Michigan. In
one particularly telling montage, an earnest Dewey ties his young son's shoes
on the left while sinister mug shots of Lucky Luciano
and other underworld figures line up on the right. What was the key to Dewey's
success? The special prosecutor, Davis tells
us, "makes his own breaks."15
Dewey turned down offers to
play himself in Hollywood
but the movie industry nevertheless found many prominent roles for prosecutors.
Sometimes the nefarious prosecutor was just a foil for the resourceful defense
counsel, as in the fascinating A Free Soul (1931), in which an aging,
alcoholic lawyer played by Lionel Barrymore successfully defends his daughter's
suitor in a murder trial and then drops dead in the courtroom. In other Hollywood
movies, meanwhile, prosecutors are determined and courageous heroes. In State's
Attorney (1932), for example, John Barrymore stars as district attorney who
overcomes his reform school youth and prosecutes a dangerous mobster. In Manhattan
Melodrama (1934) a prosecutor played by William Powell obtains a conviction
of a boyhood friend played by Clark Gable, gets elected as governor, and in the
latter position refuses to commute the sentence. In I Am the Law (1938)
law professor John Lindsay, played by Edward G. Robinson, accepts the call to
clean up local criminal activity but is dismissed by the district attorney.
Lindsay then uses his students to continue his investigation and in the end not
only brings down the mob but also shows the district attorney himself was in
cahoots with the criminal interests.
the variable presence of prosecutors in many types of inter-war popular culture
suggests the social stress of the era. Actual prosecutors' offices had assumed
a degree of sophistication and importance, and this predictably created
possibilities for pop cultural representation. More generally and importantly,
stories of crime and law enforcement were engaging for a society seeking to
find its bearings. Villainous and/or heroic prosecutors were vehicles which
consumers of popular culture could recognize and use to construct meanings.
Prosecutors found a home in popular fiction, journalism and film, and, as will
be emphasized, radio was also a medium which found a place for the prosecutor.
further reading on Dewey, see:
A. Donaldson, Truman Defeats Dewey (1998).
I. Gullan, The Upset That Wasn't: Harry S. Truman
and the Crucial Election of 1948 (1998).
Smith, Thomas E. Dewey and His Times (1984).
M. Stolberg, Fighting Organized Crime: Politics,
Justice, and the Legacy of Thomas E. Dewey (1995).
ShermanAdams (Llewellyn Sherman
Adams) was born on January 8, 1899 in East Dover, VT.An Anglican/Episcopalian, he served in the US Marine Corps in
1918.Adams graduated from Dartmouth in 1920 and
married in 1923 (he and his wife, Rachel White, had one son).He was a member of the American Legion,
Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, Freemasonry, Grange, Shriners, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.He served as a New Hampshire state
representative (1941-1944), U.S. Congressman from New Hampshire (1945-1947),
governor of New Hampshire (1949-1953, and as Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff in the
White House, from 1953-1958. He had to resign his position in 1958 when it
became known that he had accepted as gifts a fur coat and an oriental rug from
a Boston manufacturer who
conducted business with the Federal government.In 1961, Adams published Firsthand Report: The Story of the Eisenhower Administration.He died in New Hampshire in 1986.
was one of the most powerful men in Washington D.C. during the six years he
served as Chief of Staff to President Eisenhower. He had virtual control over
White House staff operations and domestic policy. The extent of internal strife
between strong willed personalities was chronicled in his 1961 memoir
"First Hand Report". Among the heated conflicts within the Eisenhower
administration were the best method to handle flamboyant personalities such as
U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy and anti-Communist accuser Whittaker Chambers. Adams
was a frequent broker of such controversies. When Adams resigned in 1958, and
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles died the same year, the administration
went into a two year period that lacked direction.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Adams
Jan 8, 1899 Born East Dover,
Windham County, Vermont
World War I service with the United States Marine Corps
1920 Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.
career in lumber industry with Black River Lumber Company,
Jul 23, 1923 Married Rachel Leona
Manager, timberland and lumber operations, the Parker-Young Company,
Member of New Hampshire House of
Chairman of New Hampshire House
Committee on Labor
Speaker of the New Hampshire
House of Representatives
Member of United States
79th Congress from the Second New Hampshire
Elected Governor of New Hampshire
Assistant to the President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower
Back during the Eisenhower administration a House committee
was investigating the ties between Ike's chief of staff, Sherman Adams, and one
Bernard Goldfine, a Boston
Goldfine, it developed, had given Adams, a former New
Hampshire governor, an expensive vicuna coat and
other gifts. The committee wanted to know if Adams, in
his White House capacity, had wrongfully done anything for Goldfine.
The case excited little media coverage until a committee investigator and Jack
Anderson, then a colleague of scandal-mongering columnist Drew Pearson, were
caught red-handed bugging the hotel suite occupied by two of Goldfine's hastily assembled team of public relations
experts at the very time the men were holding a well-attended press conference.
The incident created a media frenzy and put the
investigation on the nation's front pages. Concurrently with the scandal,
President Eisenhower had dispatched troops to Lebanon,
where nothing much happened after the initial landings.
Bored stiff, the legion of reporters sent to cover the landings spent most of
their time hanging around Beirut
bars. One enterprising member of the media contingent, however, went out and
interviewed Lebanese citizens. One of the questions he asked them concerned
their understanding of the Adams-Goldfine case, then
a hot topic in the U.S.
Almost universally, from their standpoint as practitioners of
Lebanese-Byzantine business transactions, they said their impression was that Goldfine, a trader in textile goods, had given gifts to his
cousin, Adams, and the committee was trying to find out if Adams had failed to
honor his benefactor by refusing to give him what was his due as a result of
his bribes, and was therefore in trouble with the law.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Vicuna coat,
absolutely, and free hotel rooms from a man named Bernard Goldfine
of New Hampshire. Adams finally had to resign. There was no legal action taken
against him. We later discovered that Adams had actually
taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Goldfine,
and that was in late 1950's dollars. Had there been an independent
counsel at the time, that would have come out, and that would have actually
been investigated and gone through the legal process, so the point is before
the moment of Cox and Jaworski these things were
really not very well done at all.
His legislative skill drew Richardson
into his first national public service, appointed by President Eisenhower in
1957 as Assistant Secretary for Legislation in the U.S. Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare. His lawyerly skills led the same president to appoint
attorney for the District of Massachusetts in 1959, where he began a brilliant
prosecutorial career by tackling major influence peddlers in Boston
and brought down a White House intimate, Bernard Goldfine,
for tax evasion.
Sherman Adams The Yankee Governor
Lumberman, Governor, Special Assistant to the President, Sherman Adams was once
called the second most powerful man in the Nation. Those interviewed include
Former U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell and investigative reporter Jack
Anderson whose reporting led to Adams resignation. (55 min., 1990) $14.95 VHS
One of the
first “professional” political operatives, MurrayChotiner was connected
to Richard Nixon from the latter’s days in California politics to the Watergate scandal.Their close relationship complicated
historians’ views of Nixon’s attitudes toward Jews (see Richard M. Nixon).
Chotiner, who is often noted today in articles on
Republican political operative Karl Rove, was involved in the “dirty tricks”
campaigning that spiraled out of control into the Watergate scandal.
Portrait of Murray M. Chotiner Original caption: Murray M. Chotiner, campaign manager for Vice-President Richard Nixon
the 1952 campaign, looks at a subpoena requesting his
presence in Washington for
questioning regarding his alleged legal services for a
blacklisted government contractor.
Murray Chotiner was among the first of the political consultants
which are now so popular, or unpopular, as the case may be. Recent books have
come out attacking political consultants in campaigns and that sort of thing.
In those days, most work was done by volunteers. But now political consultants
are the dominant theme, along with the media in the campaigns. Murray Chotiner was one of the first. He was a lawyer, a brilliant
lawyer, from Beverly Hills. But who was always
interested in politics. He did not feel that he had the appeal to run for
office himself, although he tried it once and lost. But he became an advisor to
various city officials, and was quite successful.
So when the
time came to find someone to help Richard Nixon run for the Senate, a lot of
his friends in Los Angeles said to bring in Murray
Chotiner. So Murray Chotiner
was the paid manager of the campaign. But often the pay was pretty small and I
still think he made his living primarily as a lawyer, at least at that point.
And he was tough. When I say tough, I don't mean dirty or mean. But Murray was a very aggressive,
hard driving fellow. And he tried to encourage Nixon to take more aggressive
stands on issues and to work harder, at least work harder in attacking the
He was a
mechanic, a nuts and bolts man. He found, for instance, that Nixon was reading
letters in the car as he'd be driving, and signing the letters, letters going
out to people thanking them for their help. And he took them away from him. He
said the only thing he should be doing in that car is thinking of his next
speech. And he did all kinds of things like that that were based on detail. But
Murray Chotiner became a very effective fellow and
was probably the smartest and most experienced political operative in the Nixon
campaign at that time.
Time Magazine Monday, May. 14, 1956
name Murray Chotiner, dropped into the Senate
investigation of military uniform procurement frauds a fortnight ago, set
journalistic and political antennas twanging all over Washington. Reason: in
the political context of 1956, the name Chotiner goes
with the name Nixon.A professional political manager,
Lawyer Chotiner has been an important figure in
California G.O.P. politics for 15 years. In 1942 he was field director in the
first campaign for governor waged by Earl Warren, now Chief Justice of the United States. In 1946 and 1952 he was a campaign manager for Bill Knowland, now Senate minority...
Murray Chotiner, a long-time friend of Nixon's was killed when a
government truck ran into his car on January
At first it was reported that Chotiner suffered only
a broken leg, but he died a week later.
According to a March
article in the Los Angeles Times, Chotiner may have
been one of the people who received the tape recordings made inside the
Democratic campaign headquarters in the Watergate building.
Earl Warren (born March 19, 1891) was Attorney General of
California from 1939 to 1943, and Governor from 1943 to 1953. Murray Chotiner was the political public relations man for Earl
Warren during his gubinatorial campaign in California. Murray Chotiner had been associated with NIXON since 1946. When
NIXON became the Vice Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 1952,
Murray Chotiner served as his campaign manager. In
September 1953 Earl Warren was appointed Chief Justice of the United States
Supreme Court by President Eisenhower. In 1966 Murray Chotiner
was called before Senator John McClellan's committee investigating organized
crime. Congressional investigator Robert F. Kennedy questioned Chotiner about his client, crime syndicate member Marco Reginelli, and demanded a list of Murray Chotiner's other clients. Dan Moldea
reported that Murray Chotiner, and his brother Jack,
handled 249 cases of mob figures arrested or indicted between 1949 and 1952. [Moldea, Hoffa Wars, Padington
Pat Nixon was a significant force on the political evolution
of Richard Nixon.Pat Nixo, and
Mamie Eisenhower were closer than their two
husbands.Indeed, when Mamie called Pat during the campaign of 1960 and asked her
to make sure Dick did not ask President Eisenhower to campaign (the president’s
doctors declared hewas too ill to do
so), Pat complied, and Nixon did not ask Eisenhower for more help.This, of course, led to the perception that
the president did not fully support his vice-president’s candidacy, perhaps a
fatal choice in such a close election.
Patricia Nixon, the wife of the 37th President of the United States, was born in Ely, Nevada. Her mother, Kate Halberstadt Ryan, named her daughter Thelma Catherine. Her
father, William Ryan, coming home past from his work in the
mines, learned of her birth and called her his "St. Patrick's babe in the
morn." She was to be "Pat" to him always.
Kate Halberstadt Ryan, born in EssenCounty, near Frankfurt, Germany, had come to the United States as a child of ten to
visit an uncle who had no family. She fell in love with America and never returned to Germany. She was a widow with
two children when she married William Ryan in 1909. Mrs. Nixon was the youngest
of the three children born to them. Her brothers, William and Thomas Ryan,
lived in California until their deaths in
1991 and 1997, respectively.
Nixon was a year old, Kate Ryan, whose first husband had been killed in a
mining accident, persuaded William Ryan to give up mining. The family then
moved from Nevada to California, settling on a small
farm in Artesia, 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Today, the site of
this home in Cerritos is the PatNixonPark.
First Lady had a childhood with no luxuries except that of a warm and loving
family. But this was shattered when her mother died in 1925. At the age of 13,
Mrs. Nixon took over the household duties for her father and her brothers. Two
years later, when she was attending ExcelsiorHigh School, her father became
seriously ill and she cared for him, as she had her mother, until his death in
1930. She was then 18, a high school graduate and completely on her own.
ambition was a college education. She enrolled in the Fullerton (California) Junior College and
earned her expenses by working part time as a janitor in a local bank. She was
able to fulfill her second ambition - to travel - in 1931, when elderly friends
of her family asked her to drive them to the East Coast. She drove them to New York where she stayed for
two years working in a hospital, first as a secretary, and later, after a ColumbiaUniversity summer course in
radiology, as an X-ray technician.
In 1934, she
returned to California to enroll at the University of Southern California. During her college
years, she worked as many as 40 hours a week, both on and off campus, while
majoring in merchandising. In 1937, she graduated cum laude with a
Bachelor of Science degree in merchandising and a certificate to teach at the
high school level.
Her first job
following graduation was teaching business education courses at WhittierUnionHigh School for an annual salary of
$1,800. WhittierUnionHigh School was located on the main
street of the quiet Quaker community at the foot of La Puente Hills. There were
2,000 students. In addition to full time class work, Miss Ryan was actively
involved in extra curricular activities: faculty advisor for the "Pep
Committee," helping with student rallies, attending all high school sports
events and every PTA meeting, and serving as director for school plays. Her
ability as a teacher and her compassion for her students were noted in Whittier at that time and many
years later when a former student of hers sketched a verbal portrait of Pat
Ryan as a teacher in the summer 1971 issue of The Saturday Evening Post:
"Those of us who are lucky can remember in our school days who was more than just a teacher. She was a quiet
inspiration perhaps, to our secret hopes. Or perhaps she brought out abilities
we had never dreamed were in us. Or maybe, as in the case of my high school
typing teacher, there was something about her which made us want
to be as much like her as possible."
"I was a ninth grader, about fourteen, but I have never
forgotten her. There was something very special about that teacher of mine. The
school was in Whittier, California.
Her name then was Pat Ryan; today it is Mrs. Richard Nixon."
Her interest in
drama began during her working days at USC when she earned $25 for a walk-on
part as an extra in the movie "Becky Sharp". In addition to direction
of the high school plays, she joined the Whittier Little Theater group. It was
then that she met Richard Nixon, a young lawyer recently graduated from DukeUniversityLawSchool in Durham, North Carolina. They were given the
leading roles in a mystery drama, "The Dark Tower", by George Kaufman
and Alexander Wolcott.
They met in
1937, and were married on June 21, 1940, in a Quaker ceremony
at the historic Mission Inn in Riverside, California. The couple left for a
honeymoon in Mexico, driving to Laredo and then down the Pan American Highway to Mexico City. They returned to Whittier and settled in an
apartment over a garage while Mrs. Nixon continued teaching and Dick Nixon was
in private law practice.
year later, they moved to Washington, D.C., where Mr. Nixon was an
attorney in the Office of Emergency Management until he volunteered for naval
service. He spent two months at Quonset, Rhode Island, and in March, 1942, he
was commissioned into the Navy as a lieutenant (junior grade) and received his
first active duty assignment to Ottuma, Iowa, as an aide to the
officer in charge of setting up a Naval Air Base. Mrs. Nixon worked in a bank
in Ottumwa and when her husband
was assigned to duty in the South Pacific, she moved to San Francisco, California, where she worked as an
economist for the Office of Price Administration. After 14 months in the South
Pacific, Lt. Nixon returned and they moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he handled
contract terminations for the Navy.
was in 1946 that Mr. Nixon entered political life as the Republican candidate
for California's 12th
Congressional District. Nine days after Mr. Nixon announced his candidacy,
their first daughter, Patricia, called Tricia, was born in Whittier, on February
Richard Nixon was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and was
re-elected to the seat in 1948, the year in which their second daughter, Julie,
was born, on July 5, in Washington, D.C.
became the 16th White House bride when she and Edward Finch Cox of
New York were married on June 12, 1971. Tricia was the first
of the eight Presidential daughters to be married in a Rose Garden ceremony.
joined together two Presidential families when she and Dwight David Eisenhower
II were married on December 22, 1968, in
New York's Marble Collegiate Church while her father was President-elect.
In 1950, Mr.
Nixon won the election as United States Senator from California. Two years later he was
elected Vice President of the United States under Dwight D.
Eisenhower. Both were re-elected in 1956. During all of the Nixon campaigns,
Pat Nixon was so effective a campaigner at her husband's side that the Nixons became known as the "Pat and Dick Team."
the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Nixon accompanied her husband to 53
countries around the world, visiting hospitals and schools by day and dining
with heads of state by night. So effective a good will
ambassador was she that President Eisenhower always sent the Nixons as a team.
staunchly behind her husband during his political campaigns for the Presidency
in 1960, and for the Governorship of California in
1962. Leaving political life after the 1962 elections, the former Vice
President and his wife made their home in New York City, in an apartment
Here, Mr. Nixon maintained a highly successful law practice and Mrs. Nixon
enjoyed the city's cultural life. When her husband decided to re-enter politics
in 1968, Patricia Nixon once again began the campaign life, fulfilling her role
graciously and effectively.
President Nixon was asked by a Washington reporter about his
wife's part in the campaigns. He replied: "I remember through all of our
campaigns, whether it was a receiving line or whether it was going to a face at
the airport, she was the one that always insisted on shaking that last hand,
not simply because she was thinking of that vote, but because she simply could
not turn down that last child or that last person."
Her work in the
White House flowed from her boundless compassion for humanity. She was the
first First Lady to champion volunteerism. She blazed
the literacy trail with the "Right to Read" program. She pushed to
establish new recreational areas in or near big cities for those who could not
afford to visit distant national parks.
was a confident player on the world stage, traveling in all to
over 80 countries during her years of public service. She accompanied President
Nixon to the People's Republic of China and undertook solo
missions to Africa and South America. A proud President
Nixon called his wife "Madame Ambassador." On her trips she kept
luncheons, banquets, and formal receptions to a minimum so she could visit
schools, hospitals, orphanages, old people's homes, and even a leper colony in Panama.
the Nixons' 1969 trip to South Vietnam, she became the first First Lady to visit a combat zone, in an open helicopter
and accompanied by Secret Service agents draped with bandoleers. In June 1970,
Mrs. Nixon flew supplies gathered by volunteers to earthquake ruptured Peru. For this, the Peruvian
Government gave Mrs. Nixon the highest decoration their country can bestow -
The Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun. This award is the oldest decoration in
the Americas and Mrs. Nixon became
the first North American woman to receive this award.
At home, Mrs.
Nixon reached out to the American people by inviting them into the people's
house and taking special care, in a singular partnership with White House
Curator Clement Conger, to preserve and enhance it. "The Nixon era was the
greatest single period of collecting in White House history," historian
said. "The great collection of White House Americana today is the long
shadow of Mrs. Nixon. The impulse, the idea, and the energy were hers."
arranged the first White House tours for the visually and hearing impaired and
inaugurated the famous candlelight tours for people who worked during the day.
And she believed that the house into which she brought so much light should be
lit at night like Washington's other monuments, so she made all the
arrangements and surprised the President by having the floodlights turned on
for the first time as they arrived back at the White House one evening by
retirement, Mrs. Nixon was a devoted grandmother to Jennie, Christopher, Alex
Richard, and Melanie. Although she kept her public appearances to a minimum,
polls showed that she remained one of America's most admired women.
died on June 22, 1993 at home in Park Ridge, New Jersey with her family at her
side. She was buried on the grounds of the Nixon Library, a few steps from her
husband's birthplace, on June 26, 1993.
Lester David, The Lonely
Lady of San Clemente: The Story of Pat Nixon
(1978). Lester, a journalist, has written the only full-length biography by a
non-family member.Lester depends upon
contemporary newspaper accounts and interviews with friends and staff.Examples ofPat Nixon’s daily schedule appear in
Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Pat Nixon: The Untold Story
(1986). This is a daughter’s fond portrayal of the First Lady, and as such it
contains private correspondence with family and friends otherwise unavailable
to researchers.Eisenhower’s book is
also based upon staff memorandum, public correspondence, contemporary newspaper
and magazine articles, and press interviews.