Rise, ruin, and recovery

Thirty years ago this week, Richard Nixon died. His life offers one of the most intriguing American stories, filled with grit, determination, ruin, and redemption.

Richard Nixon did not want to leave the White House in the wake of the Watergate scandal that destroyed his presidency. Barry Goldwater, one of the most respected men in the U.S. Senate and one of the most popular Republicans, had to visit the president and tell him that he did not have the votes to survive. Nixon reluctantly decided to resign. It had to be the hardest thing he ever did, because Richard Nixon was not the kind of man who could give up on anything.

The young Richard Nixon grew up in near poverty in California with Quaker parents who lost two of their sons to tuberculosis. Richard was accustomed to his mother addressing him with the old Quaker language of “thee” and “thou.” He fought his way through school both socially and academically. When a prominent school club wouldn’t include him, he created a new one. When a young woman wouldn’t go out with him because she had a date, he insisted on driving the couple. She would eventually marry Richard Nixon. He excelled at Whittier College and made his way to law school at Duke University.

Like virtually all young men of his time, Nixon served in the military in World War II. His mother would not have been happy to hear about the money he won playing poker. He got something bigger than poker winnings out of his time in the war, though. He would ride his service to Congress. During his short time in the House, Nixon made his mark by backing Whittaker Chambers in his claims that one of the pillars of the American establishment, Alger Hiss, was a spy for the Soviet Union. Chambers, an editor of Time magazine, knew the truth about Alger Hiss because he, himself, had been underground as an agent for the Communists. Nixon, a sharp-eyed legal mind, noticed flaws in Hiss’s testimony that led him to support Chambers. When Chambers was able to produce microfilm evidence, Hiss was ruined. Nixon’s ascent began.

Click Here to Read More (Originally Published at World Opinions) 

Hunter Baker, J.D., Ph.D., is the provost and dean of faculty at North Greenville University in South Carolina. He is the author of The End of Secularism, Political Thought: A Student’s Guide, and The System Has a Soul. His work has appeared in a wide variety of other books and journals. He is formally affiliated with Touchstone, the Journal of Markets and Morality, the Center for Religion, Culture, and Democracy, and the Land Center at Southwestern Seminary.