37th President of the United States (1969-1974)
Nixon, President Eisenhower’s vice president and John F. Kennedy’s rival for the White House, came to power in a nation divided over the Vietnam War—a conflict in which U.S. involvement had been escalating since the Eisenhower Administration. (By 1968, President Johnson had deployed more than 120,000 troops to contain Communism from spreading in Southeast Asia and due to his unpopularity, he decided not to run for another term that year.) Nixon’s primary focus was foreign affairs, seeking to gain as much intelligence as possible on the war effort as well as the Soviet Union and Communist China. However, historians say that Nixon’s first 100 days left no mystery related to the character of his Oval Office—it was a period during which he began his fixation with secrecy and wiretaps.
Highlights from his first 100 days:
• Nixon gains high marks at home and abroad in his first trip to Europe where he addresses NATO and meets with French President Charles de Gaulle about Southeast Asia.
• By February, he orders the wiretapping of reporters and columnists covering the White House.
• Nixon puts in place policies that effectively end patronage within the US Postal System.
• Administration officials would hold talks with Democrats at the developing stages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupation Safety and Health Administration.
• In “Operation Breakfast,” Nixon secretly orders B-52s to bomb specific targets in Cambodia. The American public would not learn of this action for months into his presidency.