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A political leader of the twentieth century. A member of Congress in the late 1940s, Nixon came to national attention through his strong support for the investigation of the alleged communist Alger Hiss. He was elected vice president twice under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but narrowly lost the presidential election of 1960 to John F. Kennedy. He ran for governor of California two years later, was defeated again, and left politics for several years to practice law in New York City. Nixon reemerged as the Republican presidential candidate in 1968 and defeated Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace in the election. The best-remembered events of his presidency were his visits to the People's Republic of China and to the Soviet Union; a cease-fire in Vietnam and withdrawal of United States forces from that country; and the Watergate scandal, which led to his downfall. In 1974, under immediate threat of impeachment, he became the first president to resign from office.
Note: Nixon received the nickname “Tricky Dick” for his early reputation for deviousness.
Note: Nixon was later pardoned by President Gerald Ford and after some years reemerged as a commentator on foreign policy.