Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th president of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. A member of the Republican Party, Nixon previously served as the 36th vice president from 1953 to 1961, having risen to national prominence as a representative and senator from California.

Richard Nixon represent the most interesting character study of any 20th century president both for his strengths and for his flaws the man had a mammoth intellect. He was forced to decline a scholarship to Harvard because his family needed him to help out at their small grocery store, attending instead nearby Whittier College, where he graduated summa cum laude. He was given a full scholarship to Duke University Law School, and finished third in his class.

Nixon won a congressional seat at the age of 33, a Senate seat at age 37, and assumed the Vice Presidency at 39, the youngest man to hold that office since 1860. So impressed was Eisenhower with the young senator from California that he radically altered the nature of the Vice Presidency by giving Nixon significant policy initiatives to tackle, making him the "first modern Vice President."

As president, he created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and was the first president to push for American energy independence; he oversaw the desegregation of southern schools; created OSHA to protect workers; signed the National Cancer Act with a $100 million budget to fight the disease; famously normalized relations with China; significantly improved relations with the Soviet Union; and ended the Vietnam War.

One biographer of Nixon’s wrote that the president felt insecure around intellectuals, ironic since he was as bright as any of them and far more capable than most of them.

Even after his epic fall from g race in 1974, Nixon didn’t retire into obscurity. Instead, he re-emerged some years later, quite improbably, as an elder statesman. When he passed in 1994, not a few Democratic politicians spoke admiringly of his intellect and leadership abilities.