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Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 - April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. He is the only American President to have resigned from office. His resignation came in the face of imminent impeachment related to the Watergate scandal, which encompassed numerous crimes and misconduct beginning especially with the Watergate first break-in, the follow-up burglary, and the cover-up. He was also the 36th Vice President of the United States Vice President (1953, 1961), serving under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Nixon is the only American to have been elected twice to the Vice Presidency and twice to the Presidency, and is given credit for redefining the office of Vice President, making it for the first time a high visibility platform and base for a presidential candidacy. Although many presidents have sought to portray themselves as ordinary, working class Americans, Nixon is the only president with a truly non-elitist background.
Lesser Known Early years
In 1913 Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California to Francis A. Nixon and Hannah Milhous Nixon in a converted shed his father won in a poker game. Although his mother as a conservative evangelical Quaker, his father (known as Frank) was a former member of the Methodist Protestant Church who had sincerely converted to Quakerism but never fully absorbed its spirit, retaining a volatile temper as well as a penchant for drinking and gambling.
Young Richard was orphaned at the age of 8 when his Father's gin distillery exploded, destroying the family shed and everyone inside. Richard survived the explosion since as he was away buying cigarettes and milk. After the death of his family, young Richard was forced to drop out of school and sell newspapers on the streets of Fullerton. He was allowed to spend his nights in a tool shed on the grounds of the Alta Vista Country Club due to the head green keeper's gambling debt to his late father. With little sales experience, Nixon frequently was forced to eat from garbage cans in his early days on the street. However, Nixon eventually grew to be a very capable newspaper boy. He eventually earned enough money to allow him to re-enroll in school, although he continued to sell hand carved wooden toys outside the cafeteria and newspapers after school. Nixon excelled in school and as he entered into his Junior year of high school it looked like the worst was behind him.
After the stock market crash in October of 1929 Nixon found it increasingly difficult to survive through newspaper and craft sales, as several newly impoverished children flooded the market with competitors. Nixon once again left school and found himself in a more desperate situation than ever. When his unofficial land lord at the country club was arrested for bootlegging, Richard moved into a nearby "Hooverville" where he lived in a crude shelter made from the lids of garbage cans. His unfriendly, pessimistic attitude earned him the nickname "Grouch" among his fellow vagrants.
Throughout the depression Nixon managed to scrape by, getting work wherever he could, including various New Deal public works projects. At the outbreak of World War II Nixon enlisted in the Navy where he received three square meals a day and a roof over his head. In the Navy he was known for his prowess in poker. While serving his country in the Navy he managed to bank a large sum from poker winnings that helped finance his first campaign for United States Congress.
Nixon's Poverty in Pop-culture
The beloved Sesame Street character Oscar the Grouch was created in the late 70s in the wake of the Watergate Scandel. The Muppet, who lived in a garbage can, was partially based on the recently defamed president due to his Hooverville nickname and the years spent living under a roof of garbage can lids.