Richard Nixon resigned as president of the United States in 1974, becoming the first U.S. president ever to quit the office. Richard Nixon was a lawyer and Republican politician who held the posts of U.S. Representative (1947-51), U.S. Senator (1951-53), vice president (1953-61), and finally president of the United States (1969-74). As a fiercely anti-communist senator from California, Nixon was tapped to be Dwight Eisenhower
's running mate in 1952, despite Nixon's relative youth: he was 39 when nominated. Eisenhower beat the Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson
in both 1952 and 1956, and Nixon served both full terms as vice president. Richard Nixon was then the Republican candidate against John F. Kennedy
in 1960, in what became one of the closest elections in U.S. history. Narrowly defeated by Kennedy, he returned to California and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1962. (After the loss he made his famous bitter farewell to the press, saying "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore.") In a dramatic comeback, Richard Nixon and his running mate, Maryland's Spiro Agnew
, defeated Hubert H. Humphrey
in the presidential elections of 1968, then easily won re-election against Democrat George McGovern
in 1972. Although Nixon had an aggressive foreign policy that included successes with China, the Soviet Union and the Middle East, a weak national economy and domestic dissent over the war in Vietnam plagued his administration. His personal style remains a point of public contention: Nixon was either a hard-driving genius or a dirty sneak, depending on the observer's point of view. After his 1972 re-election, Richard Nixon's administration was consumed by the developing Watergate scandal, so named for the hotel and office complex where burglars hired by Nixon's re-election campaign were caught in a sloppy attempt to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee. The White House attempt to cover up their connection led to a formal investigation that came to dominate the news throughout 1973 and 1974. Vice President Agnew had legal troubles of his own back in Maryland and resigned from office in October of 1973. After months of legal wrangling and political drama, Nixon resigned in shame on August 9, 1974, his involvement in the Watergate cover-up having been proven by recordings he himself had made in the White House. He was succeeded in office by Gerald Ford
, the Michigan congressman who had replaced Agnew. Shortly after taking office, Ford granted Nixon a full pardon, freeing him of any potential criminal charges.