U.S. Presidents

Richard nixon.

37th president of the United States

Richard Nixon was born on January 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, California . Unlike many presidents who came before him, he came from a family that often struggled against sickness and poverty. Two of his four brothers died by the time Nixon was 20. He paid for his education at nearby Whittier College by working long hours in his father’s grocery store. 

After he graduated from law school at Duke University in North Carolina , he returned home to be a lawyer. Back in southern California, Nixon met his future wife, Thelma "Pat" Ryan, when they acted together in a local play. Not long after that, he served as a noncombat naval officer from 1942 to 1946 during and after World War II.

GETTING INTO POLITICS

After the war ended, Nixon won seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1946 and the U.S. Senate in 1950. By then, his opponents were calling him "Tricky Dick" because of what they called the "dirty tricks" (he was accused of illegal campaign funding and spreading false rumors about his political opponents, among other things) he used to get elected. He became Dwight D. Eisenhower’s vice president from 1953 to 1961. He lost the 1960 presidential race to John F. Kennedy and the 1962 California governor’s race before finally being elected president in 1968.

PRESIDENTIAL VICTORIES

In the White House at last, Nixon focused on protecting the environment and reducing crime in the United States. Internationally, he improved relations between the United States and China , becoming the first U.S. president to visit that country while in office.

During Nixon’s presidency, the United States was involved in what was known as the "space race," or a competition against the former Soviet Union, now Russia , to see who could land a person on the moon first. As part of a mission authorized by Nixon, U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. ( Read about the first moon landing .)

PRESIDENTIAL SETBACKS

Nixon entered the White House with a pledge to end the Vietnam War, a war between what was then the two separate countries of North and South Vietnam, in which the United States sided with South Vietnam. But this was more difficult than he thought it would be. In response to tense protests against the war across the United States, Nixon withdrew troops from the region, and the United States officially left the war in 1973. But the conflict continued without U.S. involvement, with fighting spreading to surrounding countries. Two years later, North Vietnam defeated the U.S. ally and took control of South Vietnam, becoming one unified country, Vietnam. Many Americans were angry about the cost of a war the United States did not win: 58,000 U.S. lives and $110 billion since 1956. Many people blamed Nixon for not getting the United States out of the war sooner, even though the war had been going on long before he became president.

Nixon further upset U.S. citizens by using some of the same dirty tricks he was accused of doing as a member of Congress. He and other staff members broke many laws in their efforts to discover embarrassing information about his opponents (a list of more than 40,000 names). They hired people to listen in on phone conversations, silenced helpers with money, spent federal campaign funds improperly, used government records illegally, and filed false tax reports. But Nixon’s biggest scandal was still to come.

THE WATERGATE SCANDAL

In 1972 members of Nixon’s administration hired men to steal files from Democratic Party offices at the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. (They hoped to find secrets there that would help Nixon, a member of the Republican Party, be re-elected later that year.) The burglars were caught, but the investigation didn’t move quickly enough to stop Nixon’s re-election in 1972.

For more than two years, Nixon and others tried to hide their involvement as newspaper reporters and members of Congress led investigations into the break-in. Eventually the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, forced Nixon to release secret tape recordings he had made of his White House conversations. The tapes confirmed that Nixon had lied about his innocence in planning and covering up illegal activities.

On August 9, 1974, Nixon resigned from office. If he hadn’t, he likely would’ve been impeached—or officially charged with misconduct in office—by the House of Representatives. If that had happened, he would’ve faced a trial in the Senate that could have removed him from office.

Nixon’s first vice president, Spiro Agnew, had resigned from office in an earlier, unrelated scandal involving bribery, or promising favors to people in exchange for money. So Nixon’s new vice president, Gerald R. Ford, became president. Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed or participated in as president, sparing him from future legal charges, called indictments.

LASTING LEGACY

After leaving the White House, Nixon moved to New York City, where he lived another 20 years. He later tried to win back people’s respect by writing books about government and policy. In the end, though, his abuses of presidential power became more important than his accomplishments, and many historians call Nixon’s presidency one of the worst in U.S. history. He passed away on April 22, 1994.

• Nixon always wore a suit and dress shoes, even when walking on the beach.

• As a student, Nixon broke into an office at Duke University to check his grades before they were released.

• Nixon was the first president to visit all 50 states while in office.

From the Nat Geo Kids books  Our Country's Presidents  by Ann Bausum and  Weird But True Know-It-All: U.S. Presidents by Brianna Dumont, revised for digital by Avery Hurt

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clock This article was published more than  9 years ago

Only three presidents have visited all 50 states in office. Until now

President Obama's visit to South Dakota Friday means he'll be able to strike a major item from his bucket list : visiting all 50 states while in office.

The president will travel to Watertown, South Dakota Friday to deliver the commencement address at the Lake Area Technical Institute. And with that visit, he joins a rare club of presidents who have made it to every state in the Union while in office. The others: Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. (Bush's spot in the club is particularly notable since he accomplished the feat before the end of his first and only term.)

Obama, who had yet to visit four states at the beginning of the year, has steadily been checking them off -- Idaho in January, South Carolina in March and Utah in April. That travel has been part of an expressed goal by the president himself to make it to all 50 states before he exits the White House in January of 2017.

[ Obama aspires to visit all 50 states as president .]

(As my colleague Colby Itkowitz  points out , Obama  has visited all 50 states already -- but that tally includes states he visited as a candidate and not as president.)

The White House is already taking something of a victory lap to commemorate the accomplishment: Pete Souza, the White House's chief official photographer, on Thursday published a photo gallery on Medium featuring one picture from each state visited to date.

Photo gallery of President Obama in 49 states. Tomorrow, it will be 50: http://t.co/4Xe1BjfpXf pic.twitter.com/grNaviAQAa — petesouza (archived) (@PeteSouza44) May 7, 2015

The politics of visiting all 50 states is hard to resist analyzing: all four of the final states that were left on his list are deep, deep red and didn't vote for him in either 2008 or 2012. Last year, Gallup tracked the president's average approval rating  in South Dakota at just 32 percent, with 62 percent disapproving. His supporters will be quick to point out he's visiting them anyway.

(Here it's also worth remembering that former president George W. Bush notably visited every single state before leaving the White House except Vermont, incidentally home to a heavy -- if symbolic -- push to impeach him.)

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a Republican, welcomed Obama's visit to the Mount Rushmore State and doesn't seem at all bitter about it being last: "The president has clearly saved the best for last, and we welcome him to our great state,” Thune said.

first president to visit all 50 states while in office

The Presidential Milestone of Visiting All 50 States

A look at the historical significance of presidential visits to all 50 states..

description: a photo of a president standing in front of a landmark of a state, with a group of people in the background.

Visiting all 50 states as the President of the United States is a milestone that only a few commanders-in-chief have achieved. It is a feat that requires extensive planning, travel, and dedication to the American people. President Joe Biden is the latest president to embark on this journey, as he plans to visit tornado-battered Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on Friday. But who was the first president to visit all 50 states before him?

The first president to visit all 50 states was Richard Nixon, who accomplished this feat in 1974. Nixon traveled to Alaska, which had just become the 49th state in 1959, to complete his mission. Nixon's visit to all 50 states was a way to connect with the American people and to show his commitment to the country.

Since Nixon's historic visit, several other presidents have followed in his footsteps. President Obama was the most recent president to visit all 50 states, accomplishing this feat during his presidency. Obama's visit to South Dakota on a Friday allowed him to cross off the last state on his bucket list.

The significance of visiting all 50 states goes beyond just a personal accomplishment for the president. It is a way to connect with the American people and to show that the president cares about all states, regardless of their political affiliation or size. Presidential visits to all 50 states can also have a positive impact on local economies, as they often bring attention and tourism to the area.

Presidential visits to all 50 states have also been historically significant. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan became the first president to visit China while in office, which was a significant moment in diplomatic relations between the two countries. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush visited all 50 states to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the White House.

Presidential visits to all 50 states are not without controversy, however. Some critics argue that these visits are a waste of taxpayer money, as they require extensive planning and travel. Others argue that presidential visits to certain states can be seen as politically motivated, as they often occur during election years.

Despite the controversy, presidential visits to all 50 states remain an important part of American history. They serve as a reminder of the commitment that presidents have to the American people, and they highlight the unique beauty and diversity of each state.

Keyword: Presidential visits, 50 states, American people, historical significance, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, controversy, taxpayer money, political motivation, American history

IMAGES

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  2. Which President Visited All 50 States

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  3. The First President to Visit All 50 States: A Historic Milestone

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  4. US Presidents in chronological order

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  5. Who Was the First President to Visit All 50 States?

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  6. Who Was the First President?

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COMMENTS

  1. Travel Firsts

    First president to visit all 50 states: Richard M. Nixon: First president to travel outside of the United States: George Washington: Barbados, 1751: First president to travel outside of the United States while in office: Theodore Roosevelt: Panama, 1906: First president to travel to Central America: Theodore Roosevelt: Panama, 1906

  2. Richard Nixon

    Fun Facts. • Nixon always wore a suit and dress shoes, even when walking on the beach. • As a student, Nixon broke into an office at Duke University to check his grades before they were released....

  3. Only three presidents have visited all 50 states in office

    And with that visit, he joins a rare club of presidents who have made it to every state in the Union while in office. The others: Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

  4. The First President to Visit All 50 States: A Historic Milestone

    Explore the journey of the first president to visit all 50 states. President Obama's visit to South Dakota Friday means he'll be able to strike a major item from his bucket list: visiting all 50 states while holding the highest office in the nation.

  5. The Presidential Milestone of Visiting All 50 States

    But who was the first president to visit all 50 states before him? The first president to visit all 50 states was Richard Nixon, who accomplished this feat in 1974. Nixon traveled to Alaska, which had just become the 49th state in 1959, to complete his mission.