Norman Rockwell, 1968. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution;
donated to the People of the United States of America by the Richard
Richard Nixon owed his early prominence and election as Dwight Eisenhower's
Vice President to his reputation as an anti-Communist militant. By
the time he became President in 1968, however, his thinking about
relationships between the Communist and free worlds had shifted considerably.
As a result, under his leadership, the confrontational strategies
that had long dominated this country's response to Communism gave
way to a historic détente, marked by American recognition of Communist
China and warmer relations with the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, these
diplomatic achievements were eventually overshadowed by disclosure
of the Watergate scandals a web of illegal activity involving scores
of Nixon's advisers. Though never implicated in the original crimes
themselves, Nixon did become party to attempts to cover them up. Following
irrefutable disclosure of that fact, he became the only President
ever to resign from office.