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The Presidency of Richard Nixon, 1969-74

2. The Path to Power, 1913-62

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about Nixon’s path to power from his childhood in Yorba Linda, California to being the Republican candidate in the 1960 presidential election and the 1962 California gubernatorial election (both of which he lost). In particular, we think about: (i) the post-war liberal consensus in the United States and Nixon’s own political ideology; (ii) Nixon’s childhood, early life and education; (iii) his work for the Office of Price Administration for a few months in 1942 and his service in the United States Navy from 1942-45; (iv) his election to Congress in 1948, his work on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and his rise to prominence following his investigation of suspected communist Alger Hiss; (v) his election to the Senate in 1950, followed by his selection as Dwight Eisenhower’s running-mate in the 1952 presidential election; (vi) his work in civil rights and foreign policy during his time as Vice President, including the Civil Rights Act 1957; (vii) the Kitchen Debate with Nikita Khrushchev; (viii) the 1960 presidential campaign, the strengths of his political opponent, John F. Kennedy, and the sense in which he was outmanoeuvred by a younger, better-looking, and savvier political operator; (ix) his magnanimity in accepting defeat despite the closeness of the election and reports of voter fraud in Texas and Illinois; and (x) his (failed) attempt to run for Governor of California in 1962.


In this course, Dr Kevin Yuill (University of Sunderland) explores the presidency of Richard Nixon, 1969-74. In the first module, we think about the incident for which Nixon is best known and which dominated his final year in office – the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation on 9 August 1974. After that, in the second module, we go back to the beginning of the story and trace Nixon’s rise to power between from his childhood in Yorba Linda, California to his losses in the 1960 presidential election and 1962 California gubernatorial election. in the third module, we continue the story up to Nixon’s victory in the 1968 presidential election, before turning in the fourth and fifth modules to Nixon’s time in the White House.


Dr Kevin Yuill is Associate Professor of American History at the University of Sunderland. His primary interests are in the intellectual history of the United States, particularly race and equality in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, attitudes to suicide and death, and attitudes to the possession of firearms. His recent publications include (as co-author) The Second Amendment and Gun Control: Freedom, Fear, and the American Constitution (2017) and Assisted Suicide: the Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization (2013).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Yuill, K. (2021, February 04). The Presidency of Richard Nixon, 1969-74 - The Path to Power, 1913-62 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Yuill, K. "The Presidency of Richard Nixon, 1969-74 – The Path to Power, 1913-62." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 04 Feb 2021,