Adv. Economics & Government
April 20, 2015
From Jackson to Nixon: The Changes Remembered Have you ever wondered, what if you did something differently in the past, what would the result have been? Maybe you thought about the time you stayed up the night before that big test you knew you would pass. Instead, you failed because you did not get a good sleep and you were tired. On the other hand, have you ever thought about what America would be like if it were not for tough decisions made by our nation’s past presidents? Presidents such as Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon both changed the face of the American government. However, rather than reflecting on the positives to come out of Richard Nixon’s presidency, it is unfortunate that many Americans today still view him as a defrauder. Richard Milhous Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California to parents Francis Anthony and Hannah Milhous Nixon, and was the second of five brothers; (Harold Samuel; b. 1909, Francis Donald; b. 1914, Arthur Burdg; b. 1918, and Edward Calvert; b. 1930). From birth to the age of nine, Nixon grew up on the lemon ranch of his parents, built by his father. Aside from owning the lemon ranch, “Nixon’s father was also a service station owner and grocer” (“Richard Nixon”). Nixon once stated, “I have never known anyone who worked harder and longer than he did” (Nixon 79). Nixon’s father had to quit school after he finished sixth grade and go to work full time. “He worked as a streetcar motorman and on a farm in Ohio, as a sheep shearer in Colorado, as an oil field roustabout in California, and as a carpenter” (80). Even though he was self-educated, he was a well-educated man. Nixon would take after his father working extremely hard as a young man, including putting in long hours at his father’s store. One of the greatest skills Nixon learned from his father was how to debate. “He wanted me to become the best orator and debater in the country” (80).
I vividly recall my first debate. I was in the sixth grade, and our teacher pitted the girls against the boys. The subject was “Resolved: That it is more desirable to own a home than to rent one.” The girls were assigned the affirmative, and the boys were stuck with the negative, which I thought was a sure loser. My father advised me to concentrate on the financial aspects of owning and renting. He pointed out that it might make you feel better to own a home, but it cost less to rent one because you left the burdens of repairs and utilities to the landlord. He helped me add up the numbers in a sample case. That argument in hand, the boys won the debate. (80)
The following year, Nixon and the boys of his class trumped the girls over the subject that insects are more harmful than beneficial, and won the debate. Nixon learned an invaluable lesson through his first two debating experiences, “that the best tactic in a debate is always to concentrate on one fundamentally strong argument rather than to scatter your fire over a broad area” (81).
Nixon's early life was hard, as he characterized by saying, “We were poor, but the glory of it was we didn't know it” (“Richard Nixon”). Besides his father, the man who influenced Nixon most was his college football coach. “I was not a good athlete. I went out for football, basketball, baseball, and track, and never made a letter” (Nixon 104). Nixon said that he learned more about life from sitting on the bench with Chief Newman than he did getting A’s in philosophy courses. Nixon stated, “…he taught me a lot about humility. Because I worked hard, I was better than average in academic subjects” (105). In 1922, after the failure of the Nixons’ ranch, the family decided they wanted to be closer to Hannah’s relatives and moved to Whittier, California. Nixon attended Fullerton High School, and while recalling on his time there, Nixon said:
I vividly recall the time in my sophomore year… Miss Ernsberger gave our geometry class a