After serving as Dwight Eisenhower's vice-president and losing the 1960 presidential race in an extremely close election to John F. Kennedy, Nixon was elected 37th president of the U.S. in 1968. He withdrew American troops from Vietnam and signed the first strategic arms limitation treaty with the Soviet Union. In 1972 Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit communist China. But he's remembered most for the Watergate burglary and subsequent cover-up. On August 9, 1974, he became the first president to resign from office.
As TIME described Nixon's presidency when it named him Man of the Year for 1971 and for 1972, "He reached for a place in history by opening a dialogue with China... He doggedly pursued his own slow timetable in withdrawing the nation's combat troops from their longest and most humiliating war... all... with a flair for secrecy and surprise that has marked his leadership as both refreshingly flexible and disconcertingly unpredictable..." (1/3/72)
Researched by Joan Levinstein, the Time Inc. Research Center