8.18.1971-The Historic Lincoln Home

    President Nixon gives remarks to representatives of Springfield, Illinois before signing a bill establishing the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.
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    President Nixon in the Old State Capitol Building of  Springfield, Illinois signing H.R. 9798, a bill establishing the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

    On this day 43 years ago, President Nixon signed a bill dedicating the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, as a National historic site. In 1887, the old Lincoln home, sitting on 8th and Jackson Streets, was donated to the State of Illinois by Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son. The state held the responsibility of maintaining and keeping the residence open to the public. In 1960, the home was designated a National Historic Landmark and was automatically listed on the National Register of Historic Places in October of 1966. Finally, on August 18, 1971, the home was turned over to the National Parks Service by Congressional mandate and authorized by President Nixon.

    RN and Lincoln Bust

    A portrait of President Nixon in the Oval Office. A bust of President Lincoln sets the background.

    It was a special occasion for the President–he had admired Abraham Lincoln his entire life. At a very early age, RN cultivated a budding interest in the 16th president, writing a short biographical piece on him as a 6th grader.

    His biography is transcribed below:

    On Feb. 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born. When a young boy his father moved to Indiana. Lincoln did not have much education and what he did have he got from his mother. When he was nine years old his mother died. Lincoln was very sad. He afterwards said, “all that I have and all that I know I owe to my angel mother.”

    His father again married, this time a wealthy widow. She gave him more education and he began to read. John Hanks, his stepmother said that when he got home from work, he would grab a piece of corn bread, get a book, sit down by the fire and begin to read.

    When Lincoln was getting to be a young man a friend of his asked him to go down the river with him. Lincoln gladly consented and on the way he saw a slave auction. he said, “if I ever get a chance to hit that thing I’ll hit it hard.”

    Soon after Lincoln went in partnership with another man, keeping a store. One day he walked six mile to pay a woman back three cents and earned the name of “Honest Abe.” One day he bought a barrel that contained some law books. He was interested in law and one day when he was defending a man, his opponent said that he saw the man commit the murder by the moon light. Lincoln said that the moon was not shining that night.

    Lincoln was opposed to the Kansas, Nebraska bill and started to debate with Douglas, the founder. He rose so high in popularity in this debate that he was elected president of the United States.

    Just about as soon as he was elected, the south left the Union and the Civil War started. Lincoln had four children but all die except one, Tad. Tad would write funny letters to his father. About the time that the Battle of Gettysburg was over, Lincoln made his great speech. He did not think that it was good but he learned that it was so fine that the people could not clap for it.

    After the war the Lincolns went to the theater with the Grants. He was shot by Boothe and he soon died. The martyred patriot, president of our country.

    As a representative and later guardian of the party birthed at the ascension of Abraham Lincoln, RN often referenced the words and philosophies of the great President. As a precursor to the 1966 campaign season, RN urged his Republican peers to be Lincoln Republicans in hopes of spurring a renewed image of a battered party.

    RN found himself at the helm of a country divided and crises ridden–a state of which had not seen since the Civil War. It would come as no surprise then, that when RN gripped the helm of a fledgling ship and tried to steer his country to peace and prosperity, he looked to the posthumous council of President Lincoln. In a letter to Congressman Robert McClory of Illinois written on February 12, 1972–Lincoln’s 163rd birthday–RN aptly personified the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, a spirit that runs deep in the lore of American perseverance.

    His forthright and honest words sank deep into the understanding of every listener, and what he said of Henry Clay, a man he deeply admired, could well be applied to Lincoln himself:

    He loved his country partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country; and he burned with a zeal for its advancement, prosperity and glory, because he saw in such, the advancement, prosperity and glory of human liberty, human right and human nature. He desired the prosperity of his countrymen partly because they were his countrymen, but chiefly to show to the world that freemen could be prosperous.

    Lincoln meant more to RN than simply a man to be admired for his accomplishments. He represented the most ideal qualities of a United States President–strong, competitive, with an unwavering faith in the potential of a young and free nation. He was a man to be revered for his ability to see beyond the perils of war and weakness to the periods of peace ahead. RN alluded to Lincoln’s merits in his address to the distinguished guests of the bill signing:

    What we must also remember is that Lincoln, while he was very kind and very compassionate, was a very strong man. He was a very competitive man. He argued almost 200 cases in the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois, and he always argued to win. He lost elections, and came back to win for the Presidency of the United States. He never gave up.

    In his contests with the various generals, Lincoln, while he was always kind in handling them, could not accept or resign himself to temerity or timidity. After the great victory at Gettysburg, General Meade was dismissed, not because he had lost–because he had not-but because he did not follow up. Lincoln wanted to follow up and end the war. So we see this man, kind and compassionate and considerate on the one hand, but strong and competitive on the other.

    Lincoln also had a very profound sense of destiny about the United States of America–what it was, what it meant to its own people, and what it meant to the world. We all remember what he said: that the United States of America was man’s last, best hope on earth. But listen to when he said it. America then was far from being the strongest nation in the world; it was far from being the richest nation in the world; and it was sorely stricken and divided by a civil war, the most brutal war, perhaps, of the 19th century in terms of the casualties that were suffered.

    Yet Lincoln, this man who could see beyond war and beyond strife and beyond weakness to the periods ahead, stood tall and said America is man’s last, best hope on earth.

      The Challenge of Peace: President Nixon’s New Economic Policy

        The Challenge of a Peacetime Economy

        “The time has come for a new economic policy,” insisted President Nixon in an address to the nation on August 15 1971. “It targets unemployment, inflation, and international speculation. And this is how we are going to attack those targets.”

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        President Nixon prepares for his address to the nation on a new economic policy from the Oval Office in the White House.

        From 1944 through 1971, the United State’s currency was managed through a fully negotiated monetary order among the industrial powers of the 20th century. Under this system, deemed Bretton Woods, independent nation-states tied their currency to the U.S. dollar, whose value was expressed in gold at the congressionally-set price of $35 an ounce.

        Problems with this system surfaced in the 1960s when increased federal spending spurred on by  a rise in foreign aid, military expenditures, foreign investments, and burdensome domestic programs caused a surplus of U.S. dollars. As a result, the U.S. dollar was becoming overvalued and threatened to undermine the nation’s foreign trading position. The year of 1970 saw the highest inflation rates since the Korean War. All economic commodities were rising: food and services, construction and wages. Unemployment figures trickled higher into the realm of the unforgiving.

        Through the first two years of his administration, President Nixon addressed the economic situation just as his predecessors did–by cutting foreign aid and providing disincentives on foreign investments. However, as there appeared no end in sight to quell inflation and rising interest rates, President Nixon took drastic action. He convened a secret summit of his top economic advisers at Camp David on August 13 1971, and after a full afternoon of discussions, President Nixon was prepared to address the nation regarding his administration’s new economic policy.

        Photos of High Profile Meeting Between President Nixon and Economic Advisors at Camp David:

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        On the evening of August 15 1971, President Nixon shocked the nation and the world by announcing his intention to amend the Bretton Woods system, stating:

        I have directed Secretary Connally to suspend temporarily the convertibility of the dollar into gold or other reserve assets, except in amounts and conditions determined to be in the interest of monetary stability and in the best interests of the United States.

        President Nixon also highlighted other economic initiatives in his address. On the subject of job development, he urged Congress to enact the Job Development Act of 1971. To combat inflation, the President ordered a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States for 90 days–a policy RN initially thought he would never implement, but the circumstances called for it.

        The White House released an explanatory fact sheet on President Nixon’s new economic policy. View it below:

        Though a turn from his original economic stance, the President’s speech received all around praise. Below, view a slew of support from members of the public and government officials:

          Farewell, Candlestick

            RN and SF Mayor George Christopher

            Vice President Nixon and Mayor of San Francisco, George Christopher, observe construction of Candlestick Park on June 12 of 1959.

            Candlestick Park, the workhorse stadium that housed both the San Francisco 49ers and Giants, will host its final event tonight–in grand fashion, no less. Paul McCartney will grace the stadium’s final moments, performing in front of a sellout crowd of 49,000.

            As we bid our final farewell to Candlestick, nixonfoundation.org takes a look back on a special moment in the stadium’s history: opening day, April 12, 1960.

            On February 3, 1960, the Mayor of San Francisco, George Christopher, personally invited the Vice President to attend the dedication of his city’s new ball park. See Mayor Christopher’s letter to RN below:

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            As seen by his personal annotation, RN did not hesitate to accept.

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            Before the game, the Vice President was joined by Governor of California Pat Brown, Mayor Christopher, and Major League Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in giving opening remarks at the dedication ceremony. While in the stands, RN even had a chance to chat with Hall of Famer Ty Cobb:

            Candlestick016 After the game, in which the Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 3-1, RN visited the home team’s locker room, where he would talk baseball to future Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda and Willie Mays.

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            RN shakes hands with Orlando Cepeda.

            RN and Willie Mays

            RN shares a laugh with Willie Mays.

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            An aerial view of Candlestick Park on April 1, 1960.

              A Grand Salute to the Apollo 11 Astronauts

                Apollo 11 State Dinner from Richard Nixon Foundation on Vimeo.

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                President Nixon and the astronauts of Apollo 11. From left to right: Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, President Nixon, and Neil Armstrong.

                On August 13, 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 kicked off a 45-day “Great Leap” celebratory tour that brought them to 25 foreign countries. With each country visited, they were treated to a heroes welcome. But before the Apollo 11 astronauts made their great leap around the world, they celebrated in the United States, riding in parades attended by hundreds of thousands of admirers in New York, Chicago, and finally, Los Angeles.

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                On August 13, 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts were treated to ticker tape parades in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

                On the evening of the same day, President and Mrs. Nixon hosted a huge state dinner at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to honor the Apollo 11 astronauts on their safe return to Earth. Over 50 members of Congress, representatives from 83 foreign nations and 14 members of the President’s Cabinet attended the star-studded gala, often recognized as one of the greatest – if not the greatest – state dinners held outside of Washington.

                One thousand four hundred and forty people attended this glamorous occasion, including the astronaut’s families, space and aviation pioneers, space-related committees, and the greatest stars of Hollywood. All in one room, one could find Mrs. Walt Disney, Ed and Don Nixon, Justice Warren Burger, Buddy Rodgers, and the widows of the Astronauts of Apollo 1. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lyndon B. Johnson, Fred Astaire, Howard Hughes, and others were invited but sent their regrets.

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                RN presented the astronauts with the Presidential Medal of Freedom that night, noting,

                I want to say very simply to our three astronauts, we thank you for your courage. We thank you for raising our sights, the sights of men and women throughout the world to a new dimension–the sky is no longer the limit.

                And we thank you, too, for the men that you are, you and all of your colleagues, what fine men, what fine examples to young America and young people all over the world.

                It has been my privilege in the White House, and also in other world capitals, to propose toasts to many distinguished people, to emperors, to kings, to presidents, to prime ministers, and, yes, to a duke; and tonight, this is the highest privilege I could have, to propose a toast to America’s astronauts.

                More photos from this night:
                Pat Nixon and Apollo Wives

                First Lady Pat Nixon with the astronauts’ wives.

                TN and JN admire Medals of Freedom

                Julie and Tricia Nixon admire the astronauts’ awards.

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                  Nixon and the Agricultural Frontier

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                    President Nixon and his Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Lauer Butz.

                    In one of many of Richard Nixon’s campaign addresses on the American economy, the Presidential candidate addressed the necessity of reforming the nation’s abused agricultural system in a speech delivered in Iowa on September 14, 1968. The decade of the 60s saw a nation with the greatest agricultural producers thrown into submission by intentional economic squeezes–their fruitful labor exploited to offset fiscal excesses in other areas of government.

                    During the past decade his taxes have gone up 78 percent, his labor costs 46 percent, his machinery costs 30 percent, his debt interest 59 percent. Everything he has to buy has gone up; everything he has to sell has gone down. The parity ration has shriveled to a mere 74 percent–the lowest since the darkest days of the depression. -Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon Speaks Out

                    Quickly becoming an unsustainable business venture, farming in the United States needed re-working–not a complete revolution of the agricultural system, as RN quipped, but a “move with prudence and deliberation toward improved programs that [would] shore up the foundations of agriculture and assure its long-term vigor, strength, and prosperity.”

                    RN proposed in his 1968 campaign an expansive list of policy points that he aimed to implement as President: support for policies that enlarge the farmer’s opportunity to manage his own affairs, a sound Federal Crop Insurance program, assistance to farm cooperatives, responsible management of the nation’s economic policies, to name a few.

                    Five years after RN addressed the issue of a faltering agricultural system while campaigning for the presidency, the Nixon administration and Congress converged in compromise with a bill that promised an efficient and prosperous national farm policy.

                    Read a White House Fact Sheet of the 1973 Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act below:

                    Below, read President Nixon’s statement upon signing the Act:

                    The premise of the 1973 Farm Bill was for establishing new price guarantees for American farmers. It would mean that farmers could expand production without fear of reciprocating price depression, a policy contrary to the one instituted for the better part of the past 35 years. The bill also authorized disaster payments and disaster reserve inventories, created the Rural Environmental Conservation Program, and amended the Food Stamp Act of 1964.

                    The problems of the nation’s agricultural system struck a cord in all corners of American society. A letter written by the Governor of Massachusetts, Francis Sargent, illustrates this point.

                    In thought-provoking fashion, Governor Sargent urged the administration to advance a farm program which would encourage rather than discourage production. The White House responded in kind:


                    Associate Director of the Domestic Council, Richard Fairbanks, assured the governor that the administration was committed to achieving reasonable income for farmers from the marketplace and not from government subsidies. Three days later, farm legislation which had recently passed the Congress made its way to the desk of President Nixon.

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