Tags: Presidential History | first lady | Pat Nixon | Richard Nixon

'Pat' Nixon: The Causes That Defined President Richard Nixon's First Lady

By    |   Monday, 06 Jul 2015 09:41 PM

Pat Nixon began her support of volunteerism, one of her major campaigns, shortly after becoming first lady in 1969 when Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president. She continued traveling throughout the country and the world as a prominent representative of the nation even during the Watergate scandal, which eventually ended in her husband’s resignation as president on Aug. 9, 1974.

Born Thelma Catherine Ryan, Mrs. Nixon became known as Pat or Patricia by her Irish-American family because she was born hours before St. Patrick’s Day, according to the National First Ladies’ Library.

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As first lady, she promoted a national recruitment program for volunteers to handle social issues and problems that legislation could not address. She would visit local towns to encourage volunteerism but also to bring national attention to areas where volunteer programs were successful.

Mrs. Nixon and her staff would often scan newspapers or find out about information on citizens and groups that had successful voluntary programs. People and organizations would sometimes receive letters of commendation from the first lady for their effects to their surprise. Volunteers were occasionally invited to the White House for a reception.

She supported the Domestic Services Volunteer Act of 1970 and also encouraged current public projects that aided cities and regions. She would tour public works projects and conservation efforts alone and with her husband when traveling throughout the country. She sponsored the “Legacy of the Parks” program to turn federally protected lands over to states and localities for improvement of recreational areas.

Mrs. Nixon also showed her concern for the handicapped, becoming a member of the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, according to Biography.com. As part of her efforts, she helped make the White House more accessible to the handicapped for visitors.

Various grounds and areas around the White House became more open to the public when she was first lady. These efforts included special tours for the visually, hearing and physically handicapped for full access to many rooms in the presidential mansion. She added hundreds of paintings and fine antiques to the White House and invited average American families to attend nondenominational Sunday services in the East Room.

Mrs. Nixon helped improve relations with countries, such as the Soviet Union and China, during worldwide tours. She accompanied President Nixon during his historic visit to China in 1972 which opened the doors between the two nations.

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Pat Nixon began her support of volunteerism, one of her major campaigns, shortly after becoming first lady in 1969 when Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president.
first lady, Pat Nixon, Richard Nixon
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2015-41-06
Monday, 06 Jul 2015 09:41 PM
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