Francis A. Nixon

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Francis A. Nixon
Francis Anthony Nixon

(1878-12-03)December 3, 1878
DiedSeptember 4, 1956(1956-09-04) (aged 77)
Known forFather of U.S. President Richard Nixon
ChildrenHarold Nixon
Richard Nixon
Francis Donald Nixon
Arthur Nixon
Edward Nixon
Parent(s)Sarah Ann Wadsworth Nixon
Samuel Brady Nixon
RelativesJulie Nixon Eisenhower (granddaughter)
Tricia Nixon Cox (granddaughter)
Christopher Nixon Cox (great-grandson)
Jennie Eisenhower (great-granddaughter)
Pat Nixon (daughter-in-law)
Edward F. Cox (grandson-in-law)
David Eisenhower (grandson-in-law)
Christopher Nixon Cox (great-grandson)
Andrea Catsimatidis (great-granddaughter-in-law)
Alexander Richard Eisenhower (great-grandson)
Melanie Catherine Eisenhower (great-granddaughter)

Francis Anthony Nixon (December 3, 1878 – September 4, 1956) was an American grocer, rancher, and the father of U.S. President Richard Nixon.

Early life[edit]

Nixon was born in Elk Township, Vinton County, Ohio, the son of Sarah Ann (née Wadsworth), a native of Hocking Township, Fairfield County, Ohio, and Samuel Brady Nixon, who was from Smith Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.[2] Nixon's family ancestry included colonial Pennsylvania Quakers. He was raised Methodist, however, but converted to Quakerism when he married Hannah Milhous.

Sarah Nixon died in January 1886, Francis being sent to live with an uncle during his father's struggle to remain out of poverty and cope with the loss of Sarah.[3] Samuel remarried, Aitken citing Francis' disliking of his stepmother as his motive for running away.[4] Nixon proceeded to hold multiple jobs over the course of the next fourteen years, the latter being hard working but also favorable of having arguments.[4]

Throughout his youth, Nixon looked up to U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.[3] Ambrose wrote that Nixon ceased favoring the Democratic Party by the age of 17. In the lead up to the 1896 United States presidential election, Nixon had an encounter with presidential candidate William McKinley, who asked him how he was going to vote, Nixon replying, "Republican, of course!" Ambrose cited the encounter as completing Nixon's switch to supporting the Republican Party.[3]


Nixon moved to California at the turn of the century after having been frostbitten working as a motorman in an open streetcar in Columbus, Ohio. After working as a farmhand and oil roustabout, he attempted to cultivate lemons outside Los Angeles.

After his son Richard was born, Nixon abandoned the lemon grove, and the family moved to the Quaker community of Whittier, California. Nixon focused on the family business, a store that sold groceries and Atlantic Richfield gasoline, but the family remained impoverished. Nixon's life was marked by the deaths of his two sons, Arthur and Harold, from tuberculosis. He has been described as a "restless, frustrated, and angry man, a mean-spirited person who psychologically abused his five sons and sometimes beat them."[5] However, Richard always spoke highly of his parents. He often spoke lovingly of his mother as a "Quaker saint," and began his memoirs with the words "I was born in a house my father built." Writer Jessamyn West, a cousin of the Nixons, was in Frank's Sunday school class for some time. She later described him as "a fiery persuasive teacher," and wrote that Frank Nixon's version of the social gospel inclined her politically toward socialism.[5]

By the time of his later adulthood, Nixon openly detailed his political views to strangers, his son Don remembering his father as being willing to debate anyone he encountered in the family market and having an intolerance of Democrats.[6] Nixon voted for Woodrow Wilson in the 1916 United States presidential election,[7] Warren G. Harding in the 1920 presidential election,[8] Herbert Hoover in both the 1928 and 1932 presidential elections, and Franklin Roosevelt in the 1936 election. Aitken described these as erratic voting habits that displayed shifting loyalties in the early life of his son Richard.[7]

After his son Arthur's death in 1925, Nixon frequently pondered and was haunted by the possibility of God allowing the death as a form of punishment directed toward him, his actions afterward being to never again open the family store on Sundays and having the family listen to sermons every evening. Nixon favored Robert P. Shuler, Billy Sunday, and Aimee Semple McPherson, taking his sons once a week to hear either Shuler or McPherson at Trinity Methodist Church.[9]

In 1938, Francis' son Richard met Pat Ryan,[10] who Frank developed a "playful relationship" with and spared the same lashing outs he had given his sons.[11]

During the controversy surrounding Richard's alleged improprieties relating to a fund established by his backers to reimburse him for his political expenses, Frank was "reduced to sobs" in hearing of the story and angered by his son's taking of any funds.[12]

The elder Nixons cared for their granddaughters Julie and Tricia while Vice President Nixon focused on activities relating to the 1956 Republican National Convention. Francis experienced a ruptured abdominal artery in the latter part of the month that he was not expected to recover from, resulting in the vice president curtailing his public appearances to tend to his father, who advocated that his son return to San Francisco and focus on the convention; Vice President Nixon declined.[13] On September 3, Nixon was visited by Richard, who he told upon the latter leaving, "Good night Dick, but I don't think I'll be here in the morning."[14] The following day, Francis Nixon died, his funeral being held three days later at the East Whittier Friends Meeting House.[13]

Personal life[edit]

On June 25, 1908, he married Hannah Milhous. Together, they had five sons:

Nixon died on September 4, 1956 in La Habra, California, U.S.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

He was played by Tom Bower in Oliver Stone's Nixon.


  1. ^ a b "The Nixon Family". Nixon Library and Museum. Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
  3. ^ a b c Ambrose, Stephen E. (1988). Nixon Volume I: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962. Simon & Schuster. pp. 13–20. ISBN 978-0671657222.
  4. ^ a b Aitken, Jonathan (1993). Nixon: A Life (The Presidents). Regnery History. pp. 2–6. ISBN 978-1621574057.
  5. ^ a b West, Jessamyn. Double Discovery: A Journey New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980; p. 125.
  6. ^ Ambrose, pp. 34-36.
  7. ^ a b Aitken, pp. 44-45.
  8. ^ Marquez, Heron (2002). Richard M. Nixon. Lerner Pub Group. p. 16. ISBN 978-0822500988.
  9. ^ Aitken, pp. 49-56.
  10. ^ "Pat Nixon, Former First Lady, Dies at 81". The New York Times. July 23, 1993. p. D22. Retrieved November 9, 2007.
  11. ^ Swift, Will (2014). Pat and Dick: The Nixons, An Intimate Portrait of a Marriage. Threshold Editions. p. 26. ISBN 978-1451676952.
  12. ^ Black, Conrad (2007). Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full. PublicAffairs. p. 232. ISBN 978-1586485191.
  13. ^ a b Ambrose, pp. 407-408.
  14. ^ Aitken, p. 286

External links[edit]