These four signatures of President Richard M. Nixon were written between 1968 and 1974, and show the 37th president of the United States at his best and at his worst.
The first signature was written in 1968 shortly after he was nominated by the Republican Party and defeated Hubert H. Humphrey for the presidency. The signature is large, heavy, bold, legible and showed that he was feeling confident, proud, dignified, optimistic, fearless, determined and in control. He obviously felt ready to accept the challenges of the presidency.
The second signature is lighter and much less legible. It was written in 1969 shortly after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. The country was in turmoil with riots in the streets and on college campuses. Young people and minorities were demonstrating against Nixon and against the war in Vietnam. The 1969 signature showed Nixon had lost much of his self-confidence and enthusiasm.
The third signature is even less legible and appears to the threaded (like letters held together with a piece of thread). At this time the Watergate scandal was beginning to unfold and the U.S. House of Representatives adopted three articles of impeachment against Nixon, charging him with obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress. The lack of legibility of the signature reveals Mr. Nixon was attempting to be evasive, insincere and elusive.
The fourth signature is almost entirely illegible and is an example of extreme threading. It was written late in 1974 after Mr. Nixon was forced to release the tapes showing he knew of and approved of the Watergate coverup. He resigned from office on August 9, 1974, becoming the first American president to do so. The illegible signature shows he was so depressed, ill, humiliated and so broken as a person that he could not even write his name in a legible form.
The near total deterioration of his personality from 1968 to 1974 is demonstrated from these signatures. A lesser person probably would have died at this point, but Richard Nixon remained defiant and belligerent despite being broken physically and emotionally. He lived another 20 years, even as the crushed shell of his former self.
He passed away on April 22, 1994 in New York City.
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