The Rise of Nixon


  • Megan Kimbrell Wichita State University


Richard M. Nixon, Jerry Voorhis, Alger Hiss, Red Scare, communism, communist subversion, sensationalism and the press, Red-baiting


Richard Milhous Nixon is one of the most central political figures in American history. Therefore, an analysis of how he rose to national prominence, and so quickly at that, is a worthwhile discussion. For example, Nixon entered the United States House of Representatives in 1946 by defeating the popular Democratic incumbent, Jerry Voorhis. Without previous political experience, Nixon was thrown into Congress where he was promptly placed on the infamous House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). There he gained national fame in the case of Alger Hiss, an accused communist spy. He followed this with a stunning victory in the 1950 senatorial race against Helen Gahagan Douglas. Soon after, Nixon was nominated as the vice presidential candidate in 1952. At the young age of forty, and just six years after his first political campaign, Nixon entered the White House as Dwight D. Eisenhower's vice president. Nixon's meteoric rise to power begs the question of just how exactly he accomplished this feat. The answer to this question is quite simple: Nixon used the issue of communist subversion to further his political career. In fact, the perceived communist threat of the post-World War II era was the chief catalyst in Nixon's rise to the forefront of American politics. His career gained momentum alongside the Red Scare of this era with his public battles against accused communist sympathizers.