Julie Nixon Eisenhower
|Julie Nixon Eisenhower|
July 5, 1948
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Spouse(s)||David Eisenhower (1968–present)|
|Children||Jennie Elizabeth Eisenhower
Alexander Richard Eisenhower
Melanie Catherine Eisenhower
|Parent(s)||Richard and Pat Nixon|
|Relatives||Tricia Nixon Cox
Christopher Nixon Cox
Francis A. Nixon
Hannah Milhous Nixon
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Born in Washington, D.C. while her father was a Congressman, Julie and her elder sister, Patricia Nixon Cox, grew up in the public eye. Her father was elected U.S. Senator from California when she was two; Vice President of the United States when she was four. Her 1968 marriage to David Eisenhower, grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was seen as a union between two of the most prominent political families in the United States.
Throughout the Nixon administration (1969 to 1974), Julie worked as Assistant Managing Editor of The Saturday Evening Post while holding the unofficial title of "First Daughter." She was widely noted as one of her father's most vocal and active defenders throughout the Nixon administration. After her father left the White House in 1974, she wrote the definitive biography of her mother; she continues to engage in works that support her parents' legacies.
She is the mother of two daughters, Jennie Eisenhower and Melanie Catherine Eisenhower, and a son, Alexander Richard Eisenhower.
Julie Nixon was born while her father, Richard Nixon, was a Congressman, but much of her childhood coincided with her father's service as Dwight Eisenhower's Vice-President (1953–61). She recalled her father as being romantic, while her mother was "practical and down to earth". Her mother tried to "seal" her and her sister from much of her father's political career. Julie began to cry during a celebration for her father's and President Eisenhower's second inauguration, because she believed it was not fair that the grandchildren of the President could play in the White House while she and her sister could not. After she expressed these feelings to Mamie Eisenhower, the First Lady invited the two Nixon daughters to play with her grandchildren. Also at the second inauguration, President Eisenhower suggested to her as their photograph was being taken to hide a black eye by turning her head. Julie had acquired it in a sledding accident and turned her head towards David, which made it appear that he had been staring directly at her. Her grandmother Hannah Nixon would come to watch her and her sister whenever her parents traveled. As a child, one of her favorite pets was a cocker spaniel named Checkers, who figured prominently in one of her father's most famous speeches, given during his 1952 campaign for Vice-President of the United States.
As a teenager, she attended the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington along with her sister, Tricia. After her father lost the Presidential Election of 1960 to John F. Kennedy, Julie felt "battered" by the results and felt that the votes had "been stolen".
Julie left school in 1961, after her father lost his presidential bid in 1960, and the family returned to California where her father ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1962. At the time of what her father called to reporters his "last press conference", she was waiting in a hallway with her mother and sister. That afternoon, Julie joined the two in crying at the foot of her parents' bed over her father's loss. The Nixons moved to New York after the gubernatorial race, and Julie attended Smith College after her graduation from the Chapin School. She received a master's degree from New York University in 1972. David Eisenhower, the grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, attended Amherst College nearby. Julie and David were both invited to address the Republican Women's Club. The club learned that the two were only seven miles apart, and invited the two to be featured speakers. They discussed the invitations and both chose to decline, but would come in contact again when David visited Julie with his roommate from Amherst and took her and a friend out to get some ice cream. David reflected: "I was broke, my roommate forgot his wallet. The girls paid."
She began dating David Eisenhower in the fall of 1966 when both were freshmen at Smith College and Amherst College, respectively. She became engaged to him a year later. The couple had known each other since meeting at the 1956 Republican National Convention. Both Julie and David have admitted that Mamie Eisenhower played a major part in their relationship. In 1966 during the funeral for Raymond Pitcairn, a friend of the Nixons, Julie mentioned to Mamie that she would be attending Smith College. Mamie told her of David's plans to go to Amherst College, and soon started trying to get David to talk to her. On Julie's nineteenth birthday, David flew to Key Biscayne, Florida, the home of her father during his stay in office, to be with her and her family. David did not tell his grandfather, former president Eisenhower, about the trip nor when Julie visited him in Chicago, Illinois while he was working as a trainee at Sears.
On December 22, 1968, after her father was elected president but before he took office, Julie married David. The week prior to the wedding, for Julie, was mostly spent checking for last-minute details and writing thank-you notes for those who had sent the couple gifts.
The Reverend Norman Vincent Peale officiated in the non-denominational rite at the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. The couple left from Massachusetts in 1970 and their classes there were canceled after the Kent State shootings. After her father resigned from office, the two lived in California near Julie's parents and later in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The Eisenhowers have three children: Jennie Elizabeth (born August 15, 1978), an actress, Alexander Richard (b. 1980) and Melanie Catherine Eisenhower (b. 1984).
During the United States presidential election of 1968, when her father was the Republican nominee, Julie began to feel that she was not active enough in her father's campaign and worried over what she believed was Hubert Humphrey's popularity at Smith College, which she was attending at the time. She took an active role in his campaign, and shook hands for hours while greeting people. Despite not liking the publicity and hating to answer "personal questions," she did anything she could to help her father.
While her father served as President (1969–74), Julie became active at the White House as a spokesperson for children's issues, the environment, and the elderly. She gave tours to disabled children, filled in for her mother at events, and took an active interest in foreign policy. She and Tricia were placed in charge of Caroline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy, Jr., when they visited the White House in 1971. The sisters took the young Kennedys on a tour of their former residence, which included going to their old bedrooms and to the Oval Office.
In 1971, when David was assigned to the Mayport, Florida-based USS Albany (CA-123), they moved to the Jacksonville beach community of Atlantic Beach, Florida. She had been hired to teach third grade at Atlantic Beach Elementary School beginning that fall, but she had to quit when she broke her toe just before classes were to start. The Eisenhowers continued to live in Atlantic Beach until 1973, even hosting the President and the First Lady at their beachfront garage apartment on Beach Avenue.
During 1973–75, she served as Assistant Managing Editor of the Saturday Evening Post and helped establish a book division for Curtis Publishing Co., its parent corporation. It was during this time that Julie wrote the book Eye On Nixon, full of photographs of her father. At the time of her graduation from Brown University, President Nixon opted not to attend, given the possibility of antiwar demonstrations and violence.
After the news of the Watergate break-in and suspicions that it might reach as high as the Oval Office began to mount, Julie took on the press at home and abroad. Her defense of her father caused people to wonder why her mother wasn't saying anything about the scandal. Journalist Nora Ephron wrote, "In the months since the Watergate hearings began, she [Julie] has become her father's ... First Lady in practice if not in fact."
Taking on the "role of trying to explain her father to the world", Julie's public defense of her father began at Walt Disney World on May 2, 1973. She gave a total of 138 interviews across the country. In the summer of 1973, she and David went to London where Julie appeared on the BBC. Journalist George Will once reflected: "Anyone thinking that Nixon deserved a better fate from Watergate should remember his silence as his brave daughter Julie crisscrossed the country defending him against charges he knew to be true." On July 4, 1973, she told two reporters that her father had considered resigning over Watergate, but that the family had talked him out of it. On February 14, 1974, Julie underwent a 44-minute surgery to stop internal bleeding from an ovarian cyst. After the surgery, her husband and mother came to see her. Four days later, on February 18, 1974, her father arrived in Indianapolis to pick her and her family up. On May 7, 1974, Julie and David met with the press in the East Garden of the White House. She announced that the President planned "...to take this constitutionally down to the wire." Just before noon on August 9, 1974, Julie stood behind her father while he gave his goodbye speech to the White House staff. She would later say it was the hardest moment for him.
Life after the White HouseEdit
Julie and David settled in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, where she completed several books, including Pat Nixon: The Untold Story, a biography of her mother. She has an extensive record of community service in the Philadelphia area and is active with the Richard Nixon Foundation, sitting on its board, as well as that of the Center for the National Interest (formerly known as the Nixon Center).
She, along with her sister and father, was with her mother when she died of lung cancer on June 22, 1993. Four days later, on June 26, 1993, she attended her mother's funeral service on the grounds of the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda. Ten months later, she was by her father's bedside with her sister Patricia when he died. Julie attended the funeral on April 27, 1994. Her father's death left her and her sister with his diary entries, binders and tapes among other things while they were secluded from the public.
She has expressed distaste in a few adaptations of presidencies, and labeled them as giving young viewers a "twisted sense of history". This extended to Oliver Stone's film Nixon, an adaptation of her father's presidency that received positive reviews for its depiction of his life. Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, wrote a letter to Julie and her sister saying that Stone had "committed a grave disservice to your family, to the Presidency, and to American history".
The Justice Department moved on April 14, 1999 to prevent her from making an appearance to testify during a legal battle over whether the government would pay her father's estate millions as compensation for papers and tapes seized when he resigned.
In 2001, she expressed interest in exhuming the body of Checkers, a dog attributed to her father's career when he campaigned for vice president that died in 1964. Her desire was to move the remains to the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
She and her sister got into a legal battle over an estimated "as-high-as" $19 million, left by Bebe Rebozo for the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation. As opposed to Tricia's wish for the money to be controlled by a group affiliated with their family, Julie wanted it to be controlled by the library's board. On the relationship strain the two were experiencing during the dispute, Julie said "I think it is very sad" and stated, "It's very heartbreaking because I love my sister very much". On August 6, 2002, Julie met with her sister for a court-ordered meeting. Despite the two being together for the vast majority of the day, they failed to make an agreement. She believed that a continued support of donations for the library was not what needed to be done, given that all of the other Presidential Libraries and Museums at the time were funded by the Presidential System.
"It's not right, struggling for the money. My father should be in the system. As long as he's on the outside, historians will continue to look at him, I feel, in a more negative light. There is always going to be negativity, but he has to be part of the continuum of presidents."
In spite of her family's history of supporting Republicans, Julie donated $2,300 to Barack Obama in 2008 primary in his race for the nomination against Hillary Clinton. However, she returned to donating to Republicans in 2012, giving to Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee against President Obama, and in 2016 to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
In 2010, she and her husband David co-authored Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961–1969, a biography of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's final years after he left the White House. On March 16, 2012, she and her sister arrived in Yorba Linda to celebrate what would have been their mother's 100th birthday. On November 23, 2013, Eisenhower and her husband opened a holiday exhibit for the Nixon Library, which remained there until January 5, 2014.
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