For my blog post today about Conrad Black's Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, I'll use as my starting-point something that Black says on page 720 about Richard Nixon's daughter, Tricia:
had avoided all public attention after she wrote a supportive letter to
Georgia governor Lester Maddox, an Atlanta restauranteur who had
refused to serve African-Americans and distributed axe handles to
sympathizers, and ultimately closed his Pickrick Restaurant rather than
This really surprised me! I had never heard or
read about this before. I did some searching on the Internet, and I
found a couple of articles.
The first article I found was from the September 22, 1969 Harvard Crimson,
and it was about Tricia Nixon's boyfriend, Edward Cox (who would later
become her husband), who was enrolling in Harvard Law School. The
"Tricia, who once encouraged Georgia's Governor
Lester Maddox to turn his chicken restaurant into a private club to
avoid Federal civil rights laws, is reportedly the most conservative
member of the Nixon family. Washington columnists say that Cox is
politically left of both Tricia and her father."
I suppose that I
already knew that Tricia was rather conservative, on some level. I
think that I read about her defending her father's policies when I was
reading Nixon's memoirs. Maybe I chalked that up to her loyalty to her
father, since I had a hard time picturing her as particularly political
or ideological (not that I know her). But it turns out that she was
quite conservative ideologically, perhaps even to the right of her
In this article, there is a quotation of what Tricia Nixon said to a Parade
reporter, as she explained her letter to Lester Maddox: "I'm not a
segregationist, but private property is private property, and you should
be able to do with it as you please. I don't believe as Lester Maddox
does, but our views happened to coincide for different reasons." That's
the sort of rationale that you will find in the words of Barry
Goldwater, Ron Paul, and Rand Paul.
I'd like to share a few related items. First, I liked something that Richard Nixon said on pages 105-106 of In the Arena, as he was talking about his coach at Whittier, Chief Newman:
not only talked a good civil rights game, he lived it. In 1921, when
he was a star at USC playing tackle on defense and fullback on offense,
Chief went into his favorite restaurant near the campus with Bryce
Taylor, one of the first black players ever to play on a Trojan team.
The counterman said he couldn't eat there. Chief exploded, 'You serve
him or you don't serve me.' Forty-three years before the Civil Rights
Act outlawed discrimination in public facilities, it ended at that
Second, on page 80 of volume 2 of his memoirs,
Richard Nixon shares a diary entry that he wrote about a discussion that
he had with his daughters, Julie and Tricia, about the Vietnam War.
Nixon was planning to bomb critical targets, and he was listening to his
daughters' feedback. He stated in his diary:
concerned about it in terms of whether it would work. She obviously has
done a lot of reading about past failures on the military side in
Vietnam. She also was aware of the fact that many had become so
disillusioned with the war that we might not have enough public support
for it. I mentioned the fact that if we did not do this the United
States would cease to be a respected world power. She rejoined with the
observation that there were many who felt that the United States
shouldn't be a great power. This, of course, is the kind of poison that
is fed into so many of the younger generation by their professors. She
was sure, however, that David would totally agree with the decision,
and she seemed sensitive to what the needs were.
reaction was immediately positive because she felt we had to do
something, and frankly didn't know what else we could do to avoid a
continued deterioration in the battle areas."
does not particularly surprise me, in light of her conservatism.
Julie's reaction, however, intrigues me. I think that it would be too
simplistic to say that Julie was a liberal, for Nixon earlier in his
memoirs refers to a note Julie left him that said: "You explained the
situation in Vietnam perfectly...I feel that the strongest message which
resulted from your speech was: We cannot abandon 17 million people to a
living death, and we cannot jeopardize the chances for future world
peace by an unqualified pull-out of Vietnam" (volume 1, pages 560-561).
But Julie did appear to be open to alternative points-of-view. Still,
at this point, I cannot make dogmatic statements about her political
ideology, since I have not yet read her books.
UPDATE: According to this article,
Julie in 2008 donated to Democratic Presidential candidate Barack
Obama, whereas Tricia donated to Republican Presidential candidate John