Who Knew? Nixon Had a Sensitive Romantic Side
Richard Nixon’s love letters to Patricia Ryan — who he later married — showed he was a hopelessly romantic young man. Written in 1938, the letters reveal Nixon — a man known for hardball, down and dirty politics — had an idealistic and even poetic side.
The letters show that long before Nixon became the most powerful man in the world — only to be forced to resign in disgrace — he was just another ordinary young guy head over heels in love.
Decades before he became known to many as “Tricky Dick,” Nixon was writing sweet and gushy love letters to his future bride that reveal a surprisingly soft and romantic side of the man later taken down by Watergate.
Six of dozens of letters Nixon and Patricia Ryan exchanged during their two-year courtship will be unveiled Friday at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.
Written in flowery, old fashioned prose, Nixon recalls the day they met and shares his daydreams about their future together.
“These letters are fabulous. It’s a totally different person from the Watergate tapes that people know. President Nixon started out as an idealistic young man ready to conquer the world and with Pat Ryan he knew he could do it. There’s a lot of hope, there’s a lot of tenderness and it’s very poetic,” said Olivia Anastasiadis, curator of the Nixon museum.
The letters stand in stark contrast to the grim-faced leader forced to resign in 1974, disgraced. Instead, Nixon comes across as an ardent and persistent suitor in the letters, which date from 1938 to just before the couple’s marriage in June 1940.
The two met in 1938, the year after he graduated from law school and started a law practice. They dated for two years until Nixon proposed to Pat on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Orange County. He later delivered her engagement ring in a small basket overflowing with mayflowers. They were married in a small ceremony on June 21, 1940.
Nixon served as a Navy officer in the Pacific in WWII, and got into politics in 1946.