Nixon began practicing law in 1937. In 1940, he went in on a business to open a frozen orange juice manufacturing business, but this venture failed within two years.
Nixon joined the navy to serve in World War II in June 1942. He was first an aide to the executive officer at the Naval Reserve air base in Iowa before going overseas. He was made the officer in charge of the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command until June 1944. As an administrator, he was cited for his efficiency. He resigned from the military in 1946, having achieved the rank of lieutenant commander.
House Un-American Activities Committee
In 1947, Nixon was elected a U.S. representative. In the House, he was a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which investigated communist involvement in America. He was the chairman of the committee when Alger Hiss, a former state department official, was identified as a communist spy during the 1930s. Hiss was indicted and convicted of perjury for lying to the committee about his espionage.
In 1950, Nixon was elected as a U.S. senator. He served in that capacity until being chosen as Dwight Eisenhower's vice presidential nominee. However, during the campaign, Nixon was accused of having an $18,000 secret fund that contributors had given him. Eisenhower was considering dropping Nixon from the ticket when Nixon delivered a televised speech that has been dubbed the Checkers speech. In this speech, he admitted that he had a fund but it went to pay for political expenses, not for his own use. However, he admitted that he had been given a dog, which his daughter had named Checkers, and stated that they were going to keep the dog. Viewers supported him overwhelmingly and Eisenhower kept him on the ticket. Eisenhower and Nixon were elected in 1953.
Nixon ran for president in his own right in 1960 but lost to John F. Kennedy. He also unsuccessfully ran for the governorship of California in 1962.