Richard Nixon, although he rose to greatness, did not start out that way. Nixon was not born into wealth like so many of the other presidents; he had to earn his way into the world with hard work and determination. While Nixon was growing up, he worked in his father's grocery store/gas station to help make ends meet; yet still he maintained outstanding grades and became a master debater in high school. Nixon completed his undergraduate studies at Whittier College in 1934, and received a full scholarship to Duke University's law school, where he was President of the Student Bar Association and a member of the law review. Nixon graduated from Duke University in 1937, ranking third in his class. After graduation, Nixon returned to Whittier and met his future wife, Thelma 'Patricia' Catherine Ryan, whom he married on June 21st, 1940.
Nixon's political career began after he received numerous commendations as a Lieutenant Commander and operations manager in the Navy, and the Whittier Republican Party asked him to run for Congress. Nixon campaigned hard, putting much emphasis on anti-communism and free enterprise, and his hard work paid off. He became a member of the House of Representatives, and a member of the House of Un-American Activities Committee. While serving as a Congressman, Nixon gained further recognition for his participation in the Alger Hiss Case, and his name became synonymous with anti Communism.
In 1950, Nixon defeated Helen Gahagan Douglas for California's Senate seat. During his campaign, Nixon became known as 'Tricky Dick' for distributing pink sheets of paper that compared Douglas' voting record to that of Vito Marcantonio, a socialist representative from New York. While serving as Senator of California, Nixon criticized the way the government handled foreign affairs and paraded his anti Communism.
Nixon's impassioned speeches on the dangers and threats of Communism gave him national support and attention, and in 1952, he was selected to be the running mate of Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in his bid for the presidency. Eisenhower and Nixon won easily, and were reelected in 1956.
Nixon completely changed the role of the Vice President from one of relaxation and comfort into one of action and importance. Part of this newfound importance was due to Nixon's energetic interest in almost all areas of government, and also Eisenhower's health issues. Nixon was given a plethora of tasks, unlike any Vice President before him, which included speaking with foreign leaders, making national speeches, and visiting Congress regularly. The most important of all of Nixon's roles as Vice President was that of an 'international goodwill ambassador.' Nixon was not the first Vice President to travel abroad, but he did so with the most fervor. Nixon travelled to places such as South Korea, Japan, Pakistan, Argentina, and many other nations most of the time to simply promote peaceful, friendly relations. Nixon's most famous foreign visit occurred when he travelled to Moscow, in the Soviet Union. Nixon and Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev engaged in a lively debate on the pros and cons of capitalism and communism, and Nixon held his ground against Khrushchev. Most of this debate was captured on television, and Nixon's popularity at home increased even more.