ELLIOT RICHARDSON Biography - Polititians


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Name: Elliot Lee Richardson                                                                       
Born: 20 July 1920 Boston, Massachusetts                                                           
Died. 31 December 1999 Boston, Massachusetts                                                       
Elliot Lee Richardson (July 20, 1920 – December 31, 1999) was an American lawyer                 
and politician who was a member of the cabinet of Presidents Richard Nixon and                     
Gerald Ford. He was a prominent figure in the Watergate Scandal, having refused                   
an order from Nixon to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox.                                     
As of 2008, Richardson is the only individual to serve in four Cabinet-level                       
positions within the United States government: Secretary of Health, Education,                     
and Welfare from 1970 to 1973, Secretary of Defense from January to May of 1973,                   
Attorney General from May 24 to October 1973, and Secretary of Commerce from                       
1976 to 1977.                                                                                     
Richardson was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He obtained his undergraduate                       
degree from Harvard University, where he resided in Winthrop House, and                           
graduated cum laude in 1941.                                                                       
In 1942, following the outbreak of World War II, Richardson entered the combat                     
medical corps in the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. He participated in the June 6,                   
1944 Normandy Invasion, where he carried a legless man to safety under enemy                       
He was among the first troops of the "Big Ivy" to come up Causeway No. 2 from                     
Utah Beach which had been under fire from German artillery at Brécourt Manor. He                 
was among the many that noticed the guns ceasing their firing after (unbeknown                     
to him), paratroopers of the 101st under Dick Winters had knocked them out.                       
After Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers was published, he wrote to Winters                   
and thanked him.                                                                                   
He continued on in the war in Europe with the 4th Infantry Division and received                   
numerous decorations, including the Purple Heart medal. He was discharged in                       
1945 with the rank of first lieutenant.                                                           
In 1947, he graduated with a law degree from Harvard Law School, where he became                   
an editor of the Harvard Law Review.                                                               
After his graduation from Law School, Richardson clerked for Appeals Court Judge                   
Learned Hand, and then for Justice Felix Frankfurter of the U.S. Supreme Court.                   
Richardson then served as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts from 1959 to 1961, and                   
was later elected the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and Attorney General                   
of Massachusetts.                                                                                 
Richardson had the nearly-unique distinction of serving in three high-level                       
Executive Branch posts in a single year --the tumultuous year of 1973-- as the                     
Watergate Scandal came to dominate the attention of official Washington, and the                   
American public at large.                                                                         
Having served three relatively uneventful years as the Secretary of Health,                       
Education, and Welfare for a popular sitting President, few would suspect the                     
pivotal role Richardson would play in the chaos that would soon ensue.                             
Richardson was appointed United States Secretary of Defense on January 30, 1973.                   
When President Nixon selected Richardson as Secretary, the press described him                     
as an excellent manager and administrator, perhaps the best in the cabinet. In                     
his confirmation hearing, Richardson expressed agreement with Nixon's policies                     
on such issues as the adequacy of U.S. strategic forces, NATO and relationships                   
with other allies, and Vietnam.                                                                   
Although he promised to examine the budget carefully to identify areas for                         
savings, and in fact later ordered the closing of some military installations,                     
he cautioned against precipitate cuts. As he told a Senate committee, "Significant                 
cuts in the Defense Budget now would seriously weaken the U.S. position on                         
international negotiations—in which U.S. military capabilities, in both real and                 
symbolic terms, are an important factor." Similarly, he strongly supported                         
continued military assistance at current levels. During his short tenure,                         
Richardson spent much time testifying before congressional committees on the                       
proposed FY 1974 budget and other Defense matters.                                                 
Richardson would serve as Secretary of Defense for only a few short months,                       
before becoming Nixon's Attorney General, a move that would soon put him in the                   
Watergate spotlight.                                                                               
In October 1973, after just five months as Attorney General, President Nixon                       
ordered Richardson to fire the top lawyer investigating the Watergate scandal,                     
Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Richardson refused the order and resigned from                   
the Nixon administration. President Nixon subsequently asked Richardson's second-in-command,       
Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to carry out the order. But he also                   
refused and tendered his resignation. The third in command, Solicitor General                     
Robert Bork, also planned to resign but Richardson persuaded him not to in order                   
to ensure proper leadership at the Department of Justice during the crisis.                       
Bork carried out the President's order, thus completing the events generally                       
referred to as the Saturday Night Massacre.                                                       
Just prior to the resignation of Vice-President Spiro Agnew, Richardson was                       
portrayed as a cartoon figure with Agnew and Nixon on the cover of TIME magazine                   
dated October 8, 1973. Agnew was quoted as saying: "I am innocent of the                           
charges against me. I will not resign if indicted!"                                               
During the Administration of President Gerald Ford, Richardson served as                           
Secretary of Commerce from 1976 to 1977, and as ambassador to the United Kingdom.                 
In 1980 Richardson received a L.H.D. from Bates College. In 1984, he ran for the                   
Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Paul Tsongas. He                   
was defeated in the GOP primary by Ray Shamie, who lost the general election to                   
John F. Kerry. Richardson was a moderate-liberal Republican, and his defeat at                     
the hands of the very conservative Shamie was seen as symbolizing the decline of                   
the moderate wing of the GOP, even in a section of the country where it was                       
historically strong.                                                                               
In the late 80s and early 90s, Richardson was associated with the Washington, D.C.                 
firm of Hadley, Milbank, Tweed and McCloy, of which John J. McCloy was a                           
founding partner. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Richardson was the attorney for                   
Inslaw, Inc., an American software company which alleged that their software had                   
been pirated by the U.S. Justice Department.                                                       
In 1994 Richardson backed President Bill Clinton during his struggle against                       
Paula Jones' charge of sexual harassment. In 1998, he received the Presidential                   
Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.                                             
On December 31, 1999, Richardson died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Boston,                         
Massachusetts, at the age of 79. Major media outlets, such as CNN, recognized                     
him as the "Watergate martyr" for refusing an order from President Nixon to fire                   
special prosecutor Archibald Cox.