Clinton declares a national day of mourning for Nixon: Republican supporters ignore the Watergate debacle and pay tribute to the 'peacemaker' with flowers and eulogies

PREPARATIONS were under way yesterday for the burial of Richard Nixon in the southern California township where he was born 81 years ago.

The body of the 37th president, who died in a New York hospital on Friday night, is to be flown to California tomorrow. It will lie in state in the lobby of Nixon's Presidential Library at the Los Angeles suburb of Yorba Linda - the one place in America where he could manipulate his role in history without contradiction from the world beyond. The funeral will take place on Wednesday.

President Clinton declared Wednesday a day of national mourning. Flags at government buildings and US embassies around the world will fly at half-mast for 30 days.

Yesterday, as a bright morning sun shone on the suburban sprawl south of Los Angeles, dozens of Nixon's most faithful supporters gathered outside to pay their respects, while workmen erected grandstands for the state funeral.

Although the library and the white wooden farmhouse where Nixon lived as a child was closed, mourners began congregating as soon as news of his death became public. They burnt candles and sang 'America the Beautiful' and left bouquets of flowers bearing valedictory messages.

'Farewell, friend, farewell,' said one; 'You made me proud to be a Republican,' said another. 'Peacemaker, statesman, leader. God bless you,' read a note signed the 'Nixonettes'. Outside the single-storey sandstone museum three flags - the US, Californian and presidential - flew at half-mast.

Many of the visitors were members of the small knot of Republicans who have refused to allow Nixon's presidential performance to be overshadowed by the Watergate debacle. 'He was a good man and a very good president. He did a lot for our country,' said Jean Stevenson. 'He did have some knocks in his presidency, but nobody's perfect.' Nixon will be buried beside his wife Pat in the grounds of the library in a ceremony attended by all four surviving ex-presidents, and dignitaries from around the world. Watergate figures such as domestic affairs adviser John Ehrlichman, who along with the late Bob Haldeman formed the infamous 'Prussian Guard' at the Nixon White House, are also expected to attend.

President Clinton, who sought Nixon's advice on foreign affairs several times, will deliver one of the eulogies. Another will be given by Henry Kissinger, Nixon's Secretary of State.

The service will be led by the evangelist Billy Graham, who conducted the funeral of Mrs Nixon 10 months ago.

For Nixon, California was a place of exile where he fled after his narrow defeat by Kennedy in 1960. And for many Californians, Nixon was an isolated figure who never really fitted in. They are fond of joking that he was seen on the beach wearing a suit; they were less amused when he retired to the East Coast, agreeing with a friend who said that it would be 'more stimulating'.

Nor was there widespread approval when, using private funds, Nixon set up his presidential library, but strictly controlled access to its contents. It became a monument to his obsessive efforts at self-justification, with all the historical distortions that that entailed. Before it opened in 1990, Nixon's aides sought to ban access to the archives from scholars and researchers who were hostile to the former president. Matters worsened when the Los Angeles Times revealed that the 'smoking gun' Watergate tape had been edited to appear less damaging.

Visitors were instead bombarded with an array of films, books and exhibits which celebrated Nixon's other achievements, along with Nixon mugs, ties and pens. Not everyone was convinced. The visitors' book was punctuated with comments accusing him of masterminding another whitewash. When The Independent asked to see it on a recent visit, it had been removed. There was, staff said, no room for the small tome because of 'a visiting exhibition'.

Few occupants of the White House have been as complex, controversial and divisive as Nixon, forced by the Watergate scandal to become the first US president in history to resign. In death however, foes as well as friends have stressed not the shame he brought upon his office, but his foreign- policy achievement, even his progressive record on the environment, welfare, and civil rights.

In his official proclamation of Nixon's death, Mr Clinton spoke of his 'tremendous accomplishments' in international affairs and his 'great many' domestic initiatives. 'He suffered defeats that would have ended most political careers, yet he won stunning victories that many of the world's most popular leaders have failed to attain.'

China's leadership praised Nixon for his 'strategic foresight and political courage' in opening up relations between Washington and Peking, and Boris Yeltsin called him 'one of the greatest politicians in the world'.

Obituary, page 14

Nixon assessed, page 17

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing