Senator Nixon Signs Discriminatory Restrictive Covenant

Richard and Patty Nixon in 1952
Richard and Patty Nixon in 1952

This article in the Afro-American caught my eye: “$41,000 Nixon Home Covered by Racial Covenant.” This was published on October 4th, 1952 and was referring to his recently purchased home at 4801 Tilden St. NW (4 bedroom home built in 1951 and $1 million according to Zillow).

Already chin deep in hot water because of his secret acceptance of an $18,000 expense fund from private sources, Senator Richard Nixon, the Republican vice presidential nominee, faced a new headache this week.

The AFRO discovered that he had signed a racially restrictive covenant agreement when he purchased his $41,000 home here shortly after his election.

the restrictive covenant deed is signed by Sen. Richard Nixon and his wife, Patricia. The deed carried 55 cents worth of Internal Revenue stamps, indicating that the sale price of the home was $41,000.
the restrictive covenant deed is signed by Sen. Richard Nixon and his wife, Patricia. The deed carried 55 cents worth of Internal Revenue stamps, indicating that the sale price of the home was $41,000.

The residence in the exclusive Tilden street section, is already a topic of political interest, because Senator Nixon, who said he was broke at the time of his election, made a $20,000 cash down payment on July 5, 1951, when he bought it. Under the covenant signed by Nixon, he agreed never to sell or rent the home to any person of colored or Jewish blood.

The agreement went further to exclude all occupancy by persons of these races, with the mere exception of “partial occupancy” by domestic servants.

This type of restrictive covenant was held unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court in a historic decision in 1940. Strongest argument to end the vicious system was made by then U. S. Solicitor General Philip Perlman.

Mr. Perlman revealed at the time that he was acting for the Federal Government at the instigation of President Truman.

While the Supreme Court held such covenants may not be judicially enforced, such private agreements are valid.

The covenant signed by Senator Nixon and his wife read, in part, as follows:

“No part of land hereby conveyed shall ever be used, or occupied by, or sold , demised, transferred, conveyed unto, or in trust for, leased, or persons of negro blood or extraction, or to any rented or given to negro people or any person or person of the Semitic race, blood, or origin which racial description shall be deemed to include Armenians, Jews, Hebrews, Persians, or Syrians, except that, this paragraph shall not be held to exclude partial occupancy of the premises by domestic servants of said parities hereto of the second part their heirs or assigns.”

The deed was signed on July 5, 1951 by Richard M. Nixon and Patricia R. Nixon, his wife.

It also bore the signature of Edward John Miller, vice president of the W. C. and A. N. Miller Development Company.

Ugh, this is just awful. It’s unbelievably shocking that transactions like this took place. This article came on the heels of Nixon’s famous “Checkers Speech,” in which he staved off political disaster and maintained his place on the 1952 Republican ticket.

Below is the Google Street View of the home today.


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  • Sarah S.

    Racially restrictive covenants were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1948, not 1940. The court’s ruling was based, in part, on the DC case Hurd v. Hodge.

  • Nothing Nixon said or did surprises me. The man was just bad news, all the way around.

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  • DC Worker

    Restrictive covenants were still in deeds in the mid 1960’s in DC & other areas. I worked in a title insurance company then and the lawyers stated that even though they didn’t mean a thing, they still conveyed with the deed. Not sure when the politicians finally dropped the requirements.

    While I have my personal views about Nixon, he & his wife didn’t do anything that everyone else did that had these restrictions in their deeds when they signed such. They had no choice!.So it’s NOT “It’s unbelievably shocking that transactions like this took place”. While wrong, the above writer shouldn’t make it seem like the Nixons were singulary way out of touch etc.

  • Billy

    Hey dc worker, Just cause everybody did it, doesnt mean it wasnt wrong.

  • Billy

    This neighborhood has intentionally excluded minorities and working class people for generations

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  • Win Barber

    A typo —– the revenue stamps were “Internal” not “International.”

  • obie

    As the earlier comments indicate, if you bought a house almost anywhere in Washington or its suburbs in the 50s, you accepted the covenants. Nixon had plenty of faults but in this area he was doing what was the norm. Schools were still segregated in Washington until 1954, I believe.