The First Law Case: Failure
I don't remember that he ever lost a case.
— THOMAS BEWLEY, ON RICHARD NIXON 1
THOMAS BEWLEY, who gave Nixon his first job as a lawyer, was a Quaker friend of Frank and Hannah Nixon and city attorney for Whittier. He taught Nixon the lore of the small-town lawyer, the intricacies of tax law and oil company contracts, and the involuted problems of death and property. He encouraged his going into politics and supported him over the years like a proud godfather. When interviewed in 1976, the tight-lipped old lawyer looked back on the Nixon decline with manifest pain: "He had an aura about him. I think he was one of the chosen. He was put here for a purpose." Troubled by the record of untruth, and particularly by the gaps in the presidential tapes, he said, "One thing we learned as attorneys, you don't destroy the evidence." Still he remained defensive about his protégé: "You don't have to apologize for what you don't say.... Sometimes you're pushed into a corner and have to speak with a forked tongue, as the Indians say." 2
Nixon in 1937 had not wanted to join Bewley's firm. He had been so confident of a job in New York or with the FBI, and so reluctant to return to Whittier, that he had not even applied for permission to take the California Bar examination. At the last moment, with no job at hand, he asked Duke University's Dean Horack to intercede on his behalf, begging that he be granted special permission to take the examination in the summer. This was granted. 3 He reestablished his California residency, which had lapsed because he had for three years failed to vote by absentee ballot. His mother, meanwhile, had asked Bewley about giving