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Archives for 1974

Ford Testifies To Congress About Pardoning Nixon

President Gerald Ford testified before Congress about his pardon of Richard Nixon.

Ford gave unsworn testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice on October 17, 1974, just five weeks after granting the pardon to Nixon.

He was the first US president to appear before a congressional committee.


Text Of President Ford’s Pardon Proclamation

This is the full text of President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4311, Granting a Pardon to Richard Nixon.

  • Listen to Ford read the pardon (1m)

Note: The proclamation granted Nixon a pardon for all offenses from January 20, 1969, the day he was first inaugurated as president. In reading the proclamation on national television, Ford inadvertently said ‘July 20’. The text of the proclamation takes precedence.

By the President of the United States of America a Proclamation

Richard Nixon became the thirty-seventh President of the United States on January 20, 1969 and was reelected in 1972 for a second term by the electors of forty-nine of the fifty states. His term in office continued until his resignation on August 9, 1974. [Read more…]

President Ford Pardons Richard Nixon

A month after taking office, President Gerald Ford, addressed the nation on television to announce that he had decided to pardon Richard Nixon.

Note: The proclamation granted Nixon a pardon for all offences from January 20, 1969, the day he was first inaugurated as president. In reading the proclamation on national television, Ford inadvertently said ‘July 20’. The text of the proclamation takes precedence.

Text of President Ford’s Address to the Nation announcing Nixon’s pardon.

President Ford Announcing Nixon's PardonLadies and gentlemen:

I have come to a decision which I felt I should tell you and all of my fellow American citizens, as soon as I was certain in my own mind and in my own conscience that it is the right thing to do.

I have learned already in this office that the difficult decisions always come to this desk. I must admit that many of them do not look at all the same as the hypothetical questions that I have answered freely and perhaps too fast on previous occasions.

My customary policy is to try and get all the facts and to consider the opinions of my countrymen and to take counsel with my most valued friends. But these seldom agree, and in the end, the decision is mine. To procrastinate, to agonize, and to wait for a more favorable turn of events that may never come or more compelling external pressures that may as well be wrong as right, is itself a decision of sorts and a weak and potentially dangerous course for a President to follow. [Read more…]

Remarks By Gerald Ford On Taking the Oath Of Office As President

Nixon’s resignation letter was delivered to the Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, at 11.35am on August 9, 1974, by Assistant to the President, Alexander Haig.

Ford was sworn in shortly afterwards. The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White House following administration of the oath of office by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. The oath of office and the President’s remarks were broadcast live on radio and television.

  • Listen to Ford take the Oath of Office and to his Following Remarks (10m)
  • Watch Ford (11m)

Transcript of President Ford’s inaugural remarks.

Ford Swearing In Ceremony

Mr. Chief Justice, my dear friends, my fellow Americans:

The oath that I have taken is the same oath that was taken by George Washington and by every President under the Constitution. But I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances never before experienced by Americans. This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.

Therefore, I feel it is my first duty to make an unprecedented compact with my countrymen. Not an inaugural address, not a fireside chat, not a campaign speech–just a little straight talk among friends. And I intend it to be the first of many.

I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your President with your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will also be the first of many.

If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises. I have not campaigned either for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman–my dear wife–as I begin this very difficult job.

I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it. Those who nominated and confirmed me as Vice President were my friends and are my friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of all the people.

Thomas Jefferson said the people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. And down the years, Abraham Lincoln renewed this American article of faith asking, “Is there any better way or equal hope in the world?

I intend, on Monday next, to request of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate the privilege of appearing before the Congress to share with my former colleagues and with you, the American people, my views on the priority business of the Nation and to solicit your views and their views. And may I say to the Speaker and the others, if I could meet with you right after these remarks, I would appreciate it.

Even though this is late in an election year, there is no way we can go forward except together and no way anybody can win except by serving the people’s urgent needs. We cannot stand still or slip backwards. We must go forward now together.

To the peoples and the governments of all friendly nations, and I hope that could encompass the whole world, I pledge an uninterrupted and sincere search for peace. America will remain strong and united, but its strength will remain dedicated to the safety and sanity of the entire family of man, as well as to our own precious freedom.

I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our Government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad.

In all my public and private acts as your President, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end.

My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.

As we bind up the internal wounds of Watergate, more painful and more poisonous than those of foreign wars, let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate.

In the beginning, I asked you to pray for me. Before closing, I ask again your prayers, for Richard Nixon and for his family. May our former President, who brought peace to millions, find it for himself. May God bless and comfort his wonderful wife and daughters, whose love and loyalty will forever be a shining legacy to all who bear the lonely burdens of the White House.

I can only guess at those burdens, although I have witnessed at close hand the tragedies that befell three Presidents and the lesser trials of others.

With all the strength and all the good sense I have gained from life, with all the confidence my family, my friends, and my dedicated staff impart to me, and with the good will of countless Americans I have encountered in recent visits to 40 States, I now solemnly reaffirm my promise I made to you last December 6: to uphold the Constitution, to do what is right as God gives me to see the right, and to do the very best I can for America.

God helping me, I will not let you down.

Thank you.

Nixon’s Resignation Letter

Nixon’s resignation letter was delivered to the Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger.

Click here to read the full text of Nixon's Resignation Speech


Nixon’s Final Remarks To The White House Staff

On the morning of his resignation as president, Richard Nixon addressed the White House staff.

  • Listen to extracts of Nixon’s remarks (1m)
  • Watch Nixon’s speech in full (21m)

Text of President Nixon’s final remarks to the White House staff.

Nixon's Farewell to the White House StaffMembers of the Cabinet, members of the White House Staff, all of our friends here:

I think the record should show that this is one of those spontaneous things that we always arrange whenever the President comes in to speak, and it will be so reported in the press, and we don’t mind, because they have to call it as they see it.

But on our part, believe me, it is spontaneous.

You are here to say goodbye to us, and we don’t have a good word for it in English—the best is au revoir. We’ll see you again.

I just met with the members of the White House staff, you know, those who serve here in the White House day in and day out, and I asked them to do what I ask all of you to do to the extent that you can and, of course, are requested to do so: to serve our next President as you have served me and previous Presidents—because many of you have been here for many years—with devotion and dedication, because this office, great as it is, can only be as great as the men and women who work for and with the President. [Read more…]

Memorandum To Jaworski On Prosecuting Nixon

This is a memorandum prepared for the Watergate Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworksi, on the day Richard Nixon resigned the presidency.

It was prepared by Carl Feldbaum and Peter Kreindler.

WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTION FORCE

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

MEMORANDUM

TO: Leon Jaworski, Special Prosecutor

DATE: August 9, 1974

FROM: Carl B Feldbaum & Peter M. Kreindler

SUBJECT: Factors to be Considered in Deciding Whether to Prosecute Richard M. Nixon for Obstruction of Justice

In our view there is clear evidence that Richard M. Nixon participated in a conspiracy to obstruct justice by concealing the identity of those responsible for the Watergate break-in and other criminal offenses. There is a presumption (which in the past we have operated upon) that Richard M. Nixon, like every citizen, is subject to the rule of law. Accordingly, one begins with the premise that if there is sufficient evidence, Mr. Nixon should be indicted and prosecuted. The question then becomes whether the presumption for proceeding is outweighed by the factors mandating against indictment and prosecution.

The factors which mandate against indictment and prosecution are:

  1. His resignation has been sufficient punishment.
  2. He has been subject to an impeachment inquiry with resulting articles of impeachment which the House Judiciary Committee unanimously endorsed as to Article I (the Watergate cover-up).
  3. Prosecution might aggravate political divisions in the country.
  4. As a political matter, the times call for conciliation rather than recrimination.
  5. There would be considerable difficulty in achieving a fair trial because of massive pre-trial publicity.

The factors which mandate in favor of indictment and prosecution are:

  1. The principle of equal justice under law requires that every person, no matter what his past position or office, answer to the criminal justice system for his past offenses. This is a particularly weighty factor if Mr. Nixon’s aides and associates, who acted upon his orders and what they conceived to be his interests, are to be prosecuted for she same offenses.
  2. The country will be further divided by Mr. Nixon unless there is a final disposition of charges of criminality outstanding against him so as to forestall the belief that he was driven from his office by erosion of his political base. This final disposition may be necessary to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice system and the legislative process, which together marshalled the substantial evidence of Mr. Nixon’s guilt.
  3. Article I, Section 3, clause 7 of the Constitution provides that a person removed from office by impeachment and conviction “shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment, and Punishment, according to Law.” The Framers contemplated that a person removed from office because of abuse of his public trust still would have to answer to the criminal justice system for criminal offenses.
  4. It cannot be sufficient retribution for criminal offenses merely to surrender the public office and trust which has been demonstrably abused. A person should not be permitted to trade in the abused office in return for immunity.
  5. The modern nature of the Presidency necessitates massive public exposure of the President’s actions through the media. A bar to prosecution on the grounds of such publicity effectively would immunize all future Presidents for their actions, however criminal. Moreover, the courts may be the appropriate forum to resolve questions of pre-trial publicity in the context of an adversary proceeding.
Jaworski Memorandum 1

Jaworski Memorandum 2

Nixon Recalls His Last Full Day In The White House

In 1983, Richard Nixon recalled his last full day in the White House.

He recounted his memories of delivering his resignation speech, remarks by Dr Henry Kissinger and the reaction of his staff and colleagues.

Nixon also recalled a conversation with Vice-President Gerald Ford.

The interview was posted on YouTube by the Richard Nixon Library.

  • Watch Nixon (4m)

Nixon’s Resignation Speech

Richard M. Nixon addressed the nation at 9pm on August 8, 1974, to announce that he would resign the presidency at noon the following day.

Nixon became the only president ever to resign the office.

The video shows Nixon’s preparations for his televised resignation announcement. The official speech begins at the 7 minute mark:

  • Listen to Nixon’s resignation speech (16m)
  • Watch Nixon’s speech (23m)

Text of President Richard Nixon’s resignation speech.

Richard Nixon

Good evening.

This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest.

In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.

In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.

But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged. [Read more…]

Nixon Resigns: ABC, CBS And NBC Television Coverage

President Richard Nixon’s resignation announcement came in a televised speech to the nation at 9pm on August 8, 1974.

The videos on this page are of the ABC, CBS and NBC television coverage of Nixon’s resignation speech.

The coverage is features Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Harry Reasoner, John Chancellor and Tom Brokaw. [Read more…]