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Gerald Ford, President Following Watergate, Dies, 93

Gerald Rudolph Ford, the 38th President of the United States, died today, aged 93.

FordFord was the oldest ever ex-president and the only man to assume the presidency without being elected.

Ford was appointed Vice-President in 1973, following the resignation of Spiro Agnew. He became President following Richard Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974. Attempting election in his own right, Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Ford’s most controversial decision as President was to grant a full pardon to Nixon on September 8, 1974. [Read more…]

President Jimmy Carter’s Inaugural Address

Following Nixon’s resignation, the Republicans suffered heavy losses in the 1974 mid-term congressional elections.

In 1975, the little known Democratic Governor of Georgia, James Earl Carter, announced that he was running for president.

Carter’s insurgent outsider’s campaign propelled him to victory at the 1976 presidential election, defeating Gerald Ford.

  • Watch Carter’s Inaugural Address (15m)
  • Listen to Carter (15m)

President James Earl (“Jimmy”) Carter’s Inaugural Address

January 20, 1977

For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.

In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of our Nation. As my high school teacher, Miss Julia Coleman, used to say: “We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.” [Read more…]

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: [Read more…]

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):

Nixon’s speech, as issued by the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in 2014 (29m):

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…]

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…]

Barbara Jordan: Speech on Impeachment

A President Is Impeachable If He Attempts To Subvert The Constitution

This is the speech given by Representative Barbara Jordan (Democrat-Texas) reminding her colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee of the Constitutional basis for impeachment. The Committee met in Washington, D.C.

  • Listen to Barbara Jordan (13m)
  • Watch Barbara Jordan (13m)

Speech by Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) to the House Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Chairman:

I join in thanking you for giving the junior members of this committee the glorious opportunity of sharing the pain of this inquiry. Mr. Chairman, you are a strong man and it has not been easy but we have tried as best we can to give you as much assistance as possible.

Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, “We, the people.” It is a very eloquent beginning. But when the document was completed on the seventeenth of September 1787 I was not included in that “We, the people.”  I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake.  But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in “We, the people.” [Read more…]

United States vs Nixon – Oral Arguments

The case of United States vs. Nixon was a pivotal moment in Watergate that led directly to the resignation of the President.

In April 1974, the Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, obtained a subpoena that ordered Nixon to hand over a number of White House tape recordings and other papers.

Nixon turned over edited transcripts of 43 conversations. These included portions only of 20 tapes demanded by Jaworski. Nixon then sought to have the subpoena quashed. Judge John Sirica ordered Nixon to turn the tapes over by May 31. The matter was then appealed to the Supreme Court by Nixon and Jaworski.

The court heard oral arguments in the case on July 8, 1974. Nixon was represented by his attorney, James St. Clair.

Justice William Rehnquist recused himself from hearing the case. The unanimous decision (8-0) was delivered on July 24, 1974 by Chief Justice Warren Burger.

Nixon was ordered to hand over the tapes. When he did so, the infamous smoking gun tape showed that Nixon had ordered the Watergate cover-up on June 23, 1972, just six days after the burglary. The revelation caused Nixon’s public and congressional support to collapse and he resigned on August 9.

  • Listen to the oral arguments (180m)
  • Watch a video presentation (180m)

Nixon’s 1974 State of the Union Address

This is the text of President Nixon’s last State of the Union Address.

This was Nixon’s fifth State of the Union address. Towards the end of the speech, Nixon raised Watergate, declaring: “I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough.”

Nixon resigned as president six months later.

  • Listen to Nixon’s Address (45m)
  • Watch Nixon’s Address (49m)

Transcript of President Nixon’s final State of the Union Address.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, my colleagues in the Congress, our distinguished guests, my fellow Americans:

We meet here tonight at a time of great challenge and great opportunities for America. We meet at a time when we face great problems at home and abroad that will test the strength of our fiber as a nation. But we also meet at a time when that fiber has been tested, and it has proved strong.

America is a great and good land, and we are a great and good land because we are a strong, free, creative people and because America is the single greatest force for peace anywhere in the world. Today, as always in our history, we can base our confidence in what the American people will achieve in the future on the record of what the American people have achieved in the past.

Tonight, for the first time in 12 years, a President of the United States can report to the Congress on the state of a Union at peace with every nation of the world. Because of this, in the 22,000-word message on the state of the Union that I have just handed to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, I have been able to deal primarily with the problems of peace with what we can do here at home in America for the American people–rather than with the problems of war. [Read more…]