At 9:01 pm, Eastern, 08 August 1974, President Richard M. Nixon began his last television address. He was the first, and at this time only, American president to resign.
I remember that hot August evening clearly. I was sitting outside drinking a beer with my daddy, listening to a radio in the dark.
We were tuned in because it was damn important. I had started following the Watergate hearings in May 1973, as a senior in high school. The President’s culpability was dinner table conversation.
We were not the only family tuned in, one way or another. The estimated TV audience, 90-110 million; US population in 1974, 214 million.
At least 2,700 radio stations carried the speech. The three networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) suspended prime-time programming and instead devoted Thursday evening “to news analysis, interviews and discussion” of the 16?minute speech and the events that had led up to this moment.
I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter, I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require…
To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.
Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office…
By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.
At noon on Friday, Vice President Gerald R. Ford (R-MI) took the oath of office as the new President.
Ford was not Nixon’s running mate when he was re-elected in 1972. That was Spiro Agnew, who had resigned on 10 October 1973, the same day he pleaded no contest to a felony charge of federal tax evasion…
Known for gnawing at complex questions like a terrier with a bone. Digital evangelist, writer, teacher. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill, wiredpen.com