President Nixon’s Resignation Letter to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (1974)

Posted by Aaron Siegel on

On Friday August 9th, 1974, Richard Nixon became the only U.S. president to resign from office. Due to his involvement and cover up of the Watergate Scandal.

President Nixon faced near-certain impeachment and removal from office.
Therefore, he chose to preemptively resign instead of being removed.

Article II Section IV of the United States Constitution states, “The President, Vice
President, and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office
on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Before Nixon, Andrew Johnson had been the only President
Congress had impeached, in 1868. The enclosed letter, written to then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, was Nixon’s official resignation letter.

The day prior to writing the enclosed letter, Thursday August 8th 1974, President
Nixon had addressed the nation via a live televised and radio speech delivered from the Oval Office. In his speech, Nixon said he was resigning for the good of
the country and urged Americans to support Gerald Ford, the new president.
Nixon said:

"Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but
always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said
about the man in the arena, "whose face is marred by dust and
sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up
short again and again because there is not effort without error and
shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who
knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends
himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the
triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at
least fails while daring greatly."

In his live broadcast, Nixon also said “I have never been a quitter. To leave office
before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as
President, I must put the interest of America first.” He then announced, “I shall
resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.”

Nixon’s resignation speech received mixed reviews, because he never officially
admitted wrongdoing and devoted much of this time to noting his accomplishments while in office.

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