Richard Nixon became the only president in the history of the United States to resign the office on August 9, 1974, after the long and arduous Watergate scandal finally brought him down.
What began as a burglary at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee on June 17, 1972, escalated into the most infamous political cover-up in American history when it became clear Nixon's administration was involved. It then spiralled into a series of investigations about other illegal activities by Nixon's camp, including using the CIA and the IRS as weapons against political opponents.
For well over a year Nixon denied covering up the scandal, until it was revealed the White House had a tape system installed that recorded conversations. Nixon's administration desperately tried to prevent the release of the tapes, even taking it to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile impeachment proceedings were started against Nixon in Congress.
On August 5, 1974, Nixon's position became untenable when the so-called "smoking gun" tape was released, where Nixon and his chief of staff are heard discussing the break-in and how to stop the FBI investigating it. This destroyed Nixon's credibility, as he had claimed no knowledge of the events prior to early 1973 and no part in the cover-up.
Four days later Nixon resigned and was succeeded by his vice president, Gerald Ford.
Author(s): Richard Nixon
Location signed: United States
Source: Wikimedia Commons
- 1974-08-09 Richard Nixon resigns as President of the United States and Vice President Gerald Ford swears the oath of office to take his place as the 38th US President
38th US President
US Secretary of State and Political Scientist
37th US President