On This Day: Ford Pardons Nixon

On Sept. 8, 1974 President Gerald Ford issued a "full, free, and absolute" for disgraced former President Richard Nixon.

"...[T]he tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States," Ford wrote in Presidential Proclamation 4311. "The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States."

Nixon had resigned the presidency a month before, more than two years after the Watergate Hotel break-in that eventually brought him down.

In the televised addressed announcing his resignation, Nixon told the American viewers that he was not a quitter and that leaving was "abhorrent to every instinct in my body." But, he said, he did not have the political support in Congress to complete his term and decided to step down to "hasten[] the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."

Primary Source: Proclamation 4311

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