Nixon Resignation Remembered on 25th Anniversary

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNS) - On August 8, 1974, exactly 25 years ago today, Richard M Nixon, the first and only President of the United States to resign from office, delivered his farewell speech to the nation in the face of certain impeachment over allegations that he covered up a burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

"Nixon realized it was over," said Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward on NBC's Meet The Press. Woodward and fellow Post reporter Carl Bernstein were instrumental in exposing the connection between the White House and the team of burglars headed by Gordon Liddy who broke into the DNC headquarters during the 1972 reelection campaign of Nixon and his Democratic challenger Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota.

Though never convicted of any crimes, Nixon was later granted a "full pardon" by his successor, President Gerald Ford. Nixon said that he resigned to spare the nation the agony of a presidential impeachment.

"To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body," said Nixon in his televised address. "But as president, I must put the interests of America first." Then he delivered the words never spoken, before or since, by a US President.

"Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow," said Nixon. "I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision," he added.

"He did what was necessary to keep the system functioning," said Bernstein appearing on the same show as Woodward.

Nixon lived another 20 years after his resignation, going on to write books on foreign policy and counseling the presidents who followed him, including President Clinton, but Nixon never entered the political arena again. He died on April 22, 1994.