By Jordyn Phelps
On this day in history 40 years ago, Richard Nixon – facing all but certain impeachment amidst the Watergate scandal – announced his decision to resign as president.
The Watergate scandal was touched off by the June 17, 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Through the initial reporting of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, as well as a formal Congressional investigation, it was learned that Nixon knew about the break-in despite his administration’s attempt to cover the president’s tracks.
This is an excerpted transcript of Nixon’s address to the nation on August 8, 1974:
NIXON: … 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.
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. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.
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.