President Gerald Ford: Nixon Resigns Ford's Inauguration

About the resignation of Nixon which leads to the inauguration of Gerald Ford as President of the United States.

PRESIDENCY

August 8, 1974. . .

Faced with incontrovertible evidence that he had obstructed justice and blocked proper investigation of the Watergate break-in, Richard Nixon looked ahead to certain impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate. After more than 2 years of controversy, he decided at long last to resign the Presidency.

In an evening speech to the nation, Nixon pointedly reminded the people that even though he was personally stepping down, power would be passed to his handpicked successor: "In turning over direction of the Government to Vice-President Ford, I know, as I told the nation when I nominated him for that office 10 months ago, that the leadership of America will be in good hands."

Just one month later, Ford justified Nixon's confidence by granting the former President a "full, complete, and absolute pardon" for all crimes that he might have committed as Chief Executive.

August 9, 1974 . . .

At noon, Ford and his wife walked into the packed East Room of the White House amid thunderous applause. "Mr. Vice-President," intoned Chief Justice Warren Burger, "are you prepared to take the oath of office as President of the U.S.?" "I am, sir," Ford replied. Even before the chief justice asked him to do so, Ford raised his right hand, placing his left on a Bible held by his wife. It was opened to Proverbs 3:5-6--a passage Ford says every night as a prayer: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding/In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." After repeating the oath of office, Ford turned and kissed his wife on both cheeks, as the audience rose to its feet in applause.

In the brief inaugural address that followed, Ford told the nation: "As we bind up the internal wounds of Watergate, more painful and more poisonous than those of foreign wars, let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and hate."

Within 3 months, Ford was hitting the campaign trail in an all-out effort to discredit his opposition. He told the people that the Democrats in Congress were to blame for the nation's disastrous rate of inflation, and warned that the election of more Democrats would "jeopardize world peace."

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