Forty years ago tonight (Aug. 8), President Richard Nixon, mired in the Watergate scandal, announced he would do something no other U.S. president had done before or has done since: resign.
“By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America,” he said, according to the History Channel’s Website.
The next day, just before noon, Nixon stepped down and Gerald Ford became president.
From the seemingly small break-in at the Watergate Hotel, Washington Post newspaper reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein pieced together a larger story that involved spying, wiretapping, campaign sabotage and secret slush funds used to finance crimes. The story brought to light Nixon’s famous tapes, which contained damning evidence of a cover-up.
In addition to Nixon’s resignation, many members of his administration also went to prison. Ford pardoned Nixon.
One of the primary Post sources, nicknamed “Deep Throat,” died in 2008 at age 95. After much conjecture, his identity was revealed as W. Mark Felt, an associate director of the FBI during the Nixon administration.