During the night of June 17, 1972, five burglars broke into the office of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC. Investigation into the break-in exposed a trail of abuses that led to the highest levels of the Nixon administration and ultimately to the President himself. President Nixon resigned from office under threat of impeachment on August 9, 1974.

A historic day of transition, August 9 was marked by two milestone events at the White House: President Nixon became the first President in U.S. history to resign the office, and Vice President Ford, who had never campaigned for the office of Vice President or President was sworn in as President (Ford was chosen by Nixon to be Vice President when Spiro T. Agnew resigned the office in 1973). At 9:36 a.m., Nixon made his farewell remarks to the Cabinet and White House staff. At 12:05 p.m., Gerald Ford was sworn in as 38th President of the United States. George Herbert Walker Bush, then Chairman of the Republican National Committee, was present at both events. He composed this diary account, noting how the tears and grief of Nixon’s farewell, gave way to a cheerier, forward-looking “new spirit” at Ford’s swearing-in.