"I hereby resign the Office of President of the United States."During the night of June 17, 1972, five burglars broke into the offices 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.
--Richard M. Nixon, August 9, 1974
The break-in and the resignation form the boundaries of the events we know as the Watergate affair. For 2 years public revelations of wrongdoing inside the White House convulsed the nation in a series of confrontations that pitted the President against the media, executive agencies, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. The Watergate affair was a national trauma--a constitutional crisis that tested and affirmed the rule of law.
Security officer's log of the Watergate office building, showing entry for June 17, 1972
National Archives, Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force
Richard M. Nixon's letter resigning the Presidency, August 9, 1974
On the morning of August 9, 1974, the day following President
Nixon's televised resignation speech, White House Chief of Staff
Alexander Haig presented this letter to President Nixon to sign.
The President's resignation letter is addressed to the Secretary
of State, in keeping with a law passed by Congress in 1792. The
letter became effective when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
initialed it at 11:35 a.m.
National Archives, General Records of the Department of State
Richard Nixon delivering the "V" sign upon his final
departure from the White House, photograph by Robert L. Knudsen,
August 9, 1974
Nixon Presidential Materials Project
National Archives records relating to the Watergate affair are in the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, Records of District Courts of the United States, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Records of the U.S. Senate. The resignation letter of President Nixon is among the General Records of the Department of State.
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