August 8, 1974:  President Nixon Announces His Resignation

On this day in 1974, Richard Nixon announced that he was resigning as President of the United States. In a radio and television broadcast from the Oval Office, Nixon became the first president in American history to resign.

This historic decision arose from the near-certain threat of impeachment following the highly publicized Watergate Scandal.

Revisit President Nixon’s resignation speech with American Experience.

Photo: President Richard Nixon delivers remarks to the White House staff on his final day in office. From left to right are David Eisenhower, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the president, First Lady Pat Nixon, Tricia Nixon Cox, and Ed Cox, 9 August 1974 (National Archives). 

I like self-imposed resignation, letting go, and moving on. All of these acts are liberatory, all of these acts give one a tangible sense of control in the midst of perpetual turmoil. And, yes, I do think there’s a difference between “giving up” and “letting go” – “giving up” feels static whereas “letting go” signifies the acceptance of change, the affirmation of flux and fluidity, the chiseling out of untapped spaces, the charting of sacred territories, the unraveling of mysterious pleasures and the discovery of new ways of knowing and being in the world.