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Proclamation 4311: Nixon Pardoned (8 September 1974)

PROCLAMATION 4311: NIXON PARDONED (8 September 1974)


Reaction to the pardon of former President Richard Nixon by Gerald Ford was largely negative. By 1974, most Americans were convinced of Nixon's participation in the Watergate break-ins and the elaborate cover-up that followed. In a televised address to the American people, Ford cited the good of the nation, the sure-to-be insurmountable difficulty in achieving a fair trial for Nixon, and even the health of the disgraced president as reasons for his decision. Dire political consequences were the result. Appointed to the Vice-Presidency following the resignation of Spiro T. Agnew, Ford was the first person to become President of the United States without having first been elected President or Vice-President. Many Americans came to believe that the promise of a full pardon was what Ford exchanged for his promotion to the second highest office in the land. By the election of 1976, hounded by the press for misstatements about Soviet influence in Eastern Europe, and endlessly ridiculed on television shows like NBC's Saturday Night Live, Ford had very little appeal to the American people, or even his own party, as a viable candidate. He was beaten by a political unknown, former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, who successfully pinned the sins of the Nixon administration, and its aftermath, to the short presidency of Gerald Ford.

Laura M.Miller,
Vanderbilt University

See also Nixon, Resignation of ; Watergate .

By the President of the United States of America a Proclamation

Now, THEREFORE, I, GERALD R. FORD, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9,1974.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-ninth.

GERALD R. FORD

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