On the evening of August 8, 1974, Richard Milhous Nixon sat at his desk in the Oval Office and announced that he was resigning the office of the president. The next day, he submitted his letter of resignation to Henry Kissinger and left for Yorba Linda, California.

Richard Nixon had served a total of 2,026 days as the 37th President of the United States. He left office with 2 1/2 years of his second term remaining. A total of 25 officials from his administration, including four cabinet members, were eventually convicted and imprisoned for various crimes.There have been many scandals throughout American presidential history, but only one has ever brought down a presidency. To understand Watergate, it is helpful to have an understanding of the culture of the administration, and of the psyche of the man himself. Richard M. Nixon was a secretive man who did not tolerate criticism well, who engaged in numerous acts of duplicity, who kept lists of enemies, and who used the power of the presidency to seek petty acts of revenge on those enemies. As early as the 1968 campaign Nixon was scheming about Vietnam. Just as the Democrats were gaining in the polls following Johnson's halting of the bombing of North Vietnam and news of a possible peace deal, Nixon set out to sabotage the Paris peace negotiations by privately assuring the South Vietnamese military rulers a better deal from him than they would get from Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey. The South Vietnamese junta withdrew from the talks on the eve of the election, ending the peace initiative and helping Nixon to squeak out a marginal victory.During Nixon's first term he approved a secret bombing mission in Cambodia, without even consulting or informing congress, and he fought tooth and nail to prevent  Most striking, however, was Nixon's strategy for how to deal with the enemies that he saw everywhere. Nixon sent Vice President Spiro Agnew on the circuit to blast the media, protestors, and intellectuals who criticized the Vietnam War and Nixon's policies. Agnew spewed out alliterate insults such as "pusillanimous pussyfooters", "nattering nabobs of negativism", and "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history". He once described a group of opponents as "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals."

The first inauguration of Richard Nixon as the 37th President of the United States was held on Monday, January 20, 1969, at the east portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

1970 July 23 - Nixon approves a plan for greatly expanding domestic intelligence-gathering by the FBI, CIA and other agencies. He has second thoughts a few days later and rescinds his approval.1971 June 13 - the Defense Department's secret history of the Vietnam War. The Washington Post will begin publishing the papers later that same week.September 3 - The White House "plumbers" unit - named for their orders to plug leaks in the administration - burglarizes a psychiatrist's office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers.1972 June 17 - Five men, one of whom says he used to work for the CIA, are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate hotel and office complex.1973 January 30 - Former Nixon aides G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. are convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping in the Watergate incident. Five other men plead guilty, but mysteries remain. Post Story.April 30 - Nixon's top White House staffers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resign over the scandal. White House counsel John Dean is fire.Earlier today he accepted the resignations of four of his closest aides, including Attorney General Richard G Kleindienst.

A portrait of Richard Nixon with his daughters Tricia Nixon and Julie Nixon, and wife Pat Nixon.

Resignations were also accepted from chief White House advisers, H R Haldeman and John D Ehrlichman and counsel to the president, John W Dean III.America must not again fall into the trap of letting the end, however great that end is, justify the means Richard Nixon.The president announced he had appointed Defence Secretary Elliott L Richardson as the new Attorney General and had charged him with full responsibility for revealing the truth behind the Watergate affair.He said: "America, in its political campaigns, must not again fall into the trap of letting the end, however great that end is, justify the means."The Democrats immediately demanded the whole Watergate investigation be handed over to an impartial prosecutor and that a special committee of the House be set up to investigate the possibility of presidential involvement in the scandal.The Watergate Affair began in June 1972, after five men were arrested in the early hours of the morning breaking into the Democratic Party's Watergate headquarters in Washington.In the ensuing months connections between several of the suspects and one part or another of the Republican power structure were revealed.But despite continued denials by leading officials in the Nixon administration that Watergate had no connection with the White House, the affair has rumbled on and it seems it still has some way to go before it reaches its conclusion.Watergate had profound consequences in the United States. There was a long list of convictions and other casualties. For example, the aftermath of Watergate ushered in changes in campaign finance reform and a more aggressive attitude by the media. By the time the 25th anniversary of Watergate occurred in 1997, a vast library of books and films existed. Watergate’s influence was felt in the Clinton Impeachment of 1998-99.Nixon died in 1994 and was eulogised by the political establishment, although he was still a figure of controversy.The investigations into Watergate that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon are a case study in the operation of the American Constitution and political values.

 US President Richard Nixon and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat  during Nixon's visit to Egypt.June 12, 1974

On August 5, 1974, the long sought after audio tapes provided the "smoking gun" which revealed President Nixon had been deeply involved in the coverup and had ordered Haldeman to halt the FBI investigation just six days after the Watergate break-in." the FBI and say that we wish, for the country, don't go any further into this case, period. Nixon to Haldeman, June 23, 1972.)That revelation resulted in a complete collapse of support for Nixon in Congress. On Friday, August 9, Nixon resigned the presidency and avoided the likely prospect of losing the impeachment vote in the full House and a subsequent trial in the Senate. He thus became the only U.S. President ever to resign. Vice President Gerald R. Ford succeeded him and a month later granted Nixon a full pardon for any crimes he might have committed while President.

President Richard Nixon says goodbye to family and staff in the White House East Room on August 9, 1974.Richard Milhous Nixon resigned in disgrace as US president – he remains reappraised but not rehabilitated.

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