A big day in history: Richard Nixon makes his final address as president of the United States

Dominic Sandbrook nominates 9 August 1974 – the date that Richard Nixon made his final address as president of the United States – as a big day in history...

Richard Nixon at the White House with his family following his resignation as president, 9 August 1974. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the July 2011 issue of BBC History Magazine

On 9 August 1974, his last morning as president of the United States, Richard Nixon got up at six. Still in his pyjamas, he asked the chef to prepare his favourite meal, corned beef hash and poached eggs. He ate alone in his beloved Lincoln Sitting Room, staring into the fire’s dying embers, doubtless pondering the Watergate scandal that had shattered his credibility and made him the first president in history to step down. After breakfast there was a knock on the door: an aide bringing the ceremonial letter. Beneath the words “I hereby resign the Office of President of the United States,” Nixon scrawled his name.

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