National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1970-1987: We wrestle with our democratic freedoms, arguing issues old and new

August 8, 1974
In the wake of Watergate, Nixon resigns the presidency

Richard M. Nixon

“Our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men.”
—Gerald R. Ford

“What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

The question has preoccupied our nation ever since the Senate began investigating the Watergate scandal.

For more than a year, as evidence of illegal White House activities has mounted, President Nixon has been clashing with congressional committees, special prosecutors and the federal courts. He’s refused to turn over documents and tapes, claiming “executive privilege.”

The result: a botched burglary at the Watergate apartment complex has become a major constitutional test of presidential power.

Two weeks ago, a unanimous Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over tapes of Oval Office conversations. Presidents can claim executive privilege, they ruled, but not even a president is above the law.

Evidence on the tapes cost Nixon the presidency.

Today, before the House could vote to impeach him, Nixon resigned—the first president in American history to do so.

Read about it in the New York times

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