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Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:39 PM

On this day in history, August 8, 1974

Gerald Ford watched on his television in his suburban Virginia home, as Richard Nixon handed the presidency over to him, his vice president of the past 10 months. Nixon became the first Chief Executive in U.S. history to resign the presidency.

After Nixon's brief address announcing his resignation, cheers could be heard throughout the nation's capital, as well as chants of "Jail to the Chief."

The end of Nixon's years in the White House came when he released secret tapes showing his involvement on the Watergate cover-up on June 3, 1972, one week after the break in of the democratic national headquarters. Congress' support for its leader eventually evaporated in his bursts of outrage over the prospects of impeachment.

On April 22, 1994, nearly two decades after the incident, Nixon died in his home state of California at the age of 81. The 4,000-plus mourners present, including every living American president and dozens of other world leaders, remembered Richard M. Nixon for his efforts to improve relations with Moscow, for opening the door to China and for finding an end to the Vietnam War.


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