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Nixon Resignation

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“I hereby resign the office of President of the United States.” In that simple 11-word message, President Richard Nixon resigned from office this week in 1974.

People in this region, like the rest of the nation, were stunned, saddened or satisfied. The complicated Watergate investigation revealed that Nixon concealed evidence from House impeachment investigators, his own lawyers, and the American public.

The Fargo Forum reported on the public response from a variety of locations. At Fargo’s American Legion Club, a patron and Viet Nam veteran, declared, “I love this. I’m celebrating with my buddies tonight. I think Nixon delayed that war for us in order to be re-elected.”

Another veteran differed on the accusation about Nixon delaying the war, but agreed with a third veteran that they were happy to see Nixon go.

At Moorhead State College in Grantham Hall, a junior woman observed, “He’s in his own prison for the rest of his life.” The dorm lounge grew crowded during the television coverage. The paper described the scene as an atmosphere “full of whispers, a few looks of disgust and scattered glances of disbelief.”

A representative from the office of North Dakota Congressman Mark Andrews said, “I admired Nixon. The guy really had an opportunity for greatness. He showed that he could be a pretty doggone good president.”

Other North Dakotans and Minnesotans agreed that Nixon could have been a good president but, in the end, he had betrayed his supporters.

A native of Fargo who worked for Democratic North Dakota Senator Quentin Burdick said, “It’s nothing to be jubilant about. I think it’s sad.”

A former employee of the Committee to Re-Elect the President, who used to live in Fargo, expressed her dismay, saying: “I’m disappointed and let down that somebody I worked so hard for, and believed in, hurt the country.”

One Congressional staffer noted a somber legacy for the disgraced former Commander in Chief, noting: “He stood by quietly while a lot of people who followed him went to jail.”

Dakota Datebook by Steve Stark

The Forum Aug. 8 and 9th, 1974

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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