Pol Light Moment #66 is when Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974. Gerald Ford was the 38th President of the United States serving from 1974 to 1977. He served as Vice-President of the United States from 1973-1974 and prior to that represented the 5th District of Michigan in the United States House of Representatives from 1949-1973.
Richard Nixon resigned as President of the United States on August 9, 1974, and his Vice-President Gerald Ford became President. After a month in office, Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have done as President. Over the years Presidential Pardons have been opportunities to show mercy in unusual circumstances and the pardon of Richard Nixon was probably one of the most high profile pardons in history.
Gerald Ford addresssed the nation when he made his decision to pardon Richard Nixon. Here is a historical video of Ford giving the pardon to Nixon.
Ford said he issued the pardon primarily for what he felt in his heart was in the best interests of the country and to show mercy to Richard Nixon and his family. Gerald Ford said in his pardon speech, "But it is not the ultimate fate of Richard Nixon that most concerns me, though surely it deeply troubles every decent and every compassionate person. My concern is the immediate future of this great country (Watergate.info)."
Many historians believe that the pardon Ford gave Nixon cost him the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter. Gerald Ford knew that possibility when he issued the pardon, because his speech mentions that he felt he could not rely upon public opinion polls to tell him what was right. Knowing the consequences to his political career, he still did what he thought was in the best interest of the country.
One of the most courageous political lines is when Ford said in his pardon speech, "I do believe that the buck stops here, that I cannot rely upon public opinion polls to tell me what is right. I do believe that right makes might and that if I am wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference (Watergate.info)."
You can read the full text of Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon at Watergate.info.
Gerald Ford has been featured on other Pol Light posts. To view all Gerald Ford posts search with the Gerald Ford label at Pol Light.
Pol Light does not endorse political candidates. We present a brighter side to politics when they are found on either side of the aisle. We don't have to agree with all of a person's politics to recognize these bright moments.