Year
1974

Unusual succession makes Ford president

In accordance with his statement of resignation the previous evening, Richard M. Nixon officially ends his term as the 37th president of the United States at noon. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or peace salute. The helicopter door was then closed, and the Nixon family began their journey home to San Clemente, California. Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to resign from office.

Minutes later, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States in the East Room of the White House. After taking the oath of office, President Ford spoke to the nation in a television address, declaring, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”

Ford, the first president who came to the office through appointment rather than election, had replaced Spiro Agnew as vice president only eight months before. In a political scandal independent of the Nixon administration’s wrongdoings in the Watergate affair, Agnew had been forced to resign in disgrace after he was charged with income tax evasion and political corruption. In September 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office, explaining that he wanted to end the national divisions created by the Watergate scandal.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Owens wins 4th gold medal

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, African American track star Jesse Owens wins his fourth gold medal of the Games in the 4×100-meter relay. His relay team set a new world record of 39.8 seconds, which held for 20 years. In their strong showing in track-and-field events at the XIth ...read more

Romans routed at Adrianople

In one of the most decisive battles in history, a large Roman army under Valens, the Roman emperor of the East, is defeated by the Visigoths at the Battle of Adrianople in present-day Turkey. Two-thirds of the Roman army, including Emperor Valens himself, were overrun and ...read more

Manson cult kills five people

On this day in 1969, members of Charles Manson’s cult kill five people in movie director Roman Polanski’s Beverly Hills, California, home, including Polanski’s pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate. Less than two days later, the group killed again, murdering supermarket executive ...read more

Nixon leaves office

Having announced his resignation the day before, Richard M. Nixon steps down from the the presidency of the United States and is succeeded by Vice President Gerald R. Ford. Nixon had resigned rather than face almost certain impeachment because of the Watergate scandal, in which ...read more

Marines launch Operation Cochise

First Marine Division launches Operation Cochise in the Que Son valley. Meanwhile, the First Cavalry Division continued with Operation Pershing, a major clearing operation in the Binh Dinh province designed to improve the security situation in support of the ongoing pacification ...read more

The Great One gets traded

On this day in 1988, Edmonton Oilers center Wayne Gretzky is traded to the Los Angeles Kings along with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley in return for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas and first-round draft picks in the 1989, 1991 and 1993 drafts. At age 27, Gretzky was already ...read more

Ford is inaugurated

On this day in 1974, one day after the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as president, making him the first man to assume the presidency upon his predecessor’s resignation. He was also the first non-elected vice president and non-elected ...read more

Nez Perce fight Battle of Big Hole

Having refused government demands that they move to a reservation, a small band of Nez Perce Indians clash with the U.S. Army near the Big Hole River in Montana. The conflict between the U.S. government and the Nez Perce was one of the most tragic of the many Indian wars of the ...read more

Jerry Garcia dies

Like his band the Grateful Dead, which was still going strong three decades after its formation, Jerry Garcia defied his life-expectancy not merely by surviving, but by thriving creatively and commercially into the 1990s–far longer than most of his peers. His long, strange trip ...read more

Hurricane Belle strikes Eastern Seaboard

Hurricane Belle turns toward the United States from the Bahamas on this day in 1976. By the time Belle had run its course, the storm had killed 12 people and caused $24 million in damages from North Carolina to Vermont. Hurricane Belle was a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson ...read more