Richard Nixon's last day as president of the United States: Part 10

Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974.
6:30 | 06/17/17

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Transcript for Richard Nixon's last day as president of the United States: Part 10
decision. When Richard Nixon loses us V. Nixon, he thinks about resigning, his family pushes back. The tipping point was that a number of prominent Republicans came to Nixon and said, "We're not gonna be able to support you in the senate." Down to the white house trudged the senior Republicans on capitol hill. When Barry Goldwater and the leaders of the Republican party in congress come to him and say "Look, it's over." Al haig told me that the president's last great hope was George Wallace. The president said, George, are you still with me and the governor said, no, I'm sorry, Mr. President, I'm not. And the president hung up, looked at me and said, Al, I've just lost the presidency. President Nixon asks his daughter, Julie, to tell the first lady that he's resigning. He doesn't tell the first lady. You were the one who told her? I did. I said daddy felt he had to resign. A tear slid down her eye and I didn't think she said anything. She accepted it. She knew it was the end. You had one last dinner. And you asked the white house photographer to be there. I just had a feeling that it was important that the event be recorded. He wanted a picture for history's sake. We all linked arms and stood there and smiled. I put on a -- somewhat of a false front, and bravado and tried to arrange it in my usual way. "You stand here, you stand here." It's interesting from how my mother looked at it. E hates that picture of all of us smiling. Because she says there our hearts are breaking and we're smiling. I went down to the Lincoln room heard the chanting outside. Reminded me of the Vietnam days, except this time the chant was "Jail to the chief! Jail to the chief!" I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice president Ford will be sworn in as president at that hour in this office. Today at dawn two men got up, they'll go to bed tonight with very different titles and very different fates. I woke up with a start the last day, wondering if I'd overslept, and I looked at my watch. The battery had run out, worn out, at four o'clock the last day I was in office. By that time I was worn out too. Al haig sort of knocked on the door. He brought one piece of paper. There was one line on it. He said, "You know, we forgot to do this. Would you sign it now?" "I hereby resign the office of president of the United States." Mrs Nixon and the president came down the elevator, I'll never forget she said why are you doing this? The president has just entered with Mrs. Nixon to say goodbye to the white house staff and to his cabinet. You are here to say goodbye to us. What we see in the east room is the agony of being Richard Nixon. I D't think I can even tell you without sobbing, so I'm not gonna try. I can't -- I just get very emotional about it. He said, "This isn't goodbye. The French have a word for it." We don't have a good word for it in English. The best is au Revoir. We'll see you again. Every part of it was incredibly touching. The farewell speech to the staff. It was very difficult because he was really letting down his guard for one of the few times in public. He spoke from the heart. Tricia later, in her diary, wrote that for the first time, she was glad people were able to see daddy as he really was. The greatness comes not when things always go good for you -- greatness comes when you're really tested. When you take some knocks and some disappointments -- His voice cracking with emotion as he spoke about a man is not defeated until he gives up. You have to keep going in life, keep fighting. Only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain. He was saying goodbye to them. He was saying goodbye to a whole lot, to a political life. Always give your best others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate themand then you destroy yourself. President and Mrs. Nixon, vice president Gerald Ford, soon to be president, walking the red carpet now. Mrs. Nixon had already got aboard ahead of me. Kind of raised by hand. I don't know whether it was a salute or a wave but that was it. When Nixon boarded the helicopter, I was glad to see him go. That meant the end of this turmoil and angst that we were all dealing with. As the helicopter began to rise I heard Ms. Nixon speak to no one in particular but to everyone. She said, "It's so sad. It's so sad." He looked at me and said, "My god, there's no going back."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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