Gerald R. Ford, September 8, 1974



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Directions: in this worksheet you will read and evaluate statements relating to President Gerald Ford's pardon of former President Richard Nixon. Below are statements made by key figures in the matter of the presidential pardon. After you read them, answer the questions that follow in complete sentences (2-3 sentences per response).
“I have . . . searched my own conscience . . . to determine the right thing for me to do in respect to . . . Richard Nixon, and his loyal wife and family. . .

“There are no historic or legal precedents to which I can turn in this matter. . . . But it is common knowledge that serious allegations and accusations hang like a sword over our former President's head, threatening his health as he tries to reshape his life, a great part of which was spent in the service of his country and by the mandate of its people…

“I am compelled to conclude that many months and perhaps more years will have to pass before Richard Nixon could obtain a fair trial by jury . . . in the United States…

“During this long period of delay and protracted litigation, ugly passions would again be aroused. And our people would again be polarized in their opinions. And the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad. . . .

“My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot prolong he bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that is closed. M y conscience tells me that only I, as President, have the constitutional power to shut and seal this book. . . .

“Now, therefore, l, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States . . . have granted . . . a full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 25,1969, though August 9,1974.”

-Gerald R. Ford, September 8, 1974
"l was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with

Watergate.'

-Richard M. Nixon
"You do not put conditions on an act of mercy.”

-Ford aide Phil Buchen, when asked by reporters why Ford had not demanded a confession of guilt by Nixon as a condition of the pardon.


'. . . I cannot in good conscience support your decision to pardon former President Richard Nixon even before he has been charged with the commission of any crime. . . .It is impossible to conclude that the former President is more deserving of mercy than persons of lesser stations in life whose offenses have had less effect on our national well-being.'

-Jerald F. terHorst, in resigning as Ford's Press Secretary.



  1. What reasons does Ford give for pardoning Nixon?


  1. In accepting the pardon, Nixon made no admission of guilt. Should he have? Why or why not?



  1. Do you support the terHorst's statement? Why or why not?



  1. If you were President, would you have pardoned Nixon? Why or why not?


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