Resignation and Ford Succession
Congressional leaders indicated that impeachment and conviction were virtually certain. As a result, on August 8, Nixon announced he would resign. On August 9, 1974, Vice President Ford succeeded to the Presidency. He promised an open and honest administration that would continue Nixon's foreign policy and give the fight against inflation top priority. He selected former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller to be his Vice President.
The Watergate scandal had a disturbing effect on the American people and their confidence in government. National morale was further shaken when, in addition to continuing inflation, there was a slump in the economy. A major setback for American foreign policy occurred in April, 1975, when South Vietnam fell to Communist North Vietnam in renewed fighting in the Vietnamese War. More than 100,000 refugees from South Vietnam were helped to escape to the United States.
The economy began to rebound, and a slow but steady recovery was under way in 1976. In the Presidential election of that year, President Ford was defeated by the Democratic nominee, former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter.