Ford never second-guessed Nixon pardon

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The presidential pardon of Richard Nixon's Watergate misdeeds defined Gerald Ford's singular presidency. That's not exactly what Ford had hoped. He saw Nixon's pardon as the first step toward being elected to the presidency on the merits of his own work. And there was no way Ford could focus on the nation's business as long as Nixon's legal fate remained unresolved. A criminal trial could take years, and Nixon would not wait out that time quietly, Ford wrote in his autobiography.

Yes, he hoped that pardoning Nixon would soothe the wounds of anger and distrust inflicted on the nation by Watergate. He felt, too, that Nixon and his family had suffered enough.

But in pardoning Nixon Sept. 8, 1974, Ford was tending to his own future, too.

"I had to get the monkey off my back," Ford wrote in his 1979 memoir, "A Time to Heal."
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