Nixon, Robert E. Lee, and Susanne Sundfør Resign

On August 8 at 9:01 p.m. in 1974, Pres. Richard M. Nixon went on television to announce he was resigning. Although many had seen it coming, it was still a shocking moment in American history.

As impeachment proceedings were beginning from the Watergate investigation and Nixon’s involvement in the cover-up, Nixon realized that the end was near. He stated that a long drawn-out fight would harm the country, so, “Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.”

Another Historic Offer of Resignation

More than a century earlier in 1863 also on August 8, Gen. Robert E. Lee offered his resignation as Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Although he ultimately did not resign, his offer signaled Southern concerns about the state of the war.

More than a month before Lee’s offer, Lee’s army had suffered 23,000 casualties at Gettysburg.  And the Union Army was once again in Virginia. Lee was physically exhausted and questioned his ability to lead the army to victory.

But Jefferson Davis refused Lee’s resignation offer.  He realized that it was impossible to find someone more fit than Lee to lead the army.

Susanne Sundfør’s Song “I Resign”

Lee and Nixon both made big mistakes, but in the song “I Resign” from the album Take One (2008), Norwegian singer-songwriter Susanne Sundfør reminds us that sometimes there is relief in resignation. In the song, she sings: “I have found peace / Where it’s impossible to rest.”

Nixon was embarrassed and hated to give up the power of the presidency.  But he also must have felt a little relief to have that responsibility removed from his shoulders.

By contrast, Lee must have taken Davis’s refusal as validating his worth to continue the fighting.  Yet, he also he may have felt some disappointment that the burden of men’s lives and the the war’s outcome remained on his shoulders.

Although Sundfør is not a household name in the U.S., she has won awards in Norway and won a talent grant for aspiring musicians from the Norwegian music icons a-ha. The reviews on her website are in Norwegian, so I do not really know what other people are saying about her music. But from the music, I think we may be hearing more from Susanne Sundfør.  Here is her song, “I Resign.”

Photo above via.

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