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Forty-six years ago this month, President Gerald Ford made one of the most controversial announcements in American political history: He pardoned Richard Nixon.

And while you may know that the pardon happened, you may not realize how very big a deal it was then — or how it set a precedent for presidential behavior we see today.

Ford had been in the Oval Office for just a few weeks when he made his national address on September 8, 1974. One of the few men to become president without ever…

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