Letter of resignation

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Richard Nixon's Resignation Letter to his Secretary of State, August 9, 1974

A letter of resignation is written to announce the author's intent to leave a position currently held, such as an office, employment or commission.

Such a letter will often take legal effect to terminate an appointment or employment, as notice under the relevant terms of the position; many appointments and contractual employments are terminable by unilateral notice, or advance notice of a specified period of time, with or without further conditions. Even where an oral notice would be effective, the effective date or time of termination may be directly or indirectly fixed on delivery of a written letter or email, for the sake of clarity and record. In response, different arrangements may be made or agreed, such as an earlier effective date, or improved terms and conditions of appointment upon withdrawal of the letter.

It should normally be delivered in advance to the appropriate supervisor or superior, and contain such information as the intended last day at work. A period of notice may be required expressly by contract, impliedly by the pay interval, or otherwise. Nevertheless, in practice, some resignations can be effective immediately.

For courtesy's sake, a letter of resignation may thank the employer for the pleasure of working under them and the opportunities and experience gained thereby, and also offer to assist with the transition by, for example, training the replacement. A more hostile letter may assert other sentiments or claims, particularly that the contract or terms of employment have been broken. In any case, the terms of the letter and its consequences may often be negotiated, either before or after delivery.

A formal letter with minimal expression of courtesy is then-President of the United States Richard Nixon's letter of resignation, under the terms of the United States Constitution. Delivered to then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on 9 August 1974, it read simply, "I hereby resign the Office of President of the United States." It was simply dated, but the recipient also recorded upon it the time of receipt, at which it took effect with important consequences under the Constitution.