GERALD FORD

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Gerald Ford Wikipedia



This article is about the U.S. President. For other uses, see Gerald Ford (disambiguation).
Gerald Ford
President Gerald Ford, arms folded, in front of a United States Flag and the Presidential seal.
38th President of the United States
In office


August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
Vice PresidentNelson Rockefeller
Preceded byRichard Nixon
Succeeded byJimmy Carter
40th Vice President of the United States
In office


December 6, 1973 – August 9, 1974
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded bySpiro Agnew
Succeeded byNelson Rockefeller
House Minority Leader
In office


January 3, 1965 – December 6, 1973
DeputyLeslie Arends
Preceded byCharles Halleck
Succeeded byJohn Rhodes
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives


from Michigan's 5th district
In office


January 3, 1949 – December 6, 1973
Preceded byBartel Jonkman
Succeeded byRichard Vander Veen
Personal details
BornLeslie Lynch King, Jr.

(1913-07-14)July 14, 1913


Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
DiedDecember 26, 2006(2006-12-26) (aged 93)


Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
Resting placeGerald R. Ford Museum


Grand Rapids, Michigan
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Betty Bloomer (m. 1948–2006, his death)
ChildrenMichael


John


Steven


Susan
Alma materUniversity of Michigan


Yale Law School
ProfessionLawyer


Politician
ReligionEpiscopal
SignatureGerald R. Ford
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1942–1946
RankUS-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant commander
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsAsiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal


American Campaign Medal


World War II Victory Medal
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.; July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2006) was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and prior to this, was the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974 under President Richard Nixon. He was the first person appointed to the Vice Presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, after Spiro Agnew resigned. When he became president upon Richard Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974, he became the first and to date only person to have served as both Vice President and President of the United States without being elected by the Electoral College. Before ascending to the Vice Presidency, Ford served nearly 25 years as the Representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district, eight of them as the Republican Minority Leader.

As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. Domestically, Ford presided over the worst economy in the four decades since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure. One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford's incumbency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President. In 1976, Ford defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but narrowly lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. After experiencing health problems, Ford died in his home on December 26, 2006. Ford lived longer than any other U.S. president, living 93 years and 165 days, while his 895-day presidency remains the shortest of all presidents who did not die in office.

Contents

                  Early life

                  Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., on July 14, 1913, at 3202 Woolworth Avenue in Omaha, Nebraska, where his parents lived with his paternal grandparents. His mother was Dorothy Ayer Gardner, and his father was Leslie Lynch King, Sr., a wool trader and a son of prominent banker Charles Henry King and Martha Alicia King (née Porter). Dorothy separated from King just sixteen days after her son's birth. She took her son with her to the Oak Park, Illinois home of her sister Tannisse and brother-in-law, Clarence Haskins James. From there, she moved to the home of her parents, Levi Addison Gardner and Adele Augusta Ayer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dorothy and King divorced in December 1913; she gained full custody of her son. Ford's paternal grandfather Charles Henry King paid child support until shortly before his death in 1930.
                  A young boy circa 1916.


                  Leslie Lynch King, Jr. (later known as Gerald R. Ford) in 1916
                  Ford later said his biological father had a history of hitting his mother. James M. Cannon, a member of the Ford administration, wrote in a Ford biography that the Kings' separation and divorce were sparked when, a few days after Ford's birth, Leslie King threatened Dorothy with a butcher knife and threatened to kill her, Ford, and Ford's nursemaid. Ford later told confidantes that his father had first hit his mother on their honeymoon for smiling at another man.

                  After two and a half years with her parents, on February 1, 1916, Dorothy married Gerald Rudolff Ford, a salesman in a family-owned paint and varnish company. They then called her son Gerald Rudolff Ford, Jr. The future president was never formally adopted, however, and he did not legally change his name until December 3, 1935; he also used a more conventional spelling of his middle name. He was raised in Grand Rapids with his three half brothers from his mother's second marriage: Thomas Gardner Ford (1918–1995), Richard Addison Ford (born 1924), and James Francis Ford (1927–2001).

                  Ford also had three half-siblings from his father's second marriage: Marjorie King (1921–1993), Leslie Henry King (1923–1976), and Patricia Jane King (born 1925). They never saw one another as children and he did not know them at all. Ford was not aware of his biological father until he was 17, when his parents told him about the circumstances of his birth. That year his father Leslie King, whom Ford described as a "carefree, well-to-do man who didn't really give a damn about the hopes and dreams of his firstborn son", approached Ford while he was waiting tables in a Grand Rapids restaurant. The two "maintained a sporadic contact" until Leslie King, Sr.'s death.

                  Ford maintained his distance emotionally, saying, "My stepfather was a magnificent person and my mother equally wonderful. So I couldn't have written a better prescription for a superb family upbringing."

                  Scouting and athletics

                  Two men in suits and another man in a boy scout uniform stand beside 10 seated teenaged boys in Boy Scout uniforms. Ford is indicated by a red circle.


                  Eagle Scout Gerald Ford (circled in red) in 1929; Michigan Governor Fred Green at far left, holding hat
                  A uniformed but helmetless American Football player is shown on a football field. He is in a ready position, with legs in a wide stance and both hands on a football in front of him.


                  Ford as a University of Michigan football player, 1933
                  Ford was involved in The Boy Scouts of America, and earned that program's highest rank, Eagle Scout. In later years, Ford received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in May 1970 and Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He is the only U.S. president to have been an Eagle Scout. Scouting was so important to Ford that his family asked that Scouts participate in his funeral. About 400 Eagle Scouts were part of the funeral procession, where they formed an honor guard as the casket went by in front of the museum. A few selected scouts served as ushers inside the National Cathedral.

                  Ford attended Grand Rapids South High School and was a star athlete and captain of his football team. In 1930, he was selected to the All-City team of the Grand Rapids City League. He also attracted the attention of college recruiters.

                  Attending the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, Ford played center and linebacker for the school's football team and helped the Wolverines to undefeated seasons and national titles in 1932 and 1933. The team suffered a steep decline in his 1934 senior year, however, winning only one game. Ford was the team's star nonetheless, and after a game during which Michigan held heavily favored Minnesota (the eventual national champion) to a scoreless tie in the first half, assistant coach Bennie Oosterbaan later said, "When I walked into the dressing room at half time, I had tears in my eyes I was so proud of them. Ford and [Cedric] Sweet played their hearts out. They were everywhere on defense." Ford later recalled, "During 25 years in the rough-and-tumble world of politics, I often thought of the experiences before, during, and after that game in 1934. Remembering them has helped me many times to face a tough situation, take action, and make every effort possible despite adverse odds." His teammates later voted Ford their most valuable player, with one assistant coach noting, "They felt Jerry was one guy who would stay and fight in a losing cause."

                  During Ford's senior year a controversy developed when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets refused to play a scheduled game if a black player named Willis Ward took the field. Even after protests from students, players and alumni, university officials opted to keep Ward out of the game. Ford was Ward's best friend on the team and they roomed together while on road trips. Ford reportedly threatened to quit the team in response to the university’s decision, but eventually agreed to play against Georgia Tech when Ward personally asked him to play.

                  During the same season, in a game against the University of Chicago, Ford "became the only future U.S. president to tackle a future Heisman Trophy winner when he brought down running back Jay Berwanger, who would win the first Heisman the following year". In 1934, Ford was selected for the Eastern Team on the Shriner's East West Crippled Children game at San Francisco (a benefit for crippled children), played on January 1, 1935. As part of the 1935 Collegiate All-Star football team, Ford played against the Chicago Bears in the Chicago College All-Star Game at Soldier Field. In honor of his athletic accomplishments and his later political career, the University of Michigan retired Ford's No. 48 jersey in 1994. With the blessing of the Ford family, it was placed back into circulation in 2012 as part of the Michigan Football Legends program and issued to sophomore linebacker Desmond Morgan before a home game against Illinois on October 13.

                  Ford remained interested in football and his school throughout life, occasionally attending games. Ford also visited with players and coaches during practices, at one point asking to join the players in the huddle. Ford often had the Naval band play the University of Michigan fight song, The Victors, before state events instead of Hail to the Chief. He also selected the song to be played during his funeral procession at the U.S. Capitol. On his death in December 2006, the University of Michigan Marching Band played the fight song for him one final time, for his last ride from the Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

                  Ford was also an avid golfer. In 1977, he shot a hole in one during a Pro-am held in conjunction with the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic at Colonial Country Club in Memphis, Tennessee. He received the 1985 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA's highest honor.

                  Education

                  At Michigan, Ford became a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Omicron chapter) and washed dishes at his fraternity house to earn money for college expenses. Following his graduation in 1935 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, he turned down contract offers from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers of the National Football League to take a coaching position at Yale and apply to its law school. Ford continued to contribute to football and boxing, accepting an assistant coaching job for both at Yale in September 1935.

                  Ford hoped to attend Yale's law school beginning in 1935 while serving as boxing coach and assistant varsity football coach. Yale officials at first denied his admission to the law school, because of his full-time coaching responsibilities. He spent the summer of 1937 as a student at the University of Michigan Law School and was eventually admitted in spring 1938 to Yale Law School. Ford earned his LL.B. degree in 1941 (later amended to Juris Doctor), graduating in the top 25 percent of his class. His introduction to politics came in the summer of 1940 when he worked in Wendell Willkie's presidential campaign. While attending Yale Law School, he joined a group of students led by R. Douglas Stuart, Jr., and signed a petition to enforce the 1939 Neutrality Act. The petition was circulated nationally and was the inspiration for the America First Committee, a group determined to keep the U.S. out of World War II.

                  Ford graduated from law school in 1941, and was admitted to the Michigan bar shortly thereafter. In May 1941, he opened a Grand Rapids law practice with a friend, Philip W. Buchen, who would later serve as Ford's White House counsel. But overseas developments caused a change in plans, and Ford responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor by enlisting in the Navy.

                  Naval service in World War II

                  Twenty-eight Sailors in the uniform of the United States Navy pose on the deck of a World War II-era Aircraft Carrier.


                  The Gunnery officers of the USS Monterey. Ford is second from the right, in the front row.
                  Ford received a commission as ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve on April 13, 1942. On April 20, he reported for active duty to the V-5 instructor school at Annapolis, Maryland. After one month of training, he went to Navy Preflight School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he was one of 83 instructors and taught elementary navigation skills, ordnance, gunnery, first aid and military drill. In addition, he coached in all nine sports that were offered, but mostly in swimming, boxing and football. During the one year he was at the Preflight School, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade on June 2, 1942, and to Lieutenant in March 1943.



                  Navy pilots in forward elevator well playing basketball. Jumper at left is Gerald R. Ford, mid-1944
                  Applying for sea duty, Ford was sent in May 1943 to the pre-commissioning detachment for the new aircraft carrier USS Monterey (CVL-26), at New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey. From the ship's commissioning on June 17, 1943, until the end of December 1944, Ford served as the assistant navigator, Athletic Officer, and antiaircraft battery officer on board the Monterey. While he was on board, the carrier participated in many actions in the Pacific Theater with the Third and Fifth Fleets in late 1943 and 1944. In 1943, the carrier helped secure Makin Island in the Gilberts, and participated in carrier strikes against Kavieng, New Ireland in 1943. During the spring of 1944, the Monterey supported landings at Kwajalein and Eniwetok and participated in carrier strikes in the Marianas, Western Carolines, and northern New Guinea, as well as in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. After overhaul, from September to November 1944, aircraft from the Monterey launched strikes against Wake Island, participated in strikes in the Philippines and Ryukyus, and supported the landings at Leyte and Mindoro.
                  The head and shoulders of a man in a World War II-era uniform of the United States Navy.


                  Ford in Navy uniform, 1945
                  Although the ship was not damaged by Japanese forces, the Monterey was one of several ships damaged by the typhoon that hit Admiral William Halsey's Third Fleet on December 18–19, 1944. The Third Fleet lost three destroyers and over 800 men during the typhoon. The Monterey was damaged by a fire, which was started by several of the ship's aircraft tearing loose from their cables and colliding on the hangar deck. During the storm, Ford narrowly avoided becoming a casualty himself. As he was going to his battle station on the bridge of the ship in the early morning of December 18, the ship rolled twenty-five degrees, which caused Ford to lose his footing and slide toward the edge of the deck. The two-inch steel ridge around the edge of the carrier slowed him enough so he could roll, and he twisted into the catwalk below the deck. As he later stated, "I was lucky; I could have easily gone overboard."

                  Ford, serving as General Quarters Officer of the Deck, was ordered to go below to assess the raging fire. He did so safely, and reported his findings back to the ship’s commanding officer, Captain Stuart Ingersoll. The ship’s crew was able to contain the fire, and the ship got underway again.

                  After the fire the Monterey was declared unfit for service, and the crippled carrier reached Ulithi on December 21 before continuing across the Pacific to Bremerton, Washington where it underwent repairs. On December 24, 1944, at Ulithi, Ford was detached from the ship and sent to the Navy Pre-Flight School at Saint Mary's College of California, where he was assigned to the Athletic Department until April 1945. One of his duties was to coach football. From the end of April 1945 to January 1946, he was on the staff of the Naval Reserve Training Command, Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois as the Staff Physical and Military Training Officer. On October 3, 1945, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. In January 1946, he was sent to the Separation Center, Great Lakes to be processed out. He was released from active duty under honorable conditions on February 23, 1946. On June 28, 1946, the Secretary of the Navy accepted Ford's resignation from the Naval Reserve.

                  For his naval service, Gerald Ford earned the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with nine engagement stars for operations in the Gilbert Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Marshall Islands, Asiatic and Pacific carrier raids, Hollandia, Marianas, Western Carolines, Western New Guinea, and the Leyte Operation. He also received the Philippine Liberation Medal with two bronze stars for Leyte and Mindoro, as well as the American Campaign and World War II Victory Medals.

                  Ford was a member of several civic organizations, including the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), American Legion, AMVETS, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Sons of the Revolution, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

                  In 1992 the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation awarded Ford its Lone Sailor Award for his naval service and his subsequent government service.

                  Gerald R. Ford was initiated into Freemasonry on September 30, 1949. He later said in 1975, "When I took my obligation as a master mason—incidentally, with my three younger brothers—I recalled the value my own father attached to that order. But I had no idea that I would ever be added to the company of the Father of our Country and 12 other members of the order who also served as Presidents of the United States."

                  Marriage and children

                  A man in a suit leads a flower-carrying woman by the hand, walking out of a chapel.


                  The Fords on their wedding day, October 15, 1948
                  On October 15, 1948, at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Ford married Elizabeth Bloomer Warren (1918–2011), a department store fashion consultant. Warren had been a John Robert Powers fashion model and a dancer in the auxiliary troupe of the Martha Graham Dance Company. She had previously been married to and divorced from William G. Warren.

                  At the time of his engagement, Ford was campaigning for what would be his first of thirteen terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. The wedding was delayed until shortly before the elections because, as The New York Times reported in a 1974 profile of Betty Ford, "Jerry was running for Congress and wasn't sure how voters might feel about his marrying a divorced ex-dancer."

                  The couple had four children:
                  • Michael Gerald, born in 1950
                  • John Gardner, known as Jack, born in 1952
                  • Steven Meigs, born in 1956
                  • Susan Elizabeth, born in 1957

                  House of Representatives

                  A billboard shows a portrait of a man in a suit, with the text "To work for You in congress" at the top, followed by "Gerald R. Ford Jr.", followed by "Republican Primary September 14", with "United States Representative" across the bottom of the sign.


                  A billboard for Ford's 1948 Congressional Campaign
                  After returning to Grand Rapids, Ford became active in local Republican politics, and supporters urged him to take on Bartel J. Jonkman, the incumbent Republican congressman. Military service had changed his view of the world. "I came back a converted internationalist", Ford wrote, "and of course our congressman at that time was an avowed, dedicated isolationist. And I thought he ought to be replaced. Nobody thought I could win. I ended up winning two to one." During his first campaign in 1948, Ford visited voters at their doorsteps and as they left the factories where they worked. Ford also visited local farms where, in one instance, a wager resulted in Ford spending two weeks milking cows following his election victory. Ford was known to his colleagues in the House as a "Congressman's Congressman".

                  Ford was a member of the House of Representatives for 25 years, holding the Grand Rapids congressional district seat from 1949 to 1973. It was a tenure largely notable for its modesty. As an editorial in The New York Times described him, Ford "saw himself as a negotiator and a reconciler, and the record shows it: he did not write a single piece of major legislation in his entire career." Appointed to the House Appropriations Committee two years after being elected, he was a prominent member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Ford described his philosophy as "a moderate in domestic affairs, an internationalist in foreign affairs, and a conservative in fiscal policy."

                  In the early 1950s, Ford declined offers to run for either the Senate or the Michigan governorship. Rather, his ambition was to become Speaker of the House.

                  Warren Commission




                  The Warren Commission presents its report to President Johnson
                  Further information: Warren Commission and Assassination of John F. Kennedy
                  In November 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Ford to the Warren Commission, a special task force set up to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Ford was assigned to prepare a biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin. The Commission's work continues to be debated in the public arena.

                  In the preface to his book, A Presidential Legacy and The Warren Commission, Ford said the CIA destroyed or kept from investigators critical secrets connected to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He said the commission's probe put "certain classified and potentially damaging operations in danger of being exposed". The CIA's reaction, he added, "was to hide or destroy some information, which can easily be misinterpreted as collusion in JFK's assassination".

                  According to a 1963 FBI memo released in 2008, Ford secretly provided the FBI with information about two of his fellow commission members, both of whom were unsure with regards to the FBI's conclusions about the assassination. The FBI position was that President Kennedy was shot by a single gunman firing from the Texas Book Depository. Another 1963 memo released in 1978 stated that Representative Ford volunteered to advise the FBI regarding the content of the commission's deliberations if his involvement with the bureau was kept confidential, a condition which the bureau approved. Ford was an outspoken proponent of the single-assassin theory. According to the same reports, Ford had strong ties to the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover.

                  House Minority Leader

                  Men in suits are shown meeting in a conference room. Five men are shown, one of whom is speaking to man on his right. A sixth man is visible from behind, facing the speaker.


                  Ford meets with President Richard Nixon as House Minority Leader.
                  Four men in suits are outdoors, speaking to each other in front of a large white automobile.


                  Congressman Gerald Ford, MSFC director Wernher von Braun, Congressman George H. Mahon, and NASA Administrator James E. Webb visit the Marshall Space Flight Center for a briefing on the Saturn program, 1964.
                  In 1964, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson led a landslide victory for his party, securing another term as president and taking 36 seats from Republicans in the House of Representatives. Following the election, members of the Republican caucus looked to select a new Minority Leader. Three members approached Ford to see if he would be willing to serve; after consulting with his family, he agreed. After a closely contested election, Ford was chosen to replace Charles Halleck of Indiana as Minority Leader.

                  The Republicans had 140 seats in the House compared with the 295 seats held by the Democrats. Consequently, the Johnson Administration proposed and passed a series of programs that was called by Johnson the "Great Society." During the first session of the Eighty-ninth Congress alone, the Johnson Administration submitted 87 bills to Congress, and Johnson signed 84, or 96%, arguably the most successful legislative agenda in Congressional history.

                  Criticism over the Johnson Administration's handling of the Vietnam War began to grow in 1966, with Ford and Congressional Republicans expressing concern that the United States was not doing what was necessary to win the war. Public sentiment also began to move against Johnson, and the 1966 midterm elections saw a 47-seat swing in favor of the Republicans. This was not enough to give Republicans a majority in the House, but the victory gave Ford the opportunity to prevent the passage of further Great Society programs.

                  Ford's private criticism of the Vietnam War became public following a speech from the floor of the House, in which he questioned whether the White House had a clear plan to bring the war to a successful conclusion. The speech angered President Johnson, who accused Ford of playing "too much football without a helmet".

                  As Minority Leader in the House, Ford appeared in a popular series of televised press conferences with famed Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, in which they proposed Republican alternatives to Johnson's policies. Many in the press jokingly called this "The Ev and Jerry Show." Johnson said at the time, "Jerry Ford is so dumb he can't fart and chew gum at the same time." The press, used to sanitizing LBJ's salty language, reported this as "Gerald Ford can't walk and chew gum at the same time."

                  Ford's role shifted under President Nixon to being an advocate for the White House agenda. Congress passed several of Nixon's proposals, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Tax Reform Act of 1969. Another high-profile victory for the Republican minority was the State and Local Fiscal Assistance act. Passed in 1972, the act established a Revenue Sharing program for state and local governments. Ford's leadership was instrumental in shepherding revenue sharing through Congress, and resulted in a bipartisan coalition that supported the bill with 223 votes in favor (compared with 185 against).

                  During the 8 years (1965–1973) he served as Minority Leader, Ford won many friends in the House because of his fair leadership and inoffensive personality. An office building in the U.S. Capitol Complex, House Annex 2, was renamed for Gerald Ford as the Ford House Office Building.

                  Vice Presidency, 1973–74

                  Two women are flanked by two men in suits, standing in a room of the White House.


                  Gerald and Betty Ford with the President and First Lady Pat Nixon after President Nixon nominated Ford to be Vice President, October 13, 1973
                  On October 10, 1973, Vice President Agnew resigned and then pleaded no contest to criminal charges of tax evasion and money laundering, part of a negotiated resolution to a scheme in which he accepted $29,500 in bribes while governor of Maryland. According to The New York Times, "Nixon sought advice from senior Congressional leaders about a replacement. The advice was unanimous. 'We gave Nixon no choice but Ford,' House Speaker Carl Albert recalled later".

                  Ford was nominated to take Agnew's position on October 12, the first time the vice-presidential vacancy provision of the 25th Amendment had been implemented. The United States Senate voted 92 to 3 to confirm Ford on November 27. Only three Senators, all Democrats, voted against Ford's confirmation: Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, Thomas Eagleton of Missouri and William Hathaway of Maine. On December 6, the House confirmed Ford by a vote of 387 to 35. One hour after the confirmation vote in the House, Ford took the oath of office as Vice President of the United States. Ford's brief tenure as Vice-President was little noted by the media as reporters were preoccupied by the continuing revelations about the Watergate scandal—a political scandal resulting from the discovery of a series of crimes committed during the 1972 presidential election and allegations of cover-ups by the White House.

                  Following Ford's appointment, the Watergate investigation continued until Chief of Staff Alexander Haig contacted Ford on Thursday, August 1, 1974, and told him that "smoking gun" evidence had been found. The evidence left little doubt that President Nixon had been a part of the Watergate cover-up. At the time, Ford and his wife, Betty, were living in suburban Virginia, waiting for their expected move into the newly designated vice president's residence in Washington, D.C. However, "Al Haig [asked] to come over and see me," Ford later related, "to tell me that there would be a new tape released on a Monday, and he said the evidence in there was devastating and there would probably be either an impeachment or a resignation. And he said, 'I'm just warning you that you've got to be prepared, that things might change dramatically and you could become President.' And I said, 'Betty, I don't think we're ever going to live in the vice president's house.'"

                  Presidency, 1974–77

                  Swearing-in

                  A man in a suit, his right hand in the air, stands next to his wife and speaks to another man in the robes of a judge. The group stands in front of a curtain, behind a podium bearing the seal of the President of the United States.


                  Gerald Ford is sworn in as the 38th President of the United States by Chief Justice Warren Burger in the White House East Room, while Betty Ford looks on
                  When Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, Ford assumed the presidency, making him the only person to assume the presidency without having been previously voted into either the presidential or vice presidential office. Immediately after taking the oath of office in the East Room of the White House, he spoke to the assembled audience in a speech broadcast live to the nation. Ford noted the peculiarity of his position: "I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your president with your prayers." He went on to state:
                  A man is shown from behind, seated in a leather chair at an ornate wooden desk in the Oval Office. His right hand is reaching to the floor to pet a large golden retriever lying at his feet.


                  Ford and his golden retriever, Liberty, in the Oval Office, 1974
                  I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it. Those who nominated and confirmed me as Vice President were my friends and are my friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of all the people.


                  He also stated:


                  My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here, the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice, but mercy. ... let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and hate.




                  Message to Congress nominating Nelson A. Rockefeller to be Vice President (August 20, 1974)
                  A portion of the speech would later be memorialized with a plaque at the entrance to his presidential museum.

                  On August 20, Ford nominated former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller to fill the vice presidency he had vacated. Rockefeller's top competitor had been George H. W. Bush. Rockefeller underwent extended hearings before Congress, which caused embarrassment when it was revealed he made large gifts to senior aides, such as Henry Kissinger. Although conservative Republicans were not pleased that Rockefeller was picked, most of them voted for his confirmation, and his nomination passed both the House and Senate. Some, including Barry Goldwater, voted against him.

                  Pardon of Nixon

                  A man in a suit is seated at a table as he speaks into a bank of microphones. An audience is visible behind him.


                  President Ford appears at a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing regarding his pardon of Richard Nixon
                  Wikisource has original text related to this article:
                  The Nixon Pardon
                  On September 8, 1974, Ford issued Proclamation 4311, which gave Nixon a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes he might have committed against the United States while President. In a televised broadcast to the nation, Ford explained that he felt the pardon was in the best interests of the country, and that the Nixon family's situation "is a tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must." On September 16, shortly after he announced the Nixon pardon, Ford introduced a conditional amnesty program for Vietnam War draft dodgers who had fled to countries such as Canada as well as for military deserters. The conditions of the amnesty required that those involved reaffirm their allegiance to the United States and serve two years working in a public service job. Full pardon for the draft dodgers, however, did not come about until the Carter Administration.

                  The Nixon pardon was highly controversial. Critics derided the move and claimed a "corrupt bargain" had been struck between the men. They claimed Ford's pardon was granted in exchange for Nixon's resignation that elevated Ford to the Presidency. Ford's first press secretary and close friend Jerald Franklin terHorst resigned his post in protest after President Nixon's full pardon. According to Bob Woodward, Nixon Chief of Staff Alexander Haig proposed a pardon deal to Ford. He later decided to pardon Nixon for other reasons, primarily the friendship he and Nixon shared. Regardless, historians believe the controversy was one of the major reasons Ford lost the election in 1976, an observation with which Ford agreed. In an editorial at the time, The New York Times stated that the Nixon pardon was "a profoundly unwise, divisive and unjust act" that in a stroke had destroyed the new president's "credibility as a man of judgment, candor and competence". On October 17, 1974, Ford testified before Congress on the pardon. He was the first sitting President to testify before Congress since Abraham Lincoln.

                  After Ford left the White House in 1977, the former President privately justified his pardon of Nixon by carrying in his wallet a portion of the text of Burdick v. United States, a 1915 U.S. Supreme Court decision which stated that a pardon indicated a presumption of guilt, and that acceptance of a pardon was tantamount to a confession of that guilt. In 2001, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award to Ford for his pardon of Nixon. In presenting the award to Ford, Senator Ted Kennedy said that he had initially been opposed to the pardon of Nixon, but later stated that history had proved Ford to have made the correct decision.



                  Pardon given by President Ford under Proclamation 4313

                  Presidential Proclamation 4313

                  On September 16, 1974, President Ford announced a program for the Return of Vietnam Era Draft Evaders and Military Deserters. The Proclamation established a Clemency Board to review the records and make recommendations for receiving a Presidential Pardon and a change in Military discharge status.

                  Administration and cabinet

                  Upon assuming office, Ford inherited Nixon's cabinet. During Ford's brief administration, only Secretary of State Kissinger and Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon remained. Ford appointed William Coleman as Secretary of Transportation, the second black man to serve in a presidential cabinet (after Robert Clifton Weaver) and the first appointed in a Republican administration.
                  The Ford Cabinet
                  OfficeNameTerm
                  PresidentGerald Ford1974–1977
                  Vice Presidentnone*1974
                  Nelson Rockefeller1974–1977
                  Secretary of StateHenry Kissinger1974–1977
                  Secretary of TreasuryWilliam E. Simon1974–1977
                  Secretary of DefenseJames R. Schlesinger1974–1975
                  Donald Rumsfeld1975–1977
                  Attorney GeneralWilliam B. Saxbe1974–1975
                  Edward H. Levi1975–1977
                  Secretary of the InteriorRogers Morton1974–1975
                  Stanley K. Hathaway1975
                  Thomas S. Kleppe1975–1977
                  Secretary of AgricultureEarl Butz1974–1976
                  John Albert Knebel1976–1977
                  Secretary of CommerceFrederick B. Dent1974–1975
                  Rogers Morton1975
                  Elliot Richardson1975–1977
                  Secretary of LaborPeter J. Brennan1974–1975
                  John Thomas Dunlop1975–1976
                  William Usery, Jr.1976–1977
                  Secretary of Health,


                  Education, and Welfare
                  Caspar Weinberger1974–1975
                  F. David Mathews1975–1977
                  Secretary of Housing and


                  Urban Development
                  James Thomas Lynn1974–1975
                  Carla Anderson Hills1975–1977
                  Secretary of TransportationClaude Brinegar1974–1975
                  William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr.1975–1977
                  • A vacancy by ascension briefly occurred for the position of Vice President from August 9, 1974 to December 19, 1974 after Richard Nixon's resignation from office.
                  Other cabinet-level posts:
                  • White House Chief of Staff
                    • Alexander Haig (1974)
                    • Donald Rumsfeld (1974–1975)
                    • Dick Cheney (1975–1977)
                  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget
                    • Roy Ash (1974–1975)
                    • James T. Lynn (1975–1977)
                  • United States Trade Representative
                    • William D. Eberle (1974–1975)
                    • Frederick B. Dent (1975–1977)
                  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
                    • Russell E. Train (1974–1977)
                  • United States Ambassador to the United Nations
                    • John A. Scali (1974–1975)
                    • Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1975–1976)
                    • William Scranton (1976–1977)


                  Other important posts:
                  • United States National Security Advisor
                    • Henry Kissinger (1974–1975)
                    • Brent Scowcroft (1975–1977)
                  • Director of Central Intelligence
                    • William E. Colby (1974–1976)
                    • George H. W. Bush (1976–1977)
                  • Press Secretary
                    • Jerald terHorst (1974)
                    • Ronald H. Nessen (1974–1977)


                  Ford selected George H.W. Bush as Chief of the US Liaison Office to the People's Republic of China in 1974, and then Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in late 1975.

                  Ford's transition chairman and first Chief of Staff was former congressman and ambassador Donald Rumsfeld. In 1975, Rumsfeld was named by Ford as the youngest-ever Secretary of Defense. Ford chose a young Wyoming politician, Richard Cheney, to replace Rumsfeld as his new Chief of Staff and later campaign manager for Ford's 1976 presidential campaign. Ford's dramatic reorganization of his Cabinet in the fall of 1975 has been referred to by political commentators as the "Halloween Massacre".

                  Midterm elections




                  Ford in the Oval Office, 1974
                  Main articles: United States House elections, 1974 and United States Senate elections, 1974
                  The 1974 Congressional midterm elections took place fewer than three months after Ford assumed office and in the wake of the Watergate scandal. The Democratic Party turned voter dissatisfaction into large gains in the House elections, taking 49 seats from the Republican Party, and increasing their majority to 291 of the 435 seats. This was one more than the number needed (290) for a two-thirds majority, necessary to override a Presidential veto (or to propose a constitutional amendment). Perhaps due in part to this fact, the 94th Congress overrode the highest percentage of vetoes since Andrew Johnson was President of the United States (1865–1869). Even Ford's old, reliably Republican seat was taken by Democrat Richard Vander Veen, defeating Republican Robert VanderLaan. In the Senate elections, the Democratic majority became 61 in the 100-seat body.

                  Domestic policy

                  Twenty people meet in a conference room around an oval table. One man, at the center of the table on the right-hand side, is addressing the others. All are wearing suits or similar attire.


                  President Ford meets with his Cabinet in 1975
                  The economy was a great concern during the Ford administration. One of the first acts the new president took to deal with the economy was to create the Economic Policy Board by Executive Order on September 30, 1974. In response to rising inflation, Ford went before the American public in October 1974 and asked them to "Whip Inflation Now". As part of this program, he urged people to wear "WIN" buttons. At the time, inflation was believed to be the primary threat to the economy, more so than growing unemployment. They felt as though controlling inflation would work to fix unemployment. To rein in inflation, it was necessary to control the public's spending. To try to mesh service and sacrifice, "WIN" called for Americans to reduce their spending and consumption. On October 4, 1974, Ford gave a speech in front of a joint session of Congress and as a part of this speech kicked off the "WIN" campaign. Over the next nine days 101,240 Americans mailed in "WIN" pledges. In hindsight, this was viewed as simply a public relations gimmick without offering any means of solving the underlying problems. The main point of that speech was to introduce to Congress a one-year, five-percent income tax increase on corporations and wealthy individuals. This plan would also take $4.4 billion out of the budget, bringing federal spending below $300 billion. At the time, inflation was over twelve percent.

                  Ford was confronted with a potential swine flu pandemic. In the early 1970s, an influenza strain H1N1 shifted from a form of flu that affected primarily pigs and crossed over to humans. On February 5, 1976, an army recruit at Fort Dix mysteriously died and four fellow soldiers were hospitalized; health officials announced that "swine flu" was the cause. Soon after, public health officials in the Ford administration urged that every person in the United States be vaccinated. Although the vaccination program was plagued by delays and public relations problems, some 25% of the population was vaccinated by the time the program was canceled in December of that year. The vaccine was blamed for twenty-five deaths; more people died from the shots than from the swine flu.
                  A man sits at his desk, smoking a pipe, while two other men speak to him from the other side of the desk.


                  Cheney, Rumsfeld and President Ford in the Oval Office, 1975
                  Ford was an outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, issuing Presidential Proclamation no. 4383 in 1975:


                  In this Land of the Free, it is right, and by nature it ought to be, that all men and all women are equal before the law.

                  Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States of America, to remind all Americans that it is fitting and just to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment adopted by the Congress of the United States of America, in order to secure legal equality for all women and men, do hereby designate and proclaim August 26, 1975, as Women's Equality Day.


                  As president, Ford's position on abortion was that he supported "a federal constitutional amendment that would permit each one of the 50 States to make the choice". This had also been his position as House Minority Leader in response to the 1973 Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade, which he opposed. Ford came under criticism for a 60 Minutes interview his wife Betty gave in 1975, in which she stated that Roe v. Wade was a "great, great decision". During his later life, Ford would identify as pro-choice.

                  Budget

                  The federal budget ran a deficit every year Ford was President. Despite his reservations about how the program ultimately would be funded in an era of tight public budgeting, Ford signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, which established special education throughout the United States. Ford expressed "strong support for full educational opportunities for our handicapped children" according to the official White House press release for the bill signing.

                  The economic focus began to change as the country sank into the worst recession since the Great Depression four decades earlier. The focus of the Ford administration turned to stopping the rise in unemployment, which reached nine percent in May 1975. In January 1975, Ford proposed a 1-year tax reduction of $16 billion to stimulate economic growth, along with spending cuts to avoid inflation. Ford was criticized greatly for quickly switching from advocating a tax increase to a tax reduction. In Congress, the proposed amount of the tax reduction increased to $22.8 billion in tax cuts and lacked spending cuts. In March 1975, Congress passed, and Ford signed into law, these income tax rebates as part of the Tax Reduction Act of 1975. This resulted in a federal deficit of around $53 billion for the 1975 fiscal year and $73.7 billion for 1976.

                  When New York City faced bankruptcy in 1975, Mayor Abraham Beame was unsuccessful in obtaining Ford's support for a federal bailout. The incident prompted the New York Daily News' famous headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead", referring to a speech in which "Ford declared flatly ... that he would veto any bill calling for 'a federal bail-out of New York City'". The following month, November 1975, Ford changed his stance and asked Congress to approve federal loans to New York City.

                  Foreign policy

                  Two men in suits are seated, each signing a document in front of them. Six men, one in a military uniform, stand behind them.


                  Ford meets with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev during the Vladivostok Summit, November 1974, to sign a joint communiqué on the SALT treaty
                  Ford continued the détente policy with both the Soviet Union and China, easing the tensions of the Cold War. Still in place from the Nixon Administration was the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT). The thawing relationship brought about by Nixon's visit to China was reinforced by Ford's December 1975 visit to the communist country. In 1975, the Administration entered into the Helsinki Accords with the Soviet Union, creating the framework of the Helsinki Watch, an independent non-governmental organization created to monitor compliance that later evolved into Human Rights Watch.

                  Ford attended the inaugural meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations (initially the G5) in 1975 and secured membership for Canada. Ford supported international solutions to issues. "We live in an interdependent world and, therefore, must work together to resolve common economic problems," he said in a 1974 speech.

                  Middle East
                  A map of the world. The United States is indicated in Red, while countries visit by President Ford during his presidency are indicated in Orange. Other countries are indicated in grey.


                  Countries visited by Ford during his presidency
                  In the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, two ongoing international disputes developed into crises. The Cyprus dispute turned into a crisis with the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, causing extreme strain within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance. In mid-August, the government withdrew Greece from the NATO military structure; in mid-September 1974, the Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to halt military aid to Turkey. Ford, concerned with both the effect of this on Turkish-American relations and the deterioration of security on NATO's eastern front, vetoed the bill. A second bill was passed by the house, and vetoed, although a compromise was accepted to continue aid until the end of the year. As Ford expected, Turkish relations were considerably disrupted until 1978.



                  Ford with Anwar Sadat in Salzburg, 1975
                  In the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict, although the initial cease fire had been implemented to end active conflict in the Yom Kippur War, Kissinger's continuing shuttle diplomacy was showing little progress. Ford considered it "stalling" and wrote, "Their [Israeli] tactics frustrated the Egyptians and made me mad as hell." During Kissinger's shuttle to Israel in early March 1975, a last minute reversal to consider further withdrawal, prompted a cable from Ford to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, which included:


                  I
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