Tuesday, September 23, 2008

#38 - Gerald R. Ford, 1973-1977

(Note: Today is the 56th anniversary of the "Checkers Speech" delivered by Richard Nixon)

Among many other things, the thirty-eighth President, Gerald Ford, will be forever remembered in history as the first Vice President to be selected under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and the first President to hold the office without having been elected as part of a national ticket. He nearly derailed his presidency when he gave Richard Nixon a full and unconditional pardon following the Watergate scandal that put him in the White House. In 2001, Ford was awarded the Profile in Courage Award for his pardon of Nixon.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Ford was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan and was a star football player for that school. Ford nearly made the pros, receiving offers to play for both the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. He graduated from Yale Law School, entered the service of his country in the United States Navy in World War II. After the war, he was elected to Congress in 1948 and that same year married his wife Betty. The House of Representatives was where Gerald Ford wanted to be. He longed to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, although the position eluded him, he served as House Minority Leader from 1965 until his selection as Vice President in 1973.

Ford spent the majority of his presidency trying to fix a broken economy, which had lapsed into recession. He did have some international successes, signing the Helsinki Accords, ending the war in Vietnam, following the fall of Saigon in 1975, and preventing widespread conflict in the Middle East. Ford also presided over the celebration of America's 200th anniversary of its independence.

Ford sought the support of the American people in 1976, when he ran for President on his own. However, he lost the election to Governor Jimmy Carter. Ford retired and became a respected American statesman. When he died in 2006, he had become the longest lived President, passing his rival Ronald Reagan, by just over a month. During his state funeral, Ford's body lay in state before the doors of the House of Representatives before being moved to the Capitol Rotunda, signifying his love of that chamber that had shaped his political career.

The Facts
  • born: July 13, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska
  • died: December 26, 2006 in Rancho Mirage, California (age 93)
  • party: Republican
  • wife: Elizabeth "Betty" Bloomer Ford
The Election of1976
  • Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. Shortly after his birth, his parents divorced and his mother married Gerald R. Ford. The elder Ford adopted the young boy and his name was changed to Gerald R. Ford, Jr.
  • Ford was the first president to have been an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Ford was appointed to the Warren Commission by President Lyndon Johnson, which investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. He was the last surviving member of the Warren Commission.
  • It is widely speculated that Ford was selected by Nixon to be Vice President, because he could be easily confirmed and Nixon was also interested in "impeachment insurance" and wanted someone who didn't look better than him, which would have made it harder for the American people to stick with Nixon.
  • After assuming the Presidency, Ford selected Nelson Rockefeller to be his Vice President. It is alleged that Nixon passed over Rockefeller to be Vice President, because Rockefeller did not satisfy Nixon's requirement above. In 1976, conservative Republicans forced Ford to drop Rockefeller from the ticket. In the election, New York went to the Democrats, and might have been won by the Republicans if Rockefeller had been on the ticket.
  • Ford survived two assassination attempts in September 1975, both of which were by women, the first by Lynnette "Squeaky" Fromme, a member of the Manson "family," and the second by Sara Jane Moore.
  • Ford's two White House Chiefs of Staff were Donald Rumsfeld, who also served as Ford's Secretary of Defense and Dick Cheney. George H.W. Bush served as head of the CIA for President Ford.


Anna van Schurman said...

And here's a little more trivia. I once wrote a current events report about an article about the Squeaky Fromme assassination attempt! (I recently came across it when clearing out my parents' attic.)

Archivalist said...

What? No Chevy Chase link?

Brave Astronaut said...

Archivalist - just for you, here's one link

Lana Gramlich said...

"He nearly derailed his presidency when he gave Richard Nixon a full and unconditional pardon following the Watergate scandal that put him in the White House. In 2001, Ford was awarded the Profile in Courage Award for his pardon of Nixon."

...and that's all a huge part of what's wrong with this country.