Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. Gerald Ford
(born July 14, 1913)
(born Leslie Lynch King,
Jr., renamed after Order: 38th President
adoption) was the 38th Term of Office: August 9, 1974 - January 20, 1977
(1974-1977) President of
the United States. Predecessor: Richard Nixon
Successor: Jimmy Carter
He was the only
President to serve Date of Birth: Monday, July 14, 1913
without having been Place of Birth: Omaha, Nebraska
elected President or First Lady: Elizabeth Warren ("Betty")
Vice President. He was a
member of the House of Profession: lawyer
Representatives for 24 Political Party: Republican
years from 1949 - 1973, Vice President: Nelson A. Rockefeller
and became Minority
Leader of the House. When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned during Richard
Nixon's presidency, Nixon appointed Ford (with the approval of the Senate)
to take his place. When Nixon then resigned in the wake of the Watergate
scandal, Ford assumed the presidency, proclaiming that "our long national
nightmare is over". Ford gave Nixon a blanket pardon for any crimes he might
have committed while President.
The economy was a great concern during the Ford administration. In response
to rising inflation, Ford went before the American public on television in
October, 1974 and asked them to "whip inflation now" (WIN); as part of this
program, he urged people to wear "WIN" buttons. However, most people
recoghnized this as simply a public relations gimmick without offering any
effective means of solving the underlying problem. At the time inflation was
around 7%, a relatively modest number in restrospect, but still enough to
discourage investment and push capital overseas and into government bonds.
In the aftermath of Watergate, the Democrats scored major gains in both the
House and the Senate in the 1974 elections. Ford and Congress battled over
legislation, with Ford vetoing scores of Democrat-supported bills.
The economic focus began to change as the country sank into a mild
recession, and in March, 1975, Ford and Congress signed into law income tax
rebates to help boost the economy.
Ford also faced a foreign policy crisis with the Mayaguez Incident. In 1975,
shortly after the Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia, Cambodians seized an
American merchant ship, the Mayaguez, in international waters. Ford
dispatched Marines to rescue the crew, but the marines landed on the wrong
island and met unexpectedly stiff resistance just as, unknown to the US, the
Mayaguez sailors were being released. Several American soldiers were killed
in the fighting.
While in Sacramento, California on September 5, 1975, a follower of
incarcerated cult leader Charles Manson named Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme
attempted to assassinate Ford, but was thwarted by a Secret Service agent.
17 days later another women also tried to kill Ford.
It is believed that Ford's pardoning of Nixon, along with the continuing
economic problems, may have cost him the election in 1976. His campaign may
also have been hampered by a strong challenge that year for the nomination
in his party by Ronald Reagan. He also made a major gaffe during the
campaign when he insisted Eastern Europe was not occupied by the Soviets.
During his tenure in the House of Represenenatives, Ford was chosen to serve
on the Warren Commission, a special task force set up to investigate the
causes of, and quell rumors regarding the assasination of President John F.
Kennedy. The Commission eventually concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had
acted alone in killing the President, a conclusion sometimes disparaged by
conspiracy theorists as the "Lone Nut Theory". Though the Commission's
findings have been widely criticized, and claims of new information
regarding the assasination continue to be published, most Americans probably
accept the Comission's findings.
Ford was from Michigan and played football for the University of Michigan.
Despite his athleticism, Ford had a not-entirely deserved reputation for
being extremely clumsy. Television footage often showed him stumbling down
the stairs, bumping his head on the doorway of Air Force One, or walking
into other people. This stereotype was greatly popularized by a series of
skits on Saturday Night Live featuring Chevy Chase who portrayed Ford as a
man who was literally incapable of taking a single step without falling over
or destroying something. Many of Ford's supporters have since denounced this
stereotype as unfair, saying the President was no more clumsy than any
normal person- except his blunders were just far more popularized.
In 1980, Ford was nearly nominated by the Republican party to serve as Vice
President under Ronald Reagan. Reagan at the last moment changed his mind
however, and chose his biggest rival for the nomination, George H. W. Bush.
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan was named
Supreme Court appointments
* John Paul Stevens - 1975