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Gerald Ford - 38th President of the United States

Gerald Ford Photograph (National Archives)
Gerald Ford Photograph (National Archives)


Gerald R. Ford (born July 14, 1913) (born Leslie King, Jr.) was the 38th (1974-1977) President of the United States (Republican). He was the only President to serve without having been elected President or Vice President. He was a member of the House of Representatives for 24 years from 1949 - 1973, where he served on the Warren Commission, 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 the latter's dealings in the Watergate scandal (and anything else he might ever have done). 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, many perceived this as simply a gimmick without offering any effective means of solving the problem

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 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.

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.

Ford was from Michigan and played football for the University of Michigan.

Supreme Court Appointments

  • John Paul Stevens - 1975


 

 
Photographs of President Gerald Ford



Representative Gerald R. Ford, Jr., ties a bow tie, 1961  (National Archives)
Representative Gerald R. Ford, Jr., ties a bow tie, 1961 (National Archives)





President and Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson; Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield; Speaker of the House John McCormack, and others salute House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford in the East Room, 1967  (National Archives)
President and Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson; Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield; Speaker of the House John McCormack, and others salute House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford in the East Room, 1967 (National Archives)





Vice President Ford consoling David Eisenhower as Nixon departs from the White House, 08/09/1974  (National Archives)
Vice President Ford consoling David Eisenhower as Nixon departs from the White House, 08/09/1974 (National Archives)





President and Mrs. Ford toss a football in the hallway near the President's Suite at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Berthesda, Maryland, following the First Lady's breast cancer surgery. The ball was a gift from the Washington Redskins, 10/04/1974  (National Archives)
President and Mrs. Ford toss a football in the hallway near the President's Suite at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Berthesda, Maryland, following the First Lady's breast cancer surgery. The ball was a gift from the Washington Redskins, 10/04/1974 (National Archives)





President Ford meets in the Oval Office with Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; Graham Martin, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam; Army Chief of Staff General Frederick Weyand; and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to discuss the situation in Vietnam. Photo taken  03/25/1975. (National Archives)
President Ford meets in the Oval Office with Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; Graham Martin, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam; Army Chief of Staff General Frederick Weyand; and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to discuss the situation in Vietnam. Photo taken 03/25/1975.





President Gerald R. Ford talks to a woman refugee while holding a Vietnamese baby on a United States Air Force bus. The President after greeted the refugees of the Republic of Vietnam at a California airbase. Photo taken  04/04/1975. (National Archives)
President Gerald R. Ford talks to a woman refugee while holding a Vietnamese baby on a United States Air Force bus. The President after greeted the refugees of the Republic of Vietnam at a California airbase. Photo taken 04/04/1975.





President Gerald R. Ford presides over a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the situation in Vietnam. (clockwise l-r) William Colby, Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Robert S. Ingersoll, Deputy Secretary of State; Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger; Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger; William Clements, Deputy Secretary of Defense; Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller; and General George S. Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photo taken  04/28/1975. (National Archives)
President Gerald R. Ford presides over a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the situation in Vietnam. (clockwise l-r) William Colby, Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Robert S. Ingersoll, Deputy Secretary of State; Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger; Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger; William Clements, Deputy Secretary of Defense; Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller; and General George S. Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photo taken 04/28/1975.





President Gerald R. Ford listens to a briefing by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger on the situation in South Vietnam., 04/29/1975  (National Archives)
President Gerald R. Ford listens to a briefing by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger on the situation in South Vietnam., 04/29/1975 (National Archives)





President and Mrs. Ford wave to the crowd during Independence Day ceremonies at Fort McHenry, Maryland, 07/04/1975  (National Archives)
President and Mrs. Ford wave to the crowd during Independence Day ceremonies at Fort McHenry, Maryland, 07/04/1975 (National Archives)

 
Quick Facts about President Gerald Ford

Rank: 38th (1974-1977)
Predecessor: Richard Nixon
Successor: Jimmy Carter
Date of Birth: July 14, 1913
Place of Birth: Omaha, Nebraska
First Lady: Elizabeth Warren ("Betty")
Profession: lawyer
Political Party: Republican
Vice President: Nelson A. Rockefeller

 
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