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Gerald Ford - History

Gerald Ford - History

Gerald Ford

President Ford was the only President neither elected to the Presidency nor the Vice Presidency, Ford never recovered from his pardon of Nixon. During his Presidency Saigon fell to the Vietnamese, and economic conditions in the US worsened.


The Early Years

Gerald Ford was born in Omaha Nebraska. His biological father left his mother soon after Ford was born. His mother remarried and her new husband adopted her son.

Ford attended public schools in Grand Rapids. He graduated in the top five percent of his class. Ford went on in 1931 to attend the University of Michigan. He was a B student, but went on to be an outstanding football player, and was offered professional football contracts. Ford declined because of his desire to go to law school. In 1935 he was hired to be an assistant football and head boxing coach at Yale University. In 1938 he was allowed to begin courses at Yale Law school while maintaining his position as coach. For graduated in January 1941 from law school and was admitted to the Michigan bar in June.

From 1942 until 1946 Ford served in the Navy. For most of his service Ford served aboard the USS Monterey a light aircraft carrier, that spent the bulk of the war in the South Pacific. He served as the gunnery officer.

After the war Ford joined a law firm in Grand Rapids. In 1948 Ford ran for Congress. He remained a member of the House until becoming Vice President in 1973. Ford had a consistent conservative record in the house. He was a supporter of Marshall Plan and other anti-communist initiatives. He was an early friend of Richard Nixon, and supported him strongly within the party. Ford was a member of the Warren commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy. In 1965 he became the House minority leader. He opposed much of the Johnson domestic programs.

He was also a critic of the Johnson policies in Vietnam, which he depicted as a no win situation unless the administration was to use the full power of the military to win the war.

Ford was the first President to be appointed under the provisions of the Twenty Fifth Amendment. Following the resignation of Vice President Agnew, President Nixon nominated him. He was confirmed in the Senate by 92-3 and in the House by 387-35. He took the oath of office on December 6, 1973. Eight months and three days later Nixon resigned and Ford became President.

Accomplishments in Office

President Ford's first major action was also his most controversial. In September 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon for all crimes that he may have committed during his Presidency. His rational was that this was a way to put Watergate behind the nation. The move was very unpopular. President Ford also offered to all the draft evaders and deserters from the Vietnam conditional amnesty. The draft evaders had to swear allegiance to the United States and do two years of community service. The deserters had to do two years of service in the branch of army that they had deserted from. Only a few evaders and deserters took up the offer.

During the Ford Presidency Communist forces conquered South Vietnam, thus ending the Vietnam war. The only aid that the United States provided South Vietnam in the end was the help in evacuating refugees.

The First Family

Father (Adoptive): Gerald Rudolf Ford
Mother: Dorothy Ayer Gardner
Wife: Elizabeth Ann Bloomer
Sons: Michael, John, Steven
Daughter: Susan

Major Events

The Cabinet

Secretary of State: Henry Kissinger
Secretary of The Treasury: William Simon
Secretaries of Defense: James Schlesinger, Donald Rumsfeld
Attorney Generals: William Saxbe, Edward Levi
Secretaries of The Interior: Roger Morton, Thomas Kleppe
Secretaries of Agriculture: Earl Butz, John Knebel
Secretaries of Commerce: Fredrick Dent, Roger Morton, Elliot Richardson
Secretaries of Labor: Peter Brennan, John Dunlop, W.J. Usery, Jr.
Secretaries of Health, Ed., and Welfare: Casper Weinberger, F. David Matthews Secretaries of Housing & Urban Dev.: James Lynn, Carla Hills
Secretary of Transportation: Claude Brinegar, William Coleman

Military

WW2

Did You Know?

Did You Know?
First President whose was not elected to either the Presidency or the Vice Presidency.

First President to releace a public health report of himself.

First President to visit Japan while in office.


Gerald R. Ford Biography

Gerald Rudolph Ford, the 38th President of the United States, was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., the son of Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy Ayer Gardner King, on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents separated two weeks after his birth and his mother took him to Grand Rapids, Michigan to live with her parents. On February 1, 1916, approximately two years after her divorce was final, Dorothy King married Gerald R. Ford, a Grand Rapids paint salesman. The Fords began calling her son Gerald R. Ford, Jr., although his name was not legally changed until December 3, 1935. He had known since he was thirteen years old that Gerald Ford, Sr. was not his biological father, but it was not until 1930 when Leslie King made an unexpected stop in Grand Rapids that he had a chance meeting with this biological father. The future president grew up in a close-knit family which included three younger half-brothers, Thomas, Richard, and James.

Ford attended South High School in Grand Rapids, where he excelled scholastically and athletically, being named to the honor society and the "All-City" and "All-State" football teams. He was also active in scouting, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout in November 1927. He earned spending money by working in the family paint business and at a local restaurant.

Gerald Ford at the University of Michigan, with fellow football players Russell Fuog, Chuck Bernard, Herman Everhardus, and Stan Fay, 1934.

From 1931 to 1935 Ford attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he majored in economics and political science. He graduated with a B.A. degree in June 1935. He financed his education with part-time jobs, a small scholarship from his high school, and modest family assistance. A gifted athlete, Ford played on the University's national championship football teams in 1932 and 1933. He was voted the Wolverine's most valuable player in 1934 and on January 1, 1935, played in the annual East-West College All-Star game in San Francisco, for the benefit of the Shrine Crippled Children's Hospital. In August 1935 he played in the Chicago Tribune College All-Star football game at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

He received offers from two professional football teams, the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, but chose instead to take a position as boxing coach and assistant varsity football coach at Yale hoping to attend law school there. Among those he coached were future U.S. Senators Robert Taft, Jr. and William Proxmire. Yale officials initially denied him admission to the law school, because of his full-time coaching responsibilities, but admitted him in the spring of 1938. Ford earned his LL.B. degree in 1941, graduating in the top 25 percent of his class in spite of the time he had to devote to his coaching duties. His introduction to politics came in the summer of 1940 when he worked in Wendell Willkie's presidential campaign.

After returning to Michigan and passing his bar exam, Ford and a University of Michigan fraternity brother, Philip A. Buchen (who later served on Ford's White House staff as Counsel to the President), set up a law partnership in Grand Rapids. He also taught a course in business law at the University of Grand Rapids and served as line coach for the school's football team. He had just become active in a group of reform-minded Republicans in Grand Rapids, calling themselves the Home Front, who were interested in challenging the hold of local political boss Frank McKay, when the United States entered World War II.

In April 1942 Ford joined the U.S. Naval Reserve receiving a commission as an ensign. After an orientation program at Annapolis, he became a physical fitness instructor at a pre-flight school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In the spring of 1943 he began service on the light aircraft carrier USS MONTEREY. He was first assigned as athletic director and gunnery division officer, then as assistant navigator with the MONTEREY which took part in most of the major operations in the South Pacific, including Truk, Saipan, and the Philippines. His closest call with death came not as a result of enemy fire, however, but during a vicious typhoon in the Philippine Sea in December 1944. He came within inches of being swept overboard while the storm raged. The ship, which was severely damaged by the storm and the resulting fire, had to be taken out of service. Ford spent the remainder of the war ashore and was discharged as a lieutenant commander in February 1946.

Gerald Ford campaigning with farmers, 1948

When he returned to Grand Rapids Ford became a partner in the locally prestigious law firm of Butterfield, Keeney, and Amberg. A self-proclaimed compulsive "joiner," Ford was well-known throughout the community. Ford has stated that his experiences in World War II caused him to reject his previous isolationist leanings and adopt an internationalist outlook. With the encouragement of his stepfather, who was county Republican chairman, the Home Front, and Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Ford decided to challenge the isolationist incumbent Bartel Jonkman for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1948 election. He won the nomination by a wide margin and was elected to Congress on November 2, receiving 61 percent of the vote in the general election.

During the height of the campaign Gerald Ford married Elizabeth Anne Bloomer Warren, a department store fashion consultant. They were to have four children: Michael Gerald, born March 14, 1950 John Gardner, born March 16, 1952 Steven Meigs, born May 19, 1956 and Susan Elizabeth, born July 6, 1957.

Gerald Ford served in the House of Representatives from January 3, 1949 to December 6, 1973, being reelected twelve times, each time with more than 60% of the vote. He became a member of the House Appropriations Committee in 1951, and rose to prominence on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, becoming its ranking minority member in 1961. He once described himself as "a moderate in domestic affairs, an internationalist in foreign affairs, and a conservative in fiscal policy."

As his reputation as a legislator grew, Ford declined offers to run for both the Senate and the Michigan governorship in the early 1950s. His ambition was to become Speaker of the House. In 1960 he was mentioned as a possible running mate for Richard Nixon in the presidential election. In 1961, in a revolt of the "Young Turks," a group of younger, more progressive House Republicans who felt that the older leadership was stagnating, Ford defeated sixty-seven year old Charles Hoeven of Iowa for Chairman of the House Republican Conference, the number three leadership position in the party.

In 1963 President Johnson appointed Ford to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1965 Ford co-authored, with John R. Stiles, a book about the findings of the Commission, Portrait of an Assassin.

The battle for the 1964 Republican nomination for president was drawn on ideological lines, but Ford avoided having to choose between Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater by standing behind Michigan's favorite son George Romney.

Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and other members of the Chowder and Marching Club at a meeting celebrating Mr. Ford's becoming minority leader, February 24, 1965.

In 1965 Ford was chosen by the Young Turks as their best hope to challenge Charles Halleck for the position of minority leader of the House. He won by a small margin and took over the position early in 1965, holding it for eight years.

Ford led Republican opposition to many of President Johnson's programs, favoring more conservative alternatives to his social welfare legislation and opposing Johnson's policy of gradual escalation in Vietnam. As minority leader Ford made more than 200 speeches a year all across the country, a circumstance which made him nationally known.

In both the 1968 and 1972 elections Ford was a loyal supporter of Richard Nixon, who had been a friend for many years. In 1968 Ford was again considered as a vice presidential candidate. Ford backed the president's economic and foreign policies and remained on good terms with both the conservative and liberal wings of the Republican party.

Because the Republicans did not attain a majority in the House, Ford was unable to reach his ultimate political goal--to be Speaker of the House. Ironically, he did become president of the Senate. When Spiro Agnew resigned the office of Vice President of the United States late in 1973, after pleading no contest to a charge of income tax evasion, President Nixon was empowered by the 25th Amendment to appoint a new vice president. Presumably, he needed someone who could work with Congress, survive close scrutiny of his political career and private life, and be confirmed quickly. He chose Gerald R. Ford. Following the most thorough background investigation in the history of the FBI, Ford was confirmed and sworn in on December 6, 1973.

Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as the 38th President of the United States by Chief Justice Warren Burger as Mrs. Ford looks on, August 9, 1974.

The specter of the Watergate scandal, the break-in at Democratic headquarters during the 1972 campaign and the ensuing cover-up by Nixon administration officials, hung over Ford's nine-month tenure as vice president. When it became apparent that evidence, public opinion, and the mood in Congress were all pointing toward impeachment, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign from that office.

Gerald R. Ford took the oath of office as President of the United States on August 9, 1974, stating that ". our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works."

Within the month Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller for vice president. On December 19, 1974, Rockefeller was confirmed by Congress, over the opposition of many conservatives, and the country had a full complement of leaders again.

One of the most difficult decisions of Ford's presidency was made just a month after he took office. Believing that protracted legal proceedings would keep the country mired in Watergate and unable to address the other problems facing it, Ford decided to grant a pardon to Richard Nixon prior to the filing of any formal criminal charges. Public reaction was mostly negative Ford was even suspected of having made a "deal" with the former president to pardon him if he would resign. The decision may have cost him the election in 1976, but President Ford always maintained that it was the right thing to do for the good of the country.

President Ford inherited an administration plagued by a divisive war in Southeast Asia, rising inflation, and fears of energy shortages. He faced many difficult decisions including replacing Nixon's staff with his own, restoring the credibility of the presidency, and dealing with a Congress increasingly assertive of its rights and powers.

In domestic policy, President Ford felt that through modest tax and spending cuts, deregulating industries, and decontrolling energy prices to stimulate production, he could contain both inflation and unemployment. This would also reduce the size and role of the federal government and help overcome the energy shortage. His philosophy was best summarized by one of his favorite speech lines, "A government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have." The heavily Democratic Congress often disagreed with Ford, leading to numerous confrontations and his frequent use of the veto to control government spending. Through compromise, bills involving energy decontrol, tax cuts, deregulation of the railroad and securities industries, and antitrust law reform were approved.

President Ford and Soviet General Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev sign a Joint Communique following talks on the limitation of strategic offensive arms in the conference hall of the Okeansky Sanitarium, Vladivostok, USSR, November 24, 1974.

In foreign policy, Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger continued the policy of detente with the Soviet Union and "shuttle diplomacy" in the Middle East. U.S.-Soviet relations were marked by on-going arms negotiations, the Helsinki agreements on human rights principles and East European national boundaries, trade negotiations, and the symbolic Apollo-Soyuz joint manned space flight. Ford's personal diplomacy was highlighted by trips to Japan and China, a 10-day European tour, and co-sponsorship of the first international economic summit meeting, as well as the reception of numerous foreign heads of state, many of whom came in observance of the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976.

With the fall of South Vietnam in 1975 as background, Congress and the president struggled repeatedly over presidential war powers, oversight of the CIA and covert operations, military aid appropriations, and the stationing of military personnel.

On May 14, 1975, in a dramatic move, Ford ordered U.S. forces to retake the S.S. MAYAGUEZ, an American merchant ship seized by Cambodian gunboats two days earlier in international waters. The vessel was recovered and all 39 crewmen saved. In the preparation and execution of the rescue, however, 41 Americans lost their lives.

On two separate trips to California in September 1975 Ford was the target of assassination attempts. Both of the assailants were women -- Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore.

During the 1976 campaign, Ford fought off a strong challenge by Ronald Reagan to gain the Republican nomination. He chose Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate and succeeded in narrowing Democrat Jimmy Carter's large lead in the polls, but finally lost one of the closest elections in history. Three televised candidate debates were focal points of the campaign.

Upon returning to private life, President and Mrs. Ford moved to California where they built a new house in Rancho Mirage. President Ford's memoir, A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford, was published in 1979.

After leaving office, President Ford continued to actively participate in the political process and to speak out on important political issues. He lectured at hundreds of colleges and universities on such issues as Congressional/White House relations, federal budget policies, and domestic and foreign policy issues. He attended the annual Public Policy Week Conferences of the American Enterprise Institute, and in 1982 established the AEI World Forum, which he hosted for many years in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado. This was an international gathering of former and current world leaders and business executives to discuss political and business policies impacting current issues.

In 1981, the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were dedicated. President Ford participated in conferences at either site dealing with such subjects as the Congress, the presidency and foreign policy Soviet-American relations German reunification, the Atlantic Alliance, and the future of American foreign policy national security requirements for the ‘90s humor and the presidency and the role of first ladies.

The former president was the recipient of numerous awards and honors by many civic organizations. He was also the recipient of many honorary Doctor of Law degrees from various public and private colleges and universities.

President Ford died on December 26, 2006, at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. After ceremonies in California, Washington, and Grand Rapids, he was interred on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum is part of the Presidential Libraries System administered by
the National Archives and Records Administration. View our privacy statement and accessibility statement.


Gerald Ford - History

The Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the lead ship of its class of U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and is named after the 38th President of the United States Gerald R. Ford, Jr., (1913-2006), whose World War II naval service included combat duty aboard the light aircraft carrier Monterey (CVL 26) in the Pacific Theater. Construction began on August 11, 2005, when Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding held a ceremonial steel cut for a 15-ton plate, at the shipyards new heavy-plate bay facility, that will form part of a side shell unit of the carrier The ship is named on January 16, 2007.

Compared with the Nimitz-class, the Gerald R. Ford possess a new nuclear power plant (A1B), Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) instead of steam catapults, a redesigned and relocated island (It is shorter in length but stands 20 feet taller), three (instead of four) faster and more powerful elevators, an Advanced Aircraft Recovery System (AARS), new combat system, increased electrical power generation capacity and allowance for future technologies and reduced manning. Also the sortie rate is increased by 25% thanks to an enhanced flight deck layout, with improved weapons movement and "pit stops" to fuel and arm aircraft.

September 10, 2008 A Northrop Grumman Corporation was awarded a $5.1 billion, 7-year cost plus incentive fee contract, for detail design and construction of the Gerald R. Ford nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

November 14, 2009 The keel laying and authentication ceremony for the CVN 78 was held at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia.

May 12, 2010 A Northrop Grumman Corporation was awarded a $186.6 million cost plus fixed fee contract to continue the engineering and design effort for the Gerald R. Ford A $189.2 million contract was awarded on November 10.

July 29, 2011 The Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) was awarded a $504 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract extension to continue engineering work associated with construction of the CVN 78.

May 24, 2012 Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding reached a construction milestone by lowering the final keel section, 680-metric-ton lower bow, of the Gerald R. Ford. The aircraft carrier is being built using modular construction, a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form large structural units, outfitting is installed, and the large unit is lifted into the dry-dock. Of the nearly 500 total structural lifts needed to complete the ship, 390 have been accomplished.

October 4, HII Newport News Shipbuilding reached a construction milestone by placing the 1,026-metric ton gallery deck onto the CVN 78. This is the heaviest unit to be moved during the ship's construction and the largest lift that has ever made at Newport News shipyard.

January 26, 2013 HII Newport News Shipbuilding completed a significant milestone with the installation of the 555-metric ton island.

May 7, The forward end of the Catapult #3 was placed on the flight deck, completing the last of 162 super lift evolutions scheduled during the construction of the Gerald R. Ford at Huntington Iningalls Industries shipyard in Newport News, Va.

July 8, Capt. John F. Meier assumed command of the Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford.

November 9, PCU Gerald R. Ford was christened during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony at HII Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va. Miss. Susan Ford Bales, daughter of President Gerald R. Ford, served as sponsor of the ship.

November 17, The Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford was launched for the first time from Dry Dock #12 and moved "dead-stick" to Pier 3 at Newport News shipyard.

June 5, 2015 The Gerald R. Ford successfully conducted its first "dead-load" test of the new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) at Newport News shipyard. The 15,500-pound sled was launched into the James River where it was recovered for additional test launches over the next several weeks.

August 3, More than 1,600 Sailors enjoyed their first meal prepared in the galley after moved aboard the PCU Gerald R. Ford.

April 8, 2016 Capt. Richard C. McCormack relieved Capt. John F. Meier as CO of the CVN 78 during a change-of-command ceremony aboard the ship at Newport News shipyard.

June 11, The Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford completed a major milestone by conducting a Turn Ship evolution at Pier 3. The new (port side) position will allow the ship and shipyard team to complete the remaining pierside testing required before upcoming sea trials.

April 8, 2017 CVN 78 departed Newport News shipyard for the first time to conduct Builder's (Alpha) sea trials off the coast of Virginia Moored at Pier 11N in Naval Station Norfolk on April 14 Underway for acceptance trials with the INSURV from May 24-26.

May 31, Huntington Ingalls Industries delivered the PCU Gerald R. Ford to the U.S. Navy during a short ceremony at Newport News, Va.

July 22, USS Gerald R. Ford was commissioned during a 10 a.m. EDT ceremony in the ship's hangar bay at Pier 11, Naval Station Norfolk.

July 28, USS Gerald R. Ford reached another milestone when an F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 and piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Jamie R. Struck, became the first aircraft to conduct a successful arrested landing at 3.10 p.m. EDT. The same aircraft was catapulted from the ship's flight deck, for the first time, at 4.37 p.m.

July 29, The Gerald R. Ford moored at Pier 11N on Naval Station Norfolk after a one-day underway off the coast of Virginia Underway for testing and evaluation operations from Aug. 2-16 and Sept. 29- Oct. 8.

October 19, Rear Adm. Roy J. Kelley relieved Rear Adm. Bruce H. Lindsey as Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic during a change-of-command ceremony aboard the Ford.

October 21, USS Gerald R. Ford held an "Open House" in conjunction with the Fleet Fest 2017 and Naval Station Norfolk Centennial celebration, while moored at Pier 11.

November 9, The Gerald R. Ford moored at Pier 11N on Naval Station Norfolk after a nine-day underway for Independent Steaming Exercise (ISE) #3, with the elements from CVW-3 and CVW-7 Underway again on Dec. 3.

December 4, USS Gerald R. Ford conducted its first ever underway replenishment (UNREP), with the USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12), while underway off the coast of Virginia Conducted its first-ever structural test fire on the Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) on Dec. 15 Returned home on Dec. 17.

January 26, 2018 CVN 78 moored at Pier 11N after a 16-day underway for Independent Steaming Exercise (ISE) #5, off the coast of Virginia, with the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8.

March 30, Huntington Ingalls Inc. was awarded a $55,8 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-2110) for material and labor supporting planning and the preliminary accomplishment of the Post Shakedown Availability/Selected Restricted Availability (PSA/SRA) on USS Gerald R. Ford. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $66,6 million. Work is expected to be completed by June 2019.

April 18, Huntington Ingalls Inc. was awarded a $10,8 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-2110) for the Gerald R. Ford's PSA/SRA Another $61,3 million modification was awarded on April 30.

May 19, USS Gerald R. Ford departed homeport for Independent Steaming Exercise (ISE) #6, off the coast of Virginia Moored at Pier 11N for emergent repairs to its propulsion system on May 22 Underway again from May 31- June 7 Moved "dead-stick" to Pier 3, Newport News Shipyard on July 15.

July 27, Huntington Ingalls Inc. was awarded a $9,8 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-2110) for additional material in support of component shock testing for USS Gerald R. Ford.

August 10, Capt. John J. Cummings relieved Capt. Richard C. McCormack, as the 3rd commanding officer of Gerald R. Ford, during a ceremony at Vista Point Club on Naval Station Norfolk.

June 12, 2019 Huntington Ingalls Inc. was awarded a $687,1 million contract for early service life period work on USS Gerald R. Ford. The purpose of this contract is to support ship repair and modernization during continuous incremental availabilities, planned incremental availabilities, full-ship shock trials and continuous maintenance and emergent maintenance during the ship's early service life period. This contract includes five ordering periods and is expected to be completed by June 2024.

October 25, USS Gerald R. Ford departed Newport News Shipyard for sea trials, following a 15-month availability Moored at Pier 11S in Naval Station Norfolk on Oct. 30.

November 25, The Gerald R. Ford moored at Pier 11N on Naval Station Norfolk after a 19-day underway for Independent Steaming Exercise (ISE) #7, in the Virginia Capes, Jacksonville and Charleston Op. Areas Underway for ISE #8, off the coast of Virginia, from Dec. 4-11.

January 31, 2020 USS Gerald R. Ford moored at Pier 11N on Naval Station Norfolk after a 15-day underway for Aircraft Compatibility Testing (ACT), with the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 and 23, in the Virginia Capes and Cherry Point Op. Areas Underway for ISE #9, in the Virginia Capes and Jacksonville Op. Areas, from Feb. 3-11 Underway for ISE #10 on March 11.

From March 19-24, the Gerald R. Ford conducted flight deck certification and carrier qualifications with the CVW-8, off the coast of Virginia Moored at Pier 11N on March 25 Underway for Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) CQ, in the Virginia Capes Op. Area, on March 26 Arrived in the Charleston Op. Area on April 2 Arrived in the Jacksonville Op. Area on April 3.

From April 5-6, USS Gerald R. Ford conducted Combat Systems Ship's Qualification Trials (CSSQT) Conducted CQ for the Naval Air Training Command (TRACOM) from April 7-10 Returned home on April 12 Underway for FRS-CQ on May 9.

May 15, CVN 78 conducted a replenishment-at-sea with the USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201), while underway approximately 75 n.m. off the coast of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina Conducted TRACOM-CQ, in the Jacksonville Op. Area, from May 17-20 Arrived in the Virginia Capes Op. Area on May 22 Returned home on May 25.

June 4, USS Gerald R. Ford participated in a photo exercise (PHOTOEX) with the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), while underway east of Cape Hatteras, N.C., marking the first time a Ford-class and a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier operated together at sea.

June 7, The Gerald R. Ford moored at Pier 11N on Naval Station Norfolk after a 10-day underway for integrated operations with the CVW-8, in the Virginia Capes Op. Area Underway for FRS-CQ, in the Virginia Capes Op. Area, from July 25- Aug. 5 Underway again on Sept. 1 Arrived in the Jacksonville Op. Area on Sept. 9.

From September 10-13, the Gerald R. Ford conducted Carrier Qualifications (CQ) with the Training Air Wing (TW) 1 and 2 Arrived off the coast of Virginia on Sept. 17 Transited southbound, approximately 20 n.m. east of Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, just after midnight on Sept. 20.

From September 20-30, the Gerald R. Ford conducted acoustic trials at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) range, off the east coast of Andros Island, Bahamas Transited northbound, east of Great Abaco Island, just after midnight on Oct. 1 Returned home on Oct. 2.

November 3, USS Gerald R. Ford moored at Pier 11N on Naval Station Norfolk after a week-long underway for FRS-CQ, in the Virginia Capes Op. Area Underway for CQ, with the elements from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 and 8, and first-ever integrated Carrier Strike Group (CSG) operations from Nov. 5-20 Underway for FRS-CQ on Dec. 5.

From December 9-12, the Gerald R. Ford conducted TRACOM-CQ in the Jacksonville Op. Area Conducted training in the Charleston Op. Area from Dec. 12-13 Returned home on Dec. 14.

January 28, 2021 USS Gerald R. Ford departed Naval Station Norfolk for FRS-CQ in the Virginia Capes Op. Area Conducted TRACOM-CQ, in the Key West Op. Area, from Feb. 3-6 Transited northbound, off the southeast coast of Florida, on Saturday evening Returned home on Feb. 10.

February 12, Capt. Paul J. Lanzilotta relieved Capt. John J. Cummings as CO of the Gerald R. Ford during a change-of-command ceremony aboard the ship.

March 7, USS Gerald R. Ford departed Naval Station Norfolk for FRS-CQ in the Virginia Capes Op. Area Arrived in the Jacksonville Op. Area on March 12 Conducted TRACOM-CQ from March 14-17 Participated in a photo exercise (PHOTOEX) with the ITS Cavour (CVH 550), while underway off the coast of Virginia, on March 20 Returned home on March 21.

April 30, The Gerald R. Ford moored at Pier 11N on Naval Station Norfolk after a 16-day underway, in the Virginia Capes Op. Area, for Combat Systems Ship's Qualification Trials (CSSQT) 2C and integrated Carrier Strike Group (CSG) operations with the CVW-8 Underway again June 7.

June 18, USS Gerlad R. Ford successfully completed explosive event #1, as part of full-ship shock trials (FSST), while underway in the Jacksonville Op. Area.


Contents

Carriers of the Gerald R. Ford class have: [1]

  • Advanced arresting gear. [10]
  • Automation, allowing a crew of several hundred fewer than the Nimitz-class carrier. [11]
  • The updated RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile. [12]
  • An AN/SPY-3X Band multifunction radar and an AN/SPY-4S Band volume search radar. [13] Designated together as Dual Band Radar (DBR), initially developed for the Zumwalt-classdestroyers. [14] Starting John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) the AN/SPY-6 will replace the AN/SPY-4 as the volume search component of the system. [15]
  • An Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) in place of traditional steam catapults for launching aircraft. [10]
  • A new nuclear reactor design (the A1B reactor) for greater power generation. to reduce radar cross-section.
  • The ability to carry up to 90 aircraft, including the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, Grumman C-2 Greyhound, Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II, Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, and unmanned combat aerial vehicles. [16][12][17]

The biggest visible difference from earlier supercarriers is the more aft location of the island (superstructure). [18] The Gerald R. Ford-class carriers will have a reduced whole-life cost due in part to reduced crew size. [11] These ships are intended to sustain 160 sorties per day for 30-plus days, with a surge capability of 270 sorties per day. [19] [20] Director of Operational Testing Michael Gilmore has criticized the assumptions used in these forecasts as unrealistic and has indicated sortie rates similar to the 120/240 per day of the Nimitz class would be acceptable. [20] [21]

The current Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in US naval service have been part of United States power projection strategy since Nimitz was commissioned in 1975. Displacing about 100,000 tons when fully loaded, a Nimitz-class carrier can steam in excess of 30 knots (56 km/h 35 mph), cruise without resupply for 90 days, and launch aircraft to strike targets hundreds of miles away. [22] The endurance of this class is exemplified by USS Theodore Roosevelt, which spent 159 days underway during Operation Enduring Freedom without visiting a port or being refueled. [23]

The Nimitz design has accommodated many new technologies over the decades, but it has limited ability to support the most recent technical advances. As a 2005 Rand report said, "The biggest problems facing the Nimitz class are the limited electrical power generation capability and the upgrade-driven increase in ship weight and erosion of the center-of-gravity margin needed to maintain ship stability." [24]

With these constraints in mind, the US Navy developed what was initially known as the CVN-21 program, which evolved into CVN-78, Gerald R. Ford. Improvements were made through developing technologies and more efficient design. Major design changes include a larger flight deck, improvements in weapons and material handling, a new propulsion plant design that requires fewer people to operate and maintain, and a new, smaller island that has been pushed aft. Technological advances in electromagnetics have led to the development of an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and an Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG). An integrated warfare system, the Ship Self-Defense System (SSDS), has been developed to allow the ship to more easily take on new missions. The new Dual Band Radar (DBR) combines S-band and X-band radar. [25]

These advances will allow the new Gerald R. Ford-class carriers to launch 25% more sorties, generate triple the electrical power with improved efficiency, and offer crew quality-of-life improvements. [7] [8]

Flight deck Edit

Catapult No. 4 on the Nimitz class cannot launch fully loaded aircraft because of low wing clearance along the edge of the flight deck. [26]

The movement of weapons from storage and assembly to the aircraft on the flight deck has also been streamlined and accelerated. Ordnance will be lifted to the centralized rearming location via higher-capacity weapons elevators that use linear motors. [27] These elevators are located so that ordnance need not cross any areas of aircraft movement, thereby reducing traffic problems in the hangars and on the flight deck. In 2008, Rear Admiral Dennis M. Dwyer said these changes will make it hypothetically possible to rearm the airplanes in "minutes instead of hours". [28]

Power generation Edit

The new Bechtel A1B reactor for the Gerald R. Ford class is smaller and simpler, requires fewer crew, and yet is far more powerful than the Nimitz-class A4W reactor. Two reactors will be installed on each Gerald R. Ford-class carrier, providing a power generation capacity at least 25% greater than the 550 MW (thermal) of the two A4W reactors in a Nimitz-class carrier, [29] and three times that of "current carrier power plants". [30]

The propulsion and power plant of the Nimitz-class carriers were designed in the 1960s, when onboard technologies required less electrical power. "New technologies added to the Nimitz-class ships have generated increased demands for electricity the current base load leaves little margin to meet expanding demands for power." [31]

The Gerald R. Ford-class ships convert steam into power by piping it to four main turbine generators (MTG) to generate electricity for major ship systems, and the new electromagnetic catapults. [32] [33] The Gerald R. Ford-class ships use steam turbines for propulsion. [33]

A larger power output is a major component to the integrated warfare system. Engineers took extra steps to ensure that integrating unforeseen technological advances onto a Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier would be possible. The Navy expects the Gerald R. Ford class will be part of the fleet for 90 years, until the year 2105, which means that the class must successfully accept new technology over the decades. Only half of the electric power generation capacity is used by currently planned systems, with half remaining available for future technologies. [34]

Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System Edit

Advanced Arresting Gear landing system Edit

Electromagnets are also being used in the new Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) system. The current system relies on hydraulics to slow and stop a landing aircraft. While the hydraulic system is effective, as demonstrated by more than fifty years of implementation, the AAG system offers a number of improvements. The current [ needs update ] system is unable to capture unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) without damaging them due to extreme stresses on the airframe. UAVs do not have the necessary mass to drive the large hydraulic piston used to trap heavier, manned airplanes. By using electromagnetics the energy absorption is controlled by a turbo-electric engine. This makes the trap smoother and reduces shock on airframes. Even though the system will look the same from the flight deck as its predecessor, it will be more flexible, safe, and reliable, and will require less maintenance and manning. [35]

Sensors and self-defense systems Edit

Another addition to the Gerald R. Ford class is an integrated active electronically scanned array search and tracking radar system. The dual-band radar (DBR) was being developed for both the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers and the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers by Raytheon. The island can be kept smaller by replacing six to ten radar antennas with a single six-faced radar. The DBR works by combining the X band AN/SPY-3 multifunction radar with the S band Volume Search Radar (VSR) emitters, distributed into three phased arrays. [36] The S-band radar was later deleted from the Zumwalt destroyers to save money. [14]

The three faces dedicated to the X-band radar handle low-altitude tracking and radar illumination, while the three S-band faces handle target search and tracking regardless of weather. "Operating simultaneously over two electromagnetic frequency ranges, the DBR marks the first time this functionality has been achieved using two frequencies coordinated by a single resource manager." [25]

This new system has no moving parts, therefore minimizing maintenance and manning requirements for operation. The AN/SPY-3 consists of three active arrays and the Receiver/Exciter (REX) cabinets abovedecks and the Signal and Data Processor (SDP) subsystem below-decks. The VSR has a similar architecture, with the beamforming and narrowband down-conversion functionality occurring in two additional cabinets per array. A central controller (the resource manager) resides in the Data Processor (DP). The DBR is the first radar system that uses a central controller and two active-array radars operating at different frequencies. The DBR gets its power from the Common Array Power System (CAPS), which comprises Power Conversion Units (PCUs) and Power Distribution Units (PDUs). The DBR is cooled via a closed-loop cooling system called the Common Array Cooling System (CACS). [37]

The Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) is a new design surveillance radar that is to be installed in the second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier, John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) , in lieu of the Dual Band radar. The America-class amphibious assault ships starting with LHA-8 and the planned LX(R) will also have this radar. [38] The EASR suite's initial per-unit cost will be about $180 million less than the DBR, for which the estimate is about $500 million. [39]

Possible upgrades Edit

Future defense systems, such as free-electron laser directed-energy weapons, dynamic armor, and tracking systems will require more power. "Only half of the electrical power-generation capability on CVN-78 is needed to run currently planned systems, including EMALS. CVN-78 will thus have the power reserves that the Nimitz class lacks to run lasers and dynamic armor." [34] The addition of new technologies, power systems, design layout, and better control systems results in an increased sortie rate of 25% over the Nimitz class and a 25% reduction in manpower required to operate. [40]

Waste management technology will be deployed on Gerald R. Ford. Co-developed with the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, PyroGenesis Canada Inc., was in 2008 awarded the contract to outfit the ship with a Plasma Arc Waste Destruction System (PAWDS). This compact system will treat all combustible solid waste generated on board the ship. After having completed factory acceptance testing in Montreal, the system was scheduled to be shipped to the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in late 2011 for installation on the carrier. [41]

The Navy is developing a free-electron laser (FEL) to defend against cruise missiles and small-boat swarms. [42] [43] [44] [45] [46]

3D computer-aided design Edit

Newport News Shipbuilding used a full-scale three-dimensional product model developed in Dassault Systèmes CATIA V5 to design and plan the construction of the Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers. [47]

The CVN 78 class was designed to have better weapons movement paths, largely eliminating horizontal movements within the ship. Current plans call for advanced weapons elevators to move from storage areas to dedicated weapons-handling areas. Sailors would use motorized carts to move the weapons from storage to the elevators at different levels of the weapons magazines. Linear motors are being considered for the advanced weapons elevators. The elevators will also be relocated such that they will not impede aircraft operations on the flight deck. The redesign of the weapons movement paths and the location of the weapons elevators on the flight deck will reduce manpower and contribute to a much higher sortie generation rate. [48]

Planned aircraft complement Edit

The Gerald R. Ford class is designed to accommodate the new Joint Strike Fighter carrier variant aircraft (F-35C), but aircraft development and testing delays have affected integration activities on CVN-78. These integration activities include testing the F-35C with CVN-78's EMALS and advanced arresting gear system and testing the ship's storage capabilities for the F-35C's lithium-ion batteries, tires, and wheels. As a result of F-35C developmental delays, the US Navy will not field the aircraft until at least 2018—one year after CVN-78 delivery. As a result, the Navy has deferred critical F-35C integration activities, which introduces risk of system incompatibilities and costly retrofits to the ship after it is delivered to the Navy. [49]

Crew accommodations Edit

Systems that reduce crew workload have allowed the ship's company on Gerald R. Ford-class carriers to total only 2,600 sailors, about 700 fewer than a Nimitz-class carrier. The massive, 180-man berthing areas on the Nimitz class are replaced by 40-rack berthing areas on Gerald R. Ford-class carriers. The smaller berthings are quieter and the layout requires less foot traffic through other spaces. [50] Typically the racks are stacked three high, with locker space per person. The berthings do not feature modern "sit-up" racks with more headroom bottom and middle racks only accommodate a sailor lying down. Each berthing has an associated head, including showers, vacuum-powered septic-system toilets (no urinals since the berthings are built gender-neutral) [51] and sinks to reduce travel and traffic to access those facilities. Wifi-enabled lounges are located across the passageway in separate spaces from the berthing's racks. [50]

Since deployment, the first two carriers of the class have run into problems with the plumbing of the waste system. The pipes were too narrow to handle the load of users, resulting in the vacuum failing and repeatedly clogged toilets. [52] To alleviate the problem, specialized acidic cleaning solutions have been used to flush out the sewage system. These cleaning treatments cost about $400,000 each time, resulting in a substantial unplanned increase in the lifetime expense of operating these ships according to the GAO. These cleanings will have to be performed for the lifetime of the ship. [52]

Medical facilities Edit

Gerald R. Ford, first in the class, has an on-board hospital that includes a full laboratory, pharmacy, operating room, 3-bed intensive care unit, 2-bed emergency room, and 41-bed hospital ward, staffed by 11 medical officers and 30 hospital corpsmen. [53]

Construction of the first vessel in the class, CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford, officially began on 11 August 2005, when Northrop Grumman held a ceremonial steel cut for a 15-ton plate that would form part of a side shell unit of the carrier, [54] but construction began in earnest in early 2007. [55] The carrier was assembled at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries (formerly Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding) in Newport News, Virginia. This is the only shipyard in the United States that can build nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

In 2005, Gerald R. Ford was estimated to cost at least $13 billion: $5 billion for research and development plus $8 billion to build. [11] A 2009 report raised the estimate to $14 billion, including $9 billion for construction. [56] In 2013, the life-cycle cost per operating day of a carrier strike group (including aircraft) was estimated at $6.5 million by the Center for New American Security. [57]

Originally, a total of three carriers were authorized for construction, but if the Nimitz-class carriers and Enterprise were to be replaced one-for-one, 11 carriers would be required over the life of the program. The last Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is to be decommissioned in 2058.

In a speech on 6 April 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that each Gerald R. Ford-class carrier would be built over five years, yielding a "more fiscally sustainable path" and a 10-carrier fleet after 2040. [58] That changed in December 2016, when Navy Secretary Ray Mabus signed a Force Structure Assessment calling for a 355-ship fleet with 12 aircraft carriers. [59] [60] If enacted, this policy would require each Gerald R. Ford-class carrier to be built in three to four years. [61]

First-of-class type design changes Edit

As construction of CVN-78 progressed, the shipbuilder discovered first-of-class type design changes, which it will use to update the model before the construction of the remaining vessels of its class. Several of these design changes related to EMALS configuration changes, which required electrical, wiring, and other changes within the ship. The Navy anticipates additional design changes stemming from remaining advanced arresting gear development and testing. According to the Navy, many of these 19,000 changes were programmed into the construction schedule early on—a result of the government's decision, at contract award, to introduce improvements to the ship's warfare systems during construction, which are heavily dependent on evolving commercial technologies. [49]

There was a movement by the USS America Carrier Veterans' Association to have CVN-78 named after America rather than after President Ford. [62] Eventually, the amphibious assault ship LHA-6 was named America.

On 27 May 2011, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the name of CVN-79 would be USS John F. Kennedy. [63]

On 1 December 2012, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that CVN-80 would be named USS Enterprise. The information was delivered during a prerecorded speech as part of the deactivation ceremony for the previous Enterprise (CVN-65) . The future Enterprise (CVN-80) will be the ninth U.S. Navy ship to bear this name. [64]

On 20 January 2020, during a ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly named a future Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier in honor of World War II hero Doris Miller. This will be the first aircraft carrier named for an African American, and the first aircraft carrier to be named for a sailor in the enlisted ranks. It is the second ship named in honor of Miller, who was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross. [65] [66] [67] [68]

There are expected to be ten ships of this class. [69] To date, five have been announced:


Her first marriage was tragic

Betty Bloomer returned to Grand Rapids from New York in 1941 and immediately became a hot commodity on the marriage circuit. She began dating a childhood friend named William Warren. History notes that Betty and Bill had known each other since the age of 12, which gives the romance all sorts of romcom overtones.

But as MLive reports, Betty's mother and new stepfather didn't approve of Warren, who drank heavily and was known as a "free spirit." They didn't say anything explicitly to Betty, though, and in 1942 the young couple announced their engagement, and they were married soon thereafter.

Bill worked as a traveling salesman, and he changed jobs frequently. Every time he took on a new territory, the couple would move, and Betty would find work at a local department store. But Bill often stayed out late, and his health deteriorated due to diabetes and his drinking. Betty became increasingly unhappy because she wanted a more stable life, with a permanent home and kids. After a few years she decided she wanted a divorce—but just as she was writing Bill a letter asking for one, he fell into a diabetic coma. Betty spent several months dutifully caring for her ailing husband, but when he was healthy again, she divorced him.


Contents

The Republican ticket of President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew won a landslide victory in the 1972 presidential election. Nixon's second term was dominated by the Watergate scandal, which stemmed from a Nixon campaign group's attempted burglary of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters and the subsequent cover-up by the Nixon administration. [3] Due to a scandal unrelated to Watergate, Vice President Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973. Under the terms of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, Nixon nominated Ford as Agnew's replacement. Nixon selected Ford, then the House Minority Leader, largely because he was advised that Ford would be the most easily confirmed of the prominent Republican leaders. [4] Ford was confirmed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress, and he took office as vice president in December 1973. [5]

In the months after his confirmation as vice president, Ford continued to support Nixon's innocence with regards to Watergate, even as evidence mounted that the Nixon administration had ordered the break-in and subsequently sought to cover it up. In July 1974, after the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over recordings of certain meetings he had held as president, the House Judiciary Committee voted to begin impeachment proceedings against Nixon. After the tapes became public and clearly showed that Nixon had taken part in the cover-up, Nixon summoned Ford to the Oval Office on August 8, where Nixon informed Ford that he would resign. Nixon formally resigned on August 9, making Ford the first President of the United States who had not been elected as either president or vice president. [6]

Immediately after taking the oath of office in the East Room of the White House, Ford spoke to the assembled audience in a speech broadcast live to the nation. [7] 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." [8] He went on to state:

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. [9]

Cabinet Edit

The Ford Cabinet
OfficeNameTerm
PresidentGerald Ford1974–1977
Vice Presidentnone1974
Nelson Rockefeller1974–1977
Secretary of StateHenry Kissinger1974–1977
Secretary of the 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 Morton1975–1976
Elliot Richardson1976–1977
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
Director of the Office of
Management and Budget
Roy Ash1974–1975
James Thomas Lynn1975–1977
United States Trade RepresentativeWilliam Denman Eberle1974
Frederick B. Dent1975–1977
Ambassador to the United NationsJohn A. Scali1974–1975
Daniel Patrick Moynihan1975–1976
William Scranton1976–1977
Chief of StaffAlexander Haig1974
Donald Rumsfeld1974–1975
Dick Cheney1975–1977
Counselor to the PresidentAnne Armstrong1974
Dean Burch1974
Kenneth Rush1974
Robert T. Hartmann1974–1977
John Otho Marsh Jr.1974–1977
Rogers Morton1976
White House CounselPhilip W. Buchen1974–1977

Upon assuming office, Ford inherited Nixon's cabinet, although Ford quickly replaced Chief of Staff Alexander Haig with Donald Rumsfeld, who had served as a Counselor to the President under Nixon. Rumsfeld and Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney rapidly became among the most influential people in the Ford administration. [10] Ford also appointed Edward H. Levi as Attorney General, charging Levi with cleaning up a Justice Department that had been politicized to unprecedented levels during the Nixon administration. [11] Ford brought in Philip W. Buchen, Robert T. Hartmann, L. William Seidman, and John O. Marsh as senior advisers with cabinet rank. [12] Ford placed a far greater value in his cabinet officials than Nixon had, though cabinet members did not regain the degree of influence they had held prior to World War II. Levi, Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon, and Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger all emerged as influential cabinet officials early in Ford's tenure. [13]

Most of the Nixon holdovers in cabinet stayed in place until Ford's dramatic reorganization in the fall of 1975, an action referred to by political commentators as the "Halloween Massacre". [14] Ford appointed George H.W. Bush as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, [15] while Rumsfeld became Secretary of Defense and Cheney replaced Rumsfeld as Chief of Staff, becoming the youngest individual to hold that position. [14] The moves were intended to fortify Ford's right flank against a primary challenge from Ronald Reagan. [14] Though Kissinger remained as Secretary of State, Brent Scowcroft replaced Kissinger as National Security Advisor. [16]

Vice presidency Edit

Ford's accession to the presidency left the office of vice president vacant. On August 20, 1974, Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller, the leader of the party's liberal wing, for the vice presidency. [17] Rockefeller and former Congressman George H. W. Bush of Texas were the two finalists for vice presidential nomination, and Ford chose Rockefeller in part due to a Newsweek report that revealed that Bush had accepted money from a Nixon slush fund during his 1970 Senate campaign. [18] Rockefeller underwent extended hearings before Congress, which caused embarrassment when it was revealed he made large gifts to senior aides, including 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. [19] He was sworn in as the nation's 41st vice president on December 19, 1974. [20] Prior to Rockefeller's confirmation, Speaker of the House Carl Albert was next in line to the presidency. Ford promised to give Rockefeller a major role in shaping the domestic policy of the administration, but Rockefeller was quickly sidelined by Rumsfeld and other administration officials. [21]

Executive Privilege Edit

In the wake of Nixon's heavy use of executive privilege to block investigations of his actions, Ford was scrupulous in minimizing its usage. However, that complicated his efforts to keep congressional investigations under control. Political scientist Mark J. Rozell concludes that Ford's:

failure to enunciate a formal executive privilege policy made it more difficult to explain his position to Congress. He concludes that Ford's actions were prudent they likely salvaged executive privilege from the graveyard of eroded presidential entitlements because of his recognition that the Congress was likely to challenge any presidential use of that unpopular perquisite. [22]

Ford made one appointment to the Supreme Court while in office, appointing John Paul Stevens to succeed Associate Justice William O. Douglas. Upon learning of Douglas's impending retirement, Ford asked Attorney General Levi to submit a short list of potential Supreme Court nominees, and Levi suggested Stevens, Solicitor General Robert Bork, and federal judge Arlin Adams. Ford chose Stevens, an uncontroversial federal appellate judge, largely because he was likely to face the least opposition in the Senate. [23] Early in his tenure on the Court, Stevens had a relatively moderate voting record, but in the 1990s he emerged as a leader of the Court's liberal bloc. [24] In 2005 Ford wrote, "I am prepared to allow history's judgment of my term in office to rest (if necessary, exclusively) on my nomination 30 years ago of Justice John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court". [25] Ford also appointed 11 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, and 50 judges to the United States district courts.

Nixon pardon Edit

Along with the experience of the Vietnam War and other issues, Watergate contributed to a decline in the faith that Americans placed in political institutions. Low public confidence added to Ford's already formidable challenge of establishing his own administration without a presidential transition period or the popular mandate of a presidential election. [26] Though Ford became widely popular during his first month in office, he faced a difficult situation regarding the fate of former President Nixon, whose status threatened to undermine the Ford administration. [27] In the final days of Nixon's presidency, Haig had floated the possibility of Ford pardoning Nixon, but no deal had been struck between Nixon and Ford before Nixon's resignation. [28] Nonetheless, when Ford took office, most of the Nixon holdovers in the executive branch, including Haig and Kissinger, pressed for a pardon. [29] Through his first month in office, Ford publicly kept his options open regarding a pardon, but he came to believe that ongoing legal proceedings against Nixon would prevent his administration from addressing any other issue. [30] Ford attempted to extract a public statement of contrition from Nixon before issuing the pardon, but Nixon refused. [31]

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. [32] [33] [34] 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." [35]

The Nixon pardon was highly controversial, and Gallup polling showed that Ford's approval rating fell from 71 percent before the pardon to 50 percent immediately after the pardon. [36] Critics derided the move and said a "corrupt bargain" had been struck between the men. [37] 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". [38] Ford's close friend and press secretary, Jerald terHorst, resigned his post in protest. [39] The pardon would hang over Ford for the remainder of his presidency, and damaged his relationship with members of Congress from both parties. [40] Against the advice of most of his advisers, Ford agreed to appear before a House Subcommittee that requested further information on the pardon. [41] On October 17, 1974, Ford testified before Congress, becoming the first sitting president since Abraham Lincoln to do so. [42]

After Ford left the White House, 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 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. [43]

Clemency for draft dodgers Edit

During the Vietnam War, about one percent of American men of eligible for the draft failed to register, and approximately one percent of those who were drafted refused to serve. Those who refused conscription were labeled as "draft dodgers" many such individuals had left the country for Canada, but others remained in the United States. [44] Ford had opposed any form of amnesty for the draft dodgers while in Congress, but his presidential advisers convinced him that a clemency program would help resolve a contentious issue and boost Ford's public standing. [45] On September 16, 1974, shortly after he announced the Nixon pardon, Ford introduced a presidential clemency program for Vietnam War draft dodgers. The conditions of the clemency required a reaffirmation of allegiance to the United States and two years of work in a public service position. [46] The program for the Return of Vietnam Era Draft Evaders and Military Deserters established a Clemency Board to review the records and make recommendations for receiving a presidential pardon and a change in military discharge status. [47] Ford's clemency program was accepted by most conservatives, but attacked by those on the left who wanted a full amnesty program. [48] Full pardon for draft dodgers would later come in the Carter Administration. [49]

1974 midterm elections Edit

The 1974 congressional midterm elections took place less than three months after Ford assumed office. The Democratic Party turned voter dissatisfaction into large gains in the House of Representatives elections, taking 49 seats from the Republican Party, increasing their majority to 291 of the 435 seats. Even Ford's former House seat was won by a Democrat. In the Senate elections, the Democrats increased their majority to 61 seats in the 100-seat body. [50] The subsequent 94th Congress would override the highest percentage of vetoes since Andrew Johnson served as president in the 1860s. Ford's successful vetoes, however, resulted in the lowest yearly spending increases since the Eisenhower administration. [51] [52] Buoyed by the new class of "Watergate Babies," liberal Democrats implemented reforms designed to ease the passage of legislation. The House began to select committee chairs by secret ballot rather than through seniority, resulting in the removal of some conservative Southern committee chairs. The Senate, meanwhile, lowered the number of votes necessary to end a filibuster from 67 to 60. [53]

Economy Edit

Federal finances and GDP during Ford's presidency [54]
Fiscal
Year
Receipts Outlays Surplus/
Deficit
GDP Debt as a %
of GDP [55]
1975 279.1 332.3 –53.2 1,606.9 24.6
1976 298.1 371.8 –73.7 1,786.1 26.7
TQ [56] 81.2 96.0 –14.7 471.7 26.3
1977 355.6 409.2 –53.7 2,024.3 27.1
Ref. [57] [58] [59]

By the time Ford took office, the U.S. economy had entered into a period of stagflation, which economists attributed to various causes, including the 1973 oil crisis and increasing competition from countries such as Japan. [60] Stagflation confounded the traditional economic theories of the 1970s, as economists generally believed that an economy would not simultaneously experience inflation and low rates of economic growth. Traditional economic remedies for a dismal economic growth rate, such as tax cuts and increased spending, risked exacerbating inflation. The conventional response to inflation, tax increases and a cut in government spending, risked damaging the economy. [61] The economic troubles, which signaled the end of the post-war boom, created an opening for a challenge to the dominant Keynesian economics, and laissez-faire advocates such as Alan Greenspan acquired influence within the Ford administration. Ford seized the initiative, abandon 40 years of orthodoxy, and introduced a new conservative economic agenda as he sought to adapt traditional Republican economics to deal with the novel economic challenges. [60] [62]

At the time that he took office, Ford believed that inflation, rather than a potential recession, represented the greatest threat to the economy. [63] He believed that inflation could be reduced, not by reducing the amount of new currency entering circulation, but by encouraging people to reduce their spending. [64] In October 1974, Ford went before the American public and asked them to "Whip Inflation Now". As part of this program, he urged people to wear "WIN" buttons. [65] To try to mesh service and sacrifice, "WIN" called for Americans to reduce their spending and consumption, especially with regards to gasoline. Ford hoped that the public would respond to this call for self-restraint much as it had to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's calls for sacrifice during World War II, but the public received WIN with skepticism. At roughly the same time he rolled out WIN, Ford also proposed a ten-point economic plan. The central plank of the plan was a tax increase on corporations and high earners, which Ford hoped would both quell inflation and cut into government's budget deficit. [64]

Ford's economic focus changed as the country sank into the worst recession since the Great Depression. [66] In November 1974, Ford withdrew his proposed tax increase. [67] Two months later, Ford proposed a 1-year tax reduction of $16 billion to stimulate economic growth, along with spending cuts to avoid inflation. [68] Having switched from advocating for a tax increase to advocating a tax reduction in just two months, Ford was greatly criticized for his "flip-flop". [69] Congress responded by passing a plan that implemented deeper tax cuts and an increase in government spending. Ford seriously considered vetoing the bill, but ultimately chose to sign the Tax Reduction Act of 1975 into law. [70] In October 1975, Ford introduced a bill designed to combat inflation through a mix of tax and spending cuts. That December, Ford signed the Revenue Adjustment Act of 1975, which implemented tax and spending cuts, albeit not at the levels proposed by Ford. The economy recovered in 1976, as both inflation and unemployment declined. [71] Nonetheless, by late 1976 Ford faced considerable discontent over his handling of the economy, and the government had a $74 billion deficit. [72]

Rockefeller Commission Edit

Prior to Ford's presidency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had illegally assembled files on domestic anti-war activists. [73] In the aftermath of Watergate, CIA Director William Colby put together a report of all of the CIA's domestic activities, and much of the report became public, beginning with the publication of a December 1974 article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. The revelations sparked outrage among the public and members of Congress. [74] In response to growing pressure to investigate and reform the CIA, Ford created the Rockefeller Commission. [75] The Rockefeller Commission marked the first time that a presidential commission was established to investigate the national security apparatus. [75] The Rockefeller Commission's report, submitted in June 1975, generally defended the CIA, although it did note that "the CIA has engaged in some activities that should be criticized and not permitted to happen again." The press strongly criticized the commission for failing to include a section on the CIA's assassination plots. [76] The Senate created its own committee, led by Senator Frank Church, to investigate CIA abuses. Ford feared that the Church Committee would be used for partisan purposes and resisted turning over classified materials, but Colby cooperated with the committee. [77] In response to the Church Committee's report, both houses of Congress established select committees to provide oversight to the intelligence community. [78]

Environment Edit

Due to the frustration of environmentalists left over from the Nixon days, including Environmental Protection Agency head Russell E. Train, environmentalism was a peripheral issue during the Ford years. Secretary of the Interior Thomas S. Kleppe was a leader of the “Sagebrush Rebellion”, a movement of western ranchers and other groups that sought the repeal of environmental protections on federal land. They lost repeatedly in the federal courts, most notably in the 1976 Supreme Court decision of Kleppe v. New Mexico. [79] Ford's successes included the addition of two national monuments, six historical sites, three historic parks and two national preserves. None were controversial. In the international field, treaties and agreements with Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, the Soviet Union and several European countries included provisions to protect endangered species. [80]

Social issues Edit

Ford and his wife were outspoken supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed constitutional amendment that had been submitted to the states for ratification in 1972. [81] The ERA was designed to ensure equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender. Despite Ford's support, the ERA would fail to win ratification by the necessary number of state legislatures. [ citation needed ]

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". [82] 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. [83] 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". [81] During his later life, Ford would identify as pro-choice. [84]

Campaign finance Edit

After the 1972 elections, good government groups like Common Cause pressured Congress to amend campaign finance law to restrict the role of money in political campaigns. In 1974, Congress approved amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act, establishing the Federal Election Commission to oversee campaign finance laws. The amendments also established a system of public financing for presidential elections, limited the size of campaign contributions, limited the amount of money that candidates could spend on their own campaigns, and required the disclosure of nearly all campaign contributions. Ford reluctantly signed the bill into law in October 1974. In the 1976 case of Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court overturned the cap on self-funding by political candidates, holding that such a restriction violated freedom of speech rights. [85] The campaign finance reforms of the 1970s were largely unsuccessful in lessening the influence of money in politics, as more contributions shifted to political action committees and state and local party committees. [86]

Court ordered busing to desegregate public schools Edit

In 1971, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education that "Busing was a permissible tool for desegregation purposes." However, in the closing days of the Nixon administration, the Supreme Court largely eliminated District Court ability to order busing across city and suburban systems in the case of Milliken v. Bradley. [87] It meant that disgruntled white families could move to the suburbs and not be reached by court orders regarding segregation of the central city schools. Ford, representing a Michigan district, had always taken the position in favor of the goal of school desegregation but opposition to court-ordered forced busing as a means of achieving it. In the first major bill he signed as president, Ford's compromise solution was to win over the general population with mild anti-busing legislation. He condemned anti-busing violence, promoted the theoretical goal of school desegregation, and promised to uphold the Constitution. The problem did not go away – it only escalated and remained on the front burner for years. Tension exploded in Boston, where working-class Irish neighborhoods inside the city limits violently resisted court-ordered busing of black children into their schools. [88]

Other domestic issues Edit

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 ' ". [89] [90] The following month, November 1975, Ford changed his stance and asked Congress to approve federal loans to New York City, upon the condition that the city agree to more austere budgets imposed by Washington, D.C. In December 1975, Ford signed a bill providing New York City with access to $2.3 billion in loans. [91]

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" upon signing the bill. [92]

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. [93] 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 1976. The vaccine was blamed for twenty-five deaths more people died from the shots than from the swine flu. [94]

Cold War Edit

Ford continued Nixon's détente policy with both the Soviet Union and China, easing the tensions of the Cold War. In doing so, he overcame opposition from members of Congress, an institution which became increasingly assertive in foreign affairs in the early 1970s. [95] This opposition was led by Senator Henry M. Jackson, who scuttled a U.S.–Soviet trade agreement by winning passage of the Jackson–Vanik amendment. [96] The thawing relationship with China brought about by Nixon's 1972 visit to China was reinforced with another presidential visit in December 1975. [97]

Despite the collapse of the trade agreement with the Soviet Union, Ford and Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev continued the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, which had begun under Nixon. In 1972, the U.S. and the Soviet Union had reached the SALT I treaty, which placed upper limits on each power's nuclear arsenal. [98] Ford met Brezhnev at the November 1974 Vladivostok Summit, at which point the two leaders agreed to a framework for another SALT treaty. [99] Opponents of détente, led by Jackson, delayed Senate consideration of the treaty until after Ford left office. [100]

Helsinki Accords Edit

When Ford took office in August 1974, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) negotiations had been underway in Helsinki, Finland, for nearly two years. Throughout much of the negotiations, U.S. leaders were disengaged and uninterested with the process Kissinger told Ford in 1974 that "we never wanted it but we went along with the Europeans . [i]t is meaningless—it is just a grandstand play to the left. We are going along with it." [101] In the months leading up to the conclusion of negotiations and signing of the Helsinki Final Act in August 1975, Americans of Eastern European descent voiced their concerns that the agreement would mean the acceptance of Soviet domination over Eastern Europe and the permanent incorporation of the Baltic states into the USSR. [102] Shortly before President Ford departed for Helsinki, he held a meeting with a delegation of Americans of Eastern European background, and stated definitively that U.S. policy on the Baltic States would not change, but would be strengthened since the agreement denies the annexation of territory in violation of international law and allows for the peaceful change of borders. [103]

The American public remained unconvinced that American policy on the incorporation of the Baltic States would not be changed by the Helsinki Final Act. Despite protests from all around, Ford decided to move forward and sign the Helsinki Agreement. [104] As domestic criticism mounted, Ford hedged on his support for the Helsinki Accords, which had the impact of overall weakening his foreign-policy stature. [105] Though Ford was criticized for his apparent recognition of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, the new emphasis on human rights would eventually contribute to the weakening of the Eastern bloc in the 1980s and speed up its collapse in 1989. [106]

Vietnam Edit

One of Ford's greatest challenges was dealing with the ongoing Vietnam War. American offensive operations against North Vietnam had ended with the Paris Peace Accords, signed on January 27, 1973. The accords declared a cease fire across both North and South Vietnam, and required the release of American prisoners of war. The agreement guaranteed the territorial integrity of Vietnam and, like the Geneva Conference of 1954, called for national elections in the North and South. [107] South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu was not involved in the final negotiations, and publicly criticized the proposed agreement, but was pressured by Nixon and Kissinger into signing the agreement. In multiple letters to the South Vietnamese president, Nixon had promised that the United States would defend Thieu's government, should the North Vietnamese violate the accords. [108]

Fighting in Vietnam continued after the withdrawal of most U.S forces in early 1973. [109] As North Vietnamese forces advanced in early 1975, Ford requested Congress approve a $722 million aid package for South Vietnam, funds that had been promised by the Nixon administration. Congress voted against the proposal by a wide margin. [110] Senator Jacob K. Javits offered ". large sums for evacuation, but not one nickel for military aid". [110] Thieu resigned on April 21, 1975, publicly blaming the lack of support from the United States for the fall of his country. [111] Two days later, on April 23, Ford gave a speech at Tulane University, announcing that the Vietnam War was over ". as far as America is concerned". [108]

With the North Vietnamese forces advancing on the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, Ford ordered the evacuation of U.S. personnel, while also allowing U.S. forces to aid others who wished to escape from the Communist advance. Forty-thousand U.S. citizens and South Vietnamese were evacuated by plane until enemy attacks made further such evacuations impossible. [112] In Operation Frequent Wind, the final phase of the evacuation preceding the fall of Saigon on April 30, military and Air America helicopters took evacuees to off-shore U.S. Navy vessels. During the operation, so many South Vietnamese helicopters landed on the vessels taking the evacuees that some were pushed overboard to make room for more people. [113]

The Vietnam War, which had raged since the 1950s, finally came to an end with the Fall of Saigon, and Vietnam was reunified into one country. Many of the Vietnamese evacuees were allowed to enter the United States under the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act. The 1975 act appropriated $455 million toward the costs of assisting the settlement of Indochinese refugees. [114] In all, 130,000 Vietnamese refugees came to the United States in 1975. Thousands more escaped in the years that followed. [115] Following the end of the war, Ford expanded the embargo of North Vietnam to cover all of Vietnam, blocked Vietnam's accession to the United Nations, and refused to establish full diplomatic relations. [116]

Mayaguez and Panmunjom Edit

North Vietnam's victory over the South led to a considerable shift in the political winds in Asia, and Ford administration officials worried about a consequent loss of U.S. influence in the region. The administration proved it was willing to respond forcefully to challenges to its interests in the region on two occasions, once when Khmer Rouge forces seized an American ship in international waters and again when American military officers were killed in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North Korea and South Korea. [117]

In May 1975, shortly after the fall of Saigon and the Khmer Rouge conquest of Cambodia, Cambodians seized the American merchant ship Mayaguez in international waters, sparking what became known as the Mayaguez incident. [118] Ford dispatched Marines to rescue the crew from an island where the crew was believed to be held, but the Marines met unexpectedly stiff resistance just as, unknown to the U.S., the crew were being released. In the operation, three military transport helicopters were shot down and 41 U.S. servicemen were killed and 50 wounded while approximately 60 Khmer Rouge soldiers were killed. [119] Despite American losses, the rescue operation proved to be a boon to Ford's poll numbers Senator Barry Goldwater declared that the operation "shows we've still got balls in this country." [120] Some historians have argued that the Ford administration felt the need to respond forcefully to the incident because it was construed as a Soviet plot. [121] But work by Andrew Gawthorpe, published in 2009, based on an analysis of the administration's internal discussions, shows that Ford's national security team understood that the seizure of the vessel was a local, and perhaps even accidental, provocation by an immature Khmer government. Nevertheless, they felt the need to respond forcefully to discourage further provocations by other Communist countries in Asia. [122]

A second crisis, known as the axe murder incident, occurred at Panmunjom in the DMZ between the two Koreas. At the time, Panmunjom was the only part of the DMZ where forces from North Korea and South Korea came into contact with each other. Encouraged by U.S. difficulties in Vietnam, North Korea had been waging a campaign of diplomatic pressure and minor military harassment to try and convince the U.S. to withdraw from South Korea. [123] In August 1976, North Korean forces killed two U.S. officers and injured South Korean guards who were trimming a tree in Panmunjom's Joint Security Area. The attack coincided with a meeting of the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations, at which North Korea presented the incident as an example of American aggression, helping secure the passage of a motion calling for a U.S. withdrawal from South Korea. [124] Determined not to be seen as "the paper tigers of Saigon," the Ford administration decided that it was necessary to respond with a major show of force. A large number of ground forces went to cut down the tree, while at the same time the United States Air Force deployed flights over the DMZ. The North Koreans backed down and allowed the tree-cutting to go ahead, and later issued an unprecedented official apology. [125]

Middle East Edit

In the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, two ongoing international disputes developed into crises during Ford's presidency. The Cyprus dispute turned into a crisis with the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which took place following the Greek-backed 1974 Cypriot coup d'état. The dispute put the United States in a difficult position as both Greece and Turkey were members of NATO. In mid-August, the Greek 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 vetoed the bill due to concerns regarding its effect on Turkish-American relations and the deterioration of security on NATO's eastern front. A second bill was then passed by Congress, which Ford also vetoed, although a compromise was accepted to continue aid until the end of the year. [1] As Ford expected, Turkish relations were considerably disrupted until 1978. [ citation needed ]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria had launched a joint surprise attack against Israel, seeking to re-take land lost in the Six-Day War of 1967. However, early Arab success gave way to an Israel military victory in what became known as the Yom Kippur War. Although an 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 disliked what he saw as Israeli "stalling" on a peace agreement, and wrote, "[Israeli] tactics frustrated the Egyptians and made me mad as hell." [126] 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 wish to express my profound disappointment over Israel's attitude in the course of the negotiations . Failure of the negotiation will have a far reaching impact on the region and on our relations. I have given instructions for a reassessment of United States policy in the region, including our relations with Israel, with the aim of ensuring that overall American interests . are protected. You will be notified of our decision. [127]

On March 24, Ford informed congressional leaders of both parties of the reassessment of the administration policies in the Middle East. "Reassessment", in practical terms, meant canceling or suspending further aid to Israel. For six months between March and September 1975, the United States refused to conclude any new arms agreements with Israel. Rabin notes it was "an innocent-sounding term that heralded one of the worst periods in American-Israeli relations". [128] The announced reassessments upset many American supporters of Israel. On May 21, Ford "experienced a real shock" when seventy-six U.S. senators wrote him a letter urging him to be "responsive" to Israel's request for $2.59 billion in military and economic aid. Ford felt truly annoyed and thought the chance for peace was jeopardized. It was, since the September 1974 ban on arms to Turkey, the second major congressional intrusion upon the President's foreign policy prerogatives. [129] The following summer months were described by Ford as an American-Israeli "war of nerves" or "test of wills". [130] After much bargaining, the Sinai Interim Agreement (Sinai II) between Egypt and Israel was formally signed, and aid resumed. [ citation needed ]

Angola Edit

A civil war broke out Angola after the fledgling African nation gained independence from Portugal in 1975. The Soviet Union and Cuba both became heavily involved in the conflict, backing the left-wing MPLA, one of the major factions in the civil war. In response, the CIA directed aid to two other factions in the war, UNITA and the FNLA. After members of Congress learned of the CIA operation, Congress voted to cut off aid to the Angolan groups. The Angolan Civil War would continue in subsequent years, but the Soviet role in the war hindered détente. Congress's role in ending the CIA presence marked the growing power of the legislative branch in foreign affairs. [131]

Indonesia Edit

U.S. policy since the 1940s has been to support Indonesia, which hosted American investments in petroleum and raw materials and controlled a highly strategic location near vital shipping lanes. In 1975, the left-wing Fretilin party seized power after a civil war in East Timor (now Timor-Leste), a former colony of Portugal that shared the island of Timor with the Indonesian region of West Timor. Indonesian leaders feared that East Timor would serve as a hostile left-wing base that would promote secessionist movements inside Indonesia. [132] Anti-Fretilin activists from the other main parties fled to West Timor and called upon Indonesia to annex East Timor and end the communist threat. On December 7, 1975, Ford and Kissinger met Indonesian President Suharto in Jakarta and indicated the United States would not take a position on East Timor. Indonesia invaded the next day, and took control of the country. The United Nations, with U.S. support, called for the withdrawal of Indonesian forces. A bloody civil war broke out, and over one hundred thousand died in the fighting or from executions or starvation. Upwards of half of the population of East Timor became refugees fleeing Fretilin-controlled areas. East Timor took two decades to settle down, and finally, after international intervention in the 1999 East Timorese crisis, East Timor became an independent nation in 2002. [133] [134]

List of international trips Edit

Ford made seven international trips during his presidency. [135]

Dates Country Locations Details
1 October 21, 1974 Mexico Nogales, Magdalena de Kino Met with President Luis Echeverría and laid a wreath at the tomb of Padre Eusebio Kino.
2 November 19–22, 1974 Japan Tokyo,
Kyoto
State visit. Met with Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.
November 22–23, 1974 South Korea Seoul Met with President Park Chung-hee.
November 23–24, 1974 Soviet Union Vladivostok Met with General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and discussed limitations of strategic arms.
3 December 14–16, 1974 Martinique Fort-de-France Met with President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
4 May 28–31, 1975 Belgium Brussels Attended the NATO Summit Meeting. Addressed the North Atlantic Council and met separately with NATO heads of state and government.
May 31 – June 1, 1975 Spain Madrid Met with Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Received keys to city from Mayor of Madrid Miguel Angel García-Lomas Mata.
June 1–3, 1975 Austria Salzburg Met with Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
June 3, 1975 Italy Rome Met with President Giovanni Leone and Prime Minister Aldo Moro.
June 3, 1975 Vatican City Apostolic Palace Audience with Pope Paul VI.
5 July 26–28, 1975 West Germany Bonn,
Linz am Rhein
Met with President Walter Scheel and Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
July 28–29, 1975 Poland Warsaw,
Kraków
Official visit. Met with First Secretary Edward Gierek.
July 29 – August 2, 1975 Finland Helsinki Attended opening session of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Met with the heads of state and government of Finland, Great Britain, Turkey, West Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Also met with Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev. Signed the final act of the conference.
August 2–3, 1975 Romania Bucharest,
Sinaia
Official visit. Met with President Nicolae Ceaușescu. [136]
August 3–4, 1975 Yugoslavia Belgrade Official visit. Met with President Josip Broz Tito and Prime Minister Džemal Bijedić.
6 November 15–17, 1975 France Rambouillet Attended the 1st G6 summit.
7 December 1–5, 1975 China Peking Official visit. Met with Party Chairman Mao Zedong and Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping.
December 5–6, 1975 Indonesia Jakarta Official visit. Met with President Suharto.
December 6–7, 1975 Philippines Manila Official visit. Met with President Ferdinand Marcos.

Ford faced two assassination attempts during his presidency. In Sacramento, California, on September 5, 1975, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, pointed a Colt .45-caliber handgun at Ford. [137] As Fromme pulled the trigger, Larry Buendorf, [138] a Secret Service agent, grabbed the gun, and Fromme was taken into custody. She was later convicted of attempted assassination of the President and was sentenced to life in prison she was paroled on August 14, 2009. [139]

In reaction to this attempt, the Secret Service began keeping Ford at a more secure distance from anonymous crowds, a strategy that may have saved his life seventeen days later. As he left the St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco, Sara Jane Moore, standing in a crowd of onlookers across the street, pointed her .38-caliber revolver at him. [140] Moore fired a single round but missed because the sights were off. Just before she fired a second round, retired Marine Oliver Sipple grabbed at the gun and deflected her shot the bullet struck a wall about six inches above and to the right of Ford's head, then ricocheted and hit a taxi driver, who was slightly wounded. Moore was later sentenced to life in prison. She was paroled on December 31, 2007, after serving 32 years. [141]

Ford made the first major decision of his re-election campaign in mid-1975, when he selected Bo Callaway to run his campaign. [142] The pardon of Nixon and the disastrous 1974 mid-term elections weakened Ford's standing within the party, creating an opening for a competitive Republican primary. [143] The intra-party challenge to Ford came from the conservative wing of the party many conservative leaders had viewed Ford as insufficiently conservative throughout his political career. [144] Conservative Republicans were further disappointed with the selection of Rockefeller as vice president, and faulted Ford for the fall of Saigon, the amnesty for draft dodgers, and the continuation of détente policies. [145] Ronald Reagan, a leader among the conservatives, launched his campaign in autumn of 1975. Hoping to appease his party's right wing and sap Reagan's momentum, Ford requested that Rockefeller not seek re-election, and the vice president agreed to this request. [146] Ford defeated Reagan in the first several primaries, but Reagan gained momentum after winning North Carolina's March 1976 primary. [147] Entering the 1976 Republican National Convention, neither Ford nor Reagan had won a majority of delegates through the primaries, but Ford was able to win the support of enough unpledged delegates to win the presidential nomination. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas won the vice presidential nomination. [148]

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War and Watergate, Ford campaigned at a time of cynicism and disillusionment with government. [149] Ford adopted a "Rose Garden" strategy, with Ford mostly staying in Washington in an attempt to appear presidential. [149] The campaign benefited from several anniversary events held during the period leading up to the United States Bicentennial. The Washington fireworks display on the Fourth of July was presided over by the president and televised nationally. [150] The 200th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts gave Ford the opportunity to deliver a speech to 110,000 in Concord acknowledging the need for a strong national defense tempered with a plea for "reconciliation, not recrimination" and "reconstruction, not rancor" between the United States and those who would pose "threats to peace". [151] Speaking in New Hampshire on the previous day, Ford condemned the growing trend toward big government bureaucracy and argued for a return to "basic American virtues". [152]

Eleven major contenders competed in the 1976 Democratic primaries. At the start of the primaries, former Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia was little-known nationally, but he rocketed to prominence with a victory in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. A born again Christian, Carter emphasized his personal morality and his status as a Washington outsider. Carter won the presidential nomination on the first ballot of the 1976 Democratic National Convention, and selected liberal Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota as his running mate. Carter began the race with a huge lead in the polls, but committed a major gaffe by giving an interview to Playboy in which he stated that "I've committed adultery in my heart several times." Ford made his own gaffe during a televised debate, stating that "there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe." [153] In an interview years later, Ford said he had intended to imply that the Soviets would never crush the spirits of eastern Europeans seeking independence. However, the phrasing was so awkward that questioner Max Frankel was visibly incredulous at the response. [154] As a result of this blunder, Ford's surge stalled and Carter was able to maintain a slight lead in the polls. [155]

In the end, Carter won the election, receiving 50.1% of the popular vote and 297 electoral votes compared with 48.0% of the popular vote and 240 electoral votes for Ford. [156] Ford dominated in the West and performed well in New England, but Carter carried much of the South and won Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. [157] [156] Though Ford lost, in the three months between the Republican National Convention and the election he had managed to close what polls had shown as a 33-point Carter lead to a 2-point margin. [158]

Polls of historians and political scientists have generally ranked Ford as a below-average to average president. A 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association's Presidents and Executive Politics section ranked Ford as the 25th best president. [159] A 2017 C-Span poll of historians also ranked Ford as the 25th best president. [160] Historian John Robert Greene writes that "Ford had difficulty navigating a demanding political environment." He also notes, however, that "Americans, by and large, believed that Gerald Ford was an innately decent and good man and that he would (and did) bring honor to the White House. Although this sentiment proved too little to bring Ford to victory in 1976, it is an assessment that most Americans and scholars still find valid in the years after his presidency." [161]


#5 The rate of inflation was decreased by more than half during his presidency

Due to the economic crisis, the rate of inflation in the United States had gone up to 12.2% when Ford took over the presidency. To counter this, Ford went on national television and urged citizens to “make up a list of 10 ways you can save energy and fight inflation.” In a separate speech to Congress, he declared inflation was “public enemy number one” and asked Americans to wear the anti-inflation pins. This anti inflation campaign is known as Whip Inflation Now (WIN). It was a huge failure and is considered as “one of the biggest government public relations blunders ever”. However, Ford didn’t give up and he stimulated economic growth by increasing spending and cutting taxes. Due to this the inflation rate fell to 4.8% at the time he left office. The Ford administration thus decreased the inflation rate to less than half.


President Gerald R. Ford, ski enthusiast

President Gerald R. Ford, was born in Nebraska but grew up in Grand Rapids and worked his way through the University of Michigan. A high school football star, he was an All-American center on the Michigan team, which won the national championship in 1932, and he was named MVP after the Minnesota game in 1933. After receiving his undergraduate degree in economics and political science, Ford took a job as assistant football and boxing coach at Yale. He began skiing in New England in 1939, and attended Yale University Law School, graduating in 1941.

Ford served in the United States Navy for four years during World War II, and was anti-aircraft officer on the USS Monterey, an aircraft carrier, during the disastrous typhoon of December 1944. He was decorated for gallantry after leading the firefighting crew that saved the ship when a fire broke out on the hangar deck during the storm. After a brief stint practicing law in Grand Rapids, Ford was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1948.

Ford began bringing his family to Vail in 1968, and soon bought a home there. With a footballer's tender knees, he stayed on groomed terrain, but skied aggressively enough to fall hard occassionally. He was also an eager golfer, with a swing that earned him a reputation as a powerful driver on Vail's golf courses.

Gerald R. Ford served as 38th President of the United States, from August 9, 1974 to January, 1975. Thereafter he began to spend more time in Vail, and built a house alongside the Strawberry Lift at Beaver Creek in 1979. He helped to promote a variety of charities around the valley, creating the Jerry Ford Invitational Golf Tournament that lured top golf professionals from around the country to come to Colorado, promoting Vail not only as a great winter destination but summer as well. This created an opportunity to raise funds that would be invested into the Vail community. In 1982 he established the Ford Cup, the ski race that eventually became the American Ski Classic. Ford continued to race in celebrity events until his knees forced retirement from the sport in 1984.

Associated with the American Enterprise Institute, in 1982 President Ford established the AEI World Forum which he hosted annually in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado. This is an international gathering of former and current world leaders and business executives to discuss political and business policies impacting current issues. Ford was also responsible for raising successfully funds to build the Ford Amphitheater and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, both of which offer visitors to and residents of the State of Colorado a wonderful experience.

Among the many contributions Ford made to the sport of skiing was his role in bringing two World Alpine Ski Championships to the State of Colorado. It was a major coup for the area to be awarded the event, giving Colorado a chance to promote ski racing in this country by taking one of the sport's preeminent events, putting it in the forefront of national attention and showing the world the U.S. can hold a great ski race, twice in a ten year period. Ford served on the board of the Vail Valley Foundation for over twenty years.

Ford had many friends in the Vail community and in the ski industry. During his presidency he was often photographed with his Vermont-built Rossignol skis, accompanied by Vail execs, patrollers and skiing Secret Service agents.


Gerald Ford: Impact and Legacy

Gerald Ford's presidency must be assessed in light of both the exceptional circumstances under which Ford assumed office and the severe challenges he faced during those years. Ford was not elected President (or vice president) by the American public he became President in 1974 only after Richard Nixon chose to resign rather than face removal by Congress. As President, Ford confronted a failing economy, the likely collapse of South Vietnam (an American ally that 58,000 U.S. soldiers had died to protect), and a public suspicious of its political leaders. Democrats controlled Congress, which augured ill for Ford's legislative program. Of equal importance, congressional Republicans and Democrats alike seemed intent on retaking some of the powers they had ceded to the White House over the previous forty years.

Ford understood that his most pressing task was to help the country move beyond the despair, disgust, and distrust generated by the Watergate crisis. Ford's speech upon assuming the presidency, in which he declared that "Our long national nightmare is over . . . Our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men," was met with almost universal applause. But the public's (and Congress's) goodwill towards Ford quickly dissipated when the new President pardoned Nixon a mere month into his tenure. Ford certainly believed that the pardon would help the nation, as well as his own presidency, move forward. He also understood that most Americans wanted Nixon punished. But Ford miscalculated. Instead of further salving the wound of Watergate, Ford re-opened it. The howls of protest from both politicians and the public—including questions about a "deal" between the former and current Presidents—greatly damaged Ford's popularity and ended his honeymoon.

Ford emerged from this maelstrom to achieve a mixed record. In domestic affairs, the Ford administration failed to remedy the nation's dire economic problems, although by 1976 the economy had begun to recover from the previous year's recession. In Ford's defense, rising unemployment, soaring inflation, and the energy crisis, in addition to the nation's longer-term economic decline, were complex and interrelated challenges that confounded the era's most prestigious economists.

Ford's chief economic error, however, was political in nature. He replaced his first economic program, which raised taxes and capped spending in an effort to combat inflation, with a plan that cut taxes and limited government spending in the hopes of fighting unemployment. Democrats accused him of doing too little to help Americans suffering from the unforgiving economy and of flip-flopping on the tax issue. Ford similarly revised key parts of his energy program, which opened him to attacks from both Democrats and conservative Republicans. Ford's decisions to change course in these two policy areas raised questions about his ability to address these difficult issues.

In foreign affairs, Ford amassed a solid, if mostly unremarkable, record. He continued to pursue détente with the Soviet Union, meeting with moderate success. While the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Helsinki pact, they failed to agree on a major arms control agreement. Moreover, superpower tensions remained high as U.S. and Soviet proxies clashed in Angola. At the same time, while the Vietnam War ended on Ford's watch—with the memorable, ignominious departure of the United States from Indochina—the Communist victory failed to tar the President. One month after the fall of Saigon, Ford ordered a successful military operation to rescue the crew of an American ship, the Mayaguez, captured by Cambodia's Khmer Rouge the President's approval rating shot up accordingly. But, as was the case with the economy, Ford's biggest problems in foreign affairs came from his political critics. Conservative Republicans and Democrats complained that the administration's policy of détente acquiesced to Soviet power. Critics on the left, meanwhile, demanded that Ford rein in the nation's intelligence agencies. When some in Congress deemed Ford's plans for greater oversight of the CIA unsatisfactory, they responded with their own programs.

Ford's presidency, then, was marked by three elements. First, Ford faced extraordinary challenges, especially involving the nation's economic woes, which he struggled to solve. Second, Ford had difficulty navigating a demanding political environment in which Democrats (from across the ideological spectrum) and conservative Republicans found fault with his leadership and his foreign and domestic policies. The combination of these first two elements helped bring about Ford's defeat in 1976. Just as surely, though, a third dimension of Ford's presidency deserves recognition: Americans, by and large, believed that Gerald Ford was an innately decent and good man and that he would (and did) bring honor to the White House. Although this sentiment proved too little to bring Ford to victory in 1976, it is an assessment that most Americans and scholars still find valid in the years after his presidency.


Old Tennis Court

Tennis match on the old court in 1922 (Library of Congress)

Tennis match on the old court in 1922 (Library of Congress)

The south side of the West Wing, circa 1912, where the pool and cabana would eventually be (Library of Congress)


Gerald R. Ford Biography

Gerald Rudolph Ford, the 38th President of the United States, was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., the son of Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy Ayer Gardner King, on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents separated two weeks after his birth and his mother took him to Grand Rapids, Michigan to live with her parents. On February 1, 1916, approximately two years after her divorce was final, Dorothy King married Gerald R. Ford, a Grand Rapids paint salesman. The Fords began calling her son Gerald R. Ford, Jr., although his name was not legally changed until December 3, 1935. He had known since he was thirteen years old that Gerald Ford, Sr. was not his biological father, but it was not until 1930 when Leslie King made an unexpected stop in Grand Rapids that he had a chance meeting with this biological father. The future president grew up in a close-knit family which included three younger half-brothers, Thomas, Richard, and James.

Ford attended South High School in Grand Rapids, where he excelled scholastically and athletically, being named to the honor society and the "All-City" and "All-State" football teams. He was also active in scouting, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout in November 1927. He earned spending money by working in the family paint business and at a local restaurant.

Gerald Ford at the University of Michigan, with fellow football players Russell Fuog, Chuck Bernard, Herman Everhardus, and Stan Fay, 1934.

From 1931 to 1935 Ford attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he majored in economics and political science. He graduated with a B.A. degree in June 1935. He financed his education with part-time jobs, a small scholarship from his high school, and modest family assistance. A gifted athlete, Ford played on the University's national championship football teams in 1932 and 1933. He was voted the Wolverine's most valuable player in 1934 and on January 1, 1935, played in the annual East-West College All-Star game in San Francisco, for the benefit of the Shrine Crippled Children's Hospital. In August 1935 he played in the Chicago Tribune College All-Star football game at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

He received offers from two professional football teams, the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, but chose instead to take a position as boxing coach and assistant varsity football coach at Yale hoping to attend law school there. Among those he coached were future U.S. Senators Robert Taft, Jr. and William Proxmire. Yale officials initially denied him admission to the law school, because of his full-time coaching responsibilities, but admitted him in the spring of 1938. Ford earned his LL.B. degree in 1941, graduating in the top 25 percent of his class in spite of the time he had to devote to his coaching duties. His introduction to politics came in the summer of 1940 when he worked in Wendell Willkie's presidential campaign.

After returning to Michigan and passing his bar exam, Ford and a University of Michigan fraternity brother, Philip A. Buchen (who later served on Ford's White House staff as Counsel to the President), set up a law partnership in Grand Rapids. He also taught a course in business law at the University of Grand Rapids and served as line coach for the school's football team. He had just become active in a group of reform-minded Republicans in Grand Rapids, calling themselves the Home Front, who were interested in challenging the hold of local political boss Frank McKay, when the United States entered World War II.

In April 1942 Ford joined the U.S. Naval Reserve receiving a commission as an ensign. After an orientation program at Annapolis, he became a physical fitness instructor at a pre-flight school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In the spring of 1943 he began service on the light aircraft carrier USS MONTEREY. He was first assigned as athletic director and gunnery division officer, then as assistant navigator with the MONTEREY which took part in most of the major operations in the South Pacific, including Truk, Saipan, and the Philippines. His closest call with death came not as a result of enemy fire, however, but during a vicious typhoon in the Philippine Sea in December 1944. He came within inches of being swept overboard while the storm raged. The ship, which was severely damaged by the storm and the resulting fire, had to be taken out of service. Ford spent the remainder of the war ashore and was discharged as a lieutenant commander in February 1946.

Gerald Ford campaigning with farmers, 1948

When he returned to Grand Rapids Ford became a partner in the locally prestigious law firm of Butterfield, Keeney, and Amberg. A self-proclaimed compulsive "joiner," Ford was well-known throughout the community. Ford has stated that his experiences in World War II caused him to reject his previous isolationist leanings and adopt an internationalist outlook. With the encouragement of his stepfather, who was county Republican chairman, the Home Front, and Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Ford decided to challenge the isolationist incumbent Bartel Jonkman for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1948 election. He won the nomination by a wide margin and was elected to Congress on November 2, receiving 61 percent of the vote in the general election.

During the height of the campaign Gerald Ford married Elizabeth Anne Bloomer Warren, a department store fashion consultant. They were to have four children: Michael Gerald, born March 14, 1950 John Gardner, born March 16, 1952 Steven Meigs, born May 19, 1956 and Susan Elizabeth, born July 6, 1957.

Gerald Ford served in the House of Representatives from January 3, 1949 to December 6, 1973, being reelected twelve times, each time with more than 60% of the vote. He became a member of the House Appropriations Committee in 1951, and rose to prominence on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, becoming its ranking minority member in 1961. He once described himself as "a moderate in domestic affairs, an internationalist in foreign affairs, and a conservative in fiscal policy."

As his reputation as a legislator grew, Ford declined offers to run for both the Senate and the Michigan governorship in the early 1950s. His ambition was to become Speaker of the House. In 1960 he was mentioned as a possible running mate for Richard Nixon in the presidential election. In 1961, in a revolt of the "Young Turks," a group of younger, more progressive House Republicans who felt that the older leadership was stagnating, Ford defeated sixty-seven year old Charles Hoeven of Iowa for Chairman of the House Republican Conference, the number three leadership position in the party.

In 1963 President Johnson appointed Ford to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1965 Ford co-authored, with John R. Stiles, a book about the findings of the Commission, Portrait of an Assassin.

The battle for the 1964 Republican nomination for president was drawn on ideological lines, but Ford avoided having to choose between Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater by standing behind Michigan's favorite son George Romney.

Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and other members of the Chowder and Marching Club at a meeting celebrating Mr. Ford's becoming minority leader, February 24, 1965.

In 1965 Ford was chosen by the Young Turks as their best hope to challenge Charles Halleck for the position of minority leader of the House. He won by a small margin and took over the position early in 1965, holding it for eight years.

Ford led Republican opposition to many of President Johnson's programs, favoring more conservative alternatives to his social welfare legislation and opposing Johnson's policy of gradual escalation in Vietnam. As minority leader Ford made more than 200 speeches a year all across the country, a circumstance which made him nationally known.

In both the 1968 and 1972 elections Ford was a loyal supporter of Richard Nixon, who had been a friend for many years. In 1968 Ford was again considered as a vice presidential candidate. Ford backed the president's economic and foreign policies and remained on good terms with both the conservative and liberal wings of the Republican party.

Because the Republicans did not attain a majority in the House, Ford was unable to reach his ultimate political goal--to be Speaker of the House. Ironically, he did become president of the Senate. When Spiro Agnew resigned the office of Vice President of the United States late in 1973, after pleading no contest to a charge of income tax evasion, President Nixon was empowered by the 25th Amendment to appoint a new vice president. Presumably, he needed someone who could work with Congress, survive close scrutiny of his political career and private life, and be confirmed quickly. He chose Gerald R. Ford. Following the most thorough background investigation in the history of the FBI, Ford was confirmed and sworn in on December 6, 1973.

Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as the 38th President of the United States by Chief Justice Warren Burger as Mrs. Ford looks on, August 9, 1974.

The specter of the Watergate scandal, the break-in at Democratic headquarters during the 1972 campaign and the ensuing cover-up by Nixon administration officials, hung over Ford's nine-month tenure as vice president. When it became apparent that evidence, public opinion, and the mood in Congress were all pointing toward impeachment, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign from that office.

Gerald R. Ford took the oath of office as President of the United States on August 9, 1974, stating that ". our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works."

Within the month Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller for vice president. On December 19, 1974, Rockefeller was confirmed by Congress, over the opposition of many conservatives, and the country had a full complement of leaders again.

One of the most difficult decisions of Ford's presidency was made just a month after he took office. Believing that protracted legal proceedings would keep the country mired in Watergate and unable to address the other problems facing it, Ford decided to grant a pardon to Richard Nixon prior to the filing of any formal criminal charges. Public reaction was mostly negative Ford was even suspected of having made a "deal" with the former president to pardon him if he would resign. The decision may have cost him the election in 1976, but President Ford always maintained that it was the right thing to do for the good of the country.

President Ford inherited an administration plagued by a divisive war in Southeast Asia, rising inflation, and fears of energy shortages. He faced many difficult decisions including replacing Nixon's staff with his own, restoring the credibility of the presidency, and dealing with a Congress increasingly assertive of its rights and powers.

In domestic policy, President Ford felt that through modest tax and spending cuts, deregulating industries, and decontrolling energy prices to stimulate production, he could contain both inflation and unemployment. This would also reduce the size and role of the federal government and help overcome the energy shortage. His philosophy was best summarized by one of his favorite speech lines, "A government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have." The heavily Democratic Congress often disagreed with Ford, leading to numerous confrontations and his frequent use of the veto to control government spending. Through compromise, bills involving energy decontrol, tax cuts, deregulation of the railroad and securities industries, and antitrust law reform were approved.

President Ford and Soviet General Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev sign a Joint Communique following talks on the limitation of strategic offensive arms in the conference hall of the Okeansky Sanitarium, Vladivostok, USSR, November 24, 1974.

In foreign policy, Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger continued the policy of detente with the Soviet Union and "shuttle diplomacy" in the Middle East. U.S.-Soviet relations were marked by on-going arms negotiations, the Helsinki agreements on human rights principles and East European national boundaries, trade negotiations, and the symbolic Apollo-Soyuz joint manned space flight. Ford's personal diplomacy was highlighted by trips to Japan and China, a 10-day European tour, and co-sponsorship of the first international economic summit meeting, as well as the reception of numerous foreign heads of state, many of whom came in observance of the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976.

With the fall of South Vietnam in 1975 as background, Congress and the president struggled repeatedly over presidential war powers, oversight of the CIA and covert operations, military aid appropriations, and the stationing of military personnel.

On May 14, 1975, in a dramatic move, Ford ordered U.S. forces to retake the S.S. MAYAGUEZ, an American merchant ship seized by Cambodian gunboats two days earlier in international waters. The vessel was recovered and all 39 crewmen saved. In the preparation and execution of the rescue, however, 41 Americans lost their lives.

On two separate trips to California in September 1975 Ford was the target of assassination attempts. Both of the assailants were women -- Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore.

During the 1976 campaign, Ford fought off a strong challenge by Ronald Reagan to gain the Republican nomination. He chose Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate and succeeded in narrowing Democrat Jimmy Carter's large lead in the polls, but finally lost one of the closest elections in history. Three televised candidate debates were focal points of the campaign.

Upon returning to private life, President and Mrs. Ford moved to California where they built a new house in Rancho Mirage. President Ford's memoir, A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford, was published in 1979.

After leaving office, President Ford continued to actively participate in the political process and to speak out on important political issues. He lectured at hundreds of colleges and universities on such issues as Congressional/White House relations, federal budget policies, and domestic and foreign policy issues. He attended the annual Public Policy Week Conferences of the American Enterprise Institute, and in 1982 established the AEI World Forum, which he hosted for many years in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado. This was an international gathering of former and current world leaders and business executives to discuss political and business policies impacting current issues.

In 1981, the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were dedicated. President Ford participated in conferences at either site dealing with such subjects as the Congress, the presidency and foreign policy Soviet-American relations German reunification, the Atlantic Alliance, and the future of American foreign policy national security requirements for the ‘90s humor and the presidency and the role of first ladies.

The former president was the recipient of numerous awards and honors by many civic organizations. He was also the recipient of many honorary Doctor of Law degrees from various public and private colleges and universities.

President Ford died on December 26, 2006, at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. After ceremonies in California, Washington, and Grand Rapids, he was interred on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.

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