Former President Gerald R. Ford Dies at 93
Gerald R. Ford who served as the 38th President of the United States died at 6:45PM-PST, today at 93. His official biography states it this way:
When Gerald R. Ford took the oath of office on August 9, 1974, he declared, “I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances…. This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.”
It was indeed an unprecedented time. He had been the first Vice President chosen under the terms of the Twenty-fifth Amendment and, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, was succeeding Richard Nixon, the first President ever to resign.
Ford earned a place in the history books as the first unelected vice president, chosen by Nixon to replace Spiro Agnew who also was forced from office by scandal. He took the office of President minutes after Nixon flew off into exile and declared “our long national nightmare is over.”
A month later he granted Nixon a pardon for all crimes he committed as president. That single act, it was widely believed to have cost Ford re-election in 1976. Gerald Ford lost to of all people — Jimmy Carter!
President Ford announces his decision to pardon former President Richard Nixon, September 8, 1974 Photo: David Hume Kennerly
President Ford chats with Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld and Rumsfeld’s assistant Richard Cheney in the Oval Office. April 28, 1975. Photo: David Hume Kennerly
When Ford took office he had to overcome the challenges of mastering inflation, reviving a depressed economy, solving chronic energy shortages and trying to ensure world peace. Ford established his policies during his first year in office, despite opposition from a heavily Democratic Congress. His first goal was to curb inflation. Then, when recession became the Nation’s most serious domestic problem, he shifted to measures aimed at stimulating the economy. But, still fearing inflation, Ford vetoed a number of non-military appropriations bills that would have further increased the already heavy budgetary deficit. During his first 14 months as President he vetoed 39 measures. His vetoes were usually sustained.
The Vietnam War ended in defeat for the U.S. during his presidency with the fall of Saigon in April 1975. In a speech as the end neared, Ford said: “Today, America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned.” Evoking Abraham Lincoln, he said it was time to “look forward to an agenda for the future, to unify, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
President Ford and his golden retriever, Liberty, in the Oval Office. November 7, 1974. Photo: David Hume Kennerly
Posted: 23:19PST 12/26/06