President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford was the 38th President of the United States.
by David Hume Kennerly
by David Hume Kennerly
Served as President: 1974-1977
Vice President: Nelson Rockefeller
Age at inauguration: 61
Born: July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska
Died: December 26, 2006 (aged 93) Rancho Mirage, California
Married: Elizabeth Bloomer Ford
Children: John, Michael, Steven, Susan
What is Gerald Ford most known for?
Gerald Ford became president amidst the scandals of his predecessor Richard Nixon. He is the only man to become president without having been elected to the office of president or vice president.
Gerald Ford was born in Nebraska, but while he was still a baby his parents were divorced. He and his mother moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where Gerald would grow up. His mother remarried to Gerald Ford Sr. who adopted Gerald and gave him his name. Gerald's birth name was Leslie Lynch King.
Growing up Gerald was an excellent athlete. His best sport was football where he played center and linebacker. He went on to play for the University of Michigan where they won two national championships. Gerald also was in the Boy Scouts. He earned the Eagle Scout badge and was the only president to achieve Eagle Scout.
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Gerald turned down offers to play professional football with the NFL to go to Yale Law University. While at Yale he studied law and coached the boxing team.
After graduating from Yale, Ford passed the bar exam and opened his own law firm. However, soon World War II broke out and Ford enlisted in the Navy. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander while serving on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific.
Ford and Brezhnev by David Hume Kennerly
Before He Became President
In 1948 Ford was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as a congressman for the next 25 years. For the last 8 years of his service he was the Minority Leader of the House. Ford earned the respect of many of his peers through this time as being a fair and honest politician.
As scandals rocked President Richard Nixon's White House, the current Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned from office. The president needed someone the people and his fellow leaders could trust. He chose Gerald Ford and Ford took over as vice president.
Soon more information broke on the Watergate scandal and it became clear that President Nixon would be impeached. Instead of putting himself and the country through a bitter trial, Nixon resigned from office. Per the 25th Amendment, Gerald Ford was now president despite having not been elected to the office of either vice president or president.
Gerald Ford's Presidency
Ford considered it his job to restore the country's faith in their leaders and the office of president. In this effort he largely succeeded and when President Jimmy Carter took his oath of office, he began his speech with "For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land."
Ford continued with Nixon's effort on foreign relations. He brokered a temporary truce in the Middle East. He also established new treaties with the Soviet Union further reducing nuclear arms.
The economy struggled, however, during Ford's time as president. The country entered a recession with high inflation and many people losing their jobs.
Pardon for Nixon
Shortly after becoming president, Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed. Although this was expected, many people were upset with Ford for doing this and it is probably the main reason why he wasn't elected to a second term.
How did he die?
Gerald Ford retired to California after leaving office. He refused to get involved in politics and led a quiet life. He lived to the old age of 93 before dying in 2006.
Gerald Ford and dog Liberty
Photo by David Hume Kennerly
Fun Facts About Gerald Ford
- His middle name is Rudolph.
- He nearly died in World War II when a typhoon hit his aircraft carrier and it caught fire.
- Around 400 Eagle Scouts attended Ford's funeral and took part in the procession.
- His number 48 football jersey was retired at the University of Michigan.
- While a congressman, Gerald was a member of the Warren Commission which investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
- Ford was awarded the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in 2003 for his pardon of Nixon. Many people hated him for it, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Even democratic Senator Ed Kennedy, who was strongly against the pardon at the time, said he later realized that Ford made the right decision.
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