“For a nation that needed healing, and for an office that needed a calm and steady hand, Gerald Ford came along when we needed him most.” —President George W. Bush
Only Unelected VP and President
At age 93, the thirty-eighth president of the United States, Gerald Rudolph Ford, died the day after Christmas 2006 at his home in Rancho Mirage, about one hundred miles east of Los Angeles. He is the only president to have served in that office and in the office of vice-president without having been elected to either.
In 1973, after Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned, President Richard Nixon nominated twelve-term House of Representative Gerald R. Ford to fill that position. Then in 1974 when Nixon resigned, Ford became the president.
Gerald R. Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska. Only a few weeks after his birth, his parents separated and divorced two years later. His mother returned to Detroit, Michigan, where she married Gerald R. Ford, Sr, who adopted Leslie, renaming him Gerald R. Ford, Jr.
Ford attended the University of Michigan on a football scholarship. After graduating from University of Michigan, he entered Yale, from which he graduated in 1941 with a law degree. He had completed his best course work in legal ethics, graduating in the top third of his class.
After returning to Grand Rapids, Ford founded a law firm with a former Michigan classmate. He soon became involved in politics, winning his first election to the House of Representatives in 1948.
Gerald R. Ford’s integrity and honesty throughout his political career has always placed him in high regard. As President Bush said, Ford came along at the right time, when the nation needed a man of moral strength and clarity.
Speech Pardoning Nixon
Although many at the time did not see that pardoning President Nixon was the morally appropriate thing to do, those same skeptics now realize that it was. The following excerpt from Ford’s explanation for his reasoning helps one see the importance of that decision:
Ladies and gentlemen:
I have come to a decision which I felt I should tell you and all of my fellow American citizens, as soon as I was certain in my own mind and in my own conscience that it is the right thing to do.
I have learned already in this office that the difficult decisions always come to this desk. I must admit that many of them do not look at all the same as the hypothetical questions that I have answered freely and perhaps too fast on previous occasions.
My customary policy is to try and get all the facts and to consider the opinions of my countrymen and to take counsel with my most valued friends. But these seldom agree, and in the end, the decision is mine. To procrastinate, to agonize, and to wait for a more favorable turn of events that may never come or more compelling external pressures that may as well be wrong as right, is itself a decision of sorts and a weak and potentially dangerous course for a President to follow.
I have promised to uphold the Constitution, to do what is right as God gives me to see the right, and to do the very best that I can for America.
For the rest of the speech, click here.
Did Not Aspire to Office
Gerald R. Ford, Jr, the thirty-eighth president, did not aspire to that office. His greatest political ambition was to be Speaker of the House. But fortunately for his country, this healer came along and offered a path to health when the country needed just that.
Gerald R. Ford, 93, Dies; Led in Watergate's Wake