Timeline of the presidency of Gerald Ford

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Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States, August 1974

The presidency of Gerald Ford began on August 9, 1974, when Gerald Ford became President of the United States, and ended on January 20, 1977, a span of 895 days. Ford, the 38th United States president, succeeded Richard Nixon, who had resigned from office. Prior to this he was the 40th Vice President of the United States, serving from 1973 until President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974. He was the first person appointed to the vice presidency under the terms of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, following the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew on October 10, 1973. Ford has the distinction of being the first, and to date the only person to have served as both vice president and president without being elected to either office.

As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. He made seven international trips while in office. Domestically, Ford presided over the worst economy in the four decades since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure.[1] One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. He also faced two assassination attempts. Ford's presidency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President.[2]

Ford ran unsuccessfully for a full four-year presidential term in 1976. In the 1976 Republican presidential primary campaign he defeated challenger Ronald Reagan to win the Republican nominationin that year's Republican presidential primaries to win the Republican nomination, but narrowly lost the presidential election to his Democratic opponent, Jimmy Carter.

1974

August – September

The swearing in of President Gerald Ford by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger
  • August 9 – Gerald Ford takes the oath of office as president, administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger, in the East Room of the White House. Immediately afterward, he speaks to the assembled audience in a speech broadcast live to the nation.[3] Ford notes the peculiarity of his position, saying "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."[4] He also declares, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here, the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice, but mercy. ... let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and hate."[5] This remains the most recent non-scheduled presidential inauguration in American history.
  • August 9 – Following the swearing-in ceremony, President Ford meets with Congressional leaders, senior White House staff, transition advisers, senior economic advisers, and foreign emissaries.
  • August 9Jerald terHorst is appointed to serve as President Ford's White House Press Secretary.
  • August 12 – President Ford addresses a Joint session of the United States Congress. He states, “I do not want a honeymoon with you. I want a good marriage.” He also states his first priority is to bring inflation under control, declaring it “public enemy number one.”
  • August 15–18 – President Ford hosts King Hussein of Jordan. He is the first foreign head of state to be received by President Ford.[6]
  • August 19 – President Ford delivers a major speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Chicago, supporting earned clemency for Vietnam War draft evaders.
  • August 19Rodger Davies, the United States Ambassador to Cyprus, along with Antoinette Varnavas, an embassy secretary, and a Greek Cypriot national are killed by sniper fire during an anti-American demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia,[7] protesting against the failure of the U.S. to stop the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.[8] Afterwards, the U.S. government quickly sends his replacement, Ambassador to Yemen William R. Crawford, in order to demonstrate that "it was not blaming Greek-Cypriot authorities for the murder".[9]
  • August 20 – President Ford nominates Nelson Rockefeller, former Governor of New York, to be vice president.
  • August 22 – President Ford signs the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.
  • August 28 – President Ford holds his first press conference as President. Many of the questions concern unresolved issues surrounding Watergate.
  • September 8 – President Ford issues a proclamation which grants former president Nixon a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes he might have committed against the United States while President.[10] The surprise announcement stuns the country and Ford's approval rating plummets in the polls. Press Secretary Jerald terHorst resigns in protest after the pardon. Full text Wikisource has information on "Proclamation 4311"
  • September 16 – President Ford issues a proclamation announcing an amnesty program for Vietnam Era draft evaders and military deserters who return home. The conditions of the amnesty required the individual to reaffirm their allegiance to the United States and serve two years working in a public service job or a total of two years’ service for those who had served less than two years of honorable service in the military.[11][12] A Clemency Board was established to review personnel records and to make recommendations for receiving a Presidential Pardon and a change in Military discharge status.
  • September 26–28First Lady Betty Ford is diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoes surgery.
WIN (Whip Inflation Now) button
  • September 27–28 – The White House convenes a "summit conference" on inflation and the economy. President Ford closes the conference with an address to the American people, asking them to send him a list of ten inflation-reducing ideas.[13]

October – December

A man in a suit is seated at a table as he speaks into a bank of microphones. An audience is visible behind him.
President Ford appears at a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing regarding his pardon of Richard Nixon
  • October 17 – Ford appears before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice to explain the facts and circumstances that were the basis for his pardon of former President Richard Nixon. He is the first sitting President since Abraham Lincoln to testify before the House of Representatives .[14][15]
  • October 17 – Ford vetoes the Freedom of Information Act Amendments believing not enough protection is given to sensitive and classified intelligence documents. Congress overrides Ford’s veto on November 21, 1974 making the bill law.
  • October 21 – Ford makes the first international trip of his presidency, travelling to Nogales and Magdalena de Kino, Mexico. There he meets with President Luis Echeverría and lay a wreath at the tomb of Padre Eusebio Kino.[16]
  • November 1 – Ford meets with an ailing Richard Nixon in a Long Beach, California hospital.
  • November 5Republicans lose 40 seats in the House and 4 in the Senate, widening the Democratic majority in Congress during the 1974 midterm elections.
Gerald Ford with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in Vladivostok, U.S.S.R., November 24, 1974.

1975

January – February

President Gerald Ford with Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and House Speaker Carl Albert during the 1975 State of the Union address.

March – April

Evacuees from Saigon, South Vietnam are offloaded onto the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Midway, during "Operation Frequent Wind", April 29, 1975.
  • April 28 – With the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese Army immanent, President Ford orders the emergency evacuation of all remaining American military personnel and civilians and at-risk South Vietnamese nationals from the city.
  • April 29–30Operation Frequent Wind, the final phase in the American evacuation from South Vietnam, is carried out. More than 1,400 U.S. citizens and 5,500 third country nationals and South Vietnamese are evacuated by helicopter from landing zones in and around the United States Embassy and Tân Sơn Nhứt Airport in Saigon. It is the largest helicopter evacuation in history.[24] By the afternoon of April 30, North Vietnamese troops are in control of the important points of the city (subsequently renamed Hồ Chí Minh City) and have raised their flag over the South Vietnamese presidential palace.

May – June

Ford with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Salzburg, Austria, June 1975
President Ford speaks to the Soviet and American Apollo–Soyuz Test Project crews, July 18, 1975

July – August

September – October

A chaotic scene of motorcade vehicles surrounded by crowd of people including police and press
Reaction immediately after the second assassination attempt
  • September 5Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, attempts to assassinate President Ford in Sacramento, California.[27] She is later convicted of attempted assassination of the President and sentenced to life in prison. (She was paroled on August 14, 2009.)[28]
  • September 22Sara Jane Moore, a Patty Hearst fanatic,[29] with ties to leftwing radical groups, attempts to assassinate President Ford as he left the St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco, California. She is later convicted of attempted assassination of the President and sentenced to life in prison. (She was paroled on December 31, 2007.)[30]
  • October 2–3 – Ford hosts Japanese Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako for a state visit. This is the first state visit for an Emperor and Empress of Japan to the United States.
  • October 29 – Ford urges financial restraint and a financial review for New York City during its fiscal crisis. Ford refuses to support Federal help for New York at this time. He proposes bankruptcy legislation to ensure the City undergoes an orderly default process.

November – December

1976

January – February

  • January 2 – Facing stiff opposition from a surging Ronald Reagan in the run-up to the 1976 Republican primaries and a more assertive Republican right wing, Ford vetoes the Common Situs Picketing Bill, which would have amended National Labor Relations Act rules regarding union recognition, organizing and the rights to picket.
  • January 31John Dunlop resigns as Secretary of Labor and is replaced by William Usery Jr..
  • February 6 – Ford signs Executive Order 11904 establishing the Defense Superior Service Medal, to be awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces (most often presented to senior officers in the flag and general officer grades, followed by a lesser number of Colonels and USN and USCG Captains) who perform "superior meritorious service in a position of significant responsibility".[33]
  • February 18 – In an effort to reform the United States Intelligence Community, Ford signs Executive Order 11905 to "establish policies to improve the quality of intelligence needed for national security, to clarify the authority and responsibilities of the intelligence departments and agencies, and to establish effective oversight to assure compliance with law in the management and direction of intelligence agencies and departments of the national government." This executive order also prohibits the United States from engaging in political assassination.
  • February 26 – Gerald Ford edges Ronald Reagan by 1,250 votes in the New Hampshire primary, taking 17 of 21 delegates. This begins a string of primary victories for Ford which include Florida and Illinois before a series of losses to challenger Reagan in North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and Indiana.

March – April

  • March 25 – Ford sends a message to Congress requesting a special appropriation for the National Swine Flu Immunization Program, in order to immunize 200 million-plus people against a feared swine flu outbreak. He signs the measure into law on August 12, 1976.

May – June

President Ford monitors the evacuation of American citizens from Beirut, Lebanon, June 20, 1976
  • June 16Francis E. Meloy, Jr., the incoming U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, along with Robert Waring, the U.S. Economic Counselor, and their driver, Zuhair Mohammed Moghrabi, are kidnapped by Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine members as they cross the Green Line, the division between Beirut's Christian and Muslim sectors. The bullet-riddled bodies of Meloy and Waring are found later that day on a beach in Ramlet al-Baida.[34]
  • June 17 – The president meets with CIA Director George H.W. Bush, Chief of Staff Dick Cheney and Special Emissary to Lebanon L. Dean Brown, and others, during a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the evacuation of Americans from Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The following day, an initial group of approximately 200 American and Lebanese Nationals are evacuated.
  • June 20 – The President orders the evacuation of American citizens from Lebanon.[35] That day, 110 Americans and 157 nationals of other countries are transported from Lebanon to Piraeus, Greece aboard USS Spiegel Grove.[36] Approximately 300 additional persons, including around 150 Americans, are evacuated on July 27, aboard USS Coronado, and also taken to Piraeus Greece.[37]

July – August

United States Bicentennial logo commissioned by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission.

September – October

Carter and Ford debate domestic policy at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, September 23, 1976.
Ford campaigns at the Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead, New York, October 31, 1976
  • September 13 – Ford signs the Government in the Sunshine Act requiring that many government regulatory agencies must give advance notice of meetings and hold open meetings. The new law also amends the Freedom of Information Act "by narrowing the authority of agencies to withhold information from the public."
  • September 15 – Ford kicks off his general election campaign at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • September 23 – First presidential candidate debate between President Ford and Governor Jimmy Carter, domestic policy, at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. This is the first presidential candidate debate since the Nixon-Kennedy debates in 1960.
  • September 30 – The Hart–Scott–Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, a set of amendments to the antitrust laws of the United States, principally the Clayton Antitrust Act, is signed into law by President Ford.
  • October 6 – Second presidential candidate debate, on foreign policy and defense issues, in San Francisco. During the debate Ford comments that, "there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration." This misstatement is fodder for the press and public for the next several days.
  • October 14 – President Ford receives a swine flu inoculation from his White House physician, Dr. William Lukash.
  • October 21 – The president signs the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
  • October 22 – Third and final presidential candidate debate in Williamsburg, Virginia.

November – December

  • November 1 – President Ford attends his final campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Pantlind Hotel.
  • November 2 – President Ford casts his vote and attends the unveiling of the Gerald R. Ford mural by artist Paul Collins at the Kent County Airport before returning to Washington.
  • November 3 – Ford concedes the Presidential election to Jimmy Carter of Georgia. Ford loses the Electoral College 297–240 and receives 39,147,793 votes (48% of the votes cast) to Carter’s 40,830,763 (50.1% of the votes cast).
  • December 14 – Ford sends a letter to the Archivist of the United States and the President of the University of Michigan offering to deposit his papers in a Presidential Library to be built on the University of Michigan campus.

1977

January

  • January 12 – In his final State of the Union Address, Ford tells Congress and the American People, "I can report that the state of the union is good. There is room for improvement, as always, but today we have a more perfect Union than when my stewardship began."
  • January 19 – Ford signs Executive Order 11965 establishing the Humanitarian Service Medal, to be awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, after April 1, 1975, distinguished themselves by meritorious direct participation in a United States Department of Defense approved significant military act or operation of a humanitarian nature.[39]
  • January 20Jimmy Carter is inaugurated as the 39th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, Carter states, "For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land."
Ford and his golden retriever, Liberty, in the Oval Office, 1974

References

  1. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. pp. xxiii, 301. ISBN 0-465-04195-7. 
  2. ^ George Lenczowski (1990). American Presidents, and the Middle East. Duke University Press. pp. 142–143. ISBN 0-8223-0972-6. 
  3. ^ "Gerald R. Ford's Remarks Upon Taking the Oath of Office as President". The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. August 9, 1974. Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Remarks By President Gerald Ford On Taking the Oath Of Office As President". Watergate.info. 1974. Retrieved December 28, 2006. 
  5. ^ Ford, Gerald R. (August 9, 1974). "Gerald R. Ford's Remarks on Taking the Oath of Office as President". Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. Archived from the original on August 13, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Visits By Foreign Leaders in 1974". Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian. Retrieved August 21, 2016. 
  7. ^ "U.S. ambassador killed on Cyprus". Boca Raton News. Nicosia. 19 August 1974. 
  8. ^ Nick Carbone (September 12, 2012). "Before Libya: U.S. Ambassadors Who Have Died in the Line of Duty". Time. 
  9. ^ "Cyprus: Looking for Paradise Lost". Time. September 2, 1974. 
  10. ^ "Ford Pardons Nixon - Events of 1974 - Year in Review". UPI.com. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 
  11. ^ Hunter, Marjorie (September 16, 1974). "Ford Offers Amnesty Program Requiring 2 Years Public Work; Defends His Pardon Of Nixon". The New York Times. Retrieved August 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Gerald R. Ford: Proclamation 4313 - Announcing a Program for the Return of Vietnam Era Draft Evaders and Military Deserters". ucsb.edu. 
  13. ^ "WIN is losing". Washington Post. Dec 20, 1974. Retrieved August 26, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Ford Testimony on Nixon Pardon - C-SPAN Video Library". C-spanvideo.org. October 17, 1974. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Sitting presidents and vice presidents who have testified before congressional committees" (PDF). Senate.gov. 2004. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Travels of President Gerald R. Ford". U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian. 
  17. ^ "Arms Control Summits". PSR.org. Physicians for Social Responsibility. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  18. ^ Rippeteau, Jane (December 18, 1974). "President Lights the National Christmas Tree". The Washington Post. 
  19. ^ "White House Christmas Cards & Messages of the Presidents of the United States: Christmas Cards & Messages from Gerald Ford (1974-1977)". Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Gerald R. Ford: Remarks at American Freedom Train Ceremonies in Alexandria, Virginia". The American Presidency Project. December 19, 1974. Retrieved August 29, 2016. 
  21. ^ "A Chronology of Dates Significant in the Background, History and Development of the Department of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. October 3, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  22. ^ Uchitelle, Louis (June 10, 1990). "A Crowbar for Carla Hills". New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Executive Order 11850--Renunciation of certain uses in war of chemical herbicides and riot control agents". National Archives. April 8, 1975. Retrieved May 17, 2016. 
  24. ^ Dunham, George R.; Quinlan, David A. (1990). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Bitter End, 1973–1975. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. p. 202. 
  25. ^ Wetterhahn, Ralph (2002). The Last Battle: The Mayaguez Incident and the end of the Vietnam War. Plume. ISBN 0-452-28333-7. 
  26. ^ Haines, David (1996). Refugees in America in the 1990s: a reference handbook. New York: Greenwood Press. 
  27. ^ "1975 Year in Review: Ford Assassinations Attempts". Upi.com. Retrieved May 30, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Charles Manson follower Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme released from prison after more than 30 years". Daily News. New York. Associated Press. August 14, 2009. Retrieved September 7, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Timeline: Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst". American Experience. Public Broadcasting Service. 2005-02-16. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  30. ^ Lee, Vic (January 2, 2007). "Interview: Woman Who Tried To Assassinate Ford". San Francisco: KGO-TV. Retrieved January 3, 2007. 
  31. ^ Federal Judicial Center page on John Paul Stevens.
  32. ^ U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes - Nomination of John Paul Stevens, senate.gov
  33. ^ "Gerald R. Ford: Executive Order 11904 - Establishing the Defense Superior Service Medal". The American Presidency Project. February 6, 1976. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  34. ^ Robert Fisk (2001). Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War. Oxford University Press. p. 83. 
  35. ^ "CBS Evening News for Sunday, Jun 20, 1976". Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  36. ^ "Evacuees aboard ship in party mood". The Miami News. 21 June 1976. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  37. ^ "Marines Backed Beirut Rescue". Chicago Tribune. July 30, 1976. p. 10. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  38. ^ Gawthorpe, A. J. (2009), "The Ford Administration and Security Policy in the Asia-Pacific after the Fall of Saigon", The Historical Journal, 52(3):697–716.
  39. ^ "Gerald R. Ford: Executive Order 11965 - Establishing the Humanitarian Service Medal". The American Presidency Project. January 19, 1977. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum document "Timeline of President Ford's Life and Career".

External links

  • Miller Center Ford Presidential Timeline
U.S. presidential administration timelines
Preceded by
Nixon
Ford presidency
1974–1977
Succeeded by
Carter
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