President Gerald R. Ford

  • Inaugurated as the 38th President of the United States on August 9, 1974 following the resignation of Richard M. Nixon.
  • Left office on January 20, 1977, following a loss in the general election to Jimmy Carter.
  • Born: July 14, 1913, Omaha, Nebraska. Moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1914.
  • Spouse: Elizabeth Bloomer Warren
    (b. April 8, 1918), married October 15, 1948.
  • Party: Republican
  • Religion: Episcopalian
  • Education: Grand Rapids South High School, Class of 1931.
    University of Michigan, Class of 1935. (Majored in economics and political science.)
    Yale University Law School, Class of 1941.
  • Original Occupation: Attorney
  • Military Service: 1942 - 1946 - Served in US Navy to the rank of Lt. Commander.
    Remained in the Naval Reserves until 1963.
  • Political Career: 1948-1973 - Member, U.S. House of Representatives (Michigan, Grand Rapids and Kent County).
    1965-1973 - House Minority Leader.
    1973-1974 - Vice President (succeeded Spiro Agnew as Richard Nixon's Vice President following Agnew's resignation. Confirmed on December 6, 1973).

One single fact distinguishes the Presidency of Gerald R. Ford from that from all of the others. Ford was the only one to assume the country's high office without being elected to either the Presidency or the Vice-Presidency. "I wasn't elected by the people across the country," President Gerald R. Ford tells Cokie Roberts in Presidential Conversations on the Constitution.

The most controversial event during Ford's service in the White House was his first act as President, the full pardon of former President Richard M. Nixon. Some members of the press and the public were suspicious of Ford's motives and suggested that a deal had been made between he and former President Nixon, a suggestion Ford fervently denied. He explained that his decision to pardon the former president was in the interest of eliminating distractions from the national agenda: "I finally decided as a new President under very difficult circumstances I had a obligation to spend all of my time on the problems of 200 million Americans and the only way to clear the deck to get to the substantive problems that I faced was to pardon Mr. Nixon and get his problems off my desk in the oval office."

The Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum hosts an extensive biography. A more succinct biography can be found at PBS/American Experience and the White House Kids website hosts a biography for the younger student of American government.

Learn more about the issues faced by the Ford Administration:

Remarks on Signing a Proclamation Granting Pardon to Richard Nixon September 8, 1974
(Seattle University)

Watergate, Gerald Ford, and the Nixon Pardon
(The White House Historical Association)

Clean Safe Drinking Water Act - December 16, 1974
(Environmental Protection Agency)

The SS Mayaguez Incident, 1975
(Muskingum College)

Death Penalty - Gregg vs. Georgia, July 2, 1976
(Amnesty International)

Foreign Aid and Human Rights, 1976
(U.S. Department of State)