Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Key Events in the Presidency of Gerald Ford


October 10, 1973

Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigns, pleading nolo contendre to a charge of income tax evasion.

October 11, 1973

President Richard Nixon offers Gerald Ford the nomination for vice president. Ford accepts.

December 6, 1973

Ford is sworn in as vice president in the House chamber. Ford remarks that he is a "Ford, not a Lincoln."


August 8, 1974

In a televised address to the nation, Richard M. Nixon resigns the presidency.

August 9, 1974

Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as the thirty-eighth President of the United States.

August 12, 1974

Ford speaks to a joint session of Congress regarding inflation.

August 19, 1974

Ford selects Nelson A. Rockefeller, the former Governor of New York, as his vice president.

August 28, 1974

Ford holds his first press conference as President. When questioned about the possibility of a pardon for former President Nixon, he replies that he is "not ruling it out."

September 8, 1974

Ford grants Richard Nixon a full pardon; his approval rating slips to 49 percent.

September 16, 1974

The government announces a clemency whereby draft evaders and military deserters could "earn their return to the mainstream of American society" by performing alternative services.

September 28, 1974

First Lady Betty Ford undergoes surgery for breast cancer (mastectomy).

September 30, 1974

Ford forms the Economic Policy Board, which will oversee all aspects of economic policy.

October 8, 1974

Ford speaks to a joint session of Congress. He calls for a temporary 5 percent tax hike, cuts in federal spending, and the creation of a voluntary inflation-fighting organization, named "Whip Inflation Now" (WIN).

October 15, 1974

Ford signs the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1974, the most significant attempt at campaign finance reform since the 1920s.

November 5, 1974

In the off-year elections, Democrats are victorious all over the country. They gain 43 House seats and 3 Senate seats, giving them a majority in both Houses of Congress. They also gain 4 governorships.

November 11, 1974

The President announces his "WIN" campaign (Whip Inflation Now).

November 17, 1974

Ford makes a visit to Japan, the first by an American President.

November 21, 1974

The Freedom of Information Act is passed over Ford's veto. It provides expanded access to government files and allows secrecy classifications to be challenged in court and justified by the appropriate federal authorities.

December 19, 1974

By a vote of 287-128, the House confirms Nelson A. Rockefeller as vice president; he is later sworn into office.


January 1, 1975

Ford signs the Privacy Act of 1974, ensuring the right of Americans to individual privacy.

January 4, 1975

Ford announces the creation of a presidential commission to review abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency ("The Rockefeller Commission").

January 13, 1975

In his State of the Union Address, Ford proposes a $16 billion tax cut.

March 11, 1975

The Commission on Civil Rights reports that the proportion of blacks in mostly white schools was higher in the South than in the North.

March 27, 1975

Following the fall of the city of Ban Me Thout, Hue, and Danang, the city of Saigon falls to the North Vietnamese. The Ford administration evacuates remaining Americans and troops from the capital city.

March 29, 1975

Ford tells the nation he will reluctantly sign the Tax Reduction Act of 1975, which calls for a $22.8 billion tax cut.

April 4, 1975

Unemployment rises to 8.7 percent, the highest since 1941.

April 11, 1975

Cambodia falls to Khmer Rouge.

May 12, 1975

Cambodia seizes the U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez in the Gulf of Siam and takes its crew hostage.

May 14, 1975

Marines move onto Koh Tang, an island off the shore of Cambodia believed to hold the captured sailors of the Mayaguez. Fierce fighting kills fifteen Marines, but the sailors are not found. Ford orders airstrikes on the Cambodian mainland. At 10:35 PM, the crew of the Mayaguez is released.

May 27, 1975

Ford addresses the nation on the U.S. energy policy.

June 6, 1975

Unemployment reaches its highest point at 9.2 percent.

June 19, 1975

The President establishes the President Ford Committee to run his 1976 nomination for the presidential election.

July 8, 1975

Ford officially announces his candidacy for the 1976 presidential election.

July 26, 1975

President Ford leaves on his second trip to Europe, where he will sign the Helsinki Accords on European security and cooperation.

August 10, 1975

First Lady Betty Ford shocks the nation when on the "60 Minutes" television show, she speaks candidly on topics such as extra-marital affairs and marijuana and admits to strongly favoring the Supreme Court's ruling making abortion legal.

September 4, 1975

Egypt and Israel sign the second-stage Sinai withdrawal agreement.

September 5, 1975

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme attempts to assassinate President Ford in San Francisco.

October 6, 1975

Ford addresses the nation via television asking for a reduction of $28 billion in taxes and spending.

October 29, 1975

Ford refuses to give federal economic aid to New York City. Instead he advises the city to use financial restraint. The next day, the headline of the New York Daily News reads: "Ford to City—Drop Dead."

November 2, 1975

In what is dubbed by the press as the "Sunday Morning Massacre," Henry Kissinger gives up his position as national security adviser but retains the post of secretary of state; William Colby is fired as director of Central Intelligence, and James Schlesinger is fired as secretary of defense.

November 4, 1975

Ford names Donald Rumsfeld secretary of defense, Eliot Richardson secretary of commerce, and George H.W. Bush director of the CIA. He also appoints Brent Scowcroft national security adviser and Richard Cheney White House chief of staff.

November 4, 1975

Rockefeller withdraws his name for consideration for the vice presidency in the 1976 presidential election.

November 20, 1975

Former California governor Ronald Reagan announces that he will challenge Ford for the Republican nomination for President.

November 27, 1975

Following a tax increase by the New York state legislature and an agreement by banks and teachers unions preventing New York City from falling into default, Ford requests $2.3 billion in U.S. loans for the city.

December 22, 1975

Ford signs the Energy Policy Conservation Act.


January 19, 1976

Ford gives his State of the Union address.

January 30, 1976

The Supreme Court rules on the Federal Election Campaign Act.

February 7, 1976

The Labor Department reports that the unemployment rate dropped substantially from December to January, from 8.3 percent to 7.8 percent.

February 17, 1976

Ford asserts that the government's intelligence community will undergo reorganization.

February 24, 1976

Ford beats Ronald Reagan in the New Hampshire primary, winning 51 percent of the vote.

March 1, 1976

Under pressure from Reagan and more conservative Republicans, Ford agrees not to use the word "détente."

March 24, 1976

The Concorde supersonic jet makes its first flight between Europe and the United States.

April 16, 1976

In resolving an inter-agency dispute, Ford decides to build up the country's strategic oil reserve in order to protect the United States from another foreign embargo.

April 20, 1976

During the first quarter of 1976, the GNP rises to 7.5 percent. Inflation is at 3.7 percent.

May 14, 1976

Ford asks Congress to accept a timetable for extensive reform of the government's regulatory program and agencies.

May 18, 1976

Ford approves congressional revisions in the Federal Elections Commission and Federal Election Campaign Act to permit resumption of federal check-off subsidies for all presidential campaigns.

May 28, 1976

Fords signs a treaty with the Soviet Union limiting underground nuclear testing.

June 20, 1976

Following the murder of the American ambassador and his aide, Ford orders the evacuation of 116 Americans and 146 third-country nationals from Lebanon.

July 4, 1976

The nation celebrates its Bicentennial. President Ford speaks at Valley Forge and Independence Hall.

July 15, 1976

Former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter wins the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

July 21, 1976

Viking I lands on Mars.

July 21, 1976

The inflation rate drops from 12.2 in the latter months of 1974 to 4.6 in the first six months of 1976.

August 6, 1976

The Labor Department announces that employment has risen by 3.8 million people since March 1975.

August 19, 1976

After a hard fought battle against former Governor Ronald Reagan of California, the Republican National Convention nominates Ford as its presidential candidate (Ford wins with 1,187 votes to Reagan's 1,070). Ford selects Senator Robert Dole from Kansas as his running-mate.

August 25, 1976

James A. Baker becomes Ford's campaign manager.

September 9, 1976

Mao Zedong dies, leaving China in a state of unrest.

September 13, 1976

Ford signs the "sunshine" law and vetoes government funding for a prototype electrical automobile engine, which Congress and the Senate override soon thereafter. The veto marks Ford's fifty-six while in office.

September 26, 1976

The first Ford-Carter Debate, held in Philadelphia's Walnut Theatre, centers on domestic policy.

October 6, 1976

Carter wins the second debate in San Francisco, with Ford making a large blunder, declaring that there "is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and never will be under a Ford administration."

October 12, 1976

Ford is pelted with eggs by an antagonistic crowd while campaigning in New York City.

October 21, 1976

A Gallup poll shows Ford reducing the gap between Carter and himself to 6 percent.

October 22, 1976

The third presidential debate is held at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Carter edges ahead in the race.

November 2, 1976

Jimmy Carter defeats Gerald Ford for the presidency, winning 49.9 percent of the popular vote to Ford's 47.9 percent, and capturing 297 electoral votes to Ford's 240.

November 7, 1976

Peace is declared in Lebanon after more than fifty ceasefires and 35,000 deaths.

November 13, 1976

As many as ninety members of Congress are implicated in a scandal for accepting illegal gifts from an agent of the South Korean government.

December 15, 1976

The administration announces that it plans to store as many as 500 million barrels of crude oil in salt dunes on the Gulf Coast.

December 31, 1976

Ford proposes that Puerto Rico become the fifty-first state without consulting Congress; critics contend that the proposal violates the principle of self-determination.

December 31, 1976

Inflation holds steady at a low 4.8 percent, the best in four years, but high unemployment persists.


January 20, 1977

Ford leaves Washington, D.C., after Jimmy Carter is inaugurated the thirty-ninth President of the United States.