Miller Center

Presidential Key Events

Gerald Ford

 

Gerald Ford - 10/10/1973: Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigns, p…
Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigns, pleading nolo contendre to a charge of income tax evasion. October 10, 1973

Gerald Ford - 10/11/1973: President Richard Nixon offers Gerald Ford the nom…
President Richard Nixon offers Gerald Ford the nomination for vice president. Ford accepts. October 11, 1973

Gerald Ford - 12/06/1973: Ford is sworn in as vice president in the House ch…
Ford is sworn in as vice president in the House chamber. Ford remarks that he is a “Ford, not a Lincoln.” December 06, 1973

Gerald Ford - 08/08/1974: In a televised address to the nation, Richard M. N…
In a televised address to the nation, Richard M. Nixon resigns the presidency. August 08, 1974

Gerald Ford - 08/09/1974: Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as the thirty-eighth Pr…
Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as the thirty-eighth President of the United States. August 09, 1974

Gerald Ford - 08/12/1974: Ford speaks to a joint session of Congress regardi…
Ford speaks to a joint session of Congress regarding inflation. August 12, 1974

Gerald Ford - 08/19/1974: Ford selects Nelson A. Rockefeller, the former Gov…
Ford selects Nelson A. Rockefeller, the former Governor of New York, as his vice president. August 19, 1974

Gerald Ford - 08/28/1974: Ford holds his first press conference as President…
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."" August 28, 1974

Gerald Ford - 09/08/1974: Ford grants Richard Nixon a fu…
Ford grants Richard Nixon a full pardon; his approval rating slips to 49 percent. September 08, 1974

Gerald Ford - Ford Pardons Nixon

On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford granted a “full, free, and absolute pardon” to former President Richard Nixon.

When Ford took the oath of office just a month earlier, he took over the presidency from an embattled Richard Nixon, who had just resigned as the 37th President of the United States due to the myriad of political and legal problems surrounding his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Ford spoke to the nation on August 9, engaging in “a little straight talk among friends,” and acknowledged the special circumstances of the occasion. Addressing the Watergate scandal directly, he declared that “our long national nightmare is over.”

Yet one month later, the President confronted the specter of Richard Nixon, a likely criminal defendant in U.S. courts for his role in that same national nightmare. When President Ford addressed the nation on September 8, he used a Sunday morning broadcast to minimize the political impact of his message. He recounted the nature of the Watergate scandal that had polarized the country. He also considered the difficulties Nixon would face in receiving a fair public trial and the potential for delayed and elaborate litigation against a former President. More importantly, he believed that the immediate needs of the country demanded an end to the Watergate controversy. His duty to ensure “domestic tranquility” and to use every means to secure it, as well as his belief that Nixon had suffered the ultimate humiliation due to his resignation, led him to grant a “full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States.”

Instead of bringing the nation together, however, the pardon reignited the firestorm surrounding Nixon. Ford's approval ratings dropped dramatically, and he would later admit that the pardon was his most difficult domestic decision. Nevertheless, the use of the pardon to forestall the prosecution of an unindicted, private citizen enhanced those powers delegated to the President under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and reaffirmed the use of the presidential pardon, extending its reach beyond both legal and congressional challenge.

September 08, 1974

Gerald Ford - 09/16/1974: The government announces a clemency whereby draft …
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 16, 1974

Gerald Ford - 09/28/1974: First Lady Betty Ford undergoes surgery for breast…
First Lady Betty Ford undergoes surgery for breast cancer (mastectomy). September 28, 1974

Gerald Ford - 09/30/1974: Ford forms the Economic Policy Board, which will o…
Ford forms the Economic Policy Board, which will oversee all aspects of economic policy. September 30, 1974

Gerald Ford - 10/08/1974: Ford speaks to a joint session of Congress. He cal…
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 08, 1974

Gerald Ford - 10/15/1974: Ford signs the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1…
Ford signs the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1974, the most significant attempt at campaign finance reform since the 1920s. October 15, 1974

Gerald Ford - 11/05/1974: In the off-year elections, Democrats are victoriou…
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 05, 1974

Gerald Ford - 11/11/1974: The President announces his “WIN” campai…
The President announces his “WIN” campaign (Whip Inflation Now). November 11, 1974

Gerald Ford - 11/17/1974: Ford makes a visit to Japan, the first by an Ameri…
Ford makes a visit to Japan, the first by an American President. November 17, 1974

Gerald Ford - 11/21/1974: The Freedom of Information Act is passed over Ford…
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. November 21, 1974

Gerald Ford - 12/19/1974: By a vote of 287-128, the House confirms Nelson A.…
By a vote of 287-128, the House confirms Nelson A. Rockefeller as vice president; he is later sworn into office. December 19, 1974

Gerald Ford - 01/01/1975: Ford signs the Privacy Act of 1974, ensuring the r…
Ford signs the Privacy Act of 1974, ensuring the right of Americans to individual privacy. January 01, 1975

Gerald Ford - 01/04/1975: Ford announces the creation of a presidential comm…
Ford announces the creation of a presidential commission to review abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency (“The Rockefeller Commission”). January 04, 1975

Gerald Ford - 01/13/1975: In his State of the Union Address, Ford proposes a…
In his State of the Union Address, Ford proposes a $16 billion tax cut. January 13, 1975

Gerald Ford - 03/11/1975: The Commission on Civil Rights reports that the pr…
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 11, 1975

Gerald Ford - 03/27/1975: Following the fall of the city of Ban Me Thout, Hu…
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 27, 1975

Gerald Ford - 03/29/1975: Ford tells the nation he will reluctantly sign the…
Ford tells the nation he will reluctantly sign the Tax Reduction Act of 1975, which calls for a $22.8 billion tax cut. March 29, 1975

Gerald Ford - 04/04/1975: Unemployment rises to 8.7 percent, the highest sin…
Unemployment rises to 8.7 percent, the highest since 1941. April 04, 1975

Gerald Ford - 04/11/1975: Cambodia falls to Khmer Rouge.…
Cambodia falls to Khmer Rouge. April 11, 1975

Gerald Ford - 05/12/1975: Cambodia seizes the U.S. merch…
Cambodia seizes the U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez in the Gulf of Siam and takes its crew hostage. May 12, 1975

Gerald Ford - 05/14/1975: Marines move onto Koh Tang, an island off the shor…
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 14, 1975

Gerald Ford - 05/27/1975: Ford addresses the nation on the U.S. energy polic…
Ford addresses the nation on the U.S. energy policy. May 27, 1975

Gerald Ford - 06/06/1975: Unemployment reaches its highest point at 9.2 perc…
Unemployment reaches its highest point at 9.2 percent. June 06, 1975

Gerald Ford - 06/19/1975: The President establishes the President Ford Commi…
The President establishes the President Ford Committee to run his 1976 nomination for the presidential election. June 19, 1975

Gerald Ford - 07/08/1975: Ford officially announces his candidacy for the 19…
Ford officially announces his candidacy for the 1976 presidential election. July 08, 1975

Gerald Ford - 07/26/1975: President Ford leaves on his second trip to Europe…
President Ford leaves on his second trip to Europe, where he will sign the Helsinki Accords on European security and cooperation. July 26, 1975

Gerald Ford - 08/10/1975: First Lady Betty Ford shocks the nation when on th…
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. August 10, 1975

Gerald Ford - 09/04/1975: Egypt and Israel sign the second-stage Sinai withd…
Egypt and Israel sign the second-stage Sinai withdrawal agreement. September 04, 1975

Gerald Ford - 09/05/1975: Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme attempts to assassinate P…
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme attempts to assassinate President Ford in San Francisco. September 05, 1975

Gerald Ford - 10/06/1975: Ford addresses the nation via television asking fo…
Ford addresses the nation via television asking for a reduction of $28 billion in taxes and spending. October 06, 1975

Gerald Ford - 10/29/1975: Ford refuses to give federal economic aid to New Y…
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."" October 29, 1975

Gerald Ford - 11/02/1975: In what is dubbed by the press as the “Sunday Morn…
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 02, 1975

Gerald Ford - 11/04/1975: Ford names Donald Rumsfeld secretary of defense, E…
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 04, 1975

Gerald Ford - 11/04/1975: Rockefeller withdraws his name for consideration f…
Rockefeller withdraws his name for consideration for the vice presidency in the 1976 presidential election. November 04, 1975

Gerald Ford - 11/20/1975: Former California governor Ronald Reagan announces…
Former California governor Ronald Reagan announces that he will challenge Ford for the Republican nomination for President. November 20, 1975

Gerald Ford - 11/27/1975: Following a tax increase by the New York state leg…
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. November 27, 1975

Gerald Ford - 12/22/1975: Ford signs the Energy Policy Conservatio…
Ford signs the Energy Policy Conservation Act. December 22, 1975

Gerald Ford - 01/19/1976: Ford gives his State of the Union addres…
Ford gives his State of the Union address. January 19, 1976

Gerald Ford - 01/30/1976: The Supreme Court rules on the Federal Election Ca…
The Supreme Court rules on the Federal Election Campaign Act. January 30, 1976

Gerald Ford - 02/07/1976: The Labor Department reports that the unemployment…
The Labor Department reports that the unemployment rate dropped substantially from December to January, from 8.3 percent to 7.8 percent. February 07, 1976

Gerald Ford - 02/17/1976: Ford asserts that the governme…
Ford asserts that the government's intelligence community will undergo reorganization. February 17, 1976

Gerald Ford - 02/24/1976: Ford beats Ronald Reagan in the New Hampshire prim…
Ford beats Ronald Reagan in the New Hampshire primary, winning 51 percent of the vote. February 24, 1976

Gerald Ford - 03/01/1976: Under pressure from Reagan and more conservative R…
Under pressure from Reagan and more conservative Republicans, Ford agrees not to use the word “détente.” March 01, 1976

Gerald Ford - 03/24/1976: The Concorde supersonic jet makes its first flight…
The Concorde supersonic jet makes its first flight between Europe and the United States. March 24, 1976

Gerald Ford - 04/16/1976: In resolving an inter-agency dispute, Ford decides…
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 16, 1976

Gerald Ford - 04/20/1976: During the first quarter of 1976, the GNP rises to…
During the first quarter of 1976, the GNP rises to 7.5 percent. Inflation is at 3.7 percent. April 20, 1976

Gerald Ford - 05/14/1976: Ford asks Congress to accept a timetable for exten…
Ford asks Congress to accept a timetable for extensive reform of the government's regulatory program and agencies. May 14, 1976

Gerald Ford - 05/18/1976: Ford approves congressional revisions in the Feder…
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 18, 1976

Gerald Ford - 05/28/1976: Fords signs a treaty with the Soviet Union limitin…
Fords signs a treaty with the Soviet Union limiting underground nuclear testing. May 28, 1976

Gerald Ford - 06/20/1976: Following the murder of the American ambassador an…
Following the murder of the American ambassador and his aide, Ford orders the evacuation of 116 Americans and 146 third-country nationals from Lebanon. June 20, 1976

Gerald Ford - 07/04/1976: The nation celebrates its Bicentennial. President …
The nation celebrates its Bicentennial. President Ford speaks at Valley Forge and Independence Hall. July 04, 1976

Gerald Ford - 07/15/1976: Former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter wins the Demo…
Former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter wins the Democratic nomination for the presidency. July 15, 1976

Gerald Ford - 07/21/1976: Viking I lands on Mars
Viking I lands on Mars. July 21, 1976

Gerald Ford - 07/21/1976: The inflation rate drops from 12.2 in the latter m…
The inflation rate drops from 12.2 in the latter months of 1974 to 4.6 in the first six months of 1976. July 21, 1976

Gerald Ford - 08/06/1976: The Labor Department announces that employment has…
The Labor Department announces that employment has risen by 3.8 million people since March 1975. August 06, 1976

Gerald Ford - 08/19/1976: After a hard fought battle against former Governor…
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 19, 1976

Gerald Ford - 08/25/1976: James A. Baker becomes Ford’s campaign m…
James A. Baker becomes Ford's campaign manager. August 25, 1976

Gerald Ford - 09/09/1976: Mao Zedong dies, leaving China in a state of unres…
Mao Zedong dies, leaving China in a state of unrest. September 09, 1976

Gerald Ford - 09/13/1976: Ford signs the “sunshine” law and vetoes governmen…
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 13, 1976

Gerald Ford - 09/26/1976: The first Ford-Carter Debate, held in Philadelphia…
The first Ford-Carter Debate, held in Philadelphia's Walnut Theatre, centers on domestic policy. September 26, 1976

Gerald Ford - 10/06/1976: Carter wins the second debate in San Francisco, wi…
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 06, 1976

Gerald Ford - 10/12/1976: Ford is pelted with eggs by an antagonistic crowd …
Ford is pelted with eggs by an antagonistic crowd while campaigning in New York City. October 12, 1976

Gerald Ford - 10/21/1976: A Gallup poll shows Ford reducing the gap between …
A Gallup poll shows Ford reducing the gap between Carter and himself to 6 percent. October 21, 1976

Gerald Ford - 10/22/1976: The third presidential debate is held at the Colle…
The third presidential debate is held at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Carter edges ahead in the race. October 22, 1976

Gerald Ford - 11/02/1976: Jimmy Carter defeats Gerald Ford for the presidenc…
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 02, 1976

Gerald Ford - 11/07/1976: Peace is declared in Lebanon after more than fifty…
Peace is declared in Lebanon after more than fifty ceasefires and 35,000 deaths. November 07, 1976

Gerald Ford - 11/13/1976: As many as ninety members of Congress are implicat…
As many as ninety members of Congress are implicated in a scandal for accepting illegal gifts from an agent of the South Korean government. November 13, 1976

Gerald Ford - 12/15/1976: The administration announces that it plans to stor…
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 15, 1976

Gerald Ford - 12/31/1976: Ford proposes that Puerto Rico become the fifty-fi…
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

Gerald Ford - 12/31/1976: Inflation holds steady at a low 4.8 percent, the b…
Inflation holds steady at a low 4.8 percent, the best in four years, but high unemployment persists. December 31, 1976

Gerald Ford - 01/20/1977: Ford leaves Washington, D.C., after Jimmy Carter i…
Ford leaves Washington, D.C., after Jimmy Carter is inaugurated the thirty-ninth President of the United States. January 20, 1977