Ford may not be the most important president during his time, but he did more than some
presidents did for the people. One of them was raising their spirits and hopes for the
people to the government. He helped people gain confidence in their president again after
losing confidence with Nixon. He set new records and started getting the United States on
its feet again after having a very hard time in the past. He started his presidency with
an oath on August 9, 1974 which he said - "Our long national nightmare is over (4,
page 422)" which started his presidency.
Ford had a more interesting early life than he had during his presidency. He was born
in Omaha Nebraska on July 14, 1913. He wasn't always called Gerald Ford, his original name
was Leslie Lynch King Jr. His parents were Leslie and Dorothy King. When his parents got
divorced while he was two, his mother married a man named Gerald R. Ford from whom he got
his most widely known name. Together, they moved to Grand Rapids Michigan (1, Page 1).
During his High School years, he was the most popular Senior having been a great athlete
and competing within 5 sports, his best being Football. Being good at Football, he got a
M.V.P, a scholarship to Michigan with a Football scholarship and was offered a contract by
the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. He finally took a job as assistant Football
coach at Yale.
While at Yale, he became interested in law and asked to take courses. He was soon
invited to learn law in the college and didn't graduate till he was 27 because of his late
start. 1941, he set up a practice in Grand Rapids Michigan which closed after World War II
(4, page 145). He joined the Navy and was discharged as lieutenant commander.
He married Elizabeth Bloomer Warren and entered the Republican primary in Michigan
during 1948. November, he was elected to the House of Representatives and was reelected
every two years till 1973. In the House, he was know to be a moderately conservative,
hardworking member of the Republican Party. In 1965, he was the Republican House
leader.(1,page1) While in the House of Representatives, he announced:
"A Republican of the President's domestic policies...It's going to be rough going
for him around here. Congress will write the laws, not the executive branch." (3,
After Agnew resigned, Ford was then nominated as Vice President from the House of
Representatives. About six months later, The Watergate scandal forced Nixon to resign.
Ford set records as the 1st president in history who had not been chosen in a national
election as President or Vice-President. He soon pardoned Nixon for the crimes he might of
commited during office. Ford wanted people to look ahead and stop worrying about Nixon and
Watergate. As soon as he got in office, the country had an economic slump which had a
recession combined with inflation causing a stagflation. He had other problems too, he had
a running battle with the Democratic Congress. He had vetoed 61 bills and had 12 vetoes
overridden. The government was pretty much deadlocked.
The government had some things happen while he was in office. South Vietnam collapsed
to North Vietnam in 1975 ending the 'war' there. Ford offered a conditional amnesty to
Vietnam draft evaders. There was the overthrow of the Lon Nol regime in Cambodia Kampuchea
by Communist forces. There was a successful rescue attempt for the recapture of the U.S.
Freighter Mayaguez and its crew which were seized by Cambodian forces. We got the people
back safe (1, Page 2).
His economic plan was initialed W.I.P. This meant Wip Inflation Now. This said that
average people could beat inflation if we all worked together. This plan was meant to
include everyone in fighting the rising economic problems. He even received personal mail
which said that people were listening about what he had said to them about the W.I.P. idea
and what it stood for.
Ford was know during these years as someone who brought new openness to the White House
and how he turned the United States around for the better (4, Page 146). He was also known
to let things work themselves out and how he made a firm and an instant decision. He was a
great leader. It's not easy to be classified as a great leader. You must have some
important elements in you. One of them being an element of ruthlessness and toughness. You
also must have a cold- bloodedless that sacrifices dear friendship so you don't get caught
up with the past and do move on. The last and probably most important element is the
element of iron determination which means the person is determined to reach something and
will get it done no matter what is the cost.
Ford by no doubt turned the government around by fixing the duplicities of Vietnam, the
deceptions of Watergate, and a general loss in confidence within elected leaders in
Washington. He didn't accomplish this by being special, or rich, or using special
abilities or people. He was just a regular guy who changed the country. He was best know
to be decent, honest, hard-working, and was even known as "too nice a guy." He
boasted he had adversaries and no enemies. He was a good Christian who hated to hurt
people. Known as "Good old Jerry", he was a good, polite politician. (2, page
Ford's family life helped him gain acceptance to the people of America. One of the more
famous Ford's (probably more famous) was Betty Ford. Betty had her problems but she was
not afraid to share them with the public. She had several troubles during Ford's
presidency such as a nervous breakdown. She was overdosing on pills and alcohol causing
it. When she told the public, they didn't hate her for her problem, no, they understood
what stress a wife of the president must give a woman. Betty Ford also had another
problem. This being Breast Cancer, she also told the public. The public admired her
honesty with them as well as Gerald's. Reporters followed the family everywhere they went
and covered news on anything new that was happening within this ordinary family. The
reporters followed the Ford's while they were on vacation in Vail, Colorado and the
reporters were present when Gerald's golden retriever had puppies.
Ford didn't act president as he was in office. He acted like an ordinary person, too.
He loved to ski and he often swam twice a day. He golfed while in office and was very
good. He never liked reading. Instead, he watched Football on T.V. He always was a
sporting person and even went to that section of the newspaper first. He liked strange
food making him unique. His favorite dish was cottage cheese smothered in catsup. For
dessert, he liked Pecan Ice Cream with peach slices (4, Page 146).
Election of 1978
Ford was God-Fearing and very patriotic. He was a proud American. These things made him
run in the upcoming election. He wanted to be elected on his own to prove to himself that
he had done a good job and the public had thought so, too. He often said such things to
"I don't care what the polls say, it's the right thing to do. Whatever the
election outcome, I think it is best for the country" (2, Page 421)
He lost the election, unfortunately, to Carter because during the campaign the
Halloween Massacre came about around Halloween and turned many people against him causing
a very close election which showed how separated Americans were at this time.
Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. now spends the remaining years of his life in California and is
an active Republican Member. (4, Page 147)
As you have read in the above pages, Ford was an important man who has changed history
for the good. He might not of done much to make him as famous as other presidents such as
Kennedy, Reagan or Good 'ole Abe Lincoln, but he did raise the spirits and sights of many
millions of Americans for the Good.
1. Prodigy "Ford, Gerald" Grolier Encyclopedia 1992, pp. 1-3
2. Hartmann, Robert T. Palace Politics New York - Robert T. Hartmann Press 1980
3. Carter, Douglas "Power in Washington" Newsweek, November 21, 1966 pp. 29
4. Bumann, Joan and Patterson, John 40 President's Facts Ohio, Willowsip Press 1981