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Gerald R. Ford

— 38th President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery

 

SUCCEEDED FROM: Michigan
POLITICAL PARTY:
Republican
TERM:
August 9, 1974 to January 20, 1977

BORN: July 14, 1913
BIRTHPLACE:
Omaha, Nebraska
DIED:
December 27, 2006
OCCUPATION: Lawyer, congressman
MARRIED:
Elizabeth Bloomer, 1948
CHILDREN:
Michael Gerald, John Gardner, Steven Meigs, Susan Elizabeth

Gerald Ford became president under the strangest circumstances in the history of the office.

When Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon's vice president, was forced to resign that office because of a scandal that resulted from actions during his term as governor of Maryland, Ford was named to replace Agnew.Then, when Nixon resigned under the threat of impeachment, Ford became president.

Ford's administration tried to help heal the wounds of the Vietnam war when he offered a full pardon for draft evaders and deserters if they would swear an oath of allegiance to the United States and perform two years of public service.

In a still controversial move, Ford granted a full pardon to Nixon, saying the country had suffered enough.

Although Ford had a distinguished career as a congressman from Michigan, he could not distance himself from Nixon's disgrace and lost a close election in 1976 to Jimmy Carter.

Ford grew up in a middle class family. He was a healthy, industrious youth who helped out with the chores.

When he was 12 or 13, Ford's parents told him he was adopted. He first met his biological father when he was 17 and would see him only one other time. Young Ford was bitter about his wealthy father's indifference toward him. He called their first meeting the most traumatic experience of his youth.

In high school, Ford was named to the National Honor Society while holding down part-time jobs frying burgers and working in an amusement park. He was a star center for his high school football team who went on to win All American honors at the University of Michigan. Both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers offered him a contract to play professionally, but he rejected their offers so he could study law.

Ford also was a model for a short time and appeared on the cover of "Cosmopolitan" and inside "Look" magazine.

Ford served in the Navy during World War II. He was elected U.S. representative from Michigan in 1945, a job he kept until he was appointed Richard Nixon's vice president in 1973.

Ford survived two separate assassination attempts in September, 1975. He spent his retirement writing his memoirs and maintaining an active speaking schedule. President Ford died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California on December 26, 2006 at the age of 93.


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