Gerald Rudolph Ford, the 38th President of the United States, died today, aged 93.
Ford was the oldest ever ex-president and the only man to assume the presidency without being elected.
Ford was appointed Vice-President in 1973, following the resignation of Spiro Agnew. He became President following Richard Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974. Attempting election in his own right, Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Ford’s most controversial decision as President was to grant a full pardon to Nixon on September 8, 1974.
Following Nixon’s resignation, the Republicans suffered heavy losses in the 1974 mid-term congressional elections.
In 1975, the little known Democratic Governor of Georgia, James Earl Carter, announced that he was running for president.
Carter’s insurgent outsider’s campaign propelled him to victory at the 1976 presidential election, defeating Gerald Ford.
Listen to Carter (15m)
President James Earl (“Jimmy”) Carter’s Inaugural Address
January 20, 1977
For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.
In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of our Nation. As my high school teacher, Miss Julia Coleman, used to say: “We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.”
This is the full text of President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4311, Granting a Pardon to Richard Nixon.
Listen to Ford read the pardon (1m)
Note: The proclamation granted Nixon a pardon for all offenses from January 20, 1969, the day he was first inaugurated as president. In reading the proclamation on national television, Ford inadvertently said ‘July 20’. The text of the proclamation takes precedence.
By the President of the United States of America a Proclamation
Richard Nixon became the thirty-seventh President of the United States on January 20, 1969 and was reelected in 1972 for a second term by the electors of forty-nine of the fifty states. His term in office continued until his resignation on August 9, 1974.
Note: The proclamation granted Nixon a pardon for all offences from January 20, 1969, the day he was first inaugurated as president. In reading the proclamation on national television, Ford inadvertently said ‘July 20’. The text of the proclamation takes precedence.
Text of President Ford’s Address to the Nation announcing Nixon’s pardon.
Ladies and gentlemen:
I have come to a decision which I felt I should tell you and all of my fellow American citizens, as soon as I was certain in my own mind and in my own conscience that it is the right thing to do.
I have learned already in this office that the difficult decisions always come to this desk. I must admit that many of them do not look at all the same as the hypothetical questions that I have answered freely and perhaps too fast on previous occasions.
My customary policy is to try and get all the facts and to consider the opinions of my countrymen and to take counsel with my most valued friends. But these seldom agree, and in the end, the decision is mine. To procrastinate, to agonize, and to wait for a more favorable turn of events that may never come or more compelling external pressures that may as well be wrong as right, is itself a decision of sorts and a weak and potentially dangerous course for a President to follow.
Nixon’s resignation letter was delivered to the Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, at 11.35am on August 9, 1974, by Assistant to the President, Alexander Haig.
Ford was sworn in shortly afterwards. The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White House following administration of the oath of office by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. The oath of office and the President’s remarks were broadcast live on radio and television.
Listen to Ford take the Oath of Office and to his Following Remarks (10m)
A President Is Impeachable If He Attempts To Subvert The Constitution
This is the speech given by Representative Barbara Jordan (Democrat-Texas) reminding her colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee of the Constitutional basis for impeachment. The Committee met in Washington, D.C.
Listen to Barbara Jordan (13m)
Watch Barbara Jordan (13m)
Speech by Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) to the House Judiciary Committee.
I join in thanking you for giving the junior members of this committee the glorious opportunity of sharing the pain of this inquiry. Mr. Chairman, you are a strong man and it has not been easy but we have tried as best we can to give you as much assistance as possible.
Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, “We, the people.” It is a very eloquent beginning. But when the document was completed on the seventeenth of September 1787 I was not included in that “We, the people.” I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in “We, the people.”
The case of United States vs. Nixon was a pivotal moment in Watergate that led directly to the resignation of the President.
In April 1974, the Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, obtained a subpoena that ordered Nixon to hand over a number of White House tape recordings and other papers.
Nixon turned over edited transcripts of 43 conversations. These included portions only of 20 tapes demanded by Jaworski. Nixon then sought to have the subpoena quashed. Judge John Sirica ordered Nixon to turn the tapes over by May 31. The matter was then appealed to the Supreme Court by Nixon and Jaworski.
This is the text of President Nixon’s last State of the Union Address.
This was Nixon’s fifth State of the Union address. Towards the end of the speech, Nixon raised Watergate, declaring: “I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough.”
Nixon resigned as president six months later.
Listen to Nixon’s Address (45m)
Transcript of President Nixon’s final State of the Union Address.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, my colleagues in the Congress, our distinguished guests, my fellow Americans:
We meet here tonight at a time of great challenge and great opportunities for America. We meet at a time when we face great problems at home and abroad that will test the strength of our fiber as a nation. But we also meet at a time when that fiber has been tested, and it has proved strong.