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Gerald Ford, President Following Watergate, Dies, 93

Gerald Rudolph Ford, the 38th President of the United States, died today, aged 93.

FordFord 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.

President Ford’s 1975 State of the Union Address

President Gerald R. Ford’s Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress Reporting on the State of the Union.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of the 94th Congress, and distinguished guests:

Twenty-six years ago, a freshman Congressman, a young fellow with lots of idealism who was out to change the world, stood before Sam Rayburn in the well of the House and solemnly swore to the same oath that all of you took yesterday–an unforgettable experience, and I congratulate you all.

Two days later, that same freshman stood at the back of this great Chamber–over there someplace–as President Truman, all charged up by his single-handed election victory, reported as the Constitution requires on the state of the Union.

When the bipartisan applause stopped, President Truman said, “I am happy to report to this 81st Congress that the state of the Union is good. Our Nation is better able than ever before to meet the needs of the American people, and to give them their fair chance in the pursuit of happiness. [It] is foremost among the nations of the world in the search for peace.”

Text Of President Ford’s Pardon Proclamation

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.

President Ford Pardons Richard Nixon

A month after taking office, President Gerald Ford addressed the nation on television to announce that he had decided to pardon Richard Nixon.

Listen to Ford read the pardon proclamation (1m)

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.

President Ford Announcing Nixon's PardonLadies 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.

Remarks By Gerald Ford On Taking the Oath Of Office As President

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)

Watergate.info
Malcolm Farnsworth
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