Why did Gerald Ford forgive Richard Nixon

Who Was Gerald Ford?

Gerald Ford, who had just been sworn in as the 38th President of the United States, uttered remarkable words in his inaugural address: “I will take over the presidency under exceptional circumstances. This is an hour in history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts. "

And every American who watched the inauguration procedure in front of the White House on August 9, 1974 in front of the country's television screens knew what that meant.

Gerald Ford stepped into the In the footsteps of his controversial predecessorRichard Nixon, who stumbled upon the Watergate scandal and was chased out of office not least by public opinion.

Profile: Gerald Ford

  • Surname: Gerald Rudolph Ford

  • Date of birth: July 14, 1913
  • Place of birth: Omaha, Nebraska
  • Spouse:Betty Ford (married 1948-2006)
  • Children:Steven Ford (son), Susan Ford (daughter), John Ford (son), Michael Gerald Ford (son)
  • Parents: Leslie Lynch King Sr., Dorothy Ayer Gardner Ford
  • Siblings: Richard Addison Ford (Brother), Leslie Henry King (Brother), Thomas Gardner Ford (Brother), Patricia Jane King (Sister), James Francis Ford (Brother), Marjorie King (Sister)
  • Star sign: cancer
  • Date of death: December 26, 2006
  • Place of death: Rancho Mirage, California
  • Term of office as President:August 9, 1974 - January 20, 1977
  • Website:Portrait on whitehouse.gov

Childhood and adolescence

His parents' marriage was under the worst possible star

The man of clear words was born as Leslie Lynch King junior on July 14, 1913 in Omaha / Nebraska. He was the one Son of a businessmanwho attended the Missouri Military Academy but couldn't get on with his life. King senior apparently tended to be angry and his marriage to his wife Dorothy Ayer Gardner, who was eight years his junior, was under the worst possible star. Shortly after their marriage, the newlyweds left their apartment and moved to live with their parents in Grand Rapids, east of Lake Michigan.

The young mother left the house 16 days after the birth

But one day she returned to her husband and lived with him in a basement apartment in Omaha, on the border with the state of Iowa. By the time Leslie Lynch King Jr. was born, his parents' marriage had all but collapsed. Sixteen days after the birth, the young mother left the house again after her husband threatened her with a butcher's knife. Dorothy Ayer Gardner died three years later second marriage covenant and married Gerald Rudolff Ford, who was employed in his parents' business and dealt in paints and varnishes. After the wedding, Ford gave his three-year-old stepson his name. He later changed his middle name from "Rudolff" to "Rudolph" and left it with an "R" for his entire life, as is customary in the USA. However, Ford junior was not officially adopted by his stepfather.

A brief meeting with the biological father in a restaurant

Ford's biological father became more and more alcoholic and ignored court requests for alimony for his son. After all, it was Leslie Lynch King's parents who stepped in with the transfers. It was only shortly before the age of 15 that young Gerald, who grew up with his three younger brothers, found out about the identity of his father. The first encounter with Leslie Lynch King came when Gerald was helping out as a second grader in a restaurant in Grand Rapids. His father went to Michigan to pick up a car. In the said restaurant there should have been a brief conversation between father and son.

A star on the South High School football team

Leslie Lynch King, who never paid child support, reportedly gave his son $ 25 at that meeting. It was that only memorythat Gerald Ford had to his father. He died on February 18, 1941 in Tucson / Arizona. However, his son was reluctant to assess the character traits of his father. He is said to have once said of his birth father: "He was a carefree man who, however, did not really care about the hopes and dreams of his firstborn son." In one of the numerous biographies about the future President of the United States, it says on the South High School in Grand Rapids was said to have noticed his athletic talent very early on. Gerald Ford was something of a star on his school's football team.

education and study

Student of Economics at the University of Michigan

His sporty appearance and probably especially his sporting talent helped the young Gerald Rudolph Ford on his further path. He received admission from the University of Michigan one day and studied economics there. Since his parents weren't particularly wealthy, he took on a number of different jobs during his studies, but playing with the football pill was and remained his passion. In 1932 and 1933 he was repeatedly appointed to the university selection and in 1934 was honored as their most valuable player. At the annual All-Stars Game of East-West College in San Francisco, he played for the benefit of the Shrine Crippled Children's Hospital and in August 1935 at Soldier Field against the strong team of the Chicago Bears.

Two American professional football clubs vied for his favor

When Ford was called to the White House many years later, it could be read that none of the US presidents before him had such an athletic vita. The young man with the figure of an athlete was even about to join a professional football team. The Detroit Lions and Wisconsin Green Bay Packers knocked on his door, but Ford decided to continue his career as a boxing coach and assistant to the football selection at the prestigious Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Secretly he was hoping, in this national elite forge, in which five American presidents had received their training Law Faculty to visit.

Strong advocate at Yale and a first step into politics

However, Gerald R. Ford got into trouble with Yale University because of those sideline coaching jobs that earned him $ 2,400 a year. At first she refused him Admission to law studiesalthough he had two advocates with future Senators William Proxmire and Robert Taft, Jr., whom he coached. In the spring of 1938, Ford finally achieved his goal and graduated three years later as one of the best in his class. At this point, Ford had already taken his first step into politics, because in 1940 he was part of the Wendell Willkies team in his presidential campaign. Willkies was a co-founder of the "Freedom House", an institution that pursued the goal of cultivating liberal ideas worldwide. When he reached out for the presidency, however, he failed because of the incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Interesting encounters and a relationship with a model

The station and time at Yale University was for Gerald R. Ford from groundbreaking importance. Also because he met people there who would belong to the American elite in the future. Among others, these were the future Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Potter Stewart, who served as a judge of the Supreme Court. But Ford junior had fallen in love with a blonde student named Phyllis Brown. She attended Connecticut College of Women and planned a career as a modeling. After a four-year relationship, the two split because Ford wanted to join a law firm in his old home, Grand Rapids, while Phyllis Brown stayed in New York.

Professional activity and time in the Navy

On board the aircraft carrier "Monterrey" in the South Pacific

The Second World War raged in distant Europe. That, too, was a reason for Gerald Ford to deal intensively with politics. In Michigan, his old friend and future White House attorney, Philip Buchen, became a trusted partner in the increasingly successful law firm. Ford made no secret of his sympathy for the Republican Party and soon joined a group called the “Home Front”, whose members saw themselves as “reformers”. In April 1942, Ford received the Called up to serve in the US Navy and from then on served on board the aircraft carrier "Monterrey" in the South Pacific. It was the time America was struggling to overcome the trauma of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Apparently Ford convinced as a reliable officer and returned from the war against the Japanese with ten stars.

Member of a new law firm and a love for life

At the latest in the skirmishes with the Japanese Navy, the conviction grew at Ford that he had to serve his country as a politician and that the United States played its role as "World policeman" had to be fair. When the guns fell silent in Europe and Ford was back in Grand Rapids, he joined a law firm called Butterfield, Keeney and Amberg. It was the time he was courting thirty-year-old Elizabeth Ann Bloomer. She was employed as a fashion coordinator in the local department store "Herpoltsheimer’s" and after five years of marriage she had an amicable separation behind her. For Gerald R. Ford she was "the Betty", and he also adored her for her charisma. Elizabeth Ann Bloomer had worked for some time on the New York team of the legendary Martha Graham, who revolutionized American dance.

The wedding with the former dancer has been postponed several times

On October 15, 1948, "Betty" and Gerald were married at Grace Espiscopal Church in Grand Rapids. There were exciting times for the young lawyer, who had just applied for a seat in the United States House of Representatives. Therefore, the wedding was postponed again and again because the Ford employees were not sure how the so-called public opinion would react if the marriage of the candidate for office to a former dancer became public. Ford had knocked on numerous doors during his campaign and traveled to local farmers. There he had lost a bet that would result in him having to milk cows for two weeks if he won the election.

Political rise of Gerald R. Ford

"I returned home from the war as an internationalist ..."

Gerald Ford came up with a simple but ultimately convincing strategy when applying for the seat in the House of Representatives. His time in the Navy changed his view of things, and he loathed the fact that some politicians had shirked military service. And so he let his constituents know: “I came home from the war as a converted internationalist. In contrast, my rival Bartel J. Jonkman was a committed isolationist during this period. I think it should be replaced… ”Surely it was that too Straightforwardness of his thinking, which ultimately convinced the voters.

Seat and vote in the powerful approval committee

Ford's voters sent him to the House of Representatives for a total of 25 years. There he was given a seat and vote in the powerful grant committee, which oversaw all state expenditure and where the young member of parliament got intensive insights into the actions and opportunities of politics. Gerald R. Ford pursued one for many opponents inviolable strategy. According to this, American foreign policy should be radically anti-communist. And in order to achieve these goals, he supported not only the presidents of his party but also those of the Democrats. He succeeded almost effortlessly in working together with the members of the opposing party. That earned him a lot of sympathy. At the same time, he cemented his reputation for being a tenacious worker.

With four children from the provinces in a suburb of Virginia

In the eyes of the general public, as well as those of MPs from both parties, Gerald Ford was something like that Prime example of a loyal, honest, and kind Republican. Virtues that may have come from an intact home environment. From his marriage to his "Betty" four children saw the light of day: Michael, John, Steven and Susan. Meanwhile, the Fords had moved from the provincial aura of Grand Rapids to a suburb of Virginia, just outside Washington. Betty got used to her role at the side of an MP surprisingly quickly and supported her husband as an unofficial advisor. In addition, she volunteered for some charitable organizations.

An office he never wanted to aspire to: President of the Senate

Several times Ford refused to run for the Senate or for the office of governor of Michigan. Rather, it was his goal Speaker of the House of Representatives to become. He first came into contact with Richard Nixon, the future President of the United States, in 1960. Ford was supposed to support his campaign and he sometimes referred to Nixon as his "friend". By then he had given up on his dream of becoming House Speaker because the Republicans lacked a majority. And so he finally became what he actually didn't want to be: President of the Senate.

A dedicated opponent of President Lyndon B. Johnson's policies

On a number of occasions on his political path, Ford was supported by a younger group within his party called the Young Turks. Not least thanks to these “Young Turks”, Ford became one Key player the Republican Party. He was a man who brilliantly knew how to draw and overcome the ideological curve between the political extremes. During the reign of President Lyndon B. Johnson, he was a committed opponent who opposed almost all national bills. It was the President himself who entrusted Gerald R. Ford with the management of the Warren Commission after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in order to clarify the background to the attack.

Nixon and the process of detente with the Soviet Union

In 1972, when Germany was hosting the Summer Olympics in Munich, a time began for Gerald Ford when events rolled over and people in the United States had doubts as to whether they could still trust the politics and politicians of their country . President Richard Nixon had taken initiatives to get the process of detente with the Soviet Union moving. Besides, he was around a gradual US rapprochement with China tried hard. Ford supported these initiatives. Nixon succeeded in his re-election as president, and Ford barely struggled to be re-elected to Congress. Ford told his family that he would retire from Congress five years later.

Suspicious noises on the doors of the Watergate Hotel

But the re-elected American President Richard Nixon was apparently a gambler. He toyed with the feelings of those who had elected him to this high office and he abused the fullness of his power. It was June 17, 1972 when the night watchman Frank Mills set out on his evening tour of the extensive building complex on the Potomac River. The Watergate Hotel housed 29 Democratic Party offices on the sixth floor. This was their headquarters. When Frank Mills heard some strange noises, he called the police. And the law enforcement officers arrested five burglars who were tampering with the party door. At the time, no one suspected that this failed attempt to break into the Democratic command center would eventually lead to the overthrow of the American president.

Two journalists on the trail of a political intrigue

The next day there were a few lines to read about the strange break-in at the Watergate Hotel in the renowned “New York Times”, hidden between the advertisements of a furniture company. The fact that the prevented intruders were equipped with numerous eavesdropping techniques and that one of them was once in the service of the CIA quickly caught the attention of editors Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post. You started with one extensive research and encountered all sorts of inconsistencies. Among other things, they found out that said CIA employee was now acting as security chief on the staff of Richard Nixon. From then on, at the latest, all the alarm bells rang for the two journalists. They sensed more than just a good story. Rather, they were convinced that it was a solid one Political scandal to get on the track. Their persistence would pay off as they were on the trail of the biggest and dirtiest political intrigue in US history.

President Nixon was facing impeachment

Gradually it came to light that President Richard Nixon himself was the Mastermind and who was probably also the person who commissioned this break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic Party. With all means at his disposal, Nixon tried to cover up the act. He even ordered the CIA to order the FBI to immediately stop all investigations. In doing so, the president got tangled up in lies, and the illegal activities of the incumbent administration were not hidden from the American public. On August 9, 1974, Nixon faced impeachment proceedings and resigned. The specter of the Watergate scandal had by no means vanished into thin air and haunted Americans for many years to come.

Spiro Agnew and the allegations of bribery and tax evasion

Curiously, Gerald Ford benefited twice from a resignation. Nixon’s deputy, Spiro Agnew, resigned nine months after Richard Nixon's second term began. That was considered polarizing figure in American politics and, like Donald Trump fifty years later, was extremely suspicious of the media. The son of Greek immigrants stumbled upon an investigation from his time as governor of Maryland. He was charged with taking bribes for public procurement. He was also accused in a lawsuit of evading taxes. The allegations did not allow a stay in the office of Vice President. For the first time in US history, the 25th Amendment to the Constitution came into force. Richard Nixon named Congressman Gerald R. Ford vice president.

Presidency (1974-1977)

Ford had nothing to do with Nixon's cover-ups

It was the unreserved popularity he enjoyed as a longtime member of Congress that lifted him to this high office. He was confirmed overwhelmingly and was Vice President of the United States from December 6, 1973. Of course, he had no idea that he would succeed Richard Nixon ten months later. Gerald R. Ford has never been accused of participating in the President's cover-ups. It had nothing to do with the Watergate scandal, which permanently changed the relationship between the Americans and their government. When Nixon resigned, Ford had been in office for just eight months. He had defended the Nixon administration for a long time, but when the network around the president tightened, he publicly criticized his staff. He also urged Nixon to hand over incriminating tape recordings to the Supreme Court.

First official acts: an apology and a pardon

When Nixon resigned from office, this was it unique in history of the United States. Never before has an American president resigned voluntarily. Immediately after his inauguration, Ford endeavored to calm the shaken public of his country. He did so by saying, “Our long national nightmare is over. Our constitution works, and our great republic is a government of the law. ”On the one hand, he apologized for Nixon's violations of the law - on the other hand, he pardoned his predecessor and saved him from prosecution. Ford resisted allegations that this amnesty was agreed with Nixon to pave his way into the White House.

Smoothed waves and the withdrawal of soldiers from Vietnam

Gerald Ford now had two and a half years to smooth things over and get the ailing American economy going again. A looming inflation led to a flight of capital abroad. As a result, the Ford government lowered income tax and increased the levy on imported oil. With a $ 25 billion program he wanted to give new impetus to the training and education of American youth. On foreign policy he worked closely with Henry Kissinger, and he signed the Helsinki Final Act, with which the participating states assured themselves the inviolability of their borders. It was an important first step towards international relaxation and the dismantling of ideological walls. Ford also carried out the withdrawal of American soldiers from Vietnam, which had already been used under Nixon.

Two black days in 1975: assassinations were foiled

The year 1975 brought the president some black days, because he was twice Target of foiled assassinations. On September 5, 1975, a sympathizer of the mass murderer Charles Manson tried to kill Ford. The Secret Service, which is subordinate to the Department of Homeland Security in America, received information about the impending attack in good time. 17 days later, Ford was the target of a certain Sara Jane Moore in San Francisco, who fired a shot at the President from twelve meters in front of the St. Francis Hotel, but missed it. A passerby grabbed the assassin, who was later sentenced to life imprisonment.

The lost election against Democrat Jimmy Carter

After the political changes in Southeast Asia with the collapse of Cambodia and South Vietnam, Gerald R. Ford tried hard to maintain the US's reputation and claims to power in this region. In addition, it remained a declared aim of his policy to avoid another war in the Middle East. With economic support he convinced Egypt and Israel from Conclusion of a ceasefire agreement. His meetings with the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev also went down in the history books. In 1976 he was elected by the Republicans as a candidate for a new presidency, but then lost narrowly to his Democratic rival Jimmy Carter from Georgia.

The time in the Oval Office is the culmination of a political career

The American public was convinced that the outgoing and never-elected president was by no means particularly saddened to have lost the country's most important vote. Rather, after such a long time in Congress and then also in the White House, Gerald Ford had become somewhat politically tired. Ford considered the brief period in the Oval Office to be Coronation and conclusion of his political career. After all, he had done his part in convincing the Americans of the soundness of his official acts after the political scandal surrounding Richard Nixon. He had ended a nightmare and proved that the US Constitution was working.

After the presidency

$ 330 for a role in the television series "Denver Clan"

Now, after retiring from active politics, Ford was on the threshold of retirement age at 63, but he remained a restless spirit and an ambitious worker. He earned millions as a board member and consultant in several international American companies. His most important business partners included the “20th Century Fox Film Corporation” and the credit card giant “American Express”. Every now and then he was persuaded to appear as a speaker at events for not exactly small fees. The 38th President of the United States cashed in handsome fortune and received a pension of $ 106,000 a year from the state. He wasn't too bad to take on a small role in the television series "Denver Clan" and to charge a salary of $ 330 for it.

Founder of the AEI World Forum in Vail / Beaver Creek

In 1982 Ford founded the AEI World Forum in Vail / Beaver Creek, Colorado. They met there once a year former and current world auditors and chartered accountantsto exchange views on political and social guidelines. Some of the important topics that were dealt with there included Soviet-American relations and the prospect of German reunification. Over the years, the sprightly retiree became a partner in a shopping center, a real estate company and the air freight company Tiger International.

Sympathies for recreational sports - golf and skiing

In addition to his troubled retirement, Gerald R. Ford still found enough time to devote himself to things that he was seldom able to do during his political career. He discovered his passion for golf and was to be found on the ski slopes of the Rocky Mountains during the cold season. His wife Betty had long since left hers former alcohol addiction that she successfully fought off with a long-term rehabilitation at Long Beach Naval Hospital. The former First Lady of the USA later founded the “Betty Ford Center” in California, a clinic for drug and alcohol addicts. In this center, which was run by the Ford daughter Susan, among others, the film actress Elisabeth Taylor was treated.

Honors and afterlife

The "Medal of Freedom" from the hand of Bill Clinton

Gerald Ford received numerous honors and awards after his political days. Citizens' organizations honored the former president, and some universities awarded him honorary doctorates. In 1999 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor that the United States of America can bestow. This was to recognize Ford's contribution to safeguarding national interests and world peace. The medal was presented to him by the incumbent American President Bill Clinton. In 1907, an aircraft carrier just put into service in the United States Navy was named "USS Gerald R. Ford".

"Not the greatest US president - but the right one at the right time"

On December 26, 2006, Gerald R. Ford closed his eyes forever at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. He had withdrawn very much in the last years of his life and was only seen to attend church services in the Anglican Margaret Church. 60,000 people passed his coffin, and at a state ceremony in Washington the incumbent American President George W. Bush paid tribute to him with the words: "He was a man of character, courage and humility". He found his final resting place in his hometown of Grand Rapids on the grounds of the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum. An obituary in the Süddeutsche Zeitung read: "He was not the greatest President of the USA - but he was the right one at the right time ..."

Frequent questions and answers

How long was Gerald Ford US President?

Gerald Ford was US President for exactly 895 days between 1974 and 1977.

When did Gerald Ford die?

Gerald Ford died on December 26, 2006.

Who was Vice President under Gerald Ford?

Former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

When was Gerald Ford born?

Gerald Ford was born on July 14, 1913.