Ford, Gerald R. (1913–)

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FORD, GERALD R. (1913–)

Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr., a graduate of the University of Michigan and Yale University Law School, served in the house of representatives from 1949 to 1973. A moderately conservative Republican who opposed most social welfare legislation but supported all of the civil rights acts, Ford was his party's floor leader in the House from 1965 to 1973. Among his more controversial undertakings in that capacity was his attempt to secure the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice william o. douglas in 1970.

President richard m. nixon appointed Ford vice-president of the United States when the office fell vacant in 1973; this was the first application of procedures set forth in the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. When Nixon resigned the presidency in August 1974, Ford succeeded him, thereby becoming the first President to serve without winning a national election. In September 1974 Ford granted Nixon a full pardon for any offense against the United States that he might have committed while in office. (See watergate and the constitution.)

As President, Ford used the veto power extensively, disapproving some forty-eight bills. In 1974, after Congress failed to act, Ford granted conditional amnesty to vietnam war deserters and draft evaders, exercising the presidential pardoning power. His dispatch of Marines to free the freighter Mayaguez from Cambodia in May 1975 demonstrated that the "consultation" provisions of the war powers resolution of 1973 did not prevent the commander-in-chief from taking decisive action in an emergency. Ford sought election in his own right in 1976 but was narrowly defeated by jimmy carter.

Dennis J. Mahoney
(1986)