Gerald Ford Biography

(38th President of the United States (1974 - 1977))

Birthday: July 14, 1913 (Cancer)

Born In: Omaha, Nebraska, United States

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was the 38th President of the United States and served from 1974 to 1977. Prior to becoming the president he was the Vice President serving under President Richard Nixon. He became the president following Nixon’s resignation in 1974 following investigations into Nixon's involvement in the Watergate scandal. Ford inherited a government mired in controversies and came to the helm as the President during a period of great political turmoil. The United States was going through a period of skyrocketing inflation and recession in the 1970s and the American economy was at a low. One of the immediate actions he took upon assuming office was to create the Economic Policy Board by Executive Order in order to control inflation and set the pace for economic growth. He also took steps to control the rising rate of unemployment which had reached nine percent by 1975. He was not too keen to run for office in 1976 though he reluctantly agreed. He was defeated by the former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, in the presidential election and stepped down from office in 1977 after having served an 895-day presidency. He remained active in politics for long after stepping down from the presidency. Ford lived longer than any other U.S. president, dying at the age of 93 years and 165 days.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr., Leslie Lynch King Jr

Died At Age: 93


Spouse/Ex-: Betty Ford

father: Leslie Lynch King Sr.

mother: Dorothy Ayer Gardner Ford

siblings: James Francis Ford, Leslie Henry King, Marjorie King, Patricia Jane King, Richard Addison Ford, Thomas Gardner Ford

children: John Gardner Ford, Michael Gerald Ford, Steven Ford, Susan Ford

Born Country: United States

Quotes By Gerald Ford Presidents

political ideology: Political party - Republican

Died on: December 26, 2006

place of death: Rancho Mirage, California, United States

Notable Alumni: Yale Law School, University Of Michigan Law School

Cause of Death: Cerebrovascular Disease

Ancestry: British American

U.S. State: Nebraska

City: Omaha, Nebraska

Ideology: Republicans

More Facts

education: Yale Law School, University Of Michigan Law School

awards: 1999 - Presidential Medal of Freedom
1985 - Old Tom Morris Award
2001 - Profile in Courage Award

1970 - Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
1977 - Francis Boyer Award

Childhood & Early Life

Gerald Ford was born as Leslie Lynch King Jr., on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Dorothy Ayer Gardner, and Leslie Lynch King Sr. His biological father was an alcoholic and an abusive man who used to beat his wife. Fearing for her safety and that of her newborn child, Dorothy left her husband and went to live with her relatives.

Dorothy later married a salesman named Gerald Rudolff Ford who adopted her son and gave him his name. This marriage produced three more sons. Gerald’s stepfather was a great person and Gerald received a loving upbringing along with his younger half-brothers.

He grew up to be an athletic young boy and was the captain of his football team while attending Grand Rapids South High School. He was also selected to the All-City team of the Grand Rapids City League.

He attended the University of Michigan where he continued playing football. A versatile player, he played center, linebacker, and long snapper for the school's football team. He graduated in 1935 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.

In spite of being a great football player, he decided to pursue a legal career instead of a sporting one. He enrolled at the Yale Law School in 1938 and graduated in 1941 with an L.L.B. degree and was admitted to the Michigan Bar shortly thereafter.

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Gerald Ford teamed up with a friend to open a law practice in May 1941. However, World War II which had begun in 1939 was intensifying and Ford enlisted in the Navy to serve his country.

He served in the South Pacific and was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade in June 1942 and to Lieutenant in March 1943. From April 1945 to January 1946, he was on the staff of the Naval Reserve Training Command, Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois as the Staff Physical and Military Training Officer, and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in October 1945. He resigned from the Naval Reserve in June 1946.

He had been interested in politics for quite some time now and won his first elective office as a Republican congressman from Michigan in 1948. He held the congressional district seat from 1949 to 1973 and largely dealt with issues on foreign policy, the military, spending, the space program, and the Warren Commission over the course of his 25-year-long career.

In 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew came under scrutiny for criminal charges of tax evasion and money laundering filed against him. Disgraced, he resigned from his position on October 10, 1973.

President Richard Nixon then nominated Gerald Ford as the new vice president under the provisions of the Constitution's 25th Amendment. Ford had a reputation for being an honest man and his clean image played a major role in his nomination. Ford was officially sworn in as the 40th Vice President of the United States on December 6, 1973.

In mid-1974, evidence of President Nixon’s involvement in the infamous Watergate scandal began to crop up and the President tendered his resignation on August 8, 1974. The very next day, on August 9, 1974, Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States.

Ford came to power at a tumultuous time in American politics. Shortly after assuming office, he announced a conditional amnesty program for those who had evaded the draft or deserted during the Vietnam War. In a controversial move, he granted a presidential pardon to former President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal.

The economy of the United States was at a very low point at that time. The inflation rate and unemployment were both on the rise, and the economy was going through a recession. He created the Economic Policy Board by Executive Order on September 30, 1974, in an attempt to control inflation.

He urged the general public to reduce their spending and consumption as it was necessary to control public spending in order to rein in inflation. Ford called this program "Whip Inflation Now" (WIN), and asked the public to wear “WIN” buttons and take pledges to show their support for the program.

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As the 1976 presidential election approached, Ford was not too keen on running for office. Nonetheless, he decided to run. He faced the Democrat Jimmy Carter, former governor of Georgia, and lost to him.

Gerald Ford stepped down as the president on January 20, 1977, after an 895-day presidency which remains the shortest term of all presidents who did not die in office. He remained relatively active in politics for a long period thereafter.

Major Works

As President, Gerald Ford created the Economic Policy Board in order to deal with the precarious economic situation. He called on the American public to reduce their spending to rein in inflation.

Awards & Achievements

As a World War II veteran, Gerald Ford was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

He was awarded the Lone Sailor Award by the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation for his naval service and his subsequent government service in 1992.

In 2001, he was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for his pardon of Nixon.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1948, Gerald Ford married Elizabeth Ann "Betty", a former dancer and fashion model. She had previously been married to and divorced from an abusive man. Gerald and Betty had a happy marriage that lasted 58 years until Gerald's death. They had four children.

Ford survived two assassination attempts while he was the President. The attackers in both cases were arrested and taken into custody before they could harm him.

Gerald Ford lived a long life and died on December 26, 2006, after having lived for 93 years and 165 days, making him the longest-lived U.S. President. He suffered from arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular disease and diffuse arteriosclerosis during his last days.

See the events in life of Gerald Ford in Chronological Order

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