“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
“There are no adequate substitutes for father, mother, and children bound together in a loving commitment to nurture and protect. No government, no matter how well-intentioned, can take the place of the family.”
“Tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time.”
Gerald Ford, our 38th President, was never elected as President or Vice-President. He had served as a congressman for more than 25 years when Richard Nixon asked him to replace Vice President, Spiro Agnew, who resigned from office after being accused of taking bribes. When Nixon resigned a few months later, Ford became President.
Gerald Ford had his work cut out for him. The Vietnam War had ended, but many Americans felt disillusioned and bitter about it. The economy was a mess and unemployment rates were high. Ford’s first goal was to restore trust in the government and improve unity. He pardoned Nixon for his crimes, a decision that angered people. Ford believed that a lengthy trial for Nixon would only prolong feelings of anxiety and turmoil. He wanted a quick solution so the country could move on.
- Gerald Ford was born July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska.
- He was originally named Leslie Lynch King. His parents divorced soon after his birth. His mother married Gerald Rudolph Ford, who adopted the baby and changed his name.
- Ford grew up in a working-class family. He mowed lawns and washed dishes to earn money. He also liked to play sports. Two professional football teams offered Ford contracts while he was in college.
- Ford went to college at the University of Michigan. He got a small scholarship for having good grades. He worked as a janitor and a waiter, and sometimes donated blood. Later, he worked his way through Yale Law School.
- He married Elizabeth (Betty) Bloomer Warren in 1948. They had four children.
- Ford became a lawyer but joined the Navy during World War II. He fought bravely in the Pacific Ocean. In 1948, Ford was elected to Congress, a position he held until he became Vice President in 1973.
- People respected and trusted Ford, but they thought he hadn’t done enough as President to improve the economy. Ford ran for President in 1976 but lost to Jimmy Carter.
Questions and Answers
Question: What was Ford’s family like?
Answer: Gerald Ford was an Episcopalian. He thought family life was very important. He and his wife, Betty, prayed together each night before they went to bed. About his wife he said, “We are the first president and First Lady to share a bedroom in an awfully long time.”
Betty was very open with the public. She shared her experience with breast cancer to help others with the disease. She also revealed her battle with alcoholism and opened the Betty Ford Center for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation.
Visit the Miller Center to learn more about Gerald Ford.