Gerald "Gerry" Ford (July 14,
1913 - December 26, 2006) assumed the office of United States
Commander-in-Chief upon Richard Nixon's resignation in August of
1974. As he had also become Vice President a year earlier following
the resignation of Spiro Agnew, Ford is the only President who was
neither elected for the Presidency nor the Vice
I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as
your President by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as
your President with your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will
also be the first of many.
If you have not chosen me by
secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises.
I have not campaigned either for the Presidency or the Vice
Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am
indebted to no man, and only to one woman - my dear wife - as I
begin this very difficult job.
Presiding over an American
economy battered by inflation and a rise in the cost of living,
President Ford asked Americans to "Whip Inflation Now" ("WIN") -
calling on individuals to do their part with responsible saving and
spending. He encouraged people to wear "WIN" buttons to show their
support for the initiative. (Not surprisingly, though proposed
assuredly with the best of intentions, the effort was largely met
with cynical derision and knocked as a publicity
We must introduce a new balance in the relationship
between the individual and the government - a balance that favors
greater individual freedom and self-reliance.
Ford survived two assignation
attempts and the Fall of Saigon, but his pardon of former President
Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal remains the
most memorable moment of his term. Though many historians now agree
that the pardon was a positive step toward restoring national
confidence, it was an extremely risky move that illustrated his
personal resolve to do what he believed was right, as opposed to
what might be politically safe.
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.
Ford died in 2006 at the age of
93, the longest-lived president in U.S. history.
I have always felt that the real purpose of
government is to enhance the lives of people and that a leader can
best do that by restraining government in most cases instead of
enlarging it at every opportunity.