38th President of the United States (1974-1977)
Upon taking office, Ford sought to heal a nation wounded by the Watergate scandal that ripped apart the Nixon Administration and led to the unprecedented resignation of a U.S. president. A Michigan representative who had been vice president for just eight months before becoming the nation’s chief executive—Spiro Agnew was forced to resign in a separate scandal—Ford also had to contend with a public reeling the aftershocks of the Vietnam War—the remaining forces had been pulled out in 1973—and battered by an economic recession marked by high gas and food prices.
Highlights from his first 100 days:
• Ford’s honeymoon was cut short in less than a month when he granted Nixon a full pardon for any crimes associated with the Watergate scandal. With the stroke of a pen, he ruined his chances of re-election.
• To tackle inflation, he convened a White House summit of top economists. After hearing their recommendations, he announced the Whip Inflation Now program, complete with the distribution of buttons that spelled WIN. The initiative was mocked by the press and the economy plunged into a deep recession when consumer confidence ebbed.
• He approved amendments that established campaign disclosure requirements and established the Federal Election Commission to enforce new rules.
• In his first presidential visit behind the Iron Curtain, he met with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and agreed on a 10-year program to curb offensive nuclear weapons.