Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in potus_geeks,

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Ford had a better idea

A website called "Today in Presidential History" that I regularly check for this blog says that on May 7, 1975, Gerald Ford announced the end of US involvement in the Vietnam War. Ford's bio on Wikipedia says that he made that announcement in a speech at Tulane University on April 23, 1975. Perhaps both are correct, but either way, it was Gerald Ford who cleaned up much of the mess left by Presidents before him.

Ford is the only person to hold the offices of Vice-President and President without ever being elected to them. He is also the only person to become President as a result of the resignation of the sitting President. On October 10, 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned and then pleaded no contest to criminal charges of tax evasion and money laundering, part of a negotiated plea bargain. Agnew admitted that he accepted $29,500 in bribes when he was governor of Maryland. According to The New York Times, "Nixon sought advice from senior Congressional leaders about a replacement. The advice was unanimous. 'We gave Nixon no choice but Ford,' House Speaker Carl Albert recalled later."

Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon was unpopular at the time and likely prevented Ford from winning the election of 1976 against Jimmy Carter. In 2001, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award to Ford for his pardon of Nixon. In presenting the award to Ford, Senator Ted Kennedy said that he had initially been opposed to the pardon of Nixon, but admitted that history had proved Ford to have made the correct decision.

Ford also has the distinction of being the target of two assassination attempts, just less than three weeks apart. The first occurred while Ford was in Sacramento, California on September 5, 1975. There Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, pointed a Colt 45-caliber handgun at Ford. As Fromme pulled the trigger, Larry Buendorf, a Secret Service agent, grabbed the gun and managed to insert the webbing of his thumb under the hammer, preventing the gun from firing. It was later found that, although the semi-automatic pistol had four cartridges in the magazine, the slide had not been pulled to place a round in the firing chamber, making it impossible for the gun to fire. Fromme was convicted of attempted assassination of the President and was sentenced to life in prison, but was paroled on August 14, 2009.

In reaction to this attempt, the Secret Service began keeping Ford at a more secure distance from anonymous crowds, a strategy that may have saved his life. Seventeen days later, as he left a hotel in downtown San Francisco, Sara Jane Moore, standing in a crowd of onlookers across the street, pointed her pistol at him. Just before she fired, former Marine Oliver Sipple grabbed at the gun and deflected her shot. One person was injured. Moore was later sentenced to life in prison. She was paroled from prison on December 31, 2007, having served 32 years.

Tags: gerald ford

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