On this day in 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned, and Gerald Ford, who never sought the Presidency, became President, serving out the term of two years, five and a half months, losing a full term to Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Ford had his problems and opponents, and his administration will never be ranked among the best, but as Ted Kennedy said in 1999, awarding special honors to President Ford, 25 years after he pardoned President Nixon, Ford had indeed done the right thing regarding Nixon, and had demonstrated both courage and decisiveness in office.
In so doing, Ford gained the respect of the American people, maybe somewhat belatedly, but when on looks back almost four decades ago, one realizes that Gerald Ford was a decent man, a compassionate man, a moderate conservative who worked in the mainstream, but was weakened by the beginning of the right wing takeover of the GOP by Ronald Reagan, which also affected the Presidency of George H. W. Bush and that of his son, George W. Bush.
Ford looks better all of the time, particularly at a time when the GOP is so far to the right that it is literally scary what they wish to do–abolish the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson!
And his wife, Betty, is also an inspiring figure, much beloved and respected.
So in retrospect, Gerald and Betty Ford look a lot better than what we have been offered since by the party that once had as leaders such luminaries as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower!