American President Gerald Ford was born in Omaha, Nebraska on July 14, 1913. He attended the University of Michigan and received a law degree from Yale University. From 1942 until 1946 Ford served in the Navy. For most of this time, Ford served aboard the USS Montery, a light aircraft carrier that spent the bulk of the war in the South Pacific. He served as the gunnery officer.
In 1948, Ford ran for Congress. He remained a member of the House until becoming Vice President in 1973. Ford had a consistent conservative record in the House and was a supporter of the Marshall Plan and other anti-Communist initiatives.
He was an early friend of Richard Nixon, and supported him strongly within the party. Ford was also a member of the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy.
In 1965 he became minority leader in the House, where he opposed many of the Johnson Administration's domestic programs. He was also a critic of Johnson's policies in Vietnam. In his view, these policies created a no-win situation unless the administration was to use the full power of the military to win the war.
Ford was the first President to be appointed under the provisions of the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Following the resignation of Vice President Agnew, President Nixon nominated him to fill the Vice-Presidency. Ford was confirmed in the Senate by vote of 92-3, and in the House by a vote of 387-35. He took the oath of office on December 6, 1973. In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, Nixon resigned eight months and three days later and Ford became President.
President Ford's first major action was also his most controversial. In September 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon for all crimes that he may have committed during his Presidency. His rationale was this was a way to put Watergate behind the nation. The move was very unpopular.
President Ford also offered all draft evaders and deserters from the Vietnam War conditional amnesty if they would swear allegiance to the United States and do two years of community service.
The deserters would be required to do two years of service in the branch of the army from which they deserted. Only a few evaders and deserters accepted the offer.
During the Ford Presidency, Communist forces conquered South Vietnam, thus bringing the Vietnam War to an end. The only aid that the United States could provide the South, in the end, was help in evacuating refugees.
Ford ran for the Presidency in 1976, but was narrowly defeated by Jimmy Carter.