RSS
Today in history: The birth of the 'accidental president'
Gerald Ford was the only person in American history to become both vice president and president without ever being elected to either office
 
Gerald Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.
Gerald Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. Ian Showell/Getty Images

July 14, 1913: Leslie Lynch King Jr. — who would change his name to Gerald Ford — was born. He was the 38th president, serving between 1974-77. Ford, known as the "accidental president," was named vice president by President Richard Nixon after Vice President Spiro Agnew's resignation in the fall of 1973. He would then succeed Nixon himself after Nixon resigned in August 1974. Thus, Ford was the only person in American history to become both vice president and president without ever being elected to either office.

A month after being sworn in, Ford pardoned Nixon, causing critics to charge that the two men made a deal. Ford denied it, but it contributed to his loss in the 1976 election. Because of a few golf swings and slipping on some airplane steps, Ford was seen as a klutz. In fact, he was perhaps the most athletic president. Ford also served on the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President Kennedy, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Ford was center and linebacker on the Michigan football team that went undefeated and won back-to-back national championships in 1932 and 1933. Offered NFL contracts by both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, he chose to attend Yale Law School instead. He was a World War II naval officer and fought in the Pacific. He came home, married a fashion model, Elizabeth (Betty) Warren, and was elected to 13 terms in Congress.

Quotes of the Day

"Truth is the glue that holds governments together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go." -Gerald Ford

"I have had a lot of adversaries in my political life, but no enemies that I can remember." -Gerald Ford

More from West Wing Reports...

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week