The 38th President of the United States has died. Gerald R. Ford became President following the aftermath of the Watergate scandal embroiling the Administration of his predecessor, Richard M. Nixon. Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew, resigned in disgrace after pleading no contest to taking bribes as Governor of Maryland. President Nixon selected then Congressman Gerald R. Ford, the House Republican Leader to succeed Agnew. Upon assumption of office, Ford said “I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it. Those who nominated and confirmed me as Vice President were my friends and are my friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of all the people.”
Ford stunned the nation after he pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed. A decent and honorable man, Ford was a conservative republican who didn’t allow policy disagreements keep him from developing personal relationships with colleagues of the opposite party. His personal decency was his greatest strength as a politician and it helped him defeat Ronald Reagan to win the GOP nomination but it didn’t prevent his loss to Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter in 1976. He will be remembered as the President who truly restored honor and integrity to the Oval Office.