tv American Artifacts Political Career of Gerald Ford CSPAN June 30, 2021 8:22pm-8:49pm EDT
broadening of his experiences of his vision. he sees the west coast. she introduces him to a large part of that. he sees new york city. she's there at his side to guide him through those experiences. she is urbane. she's witty, he's midwestern and if not plotting at least solid in his in his attitude, so she does a lot to broaden his horizons, but when it comes down to a decision of returning to grand rapids to start his life as an attorney or staying in new york where she has her modeling career. that's where a part of the ways comes in. so she remains in new york city. he returns to grand rapids to begin his career as an attorney.
so we're at the gerald r ford presidential museum in grand rapids, michigan, and we're in the gallery where we've gotten gerald ford through his educational experience that he's beginning his professional career. it's not especially clear even to him because at the same time that he's establishing the law practice. he's applying to become a field agent for the fbi. he wants to be a g-man he has his application into washington for that and he's riding letters and toward the end of 1941 trying to figure out where what the status of this application is. so as he's in grand rapids in 1941, he finds himself along with america caught up in world affairs that happens in december.
41 when the japanese bomb pearl harbor very quickly thereafter. he shifts his attention to the united states navy. he wants to become a naval officer. he sends in his application to be commissioned as an officer in the navy by april 1942. he's joined the navy he's commissioned an ensign he sent down to annapolis where he goes through an officer training program for 30 days then he's in north carolina as an athletic officer training pilots in physical activity. and grows bored with that very quickly almost as quickly as he's down there. he's riding letters to people he knows in washington dc trying to get a sea billet. he's fortunate to find a person who can help him to that end and he gets him assigned to an aircraft carrier that's being
built the uss monterey holds about 1500 sailors about 30 planes and ford is responsible for putting the sailors through calisthenics. he's the athletic officer aboard the ship, but he also wears a number of different hats one of which is that he's the gunnery officer and so he has a responsibility for gun crews on the aft end of the ship. they get to the pacific in late 1943. and almost immediately are thrown into action against the gilbert islands, and he will be involved in action against the japanese in the gilberts and the marianas and the marshall islands along the philippine coast through the philippines sea the the ship will earn eight battle stars and forward along with the ship. a few months after he joins the
monterey and they're in the pacific an opportunity arises for him to become the assistant navigator and he's earned a reputation as a solid officer and he's given that responsibility by the captain. he's name the navigator which means that he moves from the fantail of the ship up to the command bridge of the ship and his general quarter station is now on the ships conning tower on the command bridge as the officer of the deck. he stands alongside the captain and the navigator of the ship and is in his own words now in the center of the activity in the center of the action, he as much time. in combat in the pacific with this ship. as any other world war two president we have as i said, he
earns eight battle stars. they are in a number of engagements including the mariana's turkey shoot. they are supporting macarthur's landing in the philippines and it's during that activity in december of 1944 where he comes very close to losing his life not to the japanese but to a typhoon the ship isn't caught up in a typhoon and he's almost washed overboard. he's able to recover himself only by the thinnest of memes. his foot catches a very thin rail along the side as he's racing toward the sea sliding on the deck and that arrests his motion. he's able to throw himself onto a cat walk and then gather himself and make make his way to his general quarter station as the ship is burning the ship has to return to port to fix all of the damage and on christmas day
1944. he is detached from the ship and is sent to the states where he becomes an athletic officer again training pilots in chicago in the naval training center just north of chicago and it's there that he ends his naval career. he leaves the navy in 1946 and he returns to grand rapids any picks up his professional career there again, he is involved in a number of civic activities. his name is well known in grand rapids. his father is involved in the republican party and he then having been bitten by the political bug long ago having worked in wendell wilkie's 1940 campaign turns his attention to politics as well. he joins a law firm that gives him permission to pursue his political interests and this now
involves challenging the sitting congressman. a bartell junkman who is an isolationist also, but gerald ford has left his isolationism behind with the war. he he has become an internet internationalist and it's going to be this largely. that is the separating point between him and bartell yankton ford again not wanting to draw attention to himself but being ambitious approaches a number of civic leaders and asks them about challenging young men each. one of them says no, i'll know. i'm not really interested in doing that. but if you're interested in doing that we'd probably support you so he gathers support even as he's trying to enlist other people to do the job that ultimately he wants and with their support and with the support of the grand rapids press. he throws his hat into the ring
challenges youngman and beats him in the primaries. grand rapids if you win the republican primary, that's the hardest job. so as gerald ford's campaigning for congress in 1948, he has met a woman by the name of betty blumer warren and has become interested. they become an item betty. bloomer was a native grand rapids. she grew up in an upper middle class home attended central high there are five years differences between gerald ford and betty blumer. she was born in 1918. she knew of gerald ford the high school star athlete growing up, but she had never met him before they didn't meet one another until 1947. they were introduced at a party. she was working as a fashion
designer fashion purchaser for herpesheimer's department store one of the big government stores in downtown grand rapids. she had started there as a model she modeled dresses and what they called the tea room where women would come to have tea and young women would model dresses for the for the older women and betty ford was one of those models. she loved dance. she studied in vermont and in new york. for modern dance and then had come back to grand rapids had married. a salesman by the name of bill warren, and now in 1947. she's in the midst of securing a divorce from mr. warren. she's introduced to. gerald ford at a party and jerry
is quite interested that evening after the party late that evening. he calls her up and invites her out for a drink. she's kind of angry about that because she's working on a an ad campaign for herpesheimer's department store. so she has homework to do but also she chides him you're an attorney and you should know better than to be calling me up because you know that i'm in the middle of a divorce and that just would not look good and he said don't worry about it. i know a place that's out of the way we can go and have a private drink and persuades her to do that and from that moment. they become something of an item gerald. forward and betty warren are married in october 1948. it was a it was an announcement that was put off for a while because he was running for congress. he didn't. he didn't want to get married until october because he wanted to handle the primary as soon as they're married. he wins the election and they're
off to establish a home in washington by 1950. they have their first child michael then jack follows then steve and then by 1950 seven susan has arrived. so by 1957 they have four children at home as ford is moving up in leadership ranks and in with increasing responsibility on capitol hill the kids recall that when their dad was home that he set the briefcase aside and he was a dad to them. he took them fishing teaches the boys how to use the lawnmower how to do things around the house and takes family vacations with them. they they go on skiing trips. and back to grand rapids. they have the grandparents there in washington on occ.
and so in many respects it is a typical middle-class experience except that their dad increasingly has building responsibilities on capitol hill. this is a gerald ford's congressional desk from early in his career the items on top of it are original to his congressional office. the desk itself was the congressional desk. he used in his grand rapids office, but it's much the same as the one that he would have used in his congressional office in washington dc because they were made by the same company, but gerald ford as a congressman. interest congress in 1949 launching upon this new career his ambition became not for the presidency and office he did attain but he wanted to become rather the speaker of the house an office. he never was able to attain.
however, he has a fascinating career 25 years in congress beginning in 1949 and post-war america and in those some of those critical moments of post-war america. he's right there at the cutting edge of them. he knows he's introduced to president truman because as in his first congressional term, he's on the public works committee, which means he oversees the maintenance the construction maintenance of federal buildings one of those federal buildings is the white house and that's the white house that's crumbling around president truman. and so congressman ford overseas a lot of the reconstruction of the white house during the truman administration. truman is also trying to build a war strategy a strategy for fighting the soviet union gerald ford is involved in that this
internationalist congressman from grand rapids gains an important seat on the appropriations committee he oversees in time the armies budget and so he's involved in the cold war strategy as he travels from base to base around the globe looking at american interests and particularly us army installations around europe and southeast asia. ford was a republican on capitol hill he and necessarily he's engaged in partisan struggle. he's interested in republican policies just as the democrats are interested in democratic policies, but you have to find a way to work together on capitol hill and ford quickly earned a reputation as somebody who could work with both sides of the
aisle. he there were times when he challenged his republican leadership and he worked with democrats and there were times when he pulled democrats into what we're republican issues to to further legislation on the hill. so we earned a reputation even as he pursued partisan politics and a leadership position in the republican party as being able to work with others in the democrat party and that came to a head in 1964 following the assassination of president kennedy president johnson pulled together a commission to investigate the assassination of president kennedy, which would take the name of the warren commission named after earl warren the chief justice of the supreme court lyndon johnson reached into the congressional
pull and plucked two members of congress to sit on that commission. two members of the house of representatives one was gerald ford and it was largely because he had that reputation of being able to work together with people of differing ideas to reach reasonable conclusions. and so he became one of the seven. warren commissioners after he completes his commissions work, he and another grand rapidan of fellow by the name of jack stiles work together on a book called a portrait of the assassin it and i would note it's portrait of the assassin portrait of an assassin. he believed firmly in the commission's finding that lee harvey oswald had acted alone as
the loan gunman. there was no evidence that was brought to the commission. that would refute that finding he remained open to other evidence that might prove. otherwise that might counter that commission's contention, but during his lifetime. he never saw any that was that could conclusively show that lee harvey walls that it was lee harvey oswald alone who acted as the assassin of president kennedy. so congressman ford is earning a reputation through dent of hard work. it's not a piece of legislation that he is known for what he's known for is being able to move legislation on capitol hill to be able to craft the coalition's necessary to get legislation passed and it's that reputation that moves him forward in conversations about leadership. so in 1964 ford mounts a
campaign against charlie hallock and by a very narrow margin is able to defeat him and become the minority leader himself afford once is to become a majority party and that's what he begins working at in the 1966. he makes great great strides in doing that. on capitol hill but he is never able to. gain, a majority of republicans on capitol hill. he's kind of locked in that minority position and the republicans can't find a way to build a national majority position on capitol hill. that would have secured for ford his ambition to become speaker of the house. other things were to intervene. however, and a lot of that happened with the election of one of his friends richard nixon. in 1968 richard nixon had selected as his running mate the
governor of maryland spiro agnew. they are reelected in 1972 in a landslide election which while it's a landslide for the executive branch it barely moves the needle for the republicans on capitol hill. so ford after the 1972 election decides that he's going to run one more time in 1974 in 1976. he's going to retire from congress. but again history intervenes with that agnew has to step down as vice president because of malfeasance in office as governor of maryland. he is had taken some bribes contract issues obstruction of justice and for things not related at all to watergate what we know as watergate. agnew has to step down and nixon is able through the provisions of the 25th amendment to
nominate somebody to replace spiro agnew to become the vice president, but it requires confirmation on both of both the senate and the house of representatives. ford is a natural selection. it's not he's not nixon's first choice, but he is a solid choice for richard nixon ford. however because of his coalition building because of his work because of his reputation on capitol hill. is an easy selection carl albert the speaker of the house tells richard nixon i can get you jerry ford if you want jerry ford nixon's makes that choice ford goes through an extended investigation background investigation because even as he's selected there is this whirlwind of controversy surrounding richard nixon over the matter of watergate nefarious activities that had
taken place during the 1972 election and before involving secret tapes bugging of opposition offices and a number of other issues that many people believed the president himself had been involved in what he what nixon was involved in was obstructing the investigation into that. so even as nick's are even as ford is being investigated for the vice presidency. there are a number on capitol hill who believe that they're choosing not the next vice president necessarily but quite likely the next president of the united states. so president nixon nominates gerald ford to fill the vacancy of the vice presidency. over 400 fbi agents spread out across the united states to investigate congressman ford, and he passes that investigation the results of which are handed to congress congress then
schedules a vote on congressman ford's nomination and this is the card that speaker of the house carl albert hands to jerry ford noting the house vote 387 voting in support of his nomination 35 opposing. there was another vote that was that was held in the senate and only three senators voted against his nomination to the vice presidency. congressman ford in december 1973 is sworn in as vice president. this is the bible on which he was sworn in and again, he hasn't open to his passage the passage that he and betty had leaned on many times in their lives of psalm. i'm sorry proverbs 3 5 through 8 trust in the lord with all your heart and leave not into your own understanding and all your ways acknowledge him and he shall
direct your path. he'll have the same bible open to the same passage months later when he's sworn in as president of the united states. he's only going to be vice president for a matter of months eight months. in fact, he doesn't know it at the time but what he does know is there's controversy swirling around president nixon. his responsibility is to forward nixon's agenda on capitol hill and to promote nixon's policies abroad. he spends almost the entirety of his vice presidency on the road traveling away from washington promoting that message and campaigning for nixon's agenda before the american public and on capitol hill. so we've covered about four galleries in the museum dealing with his early life his collegiate career navy and in congress the remainder of the
museum is dedicated to his presidency and his post presidency. i hope that visitors to the museum are able to take away from here. what unique time it was and what a unique man ford was and how he was able to meet the challenge ford never aspired to become president yet. throughout his life events and people he encountered prepared him for the burden that he was asked to bear in august 1974 when he did become president an office. he never campaigned for an office. he never aspired to but one that was essentially handed to him entrusted to him by those who knew him closest those on capitol hill and to be able to appreciate how he rose to handle those responsibilities.
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shootings. looting in arson while official totals put the number killed at 36 historians now believe the toll was as high as 300 35 blocks of the city were left in ruins. on thursday beginning at 8pm eastern on american history tv. we explore the consequences of that day's events. next on the presidency scott kaufman talks about his book ambition pragmatism and party a political biography of gerald r ford. he discusses mr. ford's life before and after his presidency detailing how his approach to human rights factored into foreign policy and how environmental issues influenced domestic policy. he also reflects on president ford's pardon of richard nixon in light of current political events, the gerald r ford presidential museum hosted this hour-long program. reflection technical assistance good evening. welcome