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tv   American Artifacts Political Career of Gerald Ford  CSPAN  July 1, 2021 11:32am-12:00pm EDT

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introduces him to a large part of it. and she is able to guide him through the experiences in new york city. she is urbane and witty, and he is midwestern, and if not applauding at least stallid in his attitude. so she does a lot to broaden his horizons, but when it comes down to the decision of grand rapids to start the life of returning or staying in new york where she has her modeling career, that is where a parting of the ways comes in. so, she remains in new york city, and he returns to grand rapids to begin his career as an attorney.
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>> so, we are at the gerald ford presidential museum in grand rapids, michigan. we are at the point where we have him through his educational experience, and beginning his career. it is not especially clear to him, because at the same time that he is establishing the ability to apply law, he wants to be a g-man, and he has the application in for that, and at the end of 1921, he is trying to figure out what the status of the application is. so as he is grand rapids in 1941, he finds himself caught up in world war i when the japanese
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bomb pearl harbor and quickly, he shifts his attention to the united states navy, and he wants to be a naval officer. he wants to be commissioned. and by 1942, he has joined the navy. he is commissioned an ensign, and he is sent to annapolis where he undergoes the officer training program for 30 days, and he is sent to north carolina as an athletic officer to train pilots in physical activity, and he grows bored with that quickly. and almost as quickly as he is down there, he is writing people that he knows to get a sea billet. so to that end, he is assigned to a air carrier being built. the "u.s.s. monterey" holds 30
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people, and ford is responsible for putting the officers through calisthenics on board the ship. but he wears many hats. one of which is the gunnary officer and he is responsible for the gunnery troops at the aft end of the ship. and so they are almost immediately thrown into action. and so he is then thrown into action against the japanese in the gilberts and the marianas and marshall islands along the philippine coast, and the philippine sea. the ship will earn eight battle stars, and ford along with the ship. a few months after he joins the monterey, and they are in the pacific, an opportunity arises for him to become the assistant
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navigator. and he has earned a reputation as a solid officer, and he is then named the navigator which means that he runs from the fantail of the ship up to the command bridge of the ship. his general quarter station is now on the ship's conning tower on the command bridge as the officer of the deck, he stands alongside the captain, and the navigator of the ship, and in his words, the center of the activity, in the center of the action. he spend as much time in combat in the pacific with this ship as any other world war ii president as we have. he earns eight battle stars. they are in a number of engagements including the
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marianas turkey shoot, and it is in that activity in december of 1944 where he is coming very close to losing his life. and not to the japanese, but to the typhoon. the ship is caught up in a typhoon, and he is almost washed overboard and able to recover himself only by the thinnest of means, and his foot catching a thin rail toward the side as he is racing to deck. he arrests that motion, and able to then throw himself to the cat walk, and gather himself and make it for the quarters, and then as it is burning, the ship has to return to port to fix the damage. on christmas day, 1944, he is detached from the ship, and he is sent to the states where he
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becomes an athletic officer again training pilots in chicago. in the naval training center north of chicago, it is there that he ends the naval career. he leaves the navy in 1946, and he returns to grand rapids, and picks up the professional career there. he is involved in a number of civic activities and his name is well known in grand rapids and his father is involved in republican party, and he having been bitten by the political bug long ago having worked in wendall wilkie's campaign, he joins a law firm that gives him permission to pursue his political championship. this is going to involve a
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congressman who is also in isolation, but gerald ford left his behind. he is an internationalist. and it is this largely the separating point between him and bartel yaffman, and ford not wanting to draw attention to him, he approaches several civic leaders and talks about challenging yonkman, and they say, we are not interested in doing that, and we would support you. so he is enlisting people to do a job that he ultimately knows. and so with that support, and the support of the grand rapids press, he challenges him, and in
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grand rapids if you win the primary, that is the hardest job. so as he is campaigning in 1948, he has met a woman by the name of betty bloomer warren. and they became an item. she is a grand rapidian, and she grew up in a upper middle-class home, and attended central high, and five years differences between gerald ford and betty bloomer. she was born in 1918. and she knew of gerald ford the high school star athlete growing up, but she had never met him before. they did not meet one another until 1947. they were introduced at a party. she was working as a fashion
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designer, a department store downtown. she had started in a modeler, a place called the tearoom where women would come to have tea, and younger women would come and model dresses for the older women. and betty loved dance, and she studied in new york for modern dance and then had come back to grand rapids, and had married a salesman by the name of bill warren, and now in 1947, she is in the midst of securing a divorce from mr. warren and she is introduced to gerald ford at a party. gerry is quite interested. that evening after the party, and late that evening, he calls her up, and invites her out for
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a drink. she is kind of angry about that, because she is working on an ad campaign for herkelschimer's store, and she says, you're an attorney, and you know that would not look good, and he said, i know a place out of the way to go have a drink. and he persuades her to do that and from that moment on, they become an item. they are married in 1948. it was an announcement that was put off for a while, because he was running for congress, and he didn't want to get married until october, because he wanted to handle the primary. as soon as they are married, he wins election, and they are off to establish a home in
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washington. by 1950, they have their first child michael, and then jack follows and then steve and by 1950, susan has arrived. so by 1950, they have four children at home as ford is moving up in the leadership ranks 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 taught them fishing, and he teaches boy how to use the lawnmower, and how to do things around the house, and he takes family vacations with them, and they go on skiing trips, and back to grand rapids. they have the grandparents there in washington on occasion. and so, in many respects, it is a typical middle-class
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experience except that their dad increasingly has building responsibilities on capitol hill. this is gerald ford's congressional desk from early in the career, and the items on top of it are original to his congressional office, and the desk itself was the congressional desk that he used in the grand rapids office, but it is much the same that he would have used in the congressional office in washington, d.c., because they were made by the same company. but gerald ford as a congressman launching in this new career, his ambition came not for the presidency, an office that he did attain, but he wanted to become rather, the speaker of the house, the office that he never was able to attain. however, he has a fascinating career, and 25 years in congress
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beginning in 1949 in post war america, and in those, some of those critical moments of post war america, he is right there at the cutting edge of them, and he knows, and he is introduced to president truman, because as in his first congressional term, he is on the public works committee, and that means that he is overseeing the maintenance, and the construction maintenance of the federal buildings, and one of those is the white house. and that is the building that is crumbling. he is trying to build a cold war strategy for fighting the soviet union, and gerald ford is involved in that. the internationalist congressman
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from grand rapids gains an important seat on the congressional committee, and at that time, he is involved in the cold war strategy as he travels from base-to-base around the globe looking at american interests, and in particular army installations around europe and southeast asia. ford was a republican on capitol hill. and necessarily, he is engaged in part san struggle. he is interested in democratic policies, and you have to find a way to get along on capitol hill. and ford quickly gained the
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reputation for getting along. there were times when hep challenged the republican leadership, and there were times when he pulled the democratic bacon in to disrupt the proceedings and to work with others in democratic party. 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 plucked two members of congress the sit on
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that commission. two members of the house of representatives. one was gerald ford. it was largely because he had that reputation of being able to work together with people of differing ideas, and to make reasonable conclusions. and he became one of the seven warren commission commissioners. he and another guy named jackstyljack styles worked together on the portrait of the assassination, and it is not the portrait of an assassin, because we believed firmly there was no evidence that was brought to the
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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 it was alone that would have him act for his identity. what he is known for is being able to move legislation on capitol hill, and to be able to craft the coalitions and it is that reputation that moves him forward in conversations about leadership. so in 1964, ford mounts a campaign against charlie hallic, and by a narrow margin, he is able to defeat him and become
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the minority leader himself. and ford wants to become the majority party. that is what he begins to work with, and in 1966, he makes great strides in doing that on capitol hill. never able to ga majority of republicans on capitol hill. he's done a lot in the 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. a lot of that happened with the election of one of his friends, richard nixon in 1968. richard nixon is selected as his running mate. the governor of maryland spirew agnew they are reelected in 1972
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in a landslide election. for the executive branch, it barely moves the needle for republicans on capitol hill. so ford after the 1972 election decides he's going to run one more time in 1974. in 1976 he's going to retire from congress. again, history intervenes with that. agnew has to step down as vice president, because of malfeasance in office as governor of maryland. he had taken some bribes, contract issues, obstruction of justice for things not related at all to watergate. agnew has to step down. nixon is able through the provisions of the 25th amendment to nominate somebody to replace
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agnew to become vice president but it required confirmation from both the senate and the house of representatives. ford is a natural selection. 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. ford goes through an extended 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
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involving secret tapes, bugging of opposition offices and a number of other issues that many people believed the president himself had been involved in. but what nixon was involved in was obstructing the investigation into that. even as ford is being investigated for the vice president, there are a number on capitol hill who believe they are choosing not just the next vice president, but president of the united states. so nixon nominated ford to fill the vacancy. over 400 fbi agents spread out across the united states to investigate congressman ford. 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
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speaker of the house carl albert hands to gerry noting the house vote, 387 voting in support of his nomination, 35 opposing. there was another vote 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. again, he has it open to his favorite passage, the passage that he and betty have leaned on many times in their lives of proverbs 3:5-8. he'll have the same bible open to the same passage months later
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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. he spends almost the entirety of his vice presidency traveling on the road 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 congress. the remainder of the museum is dedicated to his presidency and his post presidency. i hope the visitors to the museum are able to take away
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from here what a 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 and trusted to him by those who knew him closest, those on capitol hill. to be able to appreciate how he was to handle those responsibilities. a century ago on may 31st,
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1921 racial tensions in oklahoma led to a march on the greenwood district. the arrest of a young black man with a white woman in a downtown office building triggered the unrest. over the next day the neighborhood known as black wall street would be the scene of shootings, looting and arson. historians believe the death was as high as 300. 35 blocks of the city were left in ruins. tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern we explore the consequences of that day's events.
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c-span landmark cases explores the stories and constitutional drama behind significant supreme court decisions. sunday at 9:45 eastern the landmark case miranda v arizona. miranda was arrested for suspicion of kidnapping and rape and he signed a confession. the supreme court ruled the confession was inadmissible because he was not notified before being questioned of his fifth and sixth amendment rights against self-incrimination and his right to an attorney. watch online at or listen on the cspan radio app.
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next, on the presidency, scott kaufman talks about his book ambition, pragmatism and party, a biography of gerald r. ford. he details how his approach to foreign 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 events. good evening. welcome to the ford presidential museum. my name is joel westfall and it is my honor to welcome you here. we are pleased to have you with us for tonight's program. tonight the featured speaker is scott kaufman, who is a francis marion board of trustees scholar and chair of the history department where he teaches american diplomatic and military


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