The First Lady’s First Press Conference
A week after the President gave his first press conference Betty Ford held one of her own. She fielded questions in the State Dining Room for 25 minutes on September 4, 1974.
Although she had interacted informally with the press since entering the White House, Mrs. Ford took a step many former First Ladies had not by making herself available to the media in an official press conference. Around 150 reporters and photographers attended the session.
During the press conference Mrs. Ford answered questions about her family’s transition to the White House, the impact of the economy on her family’s budget, and the possibility of President Ford running in the 1976 election. She spoke openly on several topics that would come up throughout the administration, including her support of the Equal Rights Amendment and women’s engagement in civic affairs. “I think that by becoming very active in politics, which I deeply encourage, that they will play a great role in the future of our country,” she said.
Reporters asked her about her role as First Lady as well. Mrs. Ford expressed her interest in supporting the arts, particularly in education, and working with underprivileged and retarded children. She also responded to a question regarding the kind of “footprint” she wanted to make during her time in the White House: “I would like to be remembered in a very kind way; also as a constructive wife of a President. I do not expect to come anywhere near living up to those First Ladies who have gone before me. They have all done a great job, and I admire them a great deal and it is only my ambition to come close to them.”
In this photo taken outdoors in winter, Roma Spencer (later Mrs. Rochester C. Colgan II, a relative of President Truman) and Frances Hill (mother of donor, Nancy Ehrlich) are both dressed in fur-trimmed coats. In the latter half of the decade, coats featured both real and fake fur collars. For the upper classes, popular fur trim included mink, possum, raccoon, seal, fox, sable, and beaver while those who could not afford the real thing opted for synthetic Siberian fur cloth. Any guesses to which type they are wearing? Image: Roma Spencer and Frances Hill, ca. 1927. Courtesy of Harry S. Truman Library. National Archives ID: 6233739
Lunch Break: Tomatoes!
People often sent President Truman produce or other foodstuffs specific to their region. This Missourian, who also happened to be the Chairman of the Democratic Central Committee of Webster County, sent Mr. Truman a variety of tomatoes, including San Marzano, Millionaire, and Winsall.
-from the Truman Library
The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
Today in 1964, LBJ signed the Wilderness Act, protecting more than 9 million acres of land.
In his signing speech the President praised the bipartisan work in getting the bill passed:
"I think it is significant that these steps have broad support not just from the Democratic Party, but the Republican Party, both parties in the Congress. For example, the wilderness bill has been before the Congress since 1957, but it passed this year 73 to 12 in the Senate, and 373 to 1 in the House. So it seems to me that this reflects a new and a strong national consensus to look ahead, and, more than that, to plan ahead; better still, to move ahead.”
Attendees at the ceremony included some of those Congressional leaders, and many leaders of nonprofit groups who had worked alongside them. LBJ signed the bill outdoors, in the Rose Garden—naturally!
-from the LBJ Library
World War II Ends
Today marks the anniversary of Japan signing the surrender agreement to end World War II. The ceremony took place on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. September 2, 1945.
Shown here, a color photograph from the surrender ceremony, autographed by Admiral Chester Nimitz.
-from the Truman Library
LBJ Signs the Nurse Training Act — This Week in 1964
For all they do for us, the LBJ Library is offering free admission throughout September for nurses and nursing students, in honor of the anniversary of the 1964 Nurse Training Act, signed on Sept. 4, 1964.
Photo # A4357-7, 06/24/1967. First Grandchild of President & Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, Partick Lyndon Nugent, born June 21, 1967.
-from the LBJ Library
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
President Ford signed the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974 on September 2, 1974, which was also Labor Day. This legislation established new standards for private pension plans, extending coverage of existing systems and providing safeguards to insure that workers would receive their expected benefits upon retirement.
“I think this is really an historic Labor Day — historic in the sense that this legislation will probably give more benefits and rights and success in the area of labor management than almost anything in the history of this country,” he said in his remarks at the signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. “It certainly will give to those 30-plus million American workers a greater degree of certainty as they face retirement in the future.”
View additional photographs from the signing ceremony.
President George W. Bush greets a veteran after delivering remarks to commemorate the 60th anniversary of V-J Day. Naval Air Station, San Diego, CA., August 30, 2005.
-from the George W. Bush Library