On August 19, 1974, President Ford announced plans for an earned amnesty program in an address at the 75th annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
During the first week of his administration, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger had suggested that doing something about the some fifty thousand Vietnam War draft evaders and deserters would be a way to hasten the healing process. Former Secretary of Defense Mel Laird and the President’s three sons agreed. Ford asked his staff to coordinate with the relevant agencies to put together a conditional amnesty program.
“I stated my strong conviction that unconditional blanket amnesty for anyone who illegally evaded or fled military service is wrong,” he said. “But all, in a sense, are casualties, still abroad or absent without leave from the real America. I want them to come home if they want to work their way back…In my judgment, these young Americans should have a second chance to contribute their fair share to the rebuilding of peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
About a month later President Ford signed an executive order establishing the Presidential Clemency Board, which administered the earned amnesty program over the next year. Many of the applicants completed alternative service assignments before receiving their pardons.
-from the Ford Library
A National Dance Day Post for Betty Ford
Dance played a significant role in Betty Ford’s early life. She began taking social-dance classes as a young girl before branching out into ballet, tap, and modern dance. At age 14 she began giving lessons on Saturday afternoons, teaching her students the foxtrot, the waltz, and the Big Apple.
During the summers of 1937 and 1938 Betty attended the Bennington School of Dance in Vermont, where she spent eight hours a day in classes and at rehearsals. She also was exposed to the work of and met choreographer Martha Graham. In 1939 Betty moved to New York City to study dance at Graham’s school. She became a member of the Martha Graham auxiliary performance troupe and performed at Carnegie Hall.
In 1941 Betty’s mother persuaded her to return to Grand Rapids. Although the move ended her professional aspirations she continued to teach modern dance classes and also started and choreographed for her own dance group. “Dance was my happiness,” she reflected in her memoirs.
Betty Bloomer (at left) in a class at the Bennington College Summer School of the Dance taught by Martha Hill (right center), 1937.
-from the Ford Library
The King of Iraq has Lunch at the White House
August 16, 1952, the President hosted a luncheon for the King of Iraq. Because the King and members of his party were Muslim, they had to be sure and have non-alcoholic drink alternatives for the cocktails and Champagne they served with lunch.
-from the Truman Library
On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act.
Later that day, the Washington Post proclaimed that the Social Security Act was the “New Deal’s Most Important Act…Its importance cannot be exaggerated …because this legislation eventually will affect the lives of every man, woman, and child in the country.”
This poster was distributed from November 1936- July 1937 during the initial issuance of Social Security numbers through U.S. post offices and with the help of labor unions.
Truman Announces the Surrender of Japan
Today in history, August 14, 1945, President Truman announced the surrender of Japan, ending World War II.
The photos here show reporters running through the White House after hearing the President’s announcement.
Reporters running through the White House upon hearing the news; Reporters grabbing White House press releases about the surrender. 8/14/45.
-from the Truman Library
If you’re a southpaw, you’re in good Presidential company. Many of our U.S. Presidents have been left-handed, including Harry S. Truman, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
Both Presidents Truman and Reagan were switched to writing with their right hands as young school children, but photos show them favoring the left in other activities. It’s widely believed that Herbert Hoover was also left-handed, but archivists at the Hoover Library tell us that they’ve found no documentation - it’s just left hander’s lore.
Happy International Left Handers Day!
September 16, 1924 - August 12, 2014
Today, we honor the singular Lauren Bacall, who died yesterday at the age of 89. She was involved in one of the most infamous incidents of Harry S. Truman’s Vice-Presidency.
On February 10, 1945, Mr. Truman attended a stage show for servicemen at the Washington Press Club canteen, and sat down to play the piano. During his performance, someone boosted Ms. Bacall onto the top of the piano, and she sat there seductively while Mr. Truman played and photographers snapped away. Mrs. Truman was not amused.
A Good Marriage, Not a Honeymoon
President Ford returned to the House Chamber where he had served as a Representative of Michigan for 25 years on August 12, 1974, to make his first address to a Joint Session of Congress.
In this speech he set out his vision for Executive-Congressional relations. He expected that Congress would be a working partner and constructive critic so together they could find solutions to the difficult issues the nation faced. “I do not want a honeymoon with you. I want a good marriage,” he said.
Although President Ford felt the State of the Union was excellent he knew the state of the economy was not. Declaring inflation “domestic enemy number one,” he called for Congress to reactive the Cost of Living Council and announced plans for a domestic summit meeting on the economy. He also appealed to voters in the upcoming November election to support those candidates ”who consistently vote for tough decisions to cut the cost of Government, restrain Federal spending and bring inflation under control.”
Shifting his focus to international affairs, President Ford stated his intention to continue the foreign policy developed during the Nixon administration. “There will be no change of course, no relaxation of vigilance, no abandonment of the helm of our Ship of State as the watch changes,” he affirmed. “We stand by our commitments and we will live up to our responsibilities, in our formal alliances, in our friendships, and in our improving relations with potential adversaries.”
Read the full text of President Ford’s remarks.
Canceled Check for President Abraham Lincoln’s Salary, 04/05/1865.
Item From: Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury. (07/31/1894-07/01/1921).
The Treasury signs away $1981.67 of the president’s $25, 000 salary that he received while in office. Today President Obama makes roughly $400,000.