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!
Nelson Rockefeller, Vice President-Designate
President Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller, the former Governor of New York, as his Vice President on August 20, 1974.
Selecting a Vice President had been one of President Ford’s main priorities after taking office. He requested recommendations from the members of his Cabinet and Congressional leaders. By the end of his first week as President he had narrowed his choice down to five candidates, and after careful deliberation he asked Rockefeller to take the position.
After announcing the nomination President Ford introduced Rockefeller for a brief press conference. “I think he will make a great teammate,” he said. “I think he will be good for the country, I think he will be good for the world, and I am looking forward to working with him.”
Vice President-designate Rockefeller fielded questions about why he accepted a job he had previously turned down during other administrations and the confirmation process. Although he didn’t know what his specific duties would be yet he stated, “I am deeply honored and should I be confirmed by the Congress, will look forward to the privilege and honor of serving the President of the United States and, as I said in the other room, through him all of the people of this great country.”
After four months of extended hearings Rockefeller was confirmed and sworn in as the 41st Vice President of the United States on December 19, 1974, becoming the second person to fill the office under the 25th Amendment.
Images: President Ford and Nelson A. Rockefeller in the Oval Office as the President prepares his message to Congress nominating Rockefeller as Vice President, 8/20/1974; Message of President Gerald R. Ford nominating Nelson A. Rockefeller to be Vice President of the United States, 08/20/1974, from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
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.
On the morning of August 8, 1974, Gerald R. Ford went to Blair House, across the street from his office in the Executive Office Building. As one his final actions as Vice President he presented Congressional Medals of Honor to the families of seven servicemen who had died in Vietnam. “These ceremonies were usually very emotional—and hard for me to perform—and this one was no exception,” he recalled in his memoirs.
Shortly afterwards he received a call to meet with President Richard Nixon at the White House. The President informed him that he had decided to resign, effective at noon the following day. The two then discussed the details of the transition, domestic and foreign affairs, and possible candidates to be Ford’s Vice President.
The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolultion:
On the evening of August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the nation in a televised speech in which he stated that U.S. ships had been attacked twice in international waters in the Gulf of Tonkin near North Vietnam. The following morning, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was introduced in the Senate. Although the version shown here is the original draft resolution, the language was not amended and therefore reads the same as the final version, which was passed by both house of Congress and signed into law on August 7.
S.J. Res. 189: the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution as Introduced, 8/5/1964, Sen 88A-B2, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127364)
The original Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from July 15 to August 7, 2014.
"Shacks, put up by the Bonus Army on the Anacostia flats, Washington, D.C., burning after the battle with the military. The Capitol in the background. 1932."
In the summer of 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, World War I veterans seeking early payment of a bonus scheduled for 1945 assembled in Washington to pressure Congress and the White House. After the Senate rejected the bonus, most of the protesters went home, but a core of ten thousand members of the “Bonus Army” remained behind, many with their families. On the morning of July 28, violence erupted between the protesters and police, and President Hoover reluctantly sent in federal troops under Maj. Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Ignoring the President’s order for restraint, the flamboyant general drove the tattered protesters from the city and violently cleared their Anacostia campsite.
Mr. Speaker, let us all salute Neil Armstrong, Ed Aldrin and Mike Collins and pray for a safe splashdown in the Pacific on Thursday. But let us also say a prayer for Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Ed White and pay tribute to them for the heroic contributions they made so that Eagle might land on the moon and return to planet earth.
Statement by Representative Gerald R. Ford regarding the Apollo 11 space flight, placed in the body of the Congressional Record of Tuesday, July 22, 1969.
Let us all salute Neil Armstrong, Ed Aldrin, Mike Collins, Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Ed White.
The Government’s environmentally related activities have grown up piecemeal over the years. The time has come to organize them rationally and systematically.
-President Richard Nixon
Special Message to Congress to Establish the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
July 9, 1970
225th Anniversary of the First Congress: We’ll be posting documents and stories highlighting the establishment of the new government under the Constitution through March 2016.
As recorded in the first House Journal, only eleven representatives were present on March 4, 1789, the first day of the First Congress under the Constitution. Neither the House nor the Senate had enough members present to attain a quorum, so they adjourned from day to day until they could proceed with official business.
I propose to use whatever authority exists in the office of the President to end segregation in the District of Columbia, including the Federal Government, and any segregation in the Armed Forces.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
February 2, 1953