Little League Baseball celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
President Ford welcomed the final eight teams from the 1974 Little League World Series to the White House on August 26, 1974.
The teams represented Red Bluff, California; New Haven, Connecticut; Tallmadge, Ohio; Jackson, Tennessee; Victoria, British Colombia, Canada; Maracaibo, Venezuela; the Republic of China (Taiwan); and Athens, Greece, which included the children of American military and Embassy staff in Europe.
Image: President Ford with the Little League baseball team from Red Bluff, California (White House photograph A0364-23)
Happy 75 to Little League Baseball!
"As a Republic dedicated to liberty and justice for all, this Nation cannot deny equal status to women."
On August 22, 1974, President Ford signed a proclamation designating August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. That date honored the incorporation of the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, into the Constitution on August 26, 1920.
In the proclamation President Ford noted his previous backing of the Equal Rights Amendment and his intention to continue supporting it. “Today I want to reaffirm my personal commitment to that amendment,” he stated. “The time for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment has come just as surely as did the time for the 19th Amendment.”
Representatives Yvonne Brathwait Burke (D-Calif), Barbara Jordan (D-Tex), Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY), Marjorie S. Holt (R-Md), Leonor K. Sullivan (D-Mo), Cardiss Collins (D -Ill), Corinne C. Boggs (D-La), Margaret M. Heckler (R-Mass), Bella S. Abzug (D-NY), Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), Ella T. Grasso (D-Conn), Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo), and Patsy T. Mink (D-Hawaii) attended the signing ceremony held in the Cabinet Room. First Lady Betty Ford and Anne Armstrong, Counsellor to the President, were also present for the signing.
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.
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
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.
Life after the White House
Upon returning to private life President Ford and Betty split their time between Rancho Mirage, California, and Beaver Creek, Colorado.
President Ford reflected on his public service in his memoir “A Time to Heal,” published in 1979. Although he was considered as a potential Vice Presidential nominee for Ronald Reagan during the 1980 election and even thought about another bid for the Presidency that year he declined to run for either position. Ford continued to actively participate in the political process and to speak out on important political issues.
In 1981, the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were dedicated. President Ford participated in conferences at either site dealing with such subjects as the Congress, the presidency and foreign policy; Soviet-American relations; and humor and the presidency.
Over the years Ford lectured at hundreds of colleges and universities on topics including Congressional-White House relations, federal budget policies, and domestic and foreign policy issues. He attended the annual Public Policy Week Conferences of the American Enterprise Institute, and in 1982 established the AEI World Forum. He hosted this international gathering of former and current world leaders and business executives to discuss political and business policies impacting current issues for many years in Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado.
The former President received numerous awards and honors as well as many honorary Doctor of Law degrees. Two are of particular note. In 1999 President Clinton presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and observed that “President Ford represents what is best in public service and what is best about America.” The following year the John F. Kennedy Foundation presented him with the Profiles in Courage Award for putting the nation’s interest above his own political future with the pardon of Richard Nixon.
Pictured: President Clinton awards former President Ford the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony on August 11, 1999.
-from the Ford Library
August 10: First Cabinet Meeting of the Ford Administration
President Ford held the first Cabinet meeting of his administration on August 10, 1974, the day after his swearing in. His staff prepared a memo outlining the main points for him to cover with a focus on continuing an orderly transition. “Continuity and stability – that is what the people want and the country needs,” President Ford stated in his opening comments at the meeting.
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave a pledge of support on behalf of himself and his fellow Cabinet members:
Mr. President, for all of my colleagues, I want to say that we think you performed a great national service. For the previous administration, we are proud of what we did. You can count on our total loyalty and full support. Anything the Cabinet can do will be done with our full capability and in your spirit as you outlined in your very moving speech.
Shortly before noon Gerald and Betty Ford made their way from the Vice President’s office in the Executive Office Building to the White House, where they joined Chief Justice Warren Burger in the Red Room. They then walked down the hall to the East Room where Gerald R. Ford would be sworn in as the 38th President of the United States. This memo is Mrs. Ford’s copy of the sequence of events for the ceremony.