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|Presidential Inauguration of|
The swearing in of President Gerald Ford by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger
East Room, White House
|Date||August 9, 1974|
The inauguration of Gerald Ford as the 38th President of the United States was held on August 9, 1974. The inauguration is the most recent non-scheduled inauguration in American history, and marked the commencement of the two-and-a-half-year term of Gerald Ford as President, following the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Ford had become Vice President on December 6, 1973 after the resignation of Spiro Agnew, and as such is the only person to have held both the office of Vice President and President without having been elected to either.
- Main article: Watergate scandal
On August 5, 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8–0 to force President Richard Nixon to hand over White House tapes that had been subpoenaed by Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski. These tapes contained incriminating evidence that would lead to President Nixon's resignation. On August 8, 1974, Nixon addressed the nation and the world, announcing he would resign the presidency effective noon the following day.
At nine in the morning, President Nixon, addressed the White House staff and selected dignitaries, including the Cabinet and Vice President Ford. It was an emotional affair, with the President nearly breaking down a number of times. When it was finished, Vice President Ford escorted the President and First Lady to a waiting helicopter, where the President waved his famous "v-sign" before flying off to Air Force One and a flight to "exile" in California. The nuclear codes were left in the care of the Vice President.
With Nixon having left the building, The White House staff began preparations for Ford's swearing in. More chairs were added for the much larger crowd of invited guests than was at the farewell. Nixon's resignation was tendered to United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at 11:35 a.m. At that moment Ford became the 38th President of the United States, but he took the oath of office at 12:05 p.m. The oath was administered to Ford by Chief Justice Warren Burger in the White House East Room.
Ford gave a speech immediately after taking the oath:
"...I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your President with your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will also be the first of many.
If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises. I have not campaigned either for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman—my dear wife—as I begin this very difficult job...
...My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.
Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy..." Immediately after the 850 word address was over, Ford introduced his new press secretary, Jerald TerHorst to the press corps, and met with the Cabinet.
- Presidential inaugurations: Presidential Oaths of Office
- Gerald Ford's Swearing-in Speech, Aug. 9, 1974
- YouTube - Gerald Ford Inauguration