Press Conference No. 1 of the President of the United States
President Ford held the first press conference of his administration on August 28, 1974. Both he and Mrs. Ford had scheduled press conferences for that day, but in his opening remarks the President explained their compromise: “She will postpone her press conference until next week, and until then, I will be making my own breakfast, my own lunch and my own dinner.”
Over the course of half an hour the press corps asked President Ford about a wide range of topics, including the economy, his first 19 days in office, and the selection of Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President. They also touched on foreign relation issues such as oil prices, U.S. policy towards Cuba, and the continuation of SALT talks with the Soviet Union.
Several of the questions, including the first one, showed a recurring theme: Richard Nixon and the continuing issues surrounding Watergate. President Ford told reporters “until any legal process has been undertaken, I think it is unwise and untimely for me to make any commitment,” but did not rule out the possibility of granting a pardon to former President Nixon. “It is an option and a proper option for any President,” he said.
"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.
In commemoration of Women’s Equality Day, the National Archives (usnatarchives) is hosting a discussion in partnership with the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum:
Tuesday, August 26, at 7 p.m. at the William G. McGowan Theatre.
Can’t make it? The discussion will be streamed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2t48I3j004.
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)
From the series: Gerald R. Ford White House Photographs, 08/09/1974 - 01/20/1977
President Gerald Ford in the family kitchen of the White House, only 11 days after assuming the Presidency following Richard Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974.
Here President and Mrs. Ford ride in the Presidential limousine during a trip to Chicago on August 19, 1974.
President Ford logged over 270,000 miles of travel while in office, and Mrs. Ford regularly accompanied him on trips. They attended public events together and made state visits to several foreign countries. “I had fun, I was privileged to travel in style and to see many wonders,” she reflected on their Presidential trips in her memoirs, “and these will stay in my memory.”-from the Ford Library
For two years, public revelations of wrongdoing inside the White House had convulsed the nation. The Watergate affair was a national trauma—a constitutional crisis that tested and affirmed the rule of law. On the evening of August 8, 1974, President Nixon announced his intention to resign.
Nixon’s Resignation Letter and Gerald Ford’s subsequent Presidential Pardon are on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from August 8 through August 11, 2014.
The Nixon Tapes
President Richard Nixon captured every word spoken in key locations in the White House and Camp David from 1971 to 1973 on a voice-activated taping system. Historian and author Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter have transcribed the tapes, giving us an unprecedented account of one of the most controversial Presidencies in U.S. history. A book signing follows the program.
President Nixon’s resignation letter and President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon will be on display in the East Rotunda Gallery from August 8 to 11.
Friday, August 8 at noon in the William McGowan Theater (enter the National Archives Building through the Special Events entrance at Seventh Street and Constitution).
Image: Richard M. Nixon press conference releasing the transcripts of the White House tapes., 04/29/1974. National Archives Identifier: 194576.
The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Documents” exhibit is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the generous support of Toyota.
Photographs of the Final Days of the Nixon Administration
President Nixon walking the White House grounds with his daughter, Tricia Nixon Cox. August 7, 1974; The press briefing given by Senators Scott and Goldwater and Congressman Rhodes after their meeting with the President concerning the resignation crisis.
-From the Nixon Library
President Richard Nixon met with his Cabinet on August 6, 1974, the day after the contents of the White House tapes from July 23, 1972, had been made public. Earlier in the week White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig had briefed Vice President Gerald R. Ford that new evidence regarding Watergate would be released soon, but he didn’t have details at the time. In light of the “smoking gun” tape Vice President Ford made this statement regarding the current situation at the Cabinet meeting.
Newly released and unedited video shows Richard Nixon speaking candidly about his resignation.
Forty years ago this week, Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency. The Nixon Library is releasing footage of the 37th President chronicling his final days in the White House, recorded in 1983.
The in depth and inside story begins with President Nixon recalling July 23, 1974, the day he learned that three pivotal members of the House Judiciary Committee were going to vote for his impeachment.
"I knew that we could not survive," Nixon says. "However, when I got back to Washington, in my usual methodical way—people think it’s methodical and I guess it is—I decided I should put down the pros and cons of what options I had."
Then came the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the President had to turn over 64 White House tape recordings sought by the Watergate Special Prosecutor.
Among them was tape from June 23, 1972, the so-called “smoking gun.”
Referring to the impact of that tape, Nixon said,
"This was the final blow, the final nail in the coffin."
Morley Safer’s interviewed Betty Ford for the CBS news program “60 Minutes.” They taped the interview in the White House Solarium on July 21, 1975.
The “60 Minutes” segment marked Mrs. Ford’s first extensive, exclusive TV interview. Safer questioned her on a number of topics including her experiences as a politician’s wife, openness about her breast cancer, and support for women’s rights, particularly the Equal Rights Amendment.
Safer noted that unlike many political wives, for Betty Ford “the higher your husband’s gotten, the more really controversial things have been said.” This interview would be no exception. She called the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize abortion “a great, great decision,” and discussed premarital sex and the possibility of her children using drugs.
After the segment aired on August 10 the White House received a deluge of negative comments regarding Mrs. Ford’s position on these issues. Public mail ran 2 to 1 against Mrs. Ford, although more positive comments came in over time. In the long run her approval rating increased after the controversy died down.
According to Sheila Weidenfeld, Mrs. Ford’s press secretary, the First Lady later sent Safer an autographed picture inscribed, “If there are any questions you forgot to ask – I’m grateful.”
-from the Ford Library
"We have a cancer… close to the Presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily…"
On July 16, 1973, during his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee, Deputy Assistant to the President Alexander Butterfield shocked the world by revealing the existence of a White House taping system.
This revelation proved particularly explosive as the taping system could and would corroborate John Dean’s June 1973 testimony that he had detailed for President Richard Nixon White House-led cover-up efforts of the Watergate break-in in a March 1973 conversation. Dean testified that he had even warned the President of a lethal “cancer growing on the Presidency,” due to the continued perjury and pay-offs required to maintain the cover-up.
The conversation between President Nixon and White House Counsel John Dean had occurred on March 21, 1973 and was captured by recording devices in the Oval Office of the White House.
In this conversation segment, Dean warns President Nixon that the Watergate cover-up is a growing “cancer… close to the Presidency.” Listen here.
More Watergate-Related Conversations from the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
On July 15, 1971, Richard Nixon announced to the nation that he had accepted the PRC’s invitation for him visit China.
President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972 ended twenty-five years of isolation between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He viewed his trip as the first step in a long process of contact between the United States and the PRC. Further, he believed it would reduce tension between the United States, the PRC, and the Soviet Union.
The President’s trip to China required a tremendous amount of planning. Part of this effort involved matters of protocol and etiquette, such as the use of chopsticks.
Image: Transcript of Speech President Nixon Gave Announcing Upcoming Trip to China. 7/15/1971.
More on Ping Pong Diplomacy: Nixon’s Trip to China on the Presidential Timeline.
Gerald R. Ford walks with Darrell Johnson, manager of the Boston Red Sox, and George “Sparky” Anderson, manager of the Cincinnati Reds, before the start of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 7/13/76.
-from the Ford Library
An Evening of Memories
After dinner the Fords, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and their guests moved inside to the East Room for the entertainment portion of the evening. British-born comedian Bob Hope, who had been specially requested by Her Majesty, led a program that also included the musical duo Captain and Tennille.
Hope had previously entertained the British Royal Family at four command performances. On this occasion he sang his trademark song “Thanks For the Memory” with special lyrics recognizing the British guests of honor.
Although the “Captain” Daryl Dragon had been feeling under the weather earlier in the day the show still went on for him and Toni Tennille. Their set included their hits "Love Will Keep Us Together" and “Muskrat Love,” which some commentators felt was not an appropriate song choice to play for Her Majesty.