Gerald Ford was the thirty-eighth President of the United States, and served from 1974 to 1977. He was the first – and so far only – President to hold the office without ever having won a national election either as President or as Vice President.

In 1973 Ford was the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, a position he had held since 1965. He was well regarded as a fair-minded and inoffensive leader. When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned – and was later convicted of corruption and money laundering – President Nixon was advised to appoint Ford as his Vice President, as was his right under the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.

Thus it was that a few months later when Nixon was forced to resign over the Watergate scandal that Ford automatically became President. The fifth Vice President to become President but the only one not actually elected as Vice President first.

As president, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. Compared with his predecessors, Ford’s policies were less directed towards intervention in Vietnamese affairs. Domestically, the economy suffered from inflation and a recession under President Ford. One of his more controversial decisions was granting a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal.

In 1976, Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but ultimately lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter by a small margin. So he still never won a national election.

Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. He died aged 93, on December 26, 2006. He was the longest lived President in US history.

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