|Presidency of Gerald Ford|
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
Gerald Ford's tenure as the 38th president of the United States began on August 9, 1974, upon the resignation of Richard Nixon from office, and ended on January 20, 1977, a period of 895 days. Ford, a Republican from Michigan, had served as vice president since December 6, 1973, following Spiro Agnew's resignation from that office. Ford was the only person to serve as president without being elected to either the presidency or the vice presidency. His presidency ended following his defeat in the 1976 presidential election by Democrat Jimmy Carter.
Ford took office in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and in the final stages of the Vietnam War, both of which engendered a new disillusion in American political institutions. Ford's first major act upon taking office was to grant a presidential pardon to Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal, prompting a major backlash to Ford's presidency. He also created a conditional clemency program for Vietnam War draft dodgers. Much of Ford's focus in domestic policy was on the economy, which experienced a recession during his tenure. After initially promoting a tax increase designed to combat inflation, Ford championed a tax cut designed to rejuvenate the economy, and he signed two tax reduction acts into law. The foreign policy of the Ford administration was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the president. Overcoming significant congressional opposition, Ford continued Nixon's détente policies with the Soviet Union.
In the 1976 presidential election, Ford was challenged by Ronald Reagan, a leader of the conservative wing of the Republican Party. After a contentious series of primaries, Ford narrowly won the nomination at the 1976 Republican National Convention. In the general election, Ford lost to Carter by a narrow margin in the popular and electoral vote. In polls of historians and political scientists, Ford is generally ranked as a below average president, much like both his predecessor and successor.