Gerald R. Ford * 1974 - 1977, Jimmy Carter * 1977-1981
Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006)
Term of Office: 1974-1977
Gerald Ford had become Nixon's Vice-President in October 1973, upon the resignation of Spiro T. Agnew. He became President on August 9, 1974 with the resignation of Richard M. Nixon.
Ford was from Michigan, played football for the University of Michigan, served in the Navy during World War II, and was elected to Congress in 1948 where he went on to serve as House Minority Leader. Ford selected Nelson Rockefeller (1980-1979), the former Governor of New York, as his vice-president in 1974, and Robert Dole (1923- ), a United States Senator from Kansas, as his vice-presidential running-mate in the election campaign of 1976.
"Jerry" Ford was considered a moderate Republican and fair. He endeavored to bring normalcy and confidence back to America, and in an attempt to put the past behind granted former President Richard Nixon a full pardon. Inflation and recession were also major domestic issues he had to confront. On the international front, Ford continued "détente" with the Soviets in order to lessen tensions, as well as the strategic arms limitation treaties. Perhaps most significantly, it was during the Ford administration, in April 1975, that U.S. involvement ended in the Vietnam War with the evacuation of American troops.
Ford's wife, Elizabeth "Betty" (1918-2011), was just as popular as he was, and was also the focal point of many campaign buttons. She established the famous Betty Ford Center in California for drug and alcohol addiction.
Jimmy Carter (1924- )
Term in Office: 1977-1981
Ford and Dole were defeated in the election of 1976 by the Democratic presidential candidate James "Jimmy" Earl Carter (1924-), and his vice-presidential running-mate, a United States Senator from Minnesota, Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale (1928). They become known as "Gritz and Fritz", relating to Carter's Georgia roots and Mondale's nickname. Their campaign slogan was, "Leaders for a Change." Along with being the Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter was also a peanut farmer, and the "peanut" was symbolized on numerous campaign items such as buttons, lapel pins, and bumper-stickers.
Carter also defeated third-party candidate, Eugene J. McCarthy (1916-2005), who ran as an Independent candidate in the election of 1976.
Inflation, unemployment, and very high interest rates characterized much of Carter's administration and he struggled to fix the nation's economy. A major highlight of Carter's administration was the 1978 Camp David Accord which brought peace between Israel and Egypt. Full diplomatic relations with China was also established during his term of office.
It was during Carter's administration, in 1977, that the Panama Canal Treaty was signed which eventually relinquished American control over the Canal. It was in 1980 that Carter also had the U.S. boycott the Summer Olympic Games in Moscow over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In 1979 Iranian militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans as hostage. These ongoing crises, along with the nation's economic situation were two main reasons Carter failed in his 1980 re-election bid against Ronald Reagan.
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