Gerald Ford

Who is the only U.S. President to serve as both President and Vice President without being elected to either office?

And the answer: Gerald Ford.      

In 1972, Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew won the Republican ticket for President and Vice President. The next year, Agnew resigned due to scandal, and Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as VP. The following year, Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal, and Ford became President.

Photo credit: public domain.

Gerald Ford is known as the President who wasn't meant to be. After growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and graduating from Yale Law School, Ford served in the U.S. Navy in World War II before earning a seat in the U.S. Congress. During his 25 years in Congress, Ford rose through the ranks to become the Republican House Minority Leader. Known for his work on foreign policy, the space program, and the Warren Commission, Ford's high regard in Congress ultimately brought his name to the top of the list after Agnew's resignation.  

Nixon recognized Ford's popularity within the House of Representatives, and chose him knowing he would not have to fight for his confirmation. However, less than a year after Ford became Vice President, Nixon became the first President to resign from office, leading Ford to yet another job upgrade. He was sworn in as President of the United States on August 9, 1974. A month later, he pardoned Nixon in the single most controversial act of his presidency.

But Ford had other problems to tackle. The new President inherited a country riddled with insecurity and loss following the Vietnam War — he even faced such extremes as two assassination attempts on his life. Yet, Ford still managed to claim some foreign policy victories. He was the first President to visit Japan, and effectively negotiated a detente with the Soviet Union. Ultimately, he lost reelection to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Learn more about this unique President below.


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