Published December 27, 2006
Following are selected quotes from Gerald R. Ford:
On how he would like history to remember him:
"I hope and trust that people and historians 50 years from now will write that the Ford administration took over in a very turbulent, controversial period, and we healed the wounds and that we restored public trust in the White House and the presidency. I hope that's how it will be written."
On his work on the Warren Commission and the Kennedy assassination:
"No. 1, Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin. And two, the commission found no evidence of a conspiracy, foreign or domestic. And in my judgment, there has been no new evidence that would undercut those two conclusions, Oliver Stone notwithstanding."
On pardoning Richard Nixon:
"We needed to get the matter off my desk in the Oval Office so I could concentrate on the problems of 260 million Americans and not have to worry about the problems of one man."
From his inauguration speech:
"Our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men."
On his views on domestic policy:
"A government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have."
Accepting his John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award:
"To know John Kennedy, as I did, was to understand the true meaning of the word. He understood that courage is not something to be gauged in a poll or located in a focus group. No adviser can spin it. No historian can backdate it. For, in the age old contest between popularity and principle, only those willing to lose for their convictions are deserving of posterity's approval."
Comment during U.S. House committee hearing, 1973:
Truth is the glue that holds government together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go.
On Americans who avoided conscription during the Vietnam War, to Veterans of Foreign Wars:
"As I rejected amnesty, so I reject revenge. I ask all Americans who ever asked for goodness and mercy in their lives, who ever sought forgiveness for their trespasses, to join in rehabilitating all the casualties of the tragic conflict of the past."
On stepping into the presidency vacated by the resignation of Richard Nixon:
"I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots, so I ask you to confirm me with your prayers."
His pardoning of Richard Nixon:
"There are no historic or legal precedents to which I can turn in this matter, none that precisely fit the circumstances of a private citizen who has resigned the presidency of the United States. ... Many months and perhaps more years will have to pass before Richard Nixon could hope to obtain a fair trial by jury ... But it is not the ultimate fate of Richard Nixon that most concerns me ... but the immediate future of this great country. ... Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, president of the United States ... have granted and do grant a full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he ... has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from Jan. 20, 1969, through Aug. 9, 1974."
Repeating his truth in government philosophy, 1974:
"I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad. In all my public and private acts as your president, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end."
On his pardon of Richard Nixon for Watergate:
"It can go on and on, or someone must write 'The End' to it. I have concluded that only I can do that. And if I can, I must."
"Our inflation, our public enemy number one, will, unless whipped, destroy our country, our homes, our liberties, our property and finally our national pride as surely as will a well-armed wartime enemy."
"When I talk about energy, I am talking about jobs. Our American economy runs on energy. No energy — no jobs."
On becoming vice president, December 1973:
"I am a Ford, not a Lincoln."
On Ronald Reagan:
"He was one of the few political leaders I have ever met whose public speeches revealed more than his private conversations."
Following the two assassination attempts on him:
"The American people want a dialogue between them and their president ... And if we can’t have that opportunity of talking with one another, seeing one another, shaking hands with one another, something has gone wrong in our society."
"The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?"
"All of us who served in one war or another know very well that all wars are the glory and the agony of the young."
"I know I am getting better at golf because I am hitting fewer spectators."
"All my children have spoken for themselves since they first learned to speak, and not always with my advance approval, and I expect that to continue in the future."
"It's the quality of the ordinary, the straight, the square, that accounts for the great stability and success of our nation. It's a quality to be proud of. But it's a quality that many people seem to have neglected."
"We ... declared our independence 200 years ago, and we are not about to lose it now to paper shufflers and computers."
“Things are more like today than they have ever been before.”
"I watch a lot of baseball on the radio."
"Teddy Roosevelt ... once said, 'Speak softly and carry a big stick.' Jimmy Carter wants to speak loudly and carry a fly swatter."
"When I became president, I did not want to have a powerful chief of staff. Wilson had his Colonel House, Eisenhower his Sherman Adams, Nixon his Halderman, and I was aware of the trouble those top assistants had caused my predecessors."
"If the government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take away everything you have."
"The Constitution is the bedrock of all our freedoms; guard and cherish it; keep honor and order in your own house; and the republic will endure."