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The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum. The Ford Library in Ann Arbor. The Ford Museum in Grand Rapids. Overview of Holdings. - 21 million pages of materials 400+ sets of papers 500,000 audiovisual items 17,000 artifacts

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The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum

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the ford library in ann arbor
The Ford Library in Ann Arbor

The Ford Museum

in Grand Rapids

overview of holdings
Overview of Holdings
  • - 21 million pages of materials
  • 400+ sets of papers
  • 500,000 audiovisual items
  • 17,000 artifacts
  • holdings include Congressional, Vice Presidential, and Presidential materials
congressman ford and vietnam
Congressman Ford and Vietnam
  • Serves in the Navy during WWII. The experience changed his world view.
  • Seat on the House Subcommittee on Defense.
  • Tours Vietnam in 1953.
  • By the late 1960s Gerald Ford still felt the North Vietnamese could be defeated.
  • Paris Peace Accord signed in January 1973.
  • War Powers Act of 1973 signed in November.

Richard Nixon announces

end of

Vietnam War


Gerald Ford


38th President

of the

United States

“Almost by definition, the decisions that must be made in the Oval Office are difficult. If they’re easy, they’re made elsewhere in the federal bureaucracy.”

Gerald R. Ford

38th President of the United States

“It was the saddest hour of my time in the White House, sitting in the Oval Office and watching those last Americans being finally evacuated from Vietnam. To see United States troops kicked out, literally, was a hard thing for a President to swallow, and hard for most Americans to swallow.”
timeline 1974
  • August 9: Gerald R. Ford sworn in as 38th President of the United States
  • August 12: Gerald Ford addresses a Joint Session of Congress
  • August 13: Congress cuts the budget for South Vietnam in half.
  • August 19: Addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Chicago, announcing his Clemency Program
  • September 16: Unveils Clemency Program
  • December 30: Ford signs Foreign Assistance Act of 1974
timeline 1975
  • January: North Vietnam steps up movement into South Vietnam.
  • March 25: Ford meets with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor Major General Brent Scowcroft, Ambassador Graham Martin, Army Chief of Staff General Frederick C. Weyand.
  • March 26: State Department announces beginning of evacuation of remaining U.S. personnel and Vietnamese refugees.
  • April: Evacuation of South Vietnamese orphans, “Operation Baby Lift.”
  • April 4: Receives General Weyand’s memo regarding the status of South Vietnam
  • April 5: Meets with General Weyand … report on situation
  • Meets with National Security Council
  • April 10: Addressed Joint Session of Congress
  • April 14: Senate Foreign Relations Committee requests a meeting with President Ford
  • April 17: Khmer Rouge troops take Cambodia
  • April 23: Gives Tulane University Speech
  • April 25: Final siege of Saigon begins
  • April 28: Air Force halts evacuation flights because of artillery attacks.
  • Ford convenes NSC
  • Ford orders final evacuation
  • April 29: In 16 hours 6,500 Americans and South Vietnamese are evacuated from Saigon.
North Vietnamese forces step up their advance into South Vietnam. By the end of March 1975 they control most of the country.

Ambassador Graham Martin, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Frederick Weyand, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger discuss the situation in Vietnam, March 25, 1975.

april 10 president ford addresses a joint session of congress
April 10President Ford Addresses aJoint Session of Congress

President Truman's resolution must guide us today. Our purpose is not to point the finger of blame, but to build upon our many successes, to repair damage where we find it, to recover our balance, to move ahead as a united people. Tonight is a time for straight talk among friends, about where we stand and where we are going.

A vast human tragedy has befallen our friends in Vietnam and Cambodia. Tonight I shall not talk only of obligations arising from legal documents. Who can forget the enormous sacrifices of blood, dedication, and treasure that we made in Vietnam?

Under five Presidents and 12 Congresses, the United States was engaged in Indochina. Millions of Americans served, thousands died, and many more were wounded, imprisoned, or lost. Over $150 billion have been appropriated for that war by the Congress of the United States. And after years of effort, we negotiated, under the most difficult circumstances, a settlement which made it possible for us to remove our military forces and bring home with pride our American prisoners. This settlement, if its terms had been adhered to, would have permitted our South Vietnamese ally, with our material and moral support, to maintain its security and rebuild after two decades of war.

The chances for an enduring peace after the last American fighting man left Vietnam in 1973 rested on two publicly stated premises: first, that if necessary, the United States would help sustain the terms of the Paris accords it signed 2 years ago, and second, that the United States would provide adequate economic and military assistance to South Vietnam.

april 23 president ford speaks at tulane university
April 23President Ford Speaks At Tulane University

Today, America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned. As I see it, the time has come to look forward to an agenda for the future, to unify, to bind up the Nation's wounds, and to restore its health and its optimistic self-confidence.

the final 48 hours
The Final 48 Hours

April 28

The Air Force halts evacuation flights.

The President convenes a meeting of the National Security Council.

Just before midnight, Gerald Ford orders the final evacuation of Saigon.

Scowcroft (Situation Room) to Martin: “Insure that all 400 Americans in the Embassy compound are evacuated in this operation ASAP. “

9:47 a.m. EST

1:42 p.m. Zulu Time


From Secy. Of State Kissinger to Martin (via Brown)“IBM headquarters reports its personnel still in Saigon and is most disturbed. Do what you can.”

10:11 a.m. EST

2:11 p.m. Zulu Time

the end
The End

In 16 hours, United States forces evacuated 6,500 Americans and South Vietnamese from Saigon, ending decades of American involvement in the area.

refugees immigration
Refugees & Immigration
  • There were now over 120,000 South Vietnamese refugees … men, women, and children who had nowhere to go.
  • On April 30, 1975 Gerald Ford requested $507 million from Congress for refugee transport and care.
  • The United States House of Representatives rejected that request the following day.

President Gerald R. Ford's Remarks Announcing a Program for the Return of Vietnam Era Draft Evaders and Military Deserters

September 16, 1974

Good morning:

In my first week as President, I asked the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense to report to me, after consultation with other Governmental officials and private citizens concerned, on the status of those young Americans who have been convicted, charged, investigated, or are still being sought as draft evaders or military deserters.

On August 19, at the national convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars in the city of Chicago, I announced my intention to give these young people a chance to earn their return to the mainstream of American society so that they can, if they choose, contribute, even though belatedly, to the building and the betterment of our country and the world.

I did this for the simple reason that for American fighting men, the long and divisive war in Vietnam has been over for more than a year, and I was determined then, as now, to do everything in my power to bind up the Nation's wounds.

I promised to throw the weight of my Presidency into the scales of justice on the side of leniency and mercy, but I promised also to work within the existing system of military and civilian law and the precedents set by my predecessors who faced similar postwar situations, among them Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Harry S. Truman.

draft evaders and military deserters
  • 24 months of alternate service
  • Clemency Review Board
  • The primary purpose of this program is the reconciliation of all our people and the restoration of the essential unity of Americans within which honest differences of opinion do not descend to angry discord and mutual problems are not polarized by excessive passion.
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