Historical Highlights

President Gerald R. Ford’s First Joint Session of Congress

August 12, 1974
President Gerald R. Ford’s First Joint Session of Congress Image courtesy of Library of Congress Gerald R. Ford assumed the presidency in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
On this date, President Gerald R. Ford addressed a Joint Session of Congress on the House Floor as the 38th President of the United States. Three days earlier, on August 9, 1974, Ford had officially assumed presidential duties, after President Richard M. Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal. The former House Minority Leader used his speech before the Joint Session to reassure Americans and refocus the nation on its unfinished business. “My fellow Americans, we have a lot of work to do. My former colleagues, you and I have a lot of work to do. Let’s get on with it.” Addressing Congress directly, the President continued, “I do not want a honeymoon with you. I want a good marriage.” During his tenure as President, however, Ford vetoed 66 bills. The Democratically controlled Congress overrode 12 of those vetoes, the greatest percentage of overrides since President Andrew Johnson. In his memoirs, Ford, a 13-term House veteran, alluded to the inherent tension between the two branches of government, “When I was in the Congress myself,” Ford wrote, “I thought it fulfilled its constitutional obligations in a very responsible way, but after I became president, my perspective changed.”

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Fast Facts

Future President Gerald Ford of Michigan served as Minority Leader from the 89th to 93rd Congresses (1965–1973).

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