GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Today marks a milestone of 50 years since Gerald R. Ford was sworn into the office of vice president.
The Grand Rapids native's rise to the vice presidency and presidency were both unique as he wasn't elected for either position. We were able to talk with the experts over at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum. Ford's move to vice president was unique and actually links back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Joel Westphal, the deputy director at the museum, explained to us that after Kennedy was killed, the government realized something needed to be done to prevent the vice presidency from being left vacant for a long period of time. They were especially concerned because the Cold War was in full swing.
In 1967 President Lyndon Johnson signed the 25th Amendment. That allowed the role of vice president to be filled by a vote of Congress and the United States Senate in the case of the Office of Vice President becoming vacant. That's exactly what happened in October of 1973 when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned.
President Nixon appointed Ford vice president, and then when Nixon resigned in 1974, Ford stepped up to the presidency.
Don't forget: you can get an up-close look at Ford's vice presidency, as well as other vice presidencies in American history, right now at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. That's at the museum through June. Next August the museum says an exhibit dedicated to Ford's swearing in as vice president will open.