Assassination Attempts on Gerald Ford

In September 1975, Gerald Ford survived two assassination attempts in the space of 17 days.

Ford was famously (among quizzers, at any rate) the only person ever to serve as both President and Vice President of the United States, without being elected to either office. He was appointed Vice President by Richard Nixon in December 1973, following the resignation of Spiro Agnew, and he became President in August 1974 following Nixon's own resignation.

On 5 September 1975, on the grounds of the California State Capitol at Sacramento, Lynette Fromme drew a Colt .45 pistol on Ford when he reached to shake her hand in a crowd. She had four cartridges in the pistol's magazine, but none in the firing chamber, and as a result the gun misfired. She was quickly restrained by a Secret Service agent. Fromme was sentenced to life in prison, but was released from custody on 14 August 2009 (2 years and 8 months after Ford's death).

Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme was a follower of Charles Manson. She was given the nickname 'Squeaky' by George Spahn, the octogenarian owner of the ranch where Manson's 'Family' lived, because of the noise she made when he ran his hand up her thigh. (Spahn apparently gave nicknames to several other members of the 'Family'.)

Just 17 days after Fromme's attempt, in San Francisco, Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at Ford from a distance of 40 feet. A bystander, Oliver Sipple, grabbed Moore's arm and the shot missed Ford, striking a wall and slightly injuring taxi driver John Ludwig. Moore was tried and convicted in federal court, and sentenced to life imprisonment. She served over 30 years, and was parolled from a federal prison on 31 December 2007 (more than one year after Ford's natural death.)

In the 1976 Presidential Election, Ford beat Ronald Reagan – who was then the former Governor of California – to the Republican nomination, but lost the election itself to Jimmy Carter. In less than three years (OK, just over three years if you count his 'lame duck' period) he had won and lost both the Vice Presidency and the Presidency.

© Haydn Thompson 2017