History In Ink®  Historical Autographs


1421601

Gerald R. Ford

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Facing reelection, the Republican Ford courts voters in a Democratic precinct that he previously lost 3 to 1:

“My purpose in writing you is to request your helpful and constructive criticism on what I can do to secure your support

Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr., born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., 1913–2006.  38th President of the United States, 19741977.  Typed Letter Signed, Jerry Ford, one page, 8” x 10½”, on stationery of the Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., July 1, 1954. 

This letter provides a fascinating glimpse into the political mind of the gregarious Ford.  Although he captured two-thirds of the overall vote in Michiganʼs 5th Congressional District during the Eisenhower landslide of 1952, Ford lost Grand Rapidsʼ 1st Precinct by a 3:1 ratio—635 to 194.  Obviously bothered by such a negative result, Ford courts voters—particularly Democrats—in that precinct in advance of the 1954 election.  Extraordinarily, he thinks it necessary to introduce himself as “your representative in Congress for three terms.”  He writes, in full: 

We note that you live in the area of the 1st precinct of the 1st ward in the City of Grand Rapids.

In the 1952 General Election, 829 persons voted in this precinct.  Of this number the Democratic nominee received 635 votes and I received 194 votes.  Quite frankly I want to do better if possible in this precinct.

I am writing a personal letter to each family in this area securing the names and addresses from the Grand Rapids City Directory.  I know from experience that it is sometimes difficult to get all the facts on any candidate.  My purpose in writing to you is to request your helpful and constructive criticism on what I can do to secure your support.  I conscientiously try to represent all the people in the Fifth District regardless of party affiliation.  I can do this more successfully if you will make your views on many legislative problems known to me.

For your general information I have been your Representative in Congress for three terms, being first elected in 1948.  For the past six years I have endeavored to do the best job possible for all our people in order to insure peace and prosperity throughout the world.

Your cooperation in letting me know what I can do to merit your support will be greatly appreciated.  I want to work with you and for you.

Ford need not have worried about reelection.  Although fewer voters cast ballots in the 1954 off-year election, Ford pulled nearly two-thirds of the vote in the Fifth District again and easily defeated his Democratic challenger, Robert S. McAllister, by a vote of 81,702 to 47,453.

Ford went on to be elected to Congress a total of 13 times and became the House Minority Leader in January 1965.  He served in Congress until President Richard M. Nixon chose him to be Vice President upon the resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew in 1973.  Ford served as Vice President from December 6, 1973, until he succeeded to the presidency upon Nixonʼs resignation on August 9, 1974.

This letter has never been offered on the autograph market before.  Although it is a form letter, likely none of the others like it has survived, since voters to whom the three-term congressman nevertheless had to introduce himself would have had little reason to keep his entreaty.  At least we have found no other copies in our search of auction records.  The letter is toned from prior display in an old frame—derided as “cute” by the recipient, who was not a fan of Ford.  Ford has signed it with a large fountain pen signature.  It has one horizontal mailing fold and shows a bit of handling as well.  The signature is faded to brown but is still bold.  Overall the letter is in fine condition. 

Unframed.  Please ask us about custom framing this piece.

 

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$250.00

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