Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs;
Executive Director of the Domestic Council
Domestic Council


Material on virtually all domestic policy issues of the Ford administration, the 1976 campaign, reviews of the federal budget, administration of the Domestic Council, and Cannon's earlier work on Vice President Rockefeller's staff.

35.6 linear feet (ca. 71,200 pages)

Gerald R. Ford (accession numbers 77-13, 77-32, 77-107, and 79-18)

Open. Some items are temporarily restricted under terms of the donor's deed of gift, a copy of which is available on request, or under National Archives and Records Administration general restrictions (36 CFR 1256).

Gerald R. Ford donated to the United States of America his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.

Prepared by William McNitt, December 1981 (Revised 1986 and March 1995)
[s:\bin\findaid\cannon, james - files.doc]


James M. Cannon

1918 - Born in Sylacauga, Alabama

1939 - B.S., University of Alabama

1939-40 & 1941-46 Served in the U.S. Army

1940-41 Worked for Burroughs Adding Machine Company

1947-48 - Reporter, Potsdam (NY) Herald - Recorder

1948-49 - Reporter, Gloversville (NY) Leader - Republican

1949-54 - Reporter, Baltimore Sun; in 1950 and 1951 he served as a foreign correspondent

1956-69 - Newsweek magazine; positions included: National Affairs Editor, Washington Correspondent, Chief of Correspondents, and Vice President and Assistant to the Publisher

1969-73 - Special Assistant to New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller for liaison between the State of New York and the White House and Congress

Jan.-Aug. 1974 - Special Assistant to Nelson Rockefeller with the Commission on Critical Choices for Americans

Aug.-Dec. 1974 - Nelson Rockefeller's congressional liaison for the vice presidential confirmation hearings

Jan.-Feb. 1975 - Assistant to Vice President Rockefeller

1975-77 - Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs and Executive Director of the Domestic Council

1977-80 - Administrative Assistant, then Chief of Staff to Senate Minority/Majority Leader Howard Baker

2011 - Died, Arlington, Virginia


James M. Cannon, a former journalist and aide to New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, joined the Ford administration in January 1975 as an assistant to Vice President Rockefeller. Soon thereafter, President Ford assigned the Vice President a major role in the formulation of domestic policy. On February 13, 1975, President Ford announced that Rockefeller would serve as vice chairman of the Domestic Council and oversee the day-to-day work of the Council staff.

Cannon's Role in the Ford Administration
In order to help the Vice President, the President appointed Rockefeller aides James Cannon and Richard Dunham as executive director and deputy director, respectively, of the Domestic Council staff. In addition, President Ford named Cannon to the White House staff with the title of Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs. In both of these positions Cannon succeeded Kenneth Cole, who had served since 1973. Cannon remained until the end of the Ford administration.

The Domestic council existed on two levels. It was a membership body consisting of the President, Vice President and those Cabinet secretaries concerned with domestic issues; and it was a permanent agency within the Executive Office of the President with a staff of 30 to 40 persons. Since the membership body met infrequently the staff of the Domestic Council carried on most of the work.

The duties of the executive director of the Domestic Council varied greatly from those of his staff, since he was the head of an agency and a policy advisor to the President. Domestic Council staff members developed a specialized knowledge and drafted decision memoranda, briefing papers, legislative proposals, and responses to correspondence within their areas of expertise. The executive director had a general knowledge of all issues on which his staff worked, but also spent much time on administrative duties, and representing the Domestic Council in White House meetings and meetings with government officials and lobbyists. As an Assistant to the President, Cannon also provided policy advice to the President and represented the Chief Executive at meetings with various individuals and groups.

Administrative duties handled by the executive director included the budget, hiring, and staff assignments. One of James Cannon's first projects was a reorganization of the Council in which the number of subject areas headed by associate directors increased from five to nine. Specific issues were reassigned in order to balance the workload. This reorganization and several subsequent departures from the staff left Cannon with numerous vacancies to fill during the summer of 1975. Congressional approval of an increase from 30 to 40 staff members in the spring of 1976 led to the hiring of several new assistant directors during the rest of the year.

Besides holding frequent meetings with individual staff members, he instituted weekly staff meetings, weekly progress reports from staff members, and computer control over correspondence and the staffing enrolled bills. During much of 1976, his deputy Art Quern submitted a daily "Morning Report" detailing upcoming deadlines. These tools allowed Cannon to keep track of the issues work of his staff.

Cannon or his deputy reviewed all draft memoranda, correspondence and briefing material produced by the staff for the President and, after determining that they were clearly written, presented all options, and were factually accurate, forwarded them to Richard Cheney's office for eventual presentation to the President.

Cannon had a busy schedule of meetings and public appearances, often seeing people that the President could not accommodate on his schedule. Cannon also testified before congressional committees, participated in meetings between the President and groups lobbying for specific policies, and met with such persons as members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, businessmen, labor leaders, and other individuals to discuss their views on issues. In addition he regularly attended meetings of the White House senior staff, a legislative liaison group, and the Economic Policy Board. During the 1976 election campaign he participated in meetings of the campaign issues group.

Scope and Content of the Cannon Files
James Cannon's files cover all of his activities from March 1975 until January 1977, with a small amount of earlier material. The collection is divided into series concerning his issues work, political activities, meetings, department and agency budget reviews, and the administration of the Domestic Council.

In general Cannon's Issue File and the material on issues in the Meetings File are useful as an overview of the handling of each domestic issue by the Domestic Council staff. The files of individual staff members, however, contain much more detailed information on each issue.

Cannon's Meetings File is weakened by the lack of documentation on many meetings. Folders on meetings in which the President participated often contain briefing papers, correspondence, memoranda and Cannon's notes on the meeting. A problem is that these notes are usually sketchy and Cannon's handwriting is hard to decipher. For meetings not attended by the President there are few briefing papers, but some correspondence and memoranda. for meetings held within the White House on a regular basis (such as senior staff meetings or Domestic Council staff meetings) documentation is negligible. A few notes written by Cannon, often on the folder itself, may be the entire record of a meeting. Many folders were empty when received by the Ford Library. This does not necessarily mean the files were weeded. The folders may have been created routinely on the basis of Cannon's schedule, available background material added, and given to Cannon for any note taking or reference.

Researchers interested in the 1976 election campaign may find little of interest in Cannon's small Political File. While Cannon was involved in the campaign, he did not hold a key position and his files contain only scattered items of interest.

In addition to the material on domestic issues the greatest strength of the Cannon files lies in documenting the organization and management of the Domestic Council. The Administrative File contains weekly staff reports, Art Quern's "Morning Reports", and staff memoranda which record the activities of the staff. Also included are memoranda and scattered reports, clippings, and publications concerning such topics as Cannon's reorganization of the staff in 1975, the work of the Domestic Council Review Group for Federal Social Programs, and the budget and operation of the Domestic Council.

The Cannon files, especially his Administrative File, contain significant materials relating to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and his staff. As the highest ranking former Rockefeller aide on President Ford's staff, Cannon was the chief White House contact for many of his former colleagues. Since the Vice President had oversight over the work of the Domestic Council for most of 1975, Cannon worked closely with the Vice Presidential staff, especially John Veneman.

While this Rockefeller material dates from Cannon's entire service with the Ford administration, much of it is from the first half of 1975. Included are memoranda, vice presidential schedules, and briefing materials concerning Cannon's service on the Vice Presidential staff in early 1975, his transition to the Domestic Council and the first few months of work in his new position. Among the materials pre-dating Cannon's service with the Domestic Council are a briefing book on the Council prepared for Vice President Rockefeller in January 1975 and memoranda concerning the initiation of a study of national domestic needs.

Related Materials (March 1995)
A key related collection is the personal papers donated to the Library by Mr. Cannon. Other related materials include all Domestic Council staff files, especially those concerning specifically the administration of the Council - the files of Kenneth Cole, James H. Cavanaugh, Arthur F. Quern, Judith Johnston, and the Secretariat.

Although Cannon's files contain materials on meetings of the Economic Policy Board and other scattered items on the economy, the Domestic Council did not handle most domestic economic issues. These are more fully documented in, for example, the files of L. William Seidman, Assistant to the President for Economic affairs, and the record of the Council of Economic Advisors.


Issues File, 1972‑77.  (Boxes 1‑40, 16.0 linear feet)
Memoranda to and from the President, the Domestic Council staff, and departmental and agency officials; briefing papers; drafts of Presidential speeches and statements; drafts of legislation; enrolled bills; meeting notes; press releases; reports; occasional correspondence with members of Congress, state and local officials and the general public; and newspaper clippings. This file concerns legislation drafted by the administration or proposed by members of Congress; and the work of the Domestic Council in identifying major policy problems, coordinating the formulation of policy options, initiating factual analyses, reviewing legislative proposals, and establishing guidelines for implementing laws. Major topics include: aircraft noise control, busing, crime, drug abuse, energy, intergovernmental affairs, a nuclear policy statement, the status of Puerto Rico, regulatory reform, revenue sharing, and uranium enrichment. Researchers should also consult the Meetings File for information on meetings attended by Cannon in which specific issues were discussed.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

View digital copies of the documents in this series

Political File, 1975-76.  (Boxes 41‑42, 0.8 linear feet)
Memoranda to and from the President and members of the White House staff, meeting notes, schedules, occasional correspondence with the public and Republican officials, press releases, and newspaper clippings. This series concerns Republican politics during the Ford administration, especially President Ford's campaign in 1976. Included is material on Cannon's activities with the campaign issues group and the White House coordinators group.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

View digital copies of the documents in this series

Meetings File, 1975-77.  (Boxes 43-63, 8.4 linear feet)
Memoranda to and from the President, the White House staff, and the Domestic Council staff; briefing papers; meeting notes; agenda; and resumes. This series concerns Cannon's meetings with his staff, the President, Cabinet members, members of Congress, businessmen, labor leaders, lobbyists, persons seeking jobs with the Domestic council and others. The meetings held most frequently include those of the Domestic Council staff, the White House senior staff, a legislative liaison group, and the Economic Policy Board. While many folders in this series contain little material or were received empty, those concerning the Economic Policy Board generally contain minutes of meetings and copies of policy papers discussed at the meetings. Researchers should consult the Issues File for related material.

Arranged chronologically by the date of the meeting, with a separate folder on each meeting.

View digital copies of the documents in this series

Budget File, 1975-76.  (Boxes 64-66, 1.2 linear feet)
Budget related memoranda to and from the President, Domestic Council staff, and officials of the departments and agencies; press releases; and especially agency and department budget requests. The latter were widely distributed documents which indicated program statements, with both agency and OMB funding recommendations and the previous year's funding level. This material was apparently sent to Cannon for a review by his staff. There are few annotations, and this may be Cannon's reference set.

Arranged by fiscal year and thereunder alphabetically by type of review (i.e. Presidential review, Director review, etc.) and then alphabetically by the name of the department or agency.

View digital copies of the documents in this series

Administrative File, 1969-76.  (Boxes 67-89, 9.2 linear feet)
Memoranda to and from government officials and others; briefing papers; briefing books; and weekly reports of Domestic Council staff members. This series concerns Cannon's administrative activities; the budget, organization and operation of the Domestic Council; a chronological compilation of issues briefing books for the President; a chronological compilation of memoranda and briefing materials supplied to the President by the Domestic Council; and some Presidential trips. Many sequences of material in this file are incomplete. This series was formed by combining some files received from Cannon with files received from Pat McKee, his administrative assistant.

Arranged alphabetically by subject and thereunder chronologically.

View container list for this series


Box 1               Issues File

Box 2                Issues File

Box 3                Issues File

Box 4                Issues File

Box 5                Issues File

Box 6                Issues File

Box 7                Issues File

Box 8                Issues File

Box 9                Issues File

Box 10              Issues File

Box 11              Issues File

Box 12              Issues File

Box 13              Issues File

Box 14              Issues File

Box 15              Issues File

Box 16              Issues File

Box 17              Issues File

Box 18              Issues File

Box 19              Issues File

Box 20              Issues File

Box 21              Issues File

Box 22              Issues File

Box 23              Issues File

Box 24              Issues File

Box 25              Issues File

Box 26              Issues File

Box 27              Issues File

Box 28              Issues File

Box 29              Issues File

Box 30              Issues File

Box 31              Issues File

Box 32              Issues File

Box 33              Issues File

Box 34              Issues File

Box 35              Issues File

Box 36              Issues File

Box 37              Issues File

Box 38              Issues File

Box 39              Issues File

Box 40              Issues File

Box 41             Political File

Box 42              Political File

Box 43             Meetings File

Box 44              Meetings File

Box 45              Meetings File

Box 46              Meetings File

Box 47              Meetings File

Box 48              Meetings File

Box 49              Meetings File

Box 50              Meetings File

Box 51              Meetings File

Box 52              Meetings File

Box 53              Meetings File

Box 54              Meetings File

Box 55              Meetings File

Box 56              Meetings File

Box 57              Meetings File

Box 58              Meetings File

Box 59              Meetings File

Box 60              Meetings File

Box 61              Meetings File

Box 62              Meetings File

Box 63              Meetings File

Box 64              Budget File

Box 65              Budget File

Box 66              Budget File

Box 67              Administrative File

  • "Assessing Social Innovations" by John P. Gilbert, et. al. (1)-(2)
  • Bills Received at the White House (1)-(2)
  • Cabinet Memoranda and Correspondence (1)-(2)
  • Cannon - Chronological File
  • Cannon - Invitations (1)-(6)

Box 68              Administrative File

  • Cannon - Invitations (7)-(10)
  • Cannon - Personal
  • Cannon - Schedules
  • Conflict of Interest Reference Book
  • Congress - New Members
  • Congressional Mail Reports (1)-(2)
  • Domestic Council
    - Administration (1)-(3)
    - Briefing Book for the Vice President

Box 69              Administrative File

  • Domestic Council
    - Budget (1)-(3)
    - Budget: Meeting, October 1, 1975
    - Management Initiatives
    - Organization (1)-(9)
    - Organization: Meeting, July 1, 1975
    - Public Forums, 1975/10/21: Denver, CO

Box 70              Administrative File

  • Domestic Council
    - Public Forums, 1975/10/29: Tampa Bay, FL
    - Public Forums, 1975/11/10: Austin, TX
    - Public Forums, 1975/11/18: Philadelphia, PA
    - Public Forums, 1975/12/09: Los Angeles, CA
    - Public Forums: Final Report (1)-(6)
    - Public Forums: Miscellaneous

Box 71              Administrative File

  • Domestic Council
    - Requests from the Public for Information
    - Review Group for Federal Social Programs (1)-(4)
    - Staff Vacations
    - Transition Report
  • Ford Administration Two Year Report
  • Issues Book: 1972 (1)-(6)

Box 72              Administrative File

  • Issues Book: 1974/08/17 - 1974/12/11
  • Issues Book: Updates, 1974/12-1975/01

Box 73              Administrative File

  • Issues Book: Updates, 1975/02-1976/05

Box 74              Administrative File

  • Issues Book: Updates, 1976/05-1976/09

Box 75              Administrative File

  • Issues Book: Updates, 1976/09-1976/10
  • McKee Chronological File (1)-(2)

Box 76              Administrative File

  • McKee Notes (1)-(2)
  • Miscellaneous
  • Morning Report (1)-(5)
  • Newspaper Clippings
  • Policy and Planning (1)-(3)
  • Polls
  • Presidential Briefing Papers, 1974/08

Box 77              Administrative File

  • Presidential Briefing Papers, 1975/02-1975/09

Box 78              Administrative File

  • Presidential Briefing Papers, 1975/09-1975/12
  • Presidential Memoranda from Cannon, 1975/03-1975/04

Box 79              Administrative File

  • Presidential Memoranda from Cannon, 1975/04-1975/07

Box 80              Administrative File

  • Presidential Memoranda from Cannon, 1975/08-1975/12

Box 81              Administrative File

  • Presidential Memoranda from Cannon, 1976/01
  • Presidential Opinions
  • Presidential Trips, 1975/03/17 - South Bend, IN
  • Presidential Trips, 1975/04/03-04 - San Francisco, CA
  • Presidential Trips, 1975/04/18 - Concord, NH
  • Presidential Trips, 1975/09/04-05 - Sacramento, CA
  • Presidential Trips, 1975/09/30 - Chicago, IL
  • Presidential Trips, 1975/10/07 - Knoxville, TN
  • Presidential Trips, 1975/11/07 - Boston, MA
  • Presidential Trips, 1976/10/12-13 - New York, NY (1)-(3)

Box 82              Administrative File

  • Presidential Trips - Q&A Briefing Sheets, 1974/08-1975/04
  • Referrals to the Staff (1)

Box 83              Administrative File

  • Referrals to the Staff (2)-(12)
  • Ryan, Kathleen - Log Book
  • Staff Memoranda
    - Cavanaugh
    - Dunham (1)-(2)

Box 84              Administrative File

  • Staff Memoranda
    - Falk (1)-(4)
    - Halper
    - Hullin
    - Humphreys
    - Leach
    - Lissy
    - McKee (1)-(4)

Box 85              Administrative File

  • Staff Memoranda
    - McKee (5)
    - Massengale
    - May (1)-(2)
    - Needham (1)-(2)
    - Raoul-Duval
  • Study of National Domestic Needs (1)-(5)

Box 86              Administrative File

  • Vice Presidential Memoranda (1)-(9)
  • Vice Presidential Schedules
  • Vice Presidential Trips, 1975/01/29 - Milburn, NJ
  • Vice Presidential Trips, 1975/11/20-21 - Wichita, KS
  • Watch List, 1976/09/15 (1)-(3)

Box 87              Administrative File

  • Watch List, 1976/09/15 (4)-(6)
  • Watch List, 1976/10/07 (1)-(2)
  • Weekly Briefing Notes on U.S. Domestic Developments (1)-(6)

Box 88              Administrative File

  • Weekly Briefing Notes on U.S. Domestic Developments (7)-(17)
  • Weekly Reports (1)-(2)

Box 89              Administrative File

  • Weekly Reports (3)-(11)
  • White House Staff - Memoranda and Correspondence
  • White House Staff - Organization
  • White House Telephone Directory
  • Publications Removed for Transfer to the Book Collection