December 6, 1973
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President pro tempore, distinguished guests and friends:
Together we have made history here today. For the first time we have carried out the command of the 25th Amendment. In exactly 8 weeks, we have demonstrated to the world that our great Republic stands solid, stands strong upon the bedrock of the Constitution.
I am a Ford, not a Lincoln. My addresses will never be as eloquent as Mr. Lincoln's. But I will do my very best to equal his brevity and his plain speaking.
I am deeply grateful to you, Mr. President, for the trust and the confidence your nomination implies.
As I have throughout my public service under six administrations I will try to set a fine example of respect for the crushing and lonely burdens which the Nation lays upon the President of the United States. Mr. President, you have my support and my loyalty.
To the Congress assembled, my former colleagues who have elected me on behalf of our fellow countrymen I express my heartfelt thanks.
As a man of the Congress, let me reaffirm my conviction that the collective wisdom of our two great legislative bodies, while not infallible, will in the end serve the people faithfully and very, very well. I will not forget the people of Michigan who sent me to this Chamber or the friends that I have found here.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that the United States Senate intends in a very few minutes to bind me by its rules. For their Presiding Officer, this amounts practically to a vow of silence. Mr. Speaker, you know how difficult this is going to be for me.
Before I go from this House, which has been my home for a quarter century, I must say I am forever in its debt.
And particularly, Mr. Speaker, thank you for your friendship which I certainly am not leaving. To you, Mr. Speaker, and to all of my friends here, however you voted an hour ago, I say a very fond goodbye. May God bless the House of Representatives and guide all of you in the days ahead.
Mr. Chief Justice, may I thank you personally for administering the oath, and thank each of the Honorable Justices for honoring me with you attendance. I pledge to you, as I did the day I was first admitted to the bar, my dedication to the rule of law and equal justice for all Americans.
For standing by my side as she always has, there are no words to tell you, my dear wife and mother of our four wonderful- children, how much their being here means to me.
As I look into the faces that fill this familiar room, and as I imagine those faces in other rooms across the land, I do not see members of the legislative branch or the executive branch or the judicial branch, though I am very much aware of the importance of keeping the separate but coequal branches of our Federal Government in balance. I do not see Senators or Representatives, nor do I see Republicans or Democrats, vital as the two-party system is to sustain freedom and responsible government.
At this moment of visible and living unity, I see only Americans. I see Americans who love their country, Americans who work and sacrifice for their country and their children. I see Americans who pray without ceasing for peace among all nations and for harmony at home. I see new generations of concerned and courageous Americans -- but the same kind of Americans -- the children and grandchildren of those Americans who met the challenge of December 7, just 32 years ago.
Mr. Speaker, I like what I see.
Mr. Speaker, I am not discouraged. I am indeed humble to be the 40th Vice President of the United States, but I am proud -- very proud -- to be one of 200 million Americans. I promise my fellow citizens only this: To uphold the Constitution, to do what is right as God gives me to see the right, and within the limited powers and duties of the Vice Presidency to do the very best that I can for America.
I will do these things with all the strength and good sense that I have, with your help, and through your prayers.
Address delivered before a Joint Session of the Congress on December 6, 1973, immediately after taking the Oath of Office as the 40th Vice President of the United States. This text is from the folder "Inauguration Remarks, December 6, 1973" in box 127 of the Gerald R. Ford Vice Presidential Papers.
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