Gerald FordThe American public is well aware of Joe Biden’s childhood stuttering as it has been prominently covered in his three presidential campaigns and two vice-presidential campaigns. Surprisingly, an April 20, 2023, Wall Street Journal book review “’An Ordinary Man Review: Underestimating Gerald Ford” brought to light that President Gerald Ford struggled with stuttering in elementary school and junior high.

The 2023 biography An Ordinary Man: The Surprising Life and Historic Presidency of Gerald R. Ford by Richard Norton Smith discussed how President Ford’s childhood was affected by stuttering. Smith summarized Ford’s issues with stuttering, and when describing his childhood, wrote that it was “compounded by a severe case of stuttering that plagued the boy for several years.”

Many years prior to the publication of Smith’s book, the topic received coverage in a December 28, 2006, article in The Washington Post, “The Homegrown Decency of Gerald Ford,” which gave an interesting synopsis of how he successfully dealt with his debilitating stutter, “Young Jerry also had a stuttering problem (By the time he reached high school, however, the stutter was gone, as if he had miraculously laid it in his hand and flung it across a nearby lake).”

The 38th president, and the only president who was not elected president or vice president, is almost universally not known to have been a person who stutters. This legacy of the Republican president may not have received attention during his days as vice president or president, but now some 50 years after President Ford took office, the shining example of Gerald R. Ford casts stuttering in a most positive light as it proves presidential stuttering is truly bipartisan.

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was an American politician who served as the 38th president of the United States from 1974 to 1977. He previously served as the leader of the Republican Party in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1973, and as the 40th vice president under President Richard Nixon from 1973 to 1974. Ford succeeded to the presidency when Nixon resigned in 1974, but was defeated for election to a full term in 1976. Ford is the only person to become U.S. president without winning an election for president or vice president.

Ford was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan, where he played for the school's football team before eventually attending Yale Law School. Afterward, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1942 to 1946. Ford began his political career in 1949 as the U.S. representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district, serving in this capacity for nearly 25 years, the final nine of them as the House minority leader. In December 1973, two months after Spiro Agnew's resignation, Ford became the first person appointed to the vice presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment. After the subsequent resignation of President Nixon in August 1974, Ford immediately assumed the presidency.

From the Spring 2024 Magazine