A pardon, the papers and the infamous tapes -- all had to be confronted by a man from Grand Rapids who was newly placed in the Oval Office on the heels of Watergate. President Gerald R. Ford needed advice.
Benton Becker was a trusted attorney who played a prominent role in President Ford's decision to grant a full pardon to former President Richard Nixon in 1974.
On August 19, Becker will discuss Ford's most controversial decision, as part of the 1,000 Day Lecture Series. The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum are sponsoring the series that will bring insiders and scholars to Grand Rapids. From different perspectives, these speakers will discuss the chaos in the wake of Watergate and Ford's role in bringing order and honor back to the White House.
After concluding that Ford had the authority to pardon Nixon, Becker was sent to negotiate the pardon and to discuss the control of Nixon's papers and tapes.
"Benton Becker was in the trenches during the first days of the Ford administration, trying to keep the new president from taking too much hostile fire while trying to work out an extremely controversial pardon with the former president," says Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley. "Hardly anybody alive today has better insight into what it was like to work in the White House during that tumultuous time in our nation's history."
Gerald Ford's Most Courageous Decision: Pardoning Nixon
Benton Becker, former trial attorney U.S. Department of Justice and former assistant U.S. attorney
Thursday, August 19, 2004 8 p.m.
Gerald R. Ford Museum Auditorium
303 Pearl Street, Grand Rapids
Seating for the lecture is limited. Call Grand Valley State's Hauenstein Center at (616) 331-2770 to reserve a seat. Visit the Hauenstein Center's Web site at www.allpresidents.org.