Gerald Ford and the Counter-Cultural Female Assassins
Many people would say that Gerald Ford’s presidency was essentially inconsequential. But his tenure saw at least a few interesting and notable firsts. Ford remains the only President in American history never to be elected Vice President or President. He was the only person in American history to become President due to a resignation. Ford also has the unique distinction of being the focus of two separate assassination attempts, both of whom were women. The late 1970s were a troubled time. Ford’s two assassination attempts and the reasons given do much to illustrate the freaked-out follies of the hippie era.
Lynnette “Squeaky” Fromme was already infamous for being part of the notorious Manson Family, a group of hippies turned social revolutionaries and murderers. Though Fromme was never found to be involved in any of the seven murders committed by various members of the Manson Family, she remained an ardent follower. So strong was Charles Manson‘s grip on Squeaky Fromme that she desperately tried to win his approval by assassinating the President. Fromme was also motivated by a radical environmentalist philosophy, likewise inspired by Manson’s drug-fueled brainwashing.
On October 5, 1975, as President Ford was leaving a hotel in California, Squeaky Fromme pushed to the front of a crowd, drew a powerful .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol and aimed it at the President. Immediately, a group of Secret Service agents tackled Fromme. As it turned out, Ford was never in any danger, as the gun was loaded, but the first bullet was not chambered. Later, Fromme claimed that she took the bullet out of the chamber deliberately, though her true intentions are still hard to determine.
She later discussed the event: “I stood up and waived a gun (at Ford) for a reason…I was so relieved not to have to shoot it, but, in truth, I came to get life. Not just my life but clean air, healthy water and respect for creatures and creation.” Her jumbled, largely incomprehensible reasoning was typical of the types of statements made by many Manson Family members during the era.
Just 17 days later Gerald Ford was the focus of another attempt on his life, this one far more serious. Again in California, a disturbed woman by the name of Sara Jane Moore came within 40 feet of President Ford, firing a .38 caliber revolver twice, narrowly missing the President, though she did injure a bystander after one of the bullets ricocheted off of a wall. Known for her left-wing politics and radical mood swings, she was convinced killing the President would be best for the country.
After her arrest, she claimed she did it “to create chaos”, also stating: “We were saying the country needed to change. The only way it was going to change was a violent revolution. I genuinely thought that (shooting Ford) might trigger that new revolution in this country.'” Only much later did Moore realize she was wrong, coming to the conclusion that “I had let myself be used”.