Northridge, California: Lord John Press, 1984. Signed, numbered, and finely bound first edition. Hardcover. This is a unique presentation copy of the limited edition of President Gerald R. Ford's 30 November 1983 “Churchill Lecture” address to the English-Speaking Union in London, inscribed to one of his lifelong friends, signed twice, and accompanied by a typed signed letter gifting the book. Of a total of 350 copies, 250 were bound thus, in quarter linen with mahogany patterned paper-covered boards featuring President Ford’s facsimile signature in gilt on the front cover, each copy signed by Ford on the recto following the title page verso.
This unique copy is doubtless among a small number of presentation copies reserved for the President. Rather than being numbered on the limitation page, this copy is printed “Presentation copy”. Below his signature, Ford additionally inscribed and signed in four lines “To my very good friend, Pete Cook, | with admiration and appreciation. | Warmest best regards. | Gerald R. Ford”. Laid in on a single sheet of Ford’s stationery is a four-paragraph typed letter dated “February 13, 1985", gifting the book and thanking Cook for his “generous contribution to the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, which is so deeply appreciated.” Ford signed “Jerry Ford”. Condition is near fine, the contents immaculate, the binding just lightly scuffed at the lower front cover and still-sharp corners.
The recipient, Peter Cornelius Cook (1914-2010) was a prominent Michigan businessman and philanthropist who attended high school with Ford. They became lifelong friends. Cook supported not only his friend’s political career, but also celebration of his life and legacy. Cook championed and financially backed the Ford Library in Ann Arbor as well as the Museum, which Cook successfully advocated situating in their shared hometown of Grand Rapids. The English-Speaking Union (ESU) is an international educational charity founded in 1918. Winston Churchill was Chairman of the ESU from 1921 to 1925 and The Churchill Lecture is the most prestigious event in the annual ESU programme. The Churchill medal of honour is awarded every year at the annual Churchill Lecture, where the awardee delivers the address. On November 30, 1983 President Gerald R. Ford delivered the annual address on "the problems, perils, challenges and opportunities confronting the English-speaking peoples of today." Ford's substantial lecture is reflective, intelligent, witty, and repeatedly references Churchill.
History has been kinder to Churchill than to Ford. Churchill was called upon to lead his nation in the face of tyranny and oppression. To Ford fell the comparatively thankless and less ennobling task of protecting his nation from its own political and economic excesses. Gerald R. "Jerry" Ford Jr. (1913-2006) was the 38th President of the United States. A gifted athlete, Ford turned down professional football career opportunities in favor of Yale University and a law degree. Following his distinguished service in the Second World War, Ford swiftly found his footing in civilian life; he was both married and elected to Congress by the end of 1948. He would be re-elected to his Grand Rapids, Michigan seat 12 times. His ascendance to the Presidency took a tumultuous and dizzying trajectory unique in the annals of American politics. Ford was House Minority Leader in October 1973 when the resignation of scandal-plagued Vice President Spiro Agnew led to Ford's appointment to take his place. Less than a year later, on 9 August 1974, Ford became President when Nixon himself resigned in disgrace. Ford's pardon of both Nixon and Vietnam draft dodgers, economic malaise, an energy crisis, the ignominious end of the Vietnam War, and the internal and external challenges of the Republican Party all contributed to Ford's defeat by Carter in 1976. Though the pardon cost Ford dearly, the judgment of history appears to be slowly taking a more sympathetic view of the necessity, which less and less weighs against Ford's lifelong reputation for integrity. Item #005935