Gerald Ford was perfectly happy being a Michigan congressman and House minority leader. But Ford's congressional career abruptly ended in 1973, when President Richard Nixon appointed him to succeed Vice President Spiro Agnew, who had resigned amid revelations of misconduct. Within a year, Ford's political fortunes took yet another sharp turn. On August 9, 1974, with Nixon himself forced to resign from office, Ford became the only unelected vice president to succeed to the White House.
Ford's pardoning of Nixon shortly thereafter drew angry criticism. Nevertheless, his conciliatory leadership succeeded in restoring a much-eroded confidence in the presidency. Summarizing the orderly way he came to office despite the unsettling events that put him there, he said at his swearing-in, "Our Constitution works." In large measure, it was Ford who insured that it did.
Everett Raymond Kinstler's likeness was painted at Ford's request specifically for the National Portrait Gallery. Kinstler based the portrait on sketches that he had made in the late 1970s, when he was working on Ford's official White House likeness.