September 5

This Day in History

Presidential

Sep 5, 1975:

Gerald Ford survives first assassination attempt

On this day in 1975, President Gerald R. Ford survives an attempt on his life in Sacramento, California.

The assailant, a petite, red haired, freckle-faced young woman named Lynette Fromme, approached the president while he was walking near the California Capitol and raised a .45 caliber handgun toward him. Before she was able to fire off a shot, Secret Service agents tackled her and wrestled her to the ground. Seventeen days later, another woman, Sarah Jane Moore, a mentally unstable accountant, tried to assassinate Ford while he was in San Francisco. Her attempt was thwarted by a bystander who instinctively grabbed Moore's arm when she raised the gun. Although she fired one shot, it did not find its target. The bystander, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran named Oliver Sipple, was publicly thanked by Ford three days later.

Lynette Fromme, nicknamed "Squeaky," was a member of the notorious Charles Manson family, a group of drug-addled groupies who followed cult leader Manson. Manson and other members of his "family" were convicted and sentenced to prison for murdering former actress Sharon Tate and others in 1969. Subsequently, Fromme and other female members of the cult started an order of "nuns" within a new group called the International People's Court of Retribution. This group terrorized corporate executives who headed environmentally destructive businesses. Fromme herself was still so enamored of Manson that she devised the plot to kill President Ford in order to win Manson's approval.

Fromme was convicted of attempted murder and was sentenced to life in prison in West Virginia. She escaped in 1979, but was caught within 25 miles of the prison. Strangely, Ford's second would-be assassin, Moore, was imprisoned in the same facility and escaped in 1989. She turned herself in two days later and, like Fromme, was transferred to a higher-security penitentiary. Both women remain incarcerated today.

After Fromme's assassination attempt, Ford stoically continued on to the Capitol to speak before the California legislature. The main topic of his speech was crime.

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