Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of Rogers C. B. Morton as Secretary of Commerce.

May 01, 1975

Thank you very much, Fred. Mr. Vice President, Rog Morton, distinguished Members of the Congress, Mr. Justice Powell, members of the Department of Commerce family, ladies and gentlemen:

I think there is some significance to my coming here. It has a dual purpose: one, to indicate my great interest in the Department of Commerce, as the former Secretary has said; and my great interest in one of my closest and best friends, Rog Morton.

I do want to pay my respects to a very vital department of the Government and to a devoted friend of mine. This is a very special day for Rog Morton. In addition to becoming Secretary of Commerce, with its many duties and great responsibilities, I have also asked him to continue as the Chairman of the Energy Resources Council, with all of its very essential and vital responsibilities. I have a feeling there is going to be an awful lot of energy conserved, but I am not sure that it's going to be done by Rogers.

Because of his dual responsibility, Rog will be wearing two hats, and from my knowledge of him over a long period of time, he can do it. But, I don't mean he has a big head. [Laughter] I think he has just got plenty of talent.

I have had the privilege of knowing Rog as a Congressman, party chairman, a Cabinet member, and in each capacity, he has done an outstanding job. And I am absolutely confident he will continue this string of successes as the new Secretary of Commerce.

With the end of the Vietnam era, tragic as it was, I think it is time for America to look ahead, to move forward, as I have said before, with a new agenda for the future, an agenda designed to solve the Nation's problems as we move into this third century in our great history.

A top item on that agenda is the restoration of a dynamic and effective economy and a revitalization of our free enterprise system as we know it and we love it in America.

The Secretary and the staff of the Department of Commerce must play a very key role in bringing this about. But let's not kid ourselves. Despite the enormous material progress and individual freedom which we have attained in America through the free enterprise system, confidence in that system today is considerably lower than it should be.

One reason is inadequate education and a lack of understanding of the free enterprise system, which has produced for all of our citizens the highest standard of living in the history of the world. Because it has worked so well for so long a time, we have tended, unfortunately, to take it for granted. I don't think we can do that any longer. We must make sure not to lose this great legacy of freedom, progress, and prosperity through apathy or indifference or even ignorance. And that is where this department and this man who is about to be sworn in as your new Secretary comes in.

Rog Morton, it's up to you and your department, along with the business community, to get the facts to the people, to resell Americans on the most productive and the most responsive economic system the world has ever seen. It will also be your task, Rog, to help restore--and I am positive you can do it-the confidence of the business community in government, and the public confidence in the business world. Let me assure you I will work with you in that vital effort.

Now, as you take over these new and these very vast responsibilities, I want to wish you the very best, the best success in pursuing these new goals. I am fully confident that this Department, its new Secretary, have the energy, the ability and the character and the integrity to do this important job.

It's now my privilege and pleasure to ask Justice Powell to administer the oath to our new Secretary of Commerce.

Note: The President spoke at 12:22 p.m. in the Commerce Department Auditorium. He was introduced by former Secretary of Commerce Frederick B. Dent.
Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, administered the oath of office.

Secretary Morton's response to the President's remarks is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 11, p. 472).

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at the Swearing In of Rogers C. B. Morton as Secretary of Commerce. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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