Historic Documents of 1976

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Edited by: CQ Press

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    Foreword

    Publication of Historic Documents of 1976 carries through a fifth year the project launched by Congressional Quarterly with Historic Documents 1972. The purpose of this continuing series of volumes is to give students, scholars, librarians, journalists and citizens convenient access to documents of basic importance in the broad range of public affairs.

    To place the documents in perspective, each entry is preceded by a brief introduction containing background materials, in some cases a short summary of the document itself and, where necessary, relevant subsequent developments. We believe this editorial input will prove increasingly useful in future years when the events and questions now covered are less fresh in one's memory and the documents may be hard to find or unobtainable.

    The year 1976 witnessed the celebration of the American Bicentennial and the election to the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the first man from the Deep South to be elected since the Civil War. The year-long bicentennial festivities were highlighted in July by President Ford's Independence Day proclamation, a spectacular procession of tall ships through New York Harbor and the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the former British colony.

    Carter's rise to the presidency from political obscurity captured the year's biggest headlines. A political outsider, the former Georgia governor was known to only one quarter of the electorate nine months before the Democratic Party Convention in July. Throughout his primary campaign and his race against President Ford, he emphasized his distance from Washington and his promise to bring morality back to the federal government.

    The campaign included the first presidential debates since 1960—the first ever involving an incumbent President. Early in the fall Carter had a wide lead in the polls; but when the returns were counted in November, he had won a narrow victory—the closest electoral college margin since 1916. Ford's defeat ended his 30-month presidency and eight years of Republican control of the White House.

    These developments added substantially to the usual outpouring of presidential statements, court decisions, commission reports, special studies and speeches of national or international importance. We have selected for inclusion in this book as many as possible of the documents that in our judgment will be of more than transitory interest. Where space limitations prevented reproduction of the full texts, the excerpts used were chosen to set forth the essentials and, at the same time, preserve the flavor of the materials.

    Robert A.Diamond Editor

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