An important Name Change in American History


The anecdotes of people who changed their name here in America is not complete, without the tale of this man. At the age of 22, a name change for professional reasons made him petition for a legal name change. Do you know which of the American Presidents Mr. Leslie King, Jr. would become? 

The Future President’s Early Life

Leslie Lynch King was originally named after his father. But after a divorce, his mother would informally change his name to something more suited to his new step-father. Leslie was only 2 at the time. His name was never changed legally until years later, but the name that he was given at birth was never used again after his 2nd year. 

As an assiduous youth, he exhibited diligence and gained a reputation for his diligence. His success was made manifest in the things he did and did well. He showed amazing talent in athletics and his academic studies and became an accomplished scout before adulthood. In college, his football team awarded him the title of MVP. Despite many offers to earn a scholarship through athletic pursuits, he turned them down in order to focus on his legal studies. 

After he had almost finished his studies and was about to begin his professional career, he decided it was time to change his name legally. He filed his Legal Name Change Petition in court at the age of 22. He legally adopted the name that was given to him by his mother at the age of 2 and the name he had been known by all his life. 

With a name he could build on, and a degree in law, our “man in focus” then entered a career in military service just when war was breaking out. When he returned he hada rank of commander and returned home to begin his law practice. At this point he had done more in his life than some do in 10 lifetimes, but, he was just getting started. 

American Name Change – The Political Career

Shortly after his return, he took to politics and ran for public office. His victory was impressive as was his many consecutive victories throughout the early years of his career. A few weeks after he won his first big political office, he married. And, in the years to follow, he would become a father to 4 children. 

Details on this important name changer in US History

He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, 1913.  

As a Boy Scout, his career went all the way to Eagle Scout. 

He attended the University of Michigan. 

He turned down professional offers from the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.  

He studied law at Yale.  

He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. 

His first public office station was U.S. Congressman.  

But, despite this glistening history of proud service, none of these accolades were the crowning achievement of his career. 

American Name Change – One of a Kind

He would go on to become appointed to the position of Vice President of the United States and would become the 38th president of the United States after Nixon’s resignation in August, 1974. His tenure as president was short and tumultuous, he then lost an election against Jimmy Carter and left the office in 1976. One of his most notable acts as president of the US was to pardon Richard Nixon. He survived two assassination attempts, orchestrated the rescue of Vietnamese hostages during the last days of the Vietnam War and signed an important treaty with the Soviet Union. Furthermore, he served as both Vice President and President of the United States without having been elected into either of these positions. This is something no other person in history has ever done. He is also the president who has lived the longest.

November 21, 1935, at Kent County Court, this man filed his petition for Change of Name by an Adult. It was signed by Judge John Dalton and the name is one of the most famous names in American History. 

On this day, the man formerly known as Leslie King, Jr, became Gerald Rudolph Ford, Junior. 

You can find more information on name changing and Gerald Rudolf Ford if you visit 

This article was made possible by the work and research of and William H. McNitt, and the staff and community supporting Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.