What is Halloween Massacre?

Legal Definition
The "Halloween Massacre" is the term associated with the major reorganization of U.S. President Gerald R. Ford's Cabinet on November 4, 1975. Several prominent moderate Republicans in the administration were replaced by more conservative figures. The changes were:

  • Henry Kissinger was fired as National Security Advisor (Kissinger retained his post as Secretary of State), and replaced by General Brent Scowcroft.
  • William Colby was fired as Director of Central Intelligence and replaced by Ambassador (and future president) George H. W. Bush. Colby was offered the post of U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, but declined.
  • James Schlesinger was fired as Secretary of Defense and replaced by Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld's deputy and protégé, future Vice President Dick Cheney, moved up to be the Chief of Staff.
  • Under pressure from Republican Party conservatives, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller announced that he would not run for election as Ford's running mate in 1976.

Subsequent to these events, Rogers Morton was also replaced by Elliot Richardson as Secretary of Commerce.

Political commentators quickly dubbed Ford's sweeping changes the "Halloween Massacre," reminiscent of President Richard M. Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" in October 1973. Historians argue that President Ford's decision was not one of his own design and traditionally two theories are postulated to support this thesis. First, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney manipulated their appointments to advance their own agendas within the American political arena. Or, second, Rumsfeld and Cheney convinced Ford to make these changes in order to improve his election prospects against his primary Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan.

Veteran political correspondents and commentators initiated newspaper and magazine articles immediately fingering Donald Rumsfeld as the manipulator of these events despite Ford's protestations that he had made the decision alone. The historiography of the "Halloween Massacre" appears to support these interpretations.
-- Wikipedia