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Item 2024 - Dwight D. Eisenhower Typed Letter Signed Catalog 447 (Feb 2015)

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Description


TLS signed “D. E.,” one page, 10.25 x 7.25, personal letterhead, December 2, 1964. Letter to William Scranton, governor of Virginia. In full: “This is still in a stage of preparation; but it is a reflection of my present thinking and it might be of some help to you in some of your own conclusions. I would not want it quoted, but when you get an opportunity I would like you to let me know whether or not you agree with the basic effort.” In fine condition, with a rusty paperclip mark to the top edge. Includes the unsigned seven-page typescript originally enclosed, in which Ike outlines the key elements of Republican philosophy in the aftermath of the humiliating defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964. Eisenhower discusses several key issues facing the nation, including civil rights, Medicare, poverty, and education. In part:

“There is an obvious need to achieve without delay a considerable degree of unity among us; an accomplishment that will require intelligence, tolerance, judgment and energy…As of this moment I am trying, roughly, to outline my personal views as to a satisfactory Republican concensus [sic]. If my ideas should be deemed by a cross-section of prominent Republicans to be logical then I would possibly put them in narrative form and publish them in a national magazine.

Suppose we first try to lay out the tenets of Republican philosophy. Admittedly, in some few points these would not differ from similar fundamentals in Democratic doctrine…For example, we all want peace and national security, we demand clean air to breathe, clear water in our streams, fine highways connecting the important areas of our land and healthful conditions in our cities. We want our citizens protected against disasters beyond their ability to surmount. Government, at appropriate levels, must have deep interest in such matters.

On many other points Americans differ more or less widely—many of these differences are obvious and as people line up to support their own convictions concerning opposing political viewpoints we have the reason for political parties. (Incidentally, it is my personal conviction that the Democrats have become the Party of ‘promise and untried theory’; the Republicans are the Party of ‘common sense policies and vigorous performance.’)...

Here are some basic convictions in which I have long believed.

A. Americans, individually and collectively, should strive constantly for greater excellence…

B. The individual is of supreme importance. The purpose of government is to serve, never to dominate…

C. The spirit of the people is the strength of our nation…

D. To stay free we must stay strong…

E. Government must have a heart as well as a head…

F. America cannot truly prosper unless all major areas and groupments in our society prosper…

G. To protect all our citizens, and particularly workers and all those who are, or will be, dependent on pensions, savings and insurance in their declining years, we strive always to prevent deterioration of our currency…

H. Under God we espouse the cause of freedom and justice and peace for all people…

Next we set out a few of the problems that demand intelligent study and political effort toward solution. Applying the basic beliefs above listed, a suggested approach to each of these problems is proposed below:

Increasing debt: Increasing debt weakens confidence in our currency; encourages inflation and adds to the tax burden. Republicans believe we must reduce expenditures below income…

Depressed areas and slums: Localities, with State assistance and supported by Federal leadership and funds, as necessary, should cooperate in developing effective solutions to these problems…

Education: In a system of self-government the finest possible education is an obvious necessity for the individual, for the locality and for the nation. Traditionally and as a matter of common sense, fundamental responsibility should be accorded to and accepted by localities in the public education system…

Tax reforms: Taxes should be levied so as to obtain necessary revenues and to fall heaviest upon those best able to pay them. The graduated income tax is logical and right but confiscatory rates will, in the long run, slow up the economy, reduce revenue, and eventually impinge upon the freedom of the citizen. We believe it is unjust and immoral to make the distribution of wealth the basic aim of the taxing process…

Civil Rights: The Party of Lincoln will never abandon its traditional position of insisting upon equal rights and opportunity—legal, economic, educational and political—for all citizens. In 1957 a Republican Administration proposed and fought successfully for the first Civil Rights law in eighty years. Republican leaders in Congress made possible the enactment of the Civil Rights bill of 1964 and the Party as a whole supports its equitable enforcement.

What do you think of an effort roughly conforming to the above? Is the broad idea good? Is anything more needed?

If the above seemed sound then a second part of our problem could be discussed, namely that of reorganization and preparation for the Congressional contests of 1966. (We should not mention 1968 now).”

After Goldwater's crushing defeat in the 1964 presidential election—President Lyndon B. Johnson was re-elected by the largest popular vote margin in US history—Eisenhower advocated for a return to moderate conservatism rather than the sharp turn to the right the party had taken by embracing Goldwater's politics. Although he was out of office, Eisenhower continued to stay active in politics, occasionally providing advice to JFK and LBJ while they were in office. Despite Eisenhower's plea for a pragmatic centrist platform, the Republican Party continued to shift toward the extreme. Ignoring Ike's advice proved successful—the Republicans made gains in Congress during the 1966 midterm elections, and Richard Nixon won the White House in 1968, backed by the 'silent majority.' This significant piece in which one of America's greatest leaders outlines plans for his party—and, indeed, the nation—is remarkable in its independent thought and of the greatest historical interest. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA.

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