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Item 162 - Richard Nixon Catalog 469 (Feb 2016)

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Description


Excessively rare ALS as president signed “RN,” one page both sides, 6.75 x 8.75, White House letterhead, March 8, [1971]. Letter to Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, addressed to “Ted.” In full: “I want you to know that Bryce, Haldeman et al reflect my views in suggesting you do the gridiron this year. For eight years I did it every year at Eisenhower’s request. (He refused to go except on 2 occasions). It was always a pain in the neck—and I was as you might imagine the favorite target—because they just didn’t dare take on Ike. You should make your own decision on it & I will not press you. However in retrospect I suppose I could conclude it was probably right for me to go—at least they weren’t given a false issue—that both the President and the V. P. were boycotting the event. Next year I may go though I’m not sure. If I do‚ you will be under no obligation whatever to go!” Includes the original White House transmittal envelope addressed by Nixon, “The Vice President, by hand.” In fine condition. Originates from the personal estate of Spiro Agnew.

The “pain in the neck” event that Nixon discusses was the annual dinner hosted by Washington’s most prestigious journalistic organization, the Gridiron Club; the evening traditionally featured humorous skits and remarks by the president and other politicians. In 1970, both Nixon and Agnew attended and performed a satirical song together about their ‘Southern Strategy.’ Nixon declined to attend the dinner for the rest of his term, and in this case pleaded with Agnew to go in his place. The specifics of this situation in 1971 are discussed at length in the introduction of the book Very Strange Bedfellows by Jules Witcover, which dissects their relationship. Agnew was first informed of Nixon’s request by an aide, to which he responded that the president had to call him and tell him directly. Nixon then sent the same message via his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, which was rebuffed again. Nixon refused to pick up the phone, and the stalemate continued for days. Eventually, a military attache delivered this letter directly to Agnew. Relenting, Agnew agreed to attend—and, in his memoir, revealed that he had a ‘marvelous time.’ Handwritten letters by Nixon as president are essentially impossible to find, especially those with such an important recipient and significant content. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.

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