Lot #142
Lyndon B. Johnson

“Here he is with all the world on his shoulders”—McNamara’s haunted legacy in Vietnam
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Estimate: $25000+

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“Here he is with all the world on his shoulders”—McNamara’s haunted legacy in Vietnam

Supremely rare ALS as president, signed “L. B. J.,” one page, 5 x 7.25, White House letterhead, dated "Monday 13th." Letter to "Marg," Margaret McNamara, the wife of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, in full: "Here he is with all the world on his shoulders and both of us behind him every step of the way." In fine condition.

By the mid-1960s, Robert S. McNamara was truly a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Hehad been appointed Secretary of Defense at the start of the Kennedy administration, and remained in the position in President Johnson’s cabinet. Under Kennedy, he oversaw the build-up of American forces in South Vietnam, and under Johnson he was a prime architect of the conflict’s escalation. However, he began to question the effectiveness of US military involvement in Vietnam as early as late 1965, and by 1967 was openly seeking a way to launch peace negotiations. McNamara would later say that his continued support of the war stemmed from loyalty to the administration’s policy—casting Johnson’s words here, that he is “behind him every step of the way,” in a somewhat darker light. The war became McNamara’s personal nightmare, tormenting him for the rest of his life. Between the extreme rarity of Johnson’s autograph letters as president and its connection to the tragic legacy of the Vietnam War, this is an absolutely remarkable, historically significant example.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs
  • Dates: January 19 - February 07

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