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John F. Kennedy

Vintage Letter

1248557-1

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Draft Typed Letter unsigned with two words, cross outs, and a punctuation edit in ink in his hand, 1p, 7" x 10.25". On pale green White House Washington stationery, but written during the Kennedys' Easter vacation in Palm Beach, Florida, April 23, 1962. To James Roosevelt, House of Representatives, Washington. Marked "PERSONAL" in type at upper left. Two tiny staple holes in upper left. Never folded. Fine condition.

Democrat James Roosevelt (1907-1991) was Franklin D. Roosevelt's eldest son. He represented California in the House of Representatives from 1955-1965.

In full (handwritten edits in bold): "Dear Jimmy: Many thanks for your letter. Contrary to what you may have heard I am not in the least concerned about the publication of the liberal papers, except that it may embarrass politically some good Congressmen. While I have not agreed for a long period of time with many of the writers, I do think that the more that is written and discussed about foreign policy the more meaningful becomes our use of free speech and the more careful becomes our analysis of present and future policies. The fact is that the bankruptcy of the Republican party has been greatly exposedincreased by their concentration on this wholly synthetic issue. With kind personal regards." Roosevelt had written the Preface to The Liberal Papers.

Background

Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau Chief Robert T. Hartmann reported on April 22, 1962 (the day before JFK wrote this letter) that "Former Vice President Nixon, joining a rising chorus of Republican critics in Congress, thinks 'The Liberal Papers' advocate a policy of 'unilateral goodwill toward the international Communist conspiracy' and should be repudiated by responsible Democrats and the Kennedy administration … Nixon, 1960 GOP standard-bearer and currently a candidate for the California gubernatorial nomination, expressed his 'considerable amazement' over the controversial volume in a letter to Rep. Glen Lipscomb (R-Los Angeles), chairman of the state Republican delegation in the House.

"'The Liberal Papers,' a volume of essays written by 12 private individuals and prefaced in their recently published form by Rep. James Roosevelt (D-Los Angeles), came under sharp attack by GOP leaders a month ago as going 'beyond the Communist line' and reflecting the views of some influential Democrats … To the extent that these positions (including admission of Red China into the U.N. and neutralization of Germany) have become associated with some Democratic Congressmen and some members of the Kennedy administration through the publication of 'the Liberal Papers'. I believe that they should be promptly repudiated,' Nixon stated…"

On April 25, 1962, three days later, UPI reported that "The White House has told a critical Republican congressman that the views expressed in as controversial book called 'The Liberal Papers' are 'wholly at variance with the foreign policy of the United States.' The White House repudiation of the book came in a letter made public Tuesday [April 24 from President Kennedy's special assistant for congressional affairs, Larry O'Brien, to Rep. Clark MacGregor (R-Minn.). MacGregor and nine other Republican freshmen denounced the book on the floor of the House last week … MacGregor said in a statement he was 'very pleased that Mr. Kennedy, through O'Brien, does repudiate the ideas in the book.'

President Kennedy never repudiated the ideas in The Liberal Papers; he just didn't agree with many of the writers.

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