1957 - 1974 · Washington, D.C.
This introspective and never before offered correspondence includes ten letters that were sent to Paul W. Williams, who was a very well-known judge in the New York area. The earliest letter is a rare typed letter of Nixon as Eisenhower’s Vice President dates September 19, 1957 and concerns a recommendation for the Assistant Secretary General of NATO. Nixon also thanks Williams for … “inviting Mrs. Nixon and me to join you for the Moral Rearmament play in New York this week.” The letter is signed boldly “Dick.” This is an ironic beginning to what would become a relationship that would span the course of five decades. Early on, Williams befriended Congressman and Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford. In a February 24, 1966 typed letter, Ford references a delay in responding to Williams because of his participation in dinners honoring another great Republican, Abraham Lincoln. This appears to be the first contact Ford has with Williams over their four-decade relationship. A second Ford letter dated March 6, 1969 states, “We in Congress benefit a great deal from the opportunity to meet you and other leaders in the business community.” Both letters are signed boldly “Jerry Ford”.Williams corresponded prolifically with Nixon and Ford, yet the real fireworks began with a letter from Nixon dated June 4, 1973. The letter states in full, “Dear Paul: While it means a great deal for me to receive encouragement from people throughout the country. The most heartwarming messages that have come to me in recent weeks are those from old friends. I want you to know how deeply grateful I am for your words of support at this particular time. With warm personal regards, Sincerely, (signed) RN”. The letter seemingly innocuous on the surface, was anything but. It referred to the article in “The Washington Post” by Bernstein and Woodward (of ‘All the President’s Men’ fame) which confirmed information leaked through the now-famous ‘Deep Throat’ that John Dean alleged to Senate investigators and Federal prosecutors that Nixon knew of a cover-up plan and that he (dean) has discussed aspects of the Watergate cover-up with Nixon at least 35 times between January and April of that year. The article was devastating and the first major chink I Nixon’s armor. This letter as is the case with all the White House letters to Williams from Nixon, is signed with the President’s distinctive and authentic “RN” signature and are on mint-green “The White House” stationary.On November, 15 1973, the President wrote to Williams again. The letter sates in full, “Dear Paul: Many times in the past I have had the occasion to thank you, but I want to say once again how much it means to know I have been able to county on the loyalty and understanding of so many good, long-time friends. At this time in particular, I am deeply grateful for your assurance of continued support. With warm personal regards, Sincerely, (signed) RN”. This poignant letter was written only days after the infamous yet bloodless ‘Saturday Night Massacre.’ The melee got its name from some very aggressive moves by Nixon which occurred on a Saturday in October, 1973. On this date, Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigned under pressure from Nixon to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckleshaus resigned for the same reason. Eventually, Nixon himself fired Archibald Cox and abolished the office of Special Prosecutor. Early in November, pressure was mounting in Congress for the impeachment of the President. On November 17, 1973, just two days after this letter was written, Nixon maintained his innocence in the Watergate case and uttered what is among the most famous words any President has ever said, “I am not a crook.”The next letter from Nixon is written on March 12, 1974 and it reads in full, “Dear Paul: This is just a note of thanks for your letter following my press conference of March 6. While the response to this particular conference has been very positive, it is still the thoughtful messages of encouragement from old and loyal friends which mean the most to me, and I am deeply grateful. With my wan best wishes, Sincerely, (signed) RN”. The address that Nixon refers to is certainly one of the most important in American presidential history, and for Nixon probably ranks behind only the one he gave for his resignation. It was at this very meeting that Nixon handed over the transcripts, or at least part of the transcripts, of the White House tapes. The image of Nixon speaking to a television audience of hundreds of millions with a mountain of notebooks containing the transcripts behind him is one of the most indelible in media history.Also included in the archive is a short letter from March 13, 1972 of Richard Kleindienst to Williams as well as a fascinating and ironic October 27, 1970 note of the much vilified Attorney General John Mitchell. Mitchell’s note reads in full: “Dear Paul: Thank you very much for your letter of October 6, 1970. I appreciated your taking the time to write, as well as your knowledgeable interest in the area of crime and the use of wiretapping as a weapon with which to fight. With warmest regards and best wishes, I am Sincerely, (signed) John”.An important inclusion in the archive is a fully signed letter of Gerald Ford on White House stationary dated September 20, 1974 (only twelve days after Nixon was pardoned). We are selling this letter as autopen even though it does not exactly match any known autopen or any other signature of Ford’s. A reputable auction house sold this as being genuine, although we would prefer to err on the side of caution. If we felt the letter were positively genuine it would add at least $10,000 to this archive The letter reads in full, “Dear Mr. Williams: After reading and hearing so much criticism of my pardoning of President Nixon, I want you to know that it was most heartwarming to receive your kind and thoughtful message. Despite the adverse reaction, voiced mostly by those who have consistently opposed the former President, I am certain in my heart that I have done the right thing and I know that time will prove that it as the correct decision. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to let me know of your continued support. It was good to hear from you again. Sincerely, (signed) Jerry Ford”. The importance of this letter need not, nor could not, be overstated. There is recent precedent for its value and importance. We know of only two other letter of President Ford where he addresses the pardoning of Richard Nixon. The first was sold at Christie’s of New York on May 19, 2000 (Lot No. 30). It sold for over $15,000 even though the signature was badly faded and near invisible. The second was sold recently by University Archives for a sum which we will not disclose to protect the buyer. This letter is the only one of the three that was written to a person who supported Ford’s actions, and thus may very well be unique.All told, this is an archive worthy of placement in the finest collection or on the walls of a prominent museum." (Inventory #: 60973)