An uncommon letter from a sitting president to his sitting vice president“Yours is the rightful pride and satisfaction that can come to loving parents, loyal friends and dedicated public servants. No satisfaction and pride can be greater than this: for it derives from constantly seeking to help one another, to help your children and to help your fellow citizens to live happier, more fulfilled lives.” In 1968, former Vice President Nixon's first choice for Vice President was his old friend and trusted confidante Robert Finch, Lt. Governor of California. Nixon was at this time a resident of New York, and therefore there would be no problem with the residency issue and the fact that Finch was from California. Finch turned down the offer, however, and Nixon had to go with someone else. Other names considered by Nixon for VP were Mayor John Lindsay of New York City, Senator Chuck Percy of Illinois, Governor George Romney of Michigan, Senator Richard Hatfield of Oregon, Governor Ronald Reagan of California, Senator John Tower of Texas, Congressman George Bush of Texas, Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, Congressman Gerald Ford of Michigan, Governor John Volpe of Massachusetts, and Governor Spiro Agnew of Maryland.In the end, Nixon decided to go with someone who was considered at the time as more of a moderate in the party, rather than one of the more liberal possibilities like Lindsay, Percy, Romney, or Hatfield. Nixon was impressed with Agnew's oratorical abilities, with his distinguished looks, and his presence on stage and on camera. Nixon also liked the fact that Agnew was from a border state, not north and not south. During Nixon’s successful campaign, Agnew quickly became the champion of the conservative wing of the party, running on a tough law-and-order platform, and giving polarizing speeches attacking liberals as being disloyal and un-American, and lashing out at antiwar demonstrators, the counter-culture, and the news media. He ridiculed them as’''nattering nabobs’’, as’''pusillanimous pussyfooters,’’ and an “effete core of impudent snobs”. The media was cowed, and Nixon, once in the Oval Office, found himself under much reduced pressure from the opposition. He was grateful to Agnew, who continued to receive news coverage for his characterizations.In this letter to both Agnew and his wife, congratulating them on their wedding anniversary, Nixon goes beyond praising their relationship, to stating his own feeling on public service. Typed letter signed, on White House letterhead, Washington, May 26, 1969, to Agnew. “You have our most affectionate good wishes on your wedding anniversary. This 27th of May recalls an equal number of years spent in mutual devotion. More than we can say, Pat and I appreciate your joy as you look back on the love and sense of purpose you have invested in these years of life together. Yours is the rightful pride and satisfaction that can come to loving parents, loyal friends and dedicated public servants. No satisfaction and pride can be greater than this: for it derives from constantly seeking to help one another, to help your children and to help your fellow citizens to live happier, more fulfilled lives. May the next twenty seven years bring you even more of the best things in life.” He signs it “Dick”. This is a very uncommon letter from a sitting president to his sitting vice president.Agnew sought to turn this into greater political capital with the boss, but his pleas for a policy role were repeatedly rebuffed or ignored by Nixon. And as Agnew’s tough persona lost sway and his influence over the media declined, Nixon came to believe, along with his chief political advisers, that Agnew had become a political detriment. In 1972 Nixon wanted Agnew replaced by Treasury Secretary John Connally. The plan never took flight, however, and Agnew was again on the ticket. Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973, after the U.S. Justice Department uncovered widespread evidence of his political corruption while in Maryland, but also including allegations that his practice of accepting bribes had continued into his tenure as U.S. vice president. It was a plea-bargain deal that Agnew had to accept - surrender the vice presidency in exchange for his freedom. (Inventory #: 11137)
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