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Lot 80: Bobby Kennedy Letter Joking about Gangsters to DC Journalist Sarah McClendon
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: RFK Jokes about Gangsters to Pioneering Washington Journalist Sarah McClendon ********** KENNEDY, ROBERT F. (1925-1968). American politician and brother of President John F. Kennedy; assassinated in California while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. ALS. (“Bobby”). 2pp. 8vo. Washington, D.C., (Postmarked May 4, 1959). On his U.S. Senate stationery. To pioneering Washington journalist SARAH MCCLENDON (1910-2003) who covered the administrations of eleven U.S. presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton. ********** “Thanks very much for the evening we spent with you. We had a wonderful time – greatly enjoyed ourselves as well as having had a very nice time with the rest of your very attractive guests. I hope we can find some gangster in New Jersey or Texas so we can get you back soon – With you there we get some class – Drop in and see me sometime. Best…” ********** After working as a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice, managing his brother’s 1952 senate campaign and serving as assistant counsel for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1953, Kennedy rose to the position of chief counsel when the Democrats gained a majority in 1955. His reputation as a prosecutor grew while serving as chief counsel on the Senate Labor Rackets Committee from 1957-1959, which had been charged with investigating criminal practices within labor unions. The most notable allegations were made against Teamster’s Union President Jimmy Hoffa who was accused of partnering with organized crime to rig union elections. Kennedy detailed this and other instances of corruption in his 1960 bestseller The Enemy Within: The McClellan Committee’s Crusade Against Jimmy Hoffa and Corrupt Labor Unions, which he was likely working on at the time of our letter. ********** After JFK’s election, Robert was appointed attorney general, making him the first sibling in history to serve in his brother’s cabinet. Robert Kennedy continued to battle against organized crime and corruption and was a prominent voice in the fight for civil rights, championing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, proposed by his brother and passed eight months after his death. ********** RFK went on to serve as a senator from New York, becoming the chief spokesman for liberal Democrats and a harsh critic of the press. He announced his own presidential bid in March 1968 only to be assassinated on the campaign trail three months later. ********** McClendon began her journalistic career in her native Texas before enlisting in the Army after the U.S. entry into World War II, and working as a public relations lieutenant in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the Army Surgeon General’s office. After a brief marriage, McClendon, in 1944, became the first Army officer to give birth at the Army’s Walter Reed Hospital, after which she was discharged from the Army and immediately began working as a Washington correspondent for the Philadelphia Daily News. She lost her position, however, when male reporters returned home after the end of the war. In response, she started McClendon News Service, making a name for herself with her astute and aggressive questions, becoming a Washington institution. “First mocked in an almost all-male press corps, then scorned as a vocal crank and finally honored as a pioneer, Ms. McClendon was the nation’s longest-serving White House reporter, from 1944 to the early days of the current Bush administration. She became celebrated for questions at presidential news conferences that included local concerns in Texas, her home state, and government lapses overlooked by others,” (“Sarah McClendon, Reporter At White House, Dies at 92,” The New York Times, Purdum). ********** Folded with some light creasing and staple holes in the upper left corner of each page. Framed with the original envelope, a portrait of Kennedy, transcription and biography. Not examined out of the frame. Uncommon in ALS, particularly with content.