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Lot 133: Truman ALS on De Gaulle with Complaints about U.S. Government Mismanagement
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Referring to the ‘Great’ De Gaulle and Complaining about Government Mismanagement of His Papers and Property: “I turned over 4,500,000 documents and more than $300,000.00 worth of presents which had come to me as President from Heads of State. They are now the property of the people and the Government of the U.S.A. But you understand the said Govt. of the U.S.A. doesn’t take very good care of the articles” ********** TRUMAN, HARRY S. (1884-1972). Thirty-third president of the United States. ALS. (“Harry”). 3pp. Small 4to. Independence, March 18, 1963. Written on a folded sheet of Truman’s personal stationery to his former Secretary of State DEAN ACHESON (1893-1971). Published in Affection and Trust: The Personal Correspondence of Harry S. Truman and Dean Acheson, 1953-1971. ********** “It was with great pleasure and satisfaction that I read your Berkeley, Calif. speech on the ‘Great’ De Gaulle. In return I’m sending you a release I made for the North American Newspaper Alliance on the same fellow. Yours is much better than mine because it is a character analysis and mine is a historical statement of some years back. Luckily I have kept those documents of that period – and they are available to you and anyone you suggest for any any [sic] use you want to make of them. There were two sets of all these important reports of those important meetings in 1946-47-48-49 & 50. I’ve no ideas what the State, Defense, Commerce and Agriculture did with their copies – but I have mine and expect to keep them for the use of my friends – you at the top of the list. I said two sets – these new official sets and copies for all the others interested. Every effort has been made by the General Services and some departments to obtain my copies. Those copies are in an Archives Building for which I raised $1,750,000.00 to construct and for which Independence gave me a 13 acre site. I turned over 4,500,000 documents and more than $300,000.00 worth of presents which had come to me as President from Heads of State. They are now the property of the people and the Government of the U.S.A. But you understand the said Govt. of the U.S.A. doesn’t take very good care of the articles. A short time ago $50,000.00 in coins and engravings of the Presidents’ pictures in whose time the coins were made disappeared from this Government Institution and have not been heard of since. The whole FBI has made an attempt to catch the thieves and are still working on it. They may catch the thieves but they’ll never find the coins nor the pictures. Looks to me as if the Presidente of France is way out in field left of 3rd base & nothing to catch! Sincerely…” ********** As president, Truman guided the United States through World War II and into the nuclear age. Upon leaving office at age 67, Truman returned home to Independence, Missouri, remaining active in public life, campaigning for Democratic candidates, writing several books, articles for the North American Newspaper Alliance (mentioned in our letter), and establishing the Truman Library in Independence, which set the precedent for establishing future presidential libraries through private donations. ********** On November 12, 1962, John W. Snyder’s coin collection was stolen from the library, then under the administration of the Parks Department. Snyder had been Truman’s secretary of the treasury and, since 1920, with the assistance of Stacks, the eminent New York City coin dealer, had assembled a collection of every coin minted (444) under every U.S. president. Truman, himself, visited Stacks to learn more about the collection while Snyder was assembling it. The former president was outraged by the theft, speculating that professional thieves had been hired by a coin collector. Stacks appealed to the numismatic community to donate coins and rebuild the collection – after two years, the new collection was donated to the Truman Library. ********** Acheson served as assistant secretary of state during World War II and, in 1949, became Truman’s secretary of state, handling the difficult diplomacy of the Cold War years and implementing the U.S.’s policy of containment. He returned to his private law practice after leaving the Truman administration and donated his papers to the Truman Presidential Library. However, he continued to exert a profound influence over policy matters as advisor to presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. ********** On January 22, 1963, French President Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signed the Élysée Treaty, notable for not mentioning the United States and NATO, both of which were heavily involved in post-war reconstruction and security in Europe. Indeed, de Gaulle intended that the treaty strengthen Franco-German ties while weakening Germany’s dependence on the U.S. After President Kennedy voiced his disapproval, the West German parliament ratified the treaty with a preamble that acknowledged the partnership between West Germany and the United States and committed to German reunification. De Gaulle was angered by the preamble’s additions. ********** Acheson, then an advisor to President Kennedy, was alarmed by the treaty and de Gaulle’s efforts to alienate the U.S. from West Germany. He issued memos to the Kennedy administration urging them to pressure West Germany to disavow the treaty and published an article on the subject in Foreign Affairs magazine. “In early March Acheson set off for the university lecture circuit on the West coast, this time with the specific aim of deflating de Gaulle and his anachronistic vision of a Europe united around one dominant nation-state. At his first stop, the California Institute of Technology, Acheson did not criticize de Gaulle by name…” At the University of California at Berkeley on March 13, 1963, Acheson delivered a speech entitled “Europe: Kaleidoscope or Clouded Crystal” in which he “warned de Gaulle he could not expect American military protection of a Europe that excluded American influence,” (Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953-71, Brinkley). It is this speech to which Truman refers. ********** Accompanied by a typewritten transcript of Acheson’s handwritten reply, addressed “Dear Boss,” with more details about his speech, the coin theft and his advisory role in the Kennedy administration. ********** Written on a folded sheet and folded once horizontally with a staple hole in the upper left corner. In excellent condition.