Lot 188: TLS signed "A. Einstein," one page, 8.5 x 11, blindstamped personal letterhead, February 8, 1955. Letter to Mr. Irwin Edelman. In full: "When I participated in the warning to President Roosevelt it was concerning new information about a present danger. The danger which exists today however, is one of which everybody knows that it exists and that it threatens all life. Beside, I am no expert in the sense that I know not sufficiently the extent of the danger. Thus, a public statement of mine would have no effect. I have read about the Matusow statement; but it is nothing new. Everybody knows that the authorities pay notoriously unreliable people to have them testify against others without, in most cases, giving the names of these informers. This is enough for me! It was the same in the Rosenberg case insofar as the indictment was based on the testimony of a man who wanted and was able to save his life by becoming a witness for the prosecution." In fine condition, with intersecting folds (one vertical fold passing through a single letter of the signature) and a tiny edge tear.Edelman was a leftist political activist and pamphleteer who was formerly a member of the Communist Party and had spent the early 1950s as an advocate for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, hoping to 'save them from the electric chair.' Einstein references Harvey Matusow in this letter, a Communist-turned-informant who was eventually convicted of perjury. He came clean in the 1955 book False Witness, admitting that he was paid to lie about Communists. Einstein viewed the Red Scare as a threat to intellectual freedom, and his admitted socialist ideals made him suspect in the eyes of the government. In this letter it seems that Einstein is turning down the opportunity to write a piece for one of Edelman's pamphlets, perhaps on the subject of anti-Communist persecution or corruption. Most importantly, Einstein references his "warning to President Roosevelt" about "a present danger." In a now-famous letter to FDR in 1939, Einstein warned that uranium could be used as a source of energy and, potentially, be developed into an enormously powerful bomb. As only small groups of scientists were aware of these discoveries and the danger they posed, Einstein felt it was his responsibility to inform the president. The Manhattan Project commenced, and the United States began its development of the bomb. This connects to the story of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed over accusations of passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. An amazing letter offering content about the tense political situation of the 1950s and Einstein's involvement these affairs.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 466
Wednesday, 9th December 2015
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