Lot 101: Exceedingly rare ALS in pencil, signed "LBJ," one page, 6 x 9, United States Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs letterhead, no date but circa 1958. Letter to "Frank," Idaho Senator Frank Church. In full: "I told Drew Pearson yesterday I wanted him to help me get you a build up over the years that would get you the recognition your abilities deserve—Someday you can, may & should be our President." Central vertical and horizontal folds and show-through from toned adhesive remnants to reverse, otherwise fine condition. This letter is quoted and discussed in both the third and fourth volumes of Robert A. Caro's definitive biography The Years of Lyndon Johnson.At the time LBJ wrote this letter he was Senate majority leader and Church, one of the youngest members in the Congress, had played a significant role in helping him write, revise, and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1957—the first civil rights legislation passed by Congress in over eighty years and one of Johnson's dearest causes. Even though just 34 years old, Church was a shrewd politician and already had his eye on the presidency. By ingratiating himself to the powerful majority leader, Church utilized Washington's unspoken pact of quid pro quo to quickly advance his career. Johnson appointed Church to the McClellan Committee as its investigation into Jimmy Hoffa and union corruption began, explicitly telling him that the widely covered hearings would 'give him some good exposure.' As soon as a vacancy on the Foreign Relations Committee arose LBJ appointed him to that too, bypassing several senators with greater seniority to fill the sought-after post.However, their alliance disintegrated during the 1960 Democratic primaries and presidential campaign. With Kennedy and Johnson vying for the nomination, Church pledged his support to JFK after the Kennedys secured him the high-profile position of keynote speaker at the 1960 Democratic National Convention. Flattery aside, this was something LBJ could not offer. Church did eventually run for president in 1976 but despite defeating Jimmy Carter in a handful of primaries he was not close to winning the nomination; many expected him to be named the Democratic candidate for vice president, but Carter thought their personalities would clash. Overall, this letter by Johnson is remarkable in all respects: between its rarity and content revealing Johnson's political cunning, it is the quintessential LBJ piece.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 467
Wednesday, 13th January 2016
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