Lot 46: TLS as president, one page, 7 x 8.75, White House letterhead, August 13, 1951. Letter to former Democratic congressman Maury Maverick. In part: "You are exactly right that the personnel in the Government of the United States are nearly one hundred per cent uncorruptible…I will be glad to discuss the whole situation outlined in your letter…You understand, of course, that there are so many things which require Presidential attention that it is almost impossible to cover all of them. My main difficulty is that there seems to be only one or two men in the Senate and one or two in the House who are willing to jump into the fight and take a little responsibility. For instance, just the other day Senator Benton made a suggestion that McCarthy ought to be expelled from the Senate. He did not have one word of support from his colleagues—everyone of whom is afraid of McCarthy. Taft was smoked out the other day, however, and had to come out repudiating McCarthyism. If backbone isn't born into a Senator or Member of the House, no President can substitute an artificial one for them." In fine condition.Beginning in 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy became the face of the Red Scare in America, bullying his way into the spotlight as a staunch anti-Communist on a crusade to rid the government of sympathizers, conspirators, and spies. He became reviled on the left—as is clear in Truman's letter—but few dared cross his path fearing that they would become his next target. A week before Truman wrote this letter, Senator William Benton of Connecticut introduced a resolution to expel McCarthy from the Senate, alleging that McCarthy had 'lied' and 'practiced deception' with his claim of having a list of communists working in the State Department. McCarthy retaliated as expected, calling him 'Little Willie Benton, Connecticut's mental midget,' and accusing him of employing known Communists, buying and displaying lewd works of art, and engaging in anti-American business practices. Due in part to McCarthy's smear campaign, Benton was defeated in the next year's election. Even the Senate Majority Leader Robert A. Taft, an influential Republican with presidential ambitions, had to distance himself from McCarthy in the summer of 1951 after he accused the widely admired George C. Marshall of aiding the Communist cause. With candid commentary on this most contentious era of domestic American politics, this excellent letter displays Truman's firm principles and homespun candor as he criticizes a Congress without "backbone" in confronting McCarthyism.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 456
Wednesday, 15th July 2015
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