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04-011

Ralph Yarborough

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Ralph Webster Yarborough, 1903-1996.  United States Senator from Texas.  Typed Letter Signed, with autograph postscript, one page, 6” x 8”, with integral leaf attached, on stationery of the United States Senate, Washington, D.C., July 15, 1957. 

Yarborough writes to Arthur C. Smith to decline an invitation to the annual garden party of the Democratic Club of the District of Columbia.  In a handwritten postscript, he adds:  “Best wishes to you and the Club, for the success of your party and the Democratic Club of the District of Columbia.”

Yarborough, a Texas Democrat, rode with Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson two cars behind President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963.  Richard Reeves recounts in President Kennedy:  Profile of Power that Kennedy told aide Kenny O’Donnell to make sure that Yarborough and Johnson, “political adversaries for decades,” rode together to project unity in the Texas Democratic party.  Yarborough was in a public feud with Johnson’s protégé, Texas Governor John B. Connally, who rode with Kennedy.  In The Death of a President, William Manchester notes that Kennedy aide Larry O’Brien “saw the President staring at him and cutting his eye meaningfully toward Yarborough, who appeared to be looking for another car. . . . Larry grabbed the Senator’s arm, shoved him onto the seat beside Lady Bird, and slammed the door.”

Yarborough led the liberal wing of the Texas Democratic party.  As a Senator, he strongly supported Johnson’s Great Society programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, the War on Poverty, and federal support for higher education and veterans, including expansion of the G.I. Bill of Rights.  He also co-authored the Endangered Species Act.  The only southern senator who supported all civil rights bills from 1957 to 1970, including the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and the Voting Rights Act, he refused to sign the Southern Manifesto opposing integration.

The letter has one normal mailing fold.  There are tape stains on the integral leaf, from mounting in an album, but they do not affect the letter itself.  Yarborough has boldly signed and written the postscript in black fountain pen.

Unframed.

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