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1403325

Robert F. Kennedy

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From the Estate of Llewellyn E. Thompson,

United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union

“On November 22 . . . Mass will be celebrated . . . in memory of President Kennedy.”

Robert Francis Kennedy, 1925-1968.  Attorney General of the United States; United States Senator from New York.  Typed Letter Signed, Bob, one page, 7” x 9”, on plain stationery, no place [Washington, D.C.], November 17, 1964.

Still hurting from his brother’s assassination, Senator-Elect Kennedy invites Ambassador Llewellyn E. Thompson, Jr., to attend a memorial Mass in honor of President John F. Kennedy on the first anniversary of his death.  He writes, in full:  “On November 22 at 9:00 A.M., Mass will be celebrated in St. Matthews Cathedral in memory of President Kennedy.  I wanted you to know in case you might like to attend.”  Thompson, like Robert Kennedy, had served under the President.

St. Matthewʼs Cathedral in Washington, D.C., was the site of President Kennedy’s requiem Mass a year before.  The rector of St. Matthewʼs, the Rt. Rev. John K. Cartwright, who had been one of the clergy who officiated at the funeral, celebrated the memorial Mass.  Plans called for 21 wreaths to be laid at President Kennedyʼs grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

Following the memorial service, the Kennedy family visited the gravesite.  Robert F. Kennedy was captured in a poignant photograph kneeling alone on the grass at the grave and crossing himself in prayer as a large crowd watched from beyond the white picket fence surrounding the gravesite.  Some 40,000 people visited the gravesite that day.

It was in front of St. Matthewʼs that young John F. Kennedy, Jr., on his third birthday, saluted his father’s flag-draped coffin as the funeral cortege prepared to leave for Arlington.  Photographer Stan Stearns’ image of the little boyʼs salute is one of the iconic images of the age.

Thompson (1904-1972) was a career American diplomat who served at a critical time in history as the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union under Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Lyndon B Johnson.  He joined the Foreign Service in 1928, and during his long and distinguished career he served as the United States Ambassador to Austria from 1955 to 1957 before Eisenhower appointed him Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1957.  Kennedy reappointed him to Moscow in 1961.  He resigned in 1962, but Johnson reappointed him in 1967, and he served until 1969.  He also held the posts of Career Ambassador and Ambassador At Large.  He was part of the Executive Committee to the National Security Council, or ExComm, which advised Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, and he was present at Johnson’s summit with Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin at Glassboro, New Jersey, in June 1967.  He came out of retirement to advise President Richard Nixon on the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) negotiations with the Soviet Union and represented the United States in the SALT talks from 1969 until he died in 1972.

Robert Kennedy has signed this letter in black fountain pen.  The letter has intersecting mailing folds, neither of which touches the signature, and a slight horizontal bend at the top blank margin that is not as pronounced as the light reflection on the scan below suggests.  Overall the letter is in fine to very fine condition.

Provenance:  This letter comes directly from the Thompson estate.  It has never been offered on the autograph market before.

Unframed.

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