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Dwight D. Eisenhower

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" . . . I will have left the hospital and again be on the firing line . . .

Dwight David Eisenhower, 18901969.  General of the Army; Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, World War II; 34th President of the United States, 19531961.  Typed Letter, unsigned, one pages, 7" x 10½", on personal stationery, Walter Reed General Hospital, [Washington, D.C.], October 28, 1964.

Eisenhower sent this unsigned note, with its interesting military reference, to Felix Belair, Jr., the longtime White House correspondent for The New York Times.  He writes, in full:  “I am deeply appreciative of your concern and good wishes.  By the time you receive this note I will have left the hospital and again be on the firing line, though I will heed your advice and that of the doctors."

The 74-year-old Eisenhower stayed a week at Walter Reed General Hospital recovering from a moderately severe case of laryngitis and a bad cough.  On October 22, 1964, he wrote Alice Strauss, the wife of his former Secretary of Commerce, Lewis Strauss, saying that the day before he contracted a case of laryngitis and the doctors made me cancel my planned presence at the New York ceremony for President Hoover, who had died October 20.  The next day, he was admitted to Walter Reed after being driven to Washington from his Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, farm.  He was released October 30.

By saying that he would "again be on the firing line,” Eisenhower assuredly did not mean the political campaign trail in support of Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.  In the early 1960s, Goldwater had called the Eisenhower Administration a "dime store New Deal,” and Eisenhower never fully forgave him.  Furthermore, in July 1964, when asked about the presidential abilities of Eisenhower's younger brother, Milton, a university president, Goldwater replied, “One Eisenhower in a generation is enough."  So although he made one television commercial for Goldwater, the former president did not fully support him in his effort to unseat incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson. 

Belair (19081978) had covered Eisenhower in the White House, and Eisenhower liked him.  At the time of his death, Belair had served in the Times' Washington bureau longer than any reporter in its history. 

This letter is unusual in that Eisenhower has not signed it.  The letter has normal mailing folds and is in very fine condition.


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