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John F. Kennedy

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John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917-1963.  35th President of the United States, 1961-1963.  Very fine condition Typed Letter Signed, John Kennedy, one page, 6¾" x 8¾", on stationery of The White House, Washington, August 22, 1963.  With original envelope. 

Three months to the day before he would die himself, Kennedy poignantly expresses his appreciation to Joseph Goodfellow for condolences on the death of his infant son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy.  In full:  “You and Mrs. Goodfellow were kind indeed to think of us at this very difficult time.  Your message was a comfort to me and my family and we are very grateful to you."

Patrick was born August 7, 1963.  Born 5½ weeks prematurely by emergency Caesarean section, the baby suffered from hyaline membrane disease, now more commonly known as respiratory distress syndrome.  He was rushed to Children's Hospital in Boston, where there was little that doctors could do, and died two days later.

The baby's death was particularly hard on JFK.  His secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, was with him.  “He was holding Patrick's hand,” she said, “and the nurse said, ‘He's gone.'  And tears came into his eyes."  Richard Cardinal Cushing, the Archbishop of Boston, who performed the funeral mass, recalled that Kennedy “was the last of the family to leave the little chapel.  I was behind him.  The casket was there.  It was in a white marble case.  The president was so overwhelmed with grief that he literally put his arms around that casket as though he was carrying it out." 

Kennedy wrote a handful of these letters to express his thanks for condolences.  In auction records we have found that four of these, all dated around the same time, have sold during the last 20 years.  This one, which comes from the recipient's family, has never before been on the market. 

The letter is absolutely beautiful, as though it were mailed yesterday.  It is written on green presidential stationery, and Kennedy has signed it with a blue ballpoint signature.  The letter would be in extra fine condition were it not for the one normal horizontal mailing fold, which does not affect the signature and is not as noticeable as the scan below suggests. Because of the fold, we can describe it only as very fine.  The accompanying mailing envelope has normal postal markings, is opened at the top, and is in fine condition.





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