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Richard M. Nixon

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The former President sends thanks for help with the famous 1977 David Frost interviews,

the closest Nixon ever came to admitting wrongdoing during the Watergate affair

Richard Milhous Nixon, 19131994.  37th President of the United States.  Typed Letter Signed, RN, with handwritten emendation, one page, 7¼” x 10½”, on personal engraved stationery of La Casa Pacifica, San Clemente, California, April 29, 1977.  With original envelope.

Nixon thanks a friend and supporter for his help in connection with the David Frost interviews the previous month.  He writes, in full:  “I want you to know how grateful I am for your continuing, never-failing, fine assistance.  /  Your contribution to the preparations for the recent taping sessions was most helpful, and deeply appreciated.  /  When it is convenient, we can compare notes on some other projects you have  so kindly been following.  /  In the meantime, Mrs. Nixon and I send our very best wishes to you and to your Mother.”

Beginning March 23, 1977, the former President, who had withdrawn from public life after he resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974, sat for a series of interviews with British journalist David Frost.  Nixon’s staff, and perhaps Nixon himself, who was working on his memoirs, saw the interviews as a way to rehabilitate Nixon’s public image. Frost interviewed Nixon 12 times over a four-week period, compiling some 29 hours of videotaped interviews.  Frost personally paid Nixon $600,000 (more than $2.6 million today) plus a share of the profits from syndication of the interviews for television after American television networks expressed no interest in what they derided as “checkbook journalism.”  In the end, the interviews were edited into five 90-minute interviews for broadcast. 

Nixon had previously declined to speak publicly of his role in the Watergate scandal that forced him to resign the presidency on August 9, 1974.  Not only did Frost draw Nixon out, however, but he went for the jugular on Watergate.  When Frost asked about abuse of presidential power, Nixon replied, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”  A surprised Frost sought to keep Nixon talking.  On the last day of the interviews, in an unscripted moment, Frost pushed Nixon on Watergate.  “Unless you say it,” Frost said, “you’re going to be haunted for the rest of your life.”   Nixon apologized for putting “the American people through two years of needless agony” and conceded that he had “let the American people down, and I have to carry that burden wit me for the rest of my life.”

Nixon kept in regular contact with William W. Stover (1929–2005), to whom he wrote this letter.  Stover was a 1955 graduate of Stanford University Law School.  He served on Nixon’s vice presidential staff, worked on Nixon’s campaigns for Governor of California and reelection as President, and later served as the chief of staff for California Senator George L. Murphy.

Nixon has signed this letter with his famous circled RN signature in black and has added “Dear Bill” in his hand in the salutation.  The letter has normal mailing folds, the lower of which barely touches the tail of Nixon’s signature. It is in very fine condition.  The accompanying envelope, with Nixon’s printed free frank, has been opened at the top and is in fine condition.

Unframed.  Click here to ask us about custom framing this piece.


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