NIXON, Richard M. Autograph letter signed AS PRESIDENT, TO JOHN D. EHRLICHMAN, Washington, 12 June 1973. pages, 8vo, White House stationery, WITH ORIGINAL ENVELOPE ADDRESSED BY NIXON. -- EHRLICHMAN, John D. A.L.S. to William Frates, [Federal Prison, Safford, Arizona] 12 April 1978. 2pp., 4to.
"KEEP THE FAITH!...ALL WILL COME OUT OK BECAUSE WE ARE RIGHT"
One of the greatest rarities of presidential autographs--a Nixon autograph letter signed while President, to one of the major figures in the Watergate scandal, former chief domestic policy advisor, John Ehrlichman. He and chief of staff H. R. ("Bob") Haldeman were arguably the most powerful figures in the administration after the President. On 30 April 1973, Nixon fired Ehrlichman, Haldeman, and White House counsel John Dean for their role in Watergate. Here, just seven weeks later, a wounded Nixon tries to be encouraging: "I'm sure you know how much I miss Bob and you. No President ever had two more able & loyal advisers. I feel for you both in this difficult time. And I feel for your families...I only wish I could help. Keep the faith--!...All will come out OK because we are right."
He was wrong. Things ended disastrously for both men. Nixon resigned in disgrace in August 1974, and in January 1975 a jury convicted Ehrlichman of perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He served 18 months in Federal prison in Arizona, and near the end of his sentence wrote the 12 April 1978 letter included here, to his lawyer in his criminal trial, William Frates. Ehrlichman is still trying to find evidence of Nixon's involvemenet in the break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, Lewis J. Fielding: "Doubtless you noted the passage in Haldeman's book...that...Nixon said he 'might have' personally authorized the Fielding break-in...Yesterday I was able able to establish beyond doubt that he (Nixon) said that not only to Haldeman but to others..." Ehrlichman remained bitter towards Nixon for not granting him a pardon before leaving office (Ehrlichman also petitioned Ronald Reagan for a pardon). But he came to sense the disastrous mistake he made by blindly implementing Nixon's orders for break-ins and other "dirty tricks." About the time he wrote this letter to Frates, he admitted to the judge in his trial that "I abdicated my moral judgments and turned them over to somebody else. And if I had any advice for my kids, it would be never--to never, ever defer your moral judgments to anybody."
ONLY ONE OTHER NIXON AUTOGRAPH LETTER AS PRESIDENT HAS APPEARED AT AUCTION, a polite thank-you note to Gen. and Mrs. Aldrich, 14 Dec., 1971 (Douglass Campbell Collection--Christie's New York, Dec 19, 2002, lot 326, $24,000). Together 2 items. (2)