JOHNSON, LYNDON B., President. Typed letter signed (''Lyndon B. Johnson'') as President, TO FORMER SECRETRARY OF STATE DEAN ACHESON, Washington, D.C., 11 April 1968. 3½ pages, small folio, White House stationery. Fine.
JOHNSON, LYNDON B., President. Typed letter signed ("Lyndon B. Johnson") as President, TO FORMER SECRETRARY OF STATE DEAN ACHESON, Washington, D.C., 11 April 1968. 3½ pages, small folio, White House stationery. Fine.
PRESIDENT JOHNSON TO DEAN ACHESON, "A GREAT AMERICAN" WHO UNDERSTOOD "THE VICIOUSNESS WHICH TOO OFTEN IS LOOSED UPON AMERICAN PRESIDENTS"
An exceptionally long and thoughtful letter from a President who rarely wrote personal letters from the White House. Johnson sends birthday wishes to a longtime Presidential adviser: "...From where I sit, the vista of Dean Acheson's life is a magnificent one." LBJ writes that he was "skimming through Cabell Phillips' book about Truman," and he transcribes two paragraphs regarding Acheson's role in the Truman cabinet. "...In the best sense of the word, you have always been a European, not only by inheritance and belief but, what is far more important, by accomplishment. It is my Texas blood, for example, which stirs me to remember that the first public statement of what later came to be the Marshall Plan was made by an Under Secretary of State named Acheson at a farm gathering in Mississippi, weeks before George Marshall unveiled it at Harvard. Is it too much to say that the entire post World War II reconstruction of Europe, and therefore of the Free World, was set in motion by that speech and by the creativity that went into that speech? I do not think so.
"For my generation you have been the perfect public servant. Not a docile one to be sure, as my own hero, FDR, learned! Still more than once he was heard to say about some obstreperous publicity seeker 'Why didn't that fellow go to Dean Acheson and learn how to resign like a gentleman?' And I may say in his defense when FDR made a mistake about you he was smart enough to rectify it and get you back in harness. You do not know how heartening the example of Dean Acheson...has been even in the past few years both to me and to my own Scretary of State. Your conduct...taught us both how to endure and to accept the calumnies, the outrages, and yes, the viciousness which is too often loosed upon American Presidents...in time of international strain...Still I would be less than frank if I gave the impression I was writing this letter because of your great services to Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. A birthday letter of affection is hardly the way to repay what Dean Acheson has done for Lyndon Johnson but it has at least the pleasant virtue of letting you know you can add a fourth President to your list!...You have perfectly understood the relation of an adviser to a President, whether that adviser spoke in the powerful role of Secretary of State or informally as an old, valued and experienced friend. As you know too well, perhaps one of the greatest burdens a President carries is the burden of too much advice, asked for and unasked for. And you and I both know...your words have brought my problems into proper focus for me...You have ever known your duty was higher even than that to your President. Your first debt has always been your duty to your country. You are a great American..."