KENNEDY, John F. Typed letter signed ("John Kennedy") as President, to ADLAI STEVENSON, Ambassador to the United Nations, Washington, 4 December 1962. 1 page, 4to (8 7/8 x 6¾ in.), White House stationery, slight smudging to signature, two very minor stains at top, otherwise in fine condition. [With:] an 8 x 10 in. photo of Kennedy and Stevenson, an 8 x 10 in. aerial photo of the Cuban base, and the 8 December 1962 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.
KENNEDY PRAISES STEVENSON AFTER THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS: "WE HAVE ELIMINATED THE NUCLEAR MENACE FROM CUBA"
A fine letter written in response to a Saturday Evening Post article that criticized the actions of Adlai Stevenson during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In September 1962, photographs taken by United States spy planes indicated the construction of a Soviet air base on the island of Cuba that could house ballistic missiles capable of striking the American coast. When President Kennedy confronted the Soviet Government, Premier Nikita Kruschev denied that the site was intended for offensive operations. In October, American intelligence indicated that the Soviets were prepared to arm the base and Kennedy took immediate steps to prevent what was a clear threat to national security by declaring that the ships would be stopped by the American Navy and forced to turn around. A confrontation seemed inevitable as the Soviet ships carrying the missiles steamed towards the American blockade. As the hour of decision approached, the Soviet Government recalled its ships and agreed to dismantle its Cuban base.
Adlai Stevenson, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, presented the American case to the international forum in the midst of the crisis and received widespread support. However, the December 8 issue of the Saturday Evening Post criticized Stevenson, claiming that he had suggested that the United States use diplomacy to settle the issue, offering European bases in exchange for the Cuban base. The Post claimed that the White House thought that Stevenson "was soft." Since one of the authors of the article, Charles Bartlett, was a friend of Kennedy's, it was assumed his facts came from the White House and that the President was dissatisfied with Stevenson and sought to remove him. Despite efforts to publically block the persisting rumors, rampant discussion about Stevenson's future continued.
Here, Kennedy attempts to convince Stevenson (and the public as this letter was released to the press) that the Post did not accurately present his views: "This is just a note to tell you again how deeply I regret the unfortunate stir which has arisen over the statements contained in the SATURDAY EVENING POST article. I think you know how greatly we have all admired your performance at the United Nations in general and during the Security Council discussions and private negotiations connected with the Cuban crisis in particular." Kennedy assures Stevenson "I have, of course, valued your advice very highly" and concludes that the results of the event affirm that the course taken was the correct one: "That we have eliminated the nuclear menace from Cuba is the best evidence of the prudence of our policy and its execution, in which you played such an active part." The President confirms that he needs Stevenson to continue at his post: "Our government has many important challenges in the days ahead; and your continued work at the United Nations will be of inestimable value. Meanwhile, it goes without saying that you have my fullest confidence and best wishes."
As only a typescript of this letter is currently held in the Stevenson papers with the written note "By phone from the White House," it is likely that the letter was never sent. It is probable that this is Kennedy's original message of support that was released to the public press. Together four items. (4)