TRUMAN, Harry S. Typed letter signed ("Harry Truman") as President, to David Niles, Washington, D.C., 1 February 1949. 1 page, 4to (7 7/8 x 6½ in.), White House stationery. Framed with original fountain pen made by Bradley of Vermont used to sign the de jure recognition of Israel and original envelope, unexamined outside of frame.
THE U.S. FORMAL RECOGNITION OF ISRAEL: A MEMENTO FORWARDED TO ONE OF THE ADMINISTRATION'S STAUNCHEST SUPPORTERS OF THE JEWISH STATE
Truman writes to David Niles, his special assistant for minority affairs: "This is one of the pens that I used to sign the announcement of the de jure recognition to Israel. It gives me real pleasure to be able to send you this memento." As David McCullough recounts, "The two ardent champions of the Jewish cause in the White House staff were Clark Clifford and David K. Niles... Niles, one of the holdovers from the Roosevelt years and himself a Jew, sensed in Truman a fundamental sympathy for the plight of the Jews that he had never felt with Roosevelt. Had Roosevelt lived, Niles later said, things might not have turned out as they did" (David McCullough, Truman, New York, 1992, p. 596).
The new Jewish state was to be proclaimed at 6:00 PM on Friday, May 14, 1948. Debate over recognition of the state was heated within Truman's administration and the U.S. delegation to the United Nations. At 6:11, just after the declaration in Jerusalem, the White House annouced de facto recognition of Isreal, a move which astounded the American delegation at the United Nations. The announcement was not, however, a formal declaration of Israel's statehood. "It would be pointed out as time went on that the United States had granted only de facto recognition of the new Jewish state, whereas the Soviet Union followed with a more formal de jure recognition" (McCullough, pp. 618-619). On 24 October 1948, Truman increased his level of commitment to the Jewish state by declaring that once a permanent government was elected in Israel, it would promptly be given de jure recognition by the United States. Elections for such a government were held on 25 January 1949. Once the votes were counted and the government was officially informed of the results, Truman extended de jure recogntion on 31 January. The following day, Truman sent the present letter and pen to Niles to commemorate this important event. Merle Miller writes: "A year later the Chief Rabbi of Israel came to see the President, and he told him, 'God put you in your mother's womb so that you could be the instrument to bring about the rebirth of Israel after two thousand years.' At that, great tears started rolling down Harry Truman's cheeks" (Merle Miller, Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman, New York, 1974, p.218).