American Historical Documents from Joe Rubinfine
President John F. Kennedy had a sharp mind and a sharp eye, and that saved him from this potential diplomatic blunder. On July 22, 1963, his secretary typed up a thank you note to Irish President Eamon de Valera, who had hosted Kennedy during a visit and given him a gift. However, the secretary had made one notable, if understandable, faux pas. Instead of typing in the first name "Eamon," the secretary must have assumed the Irish President had the more American first name "Damon." In the place for his signature, Kennedy wrote a large "Wrong!!" put an "X" by the name and wrote an "E" over the "D," and then signed it "JFK." In the letter, Kennedy also mentions his wife's disappointment that she was not able to visit. Jackie Kennedy was pregnant at the time, and gave premature birth a couple of weeks later to son Patrick, who died at just two days of age. Item 18. $10,000.
Here is a most unusual Teddy Roosevelt letter. It was written on May 7, 1901, when Roosevelt was serving as vice-president. The recipient was Horace Deming, who served on a commission while Roosevelt was governor of New York. Roosevelt's successor, Benjamin O'Dell, refused to pay him. Roosevelt had been pushed into the vice-presidency by New York Republican leaders who wished to get the reformist governor out of their state. It was figured this would amount to kicking him upstairs, making him irrelevant. And obviously, for a while it did. Roosevelt had already written two letters to Governor O'Dell asking Deming be paid, which O'Dell ignored. Evidently, Deming requested that T.R. write a third, but this time Roosevelt, embarrassed by his lack of influence, declined. Roosevelt said that he was "...chagrined at the to me inexplicable refusal to give you anything..." However, he notes that "...it certainly ought not to be necessary for an ex-Governor to have to repeat and explain his position in a matter of this kind twice..." A third time would have been totally humiliating, so Roosevelt refused. This was an extremely difficult time for Roosevelt, an active man now placed in a role of irrelevancy, but all that would change drastically in four and one-half months when President McKinley was assassinated and he would succeed to the most powerful office in the land. Item 33. $7,500.
Joe Rubinfine may be reached at 561-659-7077 or Joerubinfine@mindspring.com.