The Raab Collection to Offer Private Correspondence of Ronald Reagan

A personal & revealing glimpse


Read the original article on The Raab Collection on CNN. 

Ardmore, PA – The Raab Collection, a Philadelphia house of manuscripts and historic letters, announced today that it will offer for sale the private presidential correspondence of Pres. Ronald Reagan written to his long-time confidant in Hollywood and Washington, Sen. George Murphy of California.  The majority of the more than 40 letters have never been published.  The originals are surfacing now.

The letters show a side of Reagan reserved for close friends and political allies.  Many criticize Democrat leaders in blunt terms and characterize a media he saw as overly partisan.  Others express strongly his fundamental positions and perceived political vulnerabilities.

“In decades of studying presidential correspondence, we have never seen such frank terms used by any president while in office,” said Steven S. Raab, founder of The Raab Collection, co-founder of the Professional Autograph Dealers Association, and author of books on correspondence and manuscripts.  “These letters are a window into Reagan the writer and the politician.”

In 2000, The Raab Collection sold Reagan’s correspondence to Lorraine Wagner, his close friend and “pen pal,” to an anonymous buyer.  The collection now resides at the Reagan Ranch.  Unlike that collection, most of the Reagan-Murphy letters were written during his presidency from the White House.

Reagan and Murphy in California and Washington

The two actors-turned-politicians were colleagues and served parallel careers for five decades.  They were consecutive presidents of the Screen Actors Guild and were called by Congress to testify together for the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947; Murphy was a California senator when Reagan spoke in support of Barry Goldwater, later urging Reagan to run for governor.

During campaigns and major historical events, Reagan confided in Murphy.  The following are examples:


On the media:

  •  “Your letter was an anecdote to the daily poison of the New York Times and Washington Post – plus now the Los Angeles Times… The media has taken over and delivers news in the framework of their bias.” May 23, 1988
  • “I just got back from the Convention [his nomination], and all in all it was darn good.  The press of course isn’t happy – no blood on the floor.” August 27, 1984

On campaign opponents and Democrats:

  • While a candidate in 1980, he dismisses President Carter’s policies. “Things don’t get better, do they? As witness the bungled attempt in Iran.” May 2, 1980
  • In the midst of the 1984 presidential election, Reagan takes aim at Walter Mondale. “He’s lying through his teeth.  They were just as dishonest in the 1982 campaign.” September 10, 1984
  • He offers help in “deep-sixing the playboy from Massachusetts [Ted Kennedy].”  August 11, 1986
  • On Jesse Jackson: “Presidential Candidate Jackson has reversed himself from clergyman on the issue of abortion. He once called it baby-killing; now he’s all for it.” May 23, 1988

On conservative judicial appointments and tax policies:

  • On judicial appointments, he writes, “There is no way I’d go for a touch of liberalism to win over the lynch mob.” October 29, 1987
  • Congressional Democrats charged that proposed tax breaks favored the wealthy. Reagan confides to Murphy, “We’re vulnerable on that one.  They’ve done quite a job on me as ‘favoring the rich’ in our tax policies.” February 14, 1983

On the Iran-Contra scandal:

  • “The Democrats have had a majority in both houses for 46 of 50 years… In all those years, no Congress ever investigated a Democratic president.  But every Republican president was investigated… Well they haven’t gotten the noose around my neck, and they won’t because I’ve been telling the truth.” (July 21, 1987)

On Gorbachev and the fall of the Soviet Union

  • After the first meeting of the world leaders: “It would be foolish to think the leopard can change his spots.  At the same time…he is practical and knows his economy is a basket case. I think our job is to show him he and they will be better off if we make some practical agreements.” December 19, 1985
  • Foreseeing the collapse of totalitarianism after his first and last presidential visit to Moscow: “For the first time, I believe there could perhaps one day be a stirring of the people that would make the bureaucrats pay attention… If glasnost was just showboating, they’re going to have to keep at least some of the promises or face a public they’ve never seen before.” July 8, 1988

On the moral decline of Hollywood

  • “Being back in Calif. has made me more aware of what the Asner types have done to… the S.A.G. [Screen Actors Guild]…. If it was what it used to be the Guild members would refuse to read lines with 4 letter words and profanity.  I’m sure we would have ruled out the nudity and sex too.” August 25, 1990

The Raab Collection is a Philadelphia house of manuscripts and historic letters.  Items The Raab Collection is handling include: Abraham Lincoln’s authorization to blockade the Confederacy; George Washington’s spy letter written after the treason of Benedict Arnold; Theodore Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick” letter.

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