Behind the Oval Office Doors: Raab to Offer For Sale Newly Discovered, Private Correspondence of President Ronald Reagan
Never before seen letters about press bias, leakers, religion, support for Israel, women, including Margaret Thatcher, the Challenger disaster, space travel by civilians
“Now let’s get down to the real frustration – the leaks. Doug, I’ve never seen anything like it and we’re trying everything but a ‘plumber’s squad’ to find and clobber the guilty. “
PHILADELPHIA, PA – January 22, 2020 – The Raab Collection, the nation’s leading dealer in important historical documents, announced today that it will offer for sale the private presidential correspondence of President Ronald Reagan written to Hollywood legend and Oscar winner Douglas Morrow. The majority of the more than 40 letters, which are being sold individually, have never been published and cover a range of controversial and personal topics, from leakers in the administration to accusations he was not sufficiently supportive of Israel, as well as the aftermath of the Challenger spacecraft disaster. They have never before been offered for sale and most have been out of the reach of the public and scholars.
The letters show a side of Reagan reserved for close friends and political allies.
“It is very rare to find such an important and revealing trove of letters of a President,” said Nathan Raab, principal at The Raab Collection and author of the upcoming book “The Hunt for History” (Scribner, March 2020). “These letters are a window into Reagan the person and the politician.” The Raab Collection has since its founding in 1989 carried the most important and largest archives of Reagan letters to reach the market.
Reagan and Morrow in Hollywood and Washington
Douglas Morrow was a Hollywood screenwriter and film producer. He earned an Academy Award for his 1949 script, The Stratton Story, a biography of baseball player Monty Stratton, who was disabled in a hunting accident. Reagan, who catapulted to fame as an actor, became friends with Morrow when Morrow sought to cast him in that part, they remained close friends throughout the Hollywood days and kept in contact through most of his presidency.
This archive was acquired by Raab from the heirs of Morrow and has never before been offered for sale.
On the Media:
• “It goes without saying that Bill Moyers on the CBS special presented a totally dishonest report on poverty. We can refute every heart-rendering experience he portrayed as being the result of our economic program – they weren’t. (April 26, 1982)
• “It gets frustrating. A black family back here had a cross burned on their lawn. I visited them. I wanted to do it without press so they couldn’t say (as they did) that I was doing it as an image building device. There was no way I could do it my way. We were a parade all the way.” (January 10, 1983)
• “Like Jimmy Durante, ‘I’ve got a million’ of those examples of press dishonesty.” (January 10, 1983)
On John F. Kennedy Sneaking Women into the White House
• “It’s the South Lawn gauntlet you have to run. Yes a President [alluding to John F. Kennedy] once smuggled pretty little cocker spaniels [women] in and out of the White House but believe me that can done only as long as he’s not with them. Now don’t jump to a false conclusion – I’m not engaged in that sport. But I have been able to meet with some important figures with no press awareness.” (January 10, 1983)
On Leaks from the Administration
• “Now let’s get down to the real frustration – the leaks. Doug, I’ve never seen anything like it and we’re trying everything but a ‘plumber’s squad’ to find and clobber the guilty. I’m convinced they are at a lower level and yes they are grinding their own axes with no regard for us or what we are trying to do. They are responsible for the stories of feuds and in-fighting which I assure you are untrue.” (January 10, 1983)
On Campaign Opponents and Democrats:
• “The Democrats show signs of marshalling their forces to resist our efforts. So we’ll take our case to the people.” (January 7, 1985)
• “You were right about the first debate. I’d heard him [Walter Mondale] peddle so many falsehoods in the course of campaigning, I crammed so that I could rebut with fact and figure. The result was that I left my fight in the locker room. I knew I was flat when the curtain went up.” (Written On-Board Air Force 1, November 17, 1984)
• “We agree also about the Soviet Union and the unhappy surprises they can give us along about October. I am sure that they will throw a few bones to insure, if possible, the Carter win. One of those I have been betting on is that in some way they would deliver the hostages prior to the election.” (July 14, 1980)
• (On being able to walk on water, politically) “Just give me an ‘overnight’ on the Red Sea but bring your rubbers. The bottom may still be wet.” (November 10, 1981)
On Space Travel and the Challenger:
• [Doug Morrow wanted to be a civilian sent into space] “I’ll continue to plug but don’t over-train. What with the international program plus such things as the ‘first teacher’ idea it looks like there is a waiting line out the building.” [The “first teacher” would be Terry McAuliffe.] (June 26, 1985)
• [After the Challenger disaster]. “We do have some problems, the financial one of course but a number of others such as the backlog of various machines to be put in space. We’ve only been able to touch on that and whether a spurt in non-manned launches should be used to reduce the backlog. Now of course we’ve had the recent finding by Jim that the existing shuttles have 44 things that need correcting before they fly again.” (May 19, 1986)
• “Wait up a minute. Money isn’t the big delay on the shuttle. Safety is… The next shuttle launch can’t be scheduled until the first quarter of 1988. The study of and testing of the solid rocket boosters are part of the problem. Added to this are safety features on the shuttles themselves which are being studied.” (July 16, 1986)
On Support for Jews and Israel
• “On the day of the Sinai return, while I was on the phone to Prime Minister Begin and he was telling me I was the best friend Israel ever had, a group of Jewish demonstrators were out in front of the White House protesting my anti-Israel attitude. (April 26, 1982)
On Margaret Thatcher and Women
• “All of this talk of some women about equality is foolish. The plain truth is that they are superior, as she clearly demonstrated. I don’t know about you but I don’t mind a d—m bit that they are. As a matter of fact, it’s rather comforting. During the recent Summit one of our members – leader of one of the seven nations – gave Margaret Thatcher a bad time. Later I said to her that he was certainly out of line and shouldn’t have talked to her that way. She pleasantly and calmly said, ‘Oh – women know when men are being childish.’”
About The Raab Collection: The Raab Collection has handled many of the most important historical documents to reach the market and worked with the families of famous Americans in the sale and preservation of their family treasures, among them Neil Armstrong, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, William Henry Harrison, and Ronald Reagan. Nathan Raab, a member of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, is also a contributor to Forbes.com. To learn more visit www.raabcollection.com or follow @raabcollection on Twitter. He is the author of the upcoming hardcover non-fiction book, The Hunt for History (Scribner, March 2020).