May 20, 2021 12:00 EST

Books and Manuscripts

 
  Lot 97
 
Lot 97 - [Presidential] [Churchill, Winston] Kennedy, John F.

97

[Presidential] [Churchill, Winston] Kennedy, John F.
Typed Draft Letter, annotated

A unique draft letter, reflecting President Kennedy's intellect, personality, and diplomatic skill

(Washington, D.C., ca. March 27, 1962). 1 p.; 10 3/8 x 7 1/8 in. (263 x 181 mm). Typed draft letter on White House stationery, to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, annotated by President John F. Kennedy, regarding the naming of an American Polaris nuclear submarine in Churchill's honor. In frame (15 1/2 x 12 1/4 in.; 394 x 311 mm).

In response to this letter, written to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill by American President John F. Kennedy in March of 1962, the question of whether to accept the offer to name a Polaris nuclear submarine in his honor weighed heavily on him, as there was no simple answer. Churchill immediately wrote to then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, seeking his council, while also expressing his willingness to accept, "I am much complimented by this suggestion, but the implications are obviously wider than the naming of a different type of ship." To accept would make him the first living person to have a United States naval vessel named for him, to refuse could lead to diplomatic tensions and possible embarrassment for both men and their countries. Macmillan voiced support for declining, and Lady Churchill also strongly opposed the idea, writing to Macmillan on April 4, 1962, "I should hate to feel that his name should be so closely associated with a weapon whose purpose is mass destruction. You yourself know what a humane man Winston is, and it seems to me utterly inappropriate." Macmillan suggested in a letter to Churchill that he could raise the matter with Kennedy himself later that month while on a visit to Washington, even suggesting the possibility of naming a ship after him that didn't carry such destructive capabilities. While the content of the conversation between Macmillan and Kennedy is unknown, it was ultimately decided that the idea would not be pursued any further. Thirty-three years later, President Bill Clinton announced that a new ship would be named after Churchill, the first destroyer--and the fourth ship--named after a British citizen.

This original draft letter from Kennedy to Churchill was typed for the President by Chief Warrant Officer, Jack E. Cutcomb, USN, of the Office of the Naval Aide to the President. The finished letter, dated March 27, 1962, is presumed to still be in the Churchill family's possession, and a copy of it is preserved in the British National Archives. This draft was preserved by Cutcomb.

Kennedy's annotations instruct Cutcomb to ammend sections of the first paragraph, changing the second sentence from "Polaris submarines are weapons for peace, a goal to which you have devoted your lifetime of service." to "Polaris submarines are a most valuable source of strength against aggression and therefore their true purpose is peace, peace with freedom goals to which you have devoted your lifetime of service." At the end of this paragraph there is a quote by Sir Francis Bacon, next to which Kennedy has written a note to quote Churchill instead ("quote him"). One can read in the copy of the finished letter held in the British Archives Kennedy's choice of Churchill's own line, "Peace is our aim and strength is the only way of getting it..."

During his thirty-year Naval career, Jack Evans Cutcomb held every enlisted rank, all the way up to being commissioned a Chief Warrant Officer at the highest level (W-4), and was awarded the Legion of Merit. Like many of his peers, he was inspired to serve his country after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, so he enlisted in the Navy, began his illustrious military career as a Yeoman, and quickly became known as an expert communicator. He served in The White House under three Presidents, beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954, and then under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Under Kennedy, CWO Cutcomb managed the Office of the Naval Aide to the President, and was frequently engaged in regular liaisons with high-level Naval and Marine Corps commanders. In his retirement remarks he said, "Only the Navy could have provided those opportunities to view the unfolding of history from a privileged position. I did. I'm grateful."

Estimated at $35,000 - $50,000


 

A unique draft letter, reflecting President Kennedy's intellect, personality, and diplomatic skill

(Washington, D.C., ca. March 27, 1962). 1 p.; 10 3/8 x 7 1/8 in. (263 x 181 mm). Typed draft letter on White House stationery, to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, annotated by President John F. Kennedy, regarding the naming of an American Polaris nuclear submarine in Churchill's honor. In frame (15 1/2 x 12 1/4 in.; 394 x 311 mm).

In response to this letter, written to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill by American President John F. Kennedy in March of 1962, the question of whether to accept the offer to name a Polaris nuclear submarine in his honor weighed heavily on him, as there was no simple answer. Churchill immediately wrote to then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, seeking his council, while also expressing his willingness to accept, "I am much complimented by this suggestion, but the implications are obviously wider than the naming of a different type of ship." To accept would make him the first living person to have a United States naval vessel named for him, to refuse could lead to diplomatic tensions and possible embarrassment for both men and their countries. Macmillan voiced support for declining, and Lady Churchill also strongly opposed the idea, writing to Macmillan on April 4, 1962, "I should hate to feel that his name should be so closely associated with a weapon whose purpose is mass destruction. You yourself know what a humane man Winston is, and it seems to me utterly inappropriate." Macmillan suggested in a letter to Churchill that he could raise the matter with Kennedy himself later that month while on a visit to Washington, even suggesting the possibility of naming a ship after him that didn't carry such destructive capabilities. While the content of the conversation between Macmillan and Kennedy is unknown, it was ultimately decided that the idea would not be pursued any further. Thirty-three years later, President Bill Clinton announced that a new ship would be named after Churchill, the first destroyer--and the fourth ship--named after a British citizen.

This original draft letter from Kennedy to Churchill was typed for the President by Chief Warrant Officer, Jack E. Cutcomb, USN, of the Office of the Naval Aide to the President. The finished letter, dated March 27, 1962, is presumed to still be in the Churchill family's possession, and a copy of it is preserved in the British National Archives. This draft was preserved by Cutcomb.

Kennedy's annotations instruct Cutcomb to ammend sections of the first paragraph, changing the second sentence from "Polaris submarines are weapons for peace, a goal to which you have devoted your lifetime of service." to "Polaris submarines are a most valuable source of strength against aggression and therefore their true purpose is peace, peace with freedom goals to which you have devoted your lifetime of service." At the end of this paragraph there is a quote by Sir Francis Bacon, next to which Kennedy has written a note to quote Churchill instead ("quote him"). One can read in the copy of the finished letter held in the British Archives Kennedy's choice of Churchill's own line, "Peace is our aim and strength is the only way of getting it..."

During his thirty-year Naval career, Jack Evans Cutcomb held every enlisted rank, all the way up to being commissioned a Chief Warrant Officer at the highest level (W-4), and was awarded the Legion of Merit. Like many of his peers, he was inspired to serve his country after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, so he enlisted in the Navy, began his illustrious military career as a Yeoman, and quickly became known as an expert communicator. He served in The White House under three Presidents, beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954, and then under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Under Kennedy, CWO Cutcomb managed the Office of the Naval Aide to the President, and was frequently engaged in regular liaisons with high-level Naval and Marine Corps commanders. In his retirement remarks he said, "Only the Navy could have provided those opportunities to view the unfolding of history from a privileged position. I did. I'm grateful."

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