You must not worry about Santa

In 1961, immediately after overhearing her parents discuss the possibility of Soviet nuclear tests at the North Pole, 8-year-old Michelle Rochon grabbed a pencil and wrote a letter to U.S. President John F. Kennedy, in which she asked him to prevent the tests for one particular reason. Her letter, and the reply she soon received

Kiss my ass

In 1970, shortly after being elected Attorney General of Alabama, 29-year-old Bill Baxley reopened the 16th Street Church bombing case — a racially motivated act of terrorism that resulted in the deaths of four African-American girls in 1963 and a fruitless investigation, and which marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Baxley’s unwavering commitment to

Our differences unite us

In 2012, 10-year-old Sophia Bailey-Klugh wrote and illustrated an endearing letter to U. S. President Barack Obama and, as the daughter of a gay couple, thanked him for supporting same-sex marriage. Her letter, and the reply she soon received, can be seen below. Transcripts follow each letter. (Huge thanks to Sophia’s family for allowing us to

I shall always be with you

On June 8th of 1950, nine months after being arrested by the Czech secret police on suspicion of leading a plot to overthrow the Communist regime, 48-year-old socialist politician Milada Horáková was found guilty of “high treason” following a show trial that was broadcast on national radio, and in which she remained defiant. On the 27th of that

You are not so kind as you used to be

It’s difficult to imagine the stress experienced by Winston Churchill in June of 1940, as WWII gathered pace just a couple of months after he first became Prime Minister. Behind the scenes, however, the weight on his shoulders was noticed and felt by all those around him — so much so that on the 27th of

My mother declared my bedroom a disaster area

As one would expect, Ronald Reagan was the recipient of thousands of letters each month during his presidency–a mailbag so voluminous, in fact, that a gang of patient volunteers were tasked with opening them all on his behalf and passing him approximately 30 each week to read and respond to. This is just one example,

I do not apologize for myself nor my fears

On December 13th of 1963, at a dinner event in New York, the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee awarded its annual Tom Paine Award to Bob Dylan, for his contribution to the fight for civil liberties. Despite not having prepared one, a nervous and slightly drunk Dylan gave a speech that evening — a controversial speech in which

Love, Dad

In June of 1971, 26-year-old Michael Reagan married his 18-year-old fiancée in a beautiful ceremony that took place in Hawaii, but which sadly couldn’t be attended by his dad, the future President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. A few days before the ceremony, however, Michael did receive something invaluable that would be treasured for

You are now my Enemy

From the pen of Benjamin Franklin comes a furious letter, written in 1775 to William Strahan — a British Member of Parliament who had, until that point, been a friend of thirty years — as the American Revolutionary War took hold. Franklin quickly had a change of mind after penning it, and it was never sent; however, word of its

The Heroes of Our Time

June, 1964. Marlon Brando sends a telegram to Martin Luther King and declines an offer to assist in a forthcoming demonstration due to ill-health and legal troubles. Brando was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, both vocally and financially, and in fact had been standing just “a few steps behind Dr. King when

HOPE THEY KEEP YOU

On July 15th of 1971, U. S. President Richard Nixon shocked the nation by announcing his intention to visit the People’s Republic of China and meet with Chairman Mao. Understandably public reaction was mixed, as illustrated by the following: Two of many messages sent to the White House in response — the first from a

With great respect, Marge Simpson

Barbara Bush received a letter from the unlikeliest of sources in 1990, after an article in People magazine quoted the First Lady as saying The Simpsons “was the dumbest thing [she] had ever seen.” Marge Simpson‘s polite response can be seen below, followed by the transcript of an apologetic letter from Barbara Bush in reply.

POSSIBLE ACTIONS TO PROVOKE, HARRASS, OR DISRUPT CUBA

On February 2nd of 1962, Brig. Gen. William Craig sent the following memo to Brig. Gen. Edward Lansdale, commander of the Kennedy administration’s Operation Mongoose — a secret project kick-started by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in order to “help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime.” This particular memo, entitled “POSSIBLE ACTIONS TO PROVOKE, HARRASS, OR DISRUPT CUBA,”

We were not found wanting

On November 27th of 1963, Charles Jack Price, then-Administrator of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas, proudly sent the following memo to all staff and made clear his appreciation for their professional conduct over the past week—a period during which, as the world’s population looked on in horror, the hospital had seen the deaths of

I am ashamed to share membership of the same party with you

Rather than congratulate Labor MP John Robertson following his being sworn in as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council in 2008, famously outspoken former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, incredibly unhappy with Robertson’s conduct, chose instead to send him this wonderfully scathing letter. Indeed, Keating’s worst fears were realised in March of this year

Our total love for you is everlasting

Following a routine mammogram on September 26th of 1974, just a month after becoming First Lady of the United States, Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer. Below is a loving letter of support from Betty’s husband — then-U.S. President Gerald Ford — and her children, written shortly after the diagnosis. Betty Ford’s decision to be entirely open about her illness

It is a good thing to be laughed at

Although tame by today’s standards, when it was first aired by the BBC in 1962, the late-night satirical TV show That Was The Week That Was broke new ground as its incredibly talented cast and crew mocked the political establishment in a manner previously unseen on television, live to millions of viewers. Unsurprisingly, the reaction from

You are directly responsible for the loss of our son’s life

The following angry letter was sent to then-U.S. President Harry Truman in 1953 by the father of George Banning, a young soldier who had recently been killed whilst serving in the Korean War. When Truman passed away 20 years later, this letter was discovered in his desk along with Banning’s posthumously awarded Purple Heart. Transcript follows.

Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration

In July of 1917, mid-World War I, following a period of convalescent leave during which he had decided to make a stand by not returning to duty, celebrated poet Siegfried Sassoon sent the following open letter to his commanding officer and refused to return to the trenches. The reaction was widespread, thanks in no small part to

Shame on you Mr. Beck

On September 1st of 2009, in a nod to a joke made by comedian Gilbert Gottfried in which he repeatedly asked the audience not to spread a previously non-existent rumour about Bob Saget, Isaac Eiland-Hall launched the satirical website GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlIn1990.com; its aim being to parody pundit Glenn Beck‘s often controversial style of political commentary. A subsequent complaint by

Part of playing for high stakes under great pressure is the constant risk of mental error

On April 5th of 1993, with 11 seconds of the title game left and his team losing 73-71, acclaimed college basketball star Chris Webber infamously called a time-out when in fact his team, the Michigan Wolverines, had none remaining. The resulting foul effectively sealed their loss. Days later, the incredibly dejected member of the iconic group

You can beat it just like I did

On September 5th of 1994, eager to pose a question, 8th-grade student Branden Brooks found himself raising his hand during the Q&A session of a presentation by then-Senator Joe Biden. After the event, having noticed the young man’s stutter as he spoke, Biden pulled him to one side: Sen. Biden told me that he used to stutter

The lid is on in Packingtown

Over the course of seven weeks in 1904, journalist Upton Sinclair entered Chicago’s meatpacking industry and worked undercover as a factory operative. The next year his resultant exposé, The Jungle, was serialised in the newspaper Appeal to Reason; in February of 1906, it was released in book form and became an instant bestseller. Shortly after

All the ladies like whiskers

In 1860, having recently seen a picture of him without facial hair, an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell decided to write to Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln with a suggestion: to grow a beard. Her letter, and Lincoln’s reply, can be seen below. She met Lincoln a few months later, as the President-elect travelled victoriously to Washington,

Bob Dylan: “Let John and Yoko stay!”

Having greatly agitated the powers-that-be as vocal and influential critics of the Vietnam War, in 1972 the Nixon administration, citing a 1968 conviction of cannabis possession as a previously-overlooked violation of immigration law, began deportation proceedings against John Lennon and his partner-in-peace, Yoko Ono. Naturally, an organised campaign to quash the attempt soon gathered speed, and before long a

Ghosts in the White House

On June 12th, 1945, then-U. S. President Harry Truman wrote the following letter to his wife, Bess. She had recently taken their daughter to visit relatives over the summer, and Truman’s subsequent attempts to work had been somewhat hampered by the endless noises and draughts emitted by the White House; a building which at the time was desperately in

The Little People’s Petition

Image: Library of Congress Early-1864, frustrated and saddened that the recently introduced Emancipation Proclamation only guaranteed the freedom of slaves in the Confederate States, 195 schoolchildren of Concord, Massachusetts signed the above “Petition of the children of the United States; (under 18 years) that the President will free all slave children” and, with the help

Is there a space program which we could win?

On April 20th of 1961, a despairing John F. Kennedy sent the following memo to his Vice President and Chairman of the Space Council, Lyndon B. Johnson. Just 8 days previous, on the 12th, the Soviets had strengthened their lead in the Space Race by successfully sending cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit; in addition, a

Art, like love, speaks through and to the heart

During the run-up to a benefit show at Carnegie Hall in January of 1961, civil rights activist Martin Luther King sent the following supportive letter of thanks to Sammy Davis, Jr., as a result of his active role in its preparations. At the time Davis was looking to star in an anticipated – but ultimately

Our gods are assholes

Iggy Pop had more to say following his interview with Plazm magazine in 1995; so much so in fact, that he sent the following fax to journalist Joshua Berger in order to further their recent chat. Currently holed up in Warsaw on a tour of Europe, Iggy’s thoughts were focused entirely on his home country

Speaks through his nose and cannot pronounce the letter S

Sent in December of 1899 by Boer police, the following telegram marked the beginning of a hunt for an escaped prisoner of The Boer War. The young man – a British war correspondent who walked with ‘a slight stoop’, had an ‘almost invisible’ moustache and was ‘unable to pronounce the letter S’ – happened to

What makes you think I hate the British?

An inquisitive letter from a Kansas City resident provoked this insightful typewritten reply from Mohandas Gandhi in 1925. Written to a Fred Campbell just over a year after being released from prison – he had served two years of a six year sentence following his promotion of the Non-cooperation movement – Gandhi took the opportunity to

It is a lovely book

In 2012, Canadian author Yann Martel received a thoughtful thank you letter in the mail in response to his award-winning novel, Life of Pi. Such appreciative letters are understandably not a rarity for Martel, however the writer of this particular handwritten note, a fan who had recently read the book with his daughter, happened to

Yours Faithfully, Adolf Hitler

In September of 1931, a young British journalist working for the Berlin office of the Daily Express invited the most unlikely of figures to contribute to a forthcoming feature in the newspaper. The feature in question was to be a series of articles relating to the current financial crisis in Britain, each written by a

Like most junk science that just won’t die, the polygraph stays with us

Without proper context, this letter – a highly critical analysis of polygraph testing written by an ex-CIA employee – would still be a captivating read; however it just so happens that the note was penned from prison by Aldrich Ames, a former counter-intelligence officer-turned-spy who in 1985 chose to sell information to the KGB that,

Is it best for the States to unite, or not to unite?

On November 9th, 1787, less than two months after presiding over its creation, George Washington wrote the following powerful letter to his nephew in which he convincingly backed the United States Constitution. With the backing of just nine states required for the Constitution to be ratified and his nephew soon to be a delegate in the Virginia State Ratifying

I can’t remember ever being without you

In 1952, Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis married. In 1972, prior to their 20th anniversary, Reagan — then Governor of California — wrote the following letter to his wife. Transcript follows. Source Transcript State of CaliforniaGOVERNOR’S OFFICESACRAMENTO 95814 RONALD REAGANGOVERNOR My Darling Wife This note is to warn you of a diabolical plot entered into

Advice for an aspiring architect, in 1931

In December of 1931, as the Great Depression took hold, a young man by the name of Richard Crews wrote to a number of prominent architecture firms in the city of Chicago. Soon to enter the profession himself, Crews was curious to learn about an established architect’s typical working day, and so sent letters to

When a real and final catastrophe should befall us…

On April 9th, 1948, a month before Israel declared independence, just over one hundred residents of Deir Yassin were massacred by members of two militant Zionist groups – Lehi and Irgun – as part of an effort to cleanse the area of its Arab population. The next day, Albert Einstein wrote the following passionate letter

This was dictated before the world fell in on me

The main body of this letter was dictated by then-Vice President of the United States Harry Truman on the morning of April 12th, 1945. In it, he tells sister-in-law May Wallace of his ever-increasing workload after just three months in a role for which he didn’t actually campaign. Just hours after the letter was dictated,

Dear Lucy

From 1971, a powerfully succinct letter from Nancy Spero to Lucy Lippard; two highly influential women whose paths crossed numerous times; Spero as a feminist artist, Lippard as a feminist art critic, historian and curator. Transcript follows. Source Transcript N Y OCT 29 DEAR LUCYTHE ENEMIES OF WOMEN’S LIBERATION IN THE ARTS WILL BE CRUSHED.

What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to?

It wasn’t until 1947, following an apparent mid-flight sighting by respected pilot Kenneth Arnold, that the American public were introduced to the term ‘Flying Saucer‘. Other sightings were reported almost instantly, and within weeks the whole world was awash with stories of contact from other planets. Five years later, following another intense bout of activity

In defence of Jim Jones

Even in 1978, the very year he orchestrated the mass-suicide that ended over 900 lives in Jonestown, cult leader Jim Jones could count on people as influential as politician Harvey Milk – recently the subject of an Academy Award-winning movie – to fight his corner in his absence. With Jones and congregation relocated to Guyana

President Einstein

On November 17th of 1952, following the death of Israel’s first President, then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion decided to offer the job to Albert Einstein by way of the following letter via the Embassy of Israel in Washington. As we now know, the offer was declined; the response can also be read below. Less than three years later, Einstein passed away. Transcript follows. (Source:

Where do you expect our children to live?

Believing such a novel and symbolic form of correspondence more likely to reach and influence its intended audience, L. McKenzie wrote the following plea in 1980 to then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter on a piece of 2×4, and mailed it to the White House. McKenzie built houses for a living and as such was particularly affected

How many lives are you willing to sacrifice?

August 2nd, 1990: Tensions originating from the Iran-Iraq War spill over and Iraqi troops invade Kuwait. Within days they take control of the country and its oil fields. August 7th, 1990: Sensing the potential for a similar invasion of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, U.S. troops gather in the Kingdom in order to defend the area. Operation

I feel disposable, used and insignificant

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that extramarital affairs are an extremely common occurrence, and as such letters similar to the one below — in which a recently jilted lover begs a cheating husband for further secret contact — are nothing special, and certainly not unique. However this particular letter, written five weeks after the

The birth of Bonfire Night

On 26th October, 1605, William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, received a letter, seen below, in which he was advised, anonymously, to stay away from Parliament the following week as a “terrible blowe” was expected to meet all those present. That terrible blow was in fact The Gunpowder Plot, a plan to blow up the Houses

I wish I could spare Nancy from this painful experience

On November 5th of 1994, five years after leaving office, 83-year-old Ronald Reagan hand-wrote the following open letter to the American people and revealed that he had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a surprisingly common, incurable form of dementia that affects many millions of people around the world. He lived with the disease for a further ten

Anything which weakens you, weakens America

Just a few days after appearing before the Tower Commission as a result of his involvement in the Iran-Contra arms scandal, Ronald Reagan received the following handwritten letter of support from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In it, Thatcher empathises with ‘Ron’ over his harsh treatment by the press, informs him that his previous achievements

The KKK will receive a taste of its own medicine

May, 1964: The world looks on as peaceful, non-violent protests against racial segregation turn sour in St. Augustine, Florida. During the coming weeks many protesters will receive verbal and physical abuse from local segregationists, most notably Klansmen. The SCLC, founded by Martin Luther King, lends support to the protests. June 30th, 1964: Controversial activist Malcolm

Unhappy Franksgiving

A mild panic swept over the U.S. in 1939, following a brave decision by President Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving forward from the final Thursday of November to its penultimate Thursday, in an effort to lengthen and boost Christmas spending after the holiday during what were the last groans of the Great Depression. In the days

Al Capone is coming home

Following his release from prison late-1939, Al Capone returned to his home in Palm Island, Florida, and lived the last 7 years of his life in a state of confusion and bad health, brought on by a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by syphilis. Prior to said release, Miami Police Lieutenant James Barker caught wind of Capone’s

This issue transcends all others

2 years prior to Hitler‘s rise to power in 1933, Germany was chosen as host of the 1936 Olympic Games. As the games approached and Hitler’s regime shocked the world, the air was filled with rumours of boycott, both from individual athletes and entire governments. Walter White, then executive secretary of the NAACP, wrote a

John McCain’s favourite joke

Back in 2003, John Hargrave of Zug.com posed as a 10-year-old schoolboy and sent a written request to 100 U.S. Senators. Armed with a mythical ‘government project’ set by his Social Studies teacher, Hargrave’s temporary alter-ego politely asked each Senator to reply to him with his or her favourite joke. Thankfully, some responded. Below is

There is no time to be tactful

For fans of Mad Men it will prove difficult to learn of the story behind ‘Peace, Little Girl‘ – a brutal 60 second television spot which first aired on September 7, 1964 – and not imagine the offices of Sterling Cooper. The ad was conceived by agency Doyle Dane Bernbach on behalf of President Lyndon

Savin’ It!

June 2003: Al Franken sends the following satirical letter to then Attorney General John Ashcroft and 27 other Republicans. In the letter, written on Harvard University letterhead, Franken requests abstinence-related stories for a (non-existent) book he’s writing entitled ‘Savin’ It!’ and claims to have already received responses from a selection of prominent figures. Just a

Vote for me I will help you out

When 13 years of age and a pupil at Perkins School for the Blind, John Beaulieu wrote the following Braille letter to then President Dwight D. Eisenhower after winning a mock stump speech contest in school. With assistance from his teacher – she wrote out the words above the Braille – John’s letter even illicited

I can’t spell. I’m very upset

April 1964: The U.S. Department of Labor introduces new rules relating to foreign musicians entering the country, in effect making it more difficult for them to do so unless they can demonstrate a unique talent. The very recent onset of Beatlemania in America, coupled with misleading reports by the American press regarding this issue, results

And don’t get me started on the Scoutmasters

To conclude today’s child-centric trio of letters, I present to you a beautifully observant, expertly written complaint from a schoolboy by the name of Richard Millington which verges on comedy gold. The letter was sent to President Kennedy in February of 1963, just a few years after the U.S. government introduced the President’s Council on

A Call For Equality

Back in 1974, a gang of third grade children from Deal School, New Jersey, huddled together and produced the following letter after discovering one of life’s many injustices. After being signed by all eighteen complainants, it was then sent to President Ford. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of the National Archives. Image: National Archives Transcript DEAL

Regarding that pardon

On September 8th, 1974, newly appointed President of the United States, Gerald Ford, issued Richard Nixon a full pardon, thereby precluding future prosecution for crimes he committed during the Watergate scandal. The move was an extremely controversial one. Just days later, schoolboy Anthony Ferreira sent the following letter to the White House. Source Transcript H.B.

Let the stillborn midget rest in peace

A fantastically informal letter from Richard Nixon to President Reagan in August of 1987, almost a year after the Iran-Contra scandal was uncovered. No stranger to scandal himself, Nixon commends Reagan’s most recent speech, offers some advice and proceeds to end the note with a creative reference to the Tower Commission. Source Transcript RICHARD NIXON

My good friend Roosvelt

In November 1940, thirteen years before spearheading the revolution that would ultimately see him replace dictator Fulgencio Batista as leader of Cuba, a teenage Fidel Castro—aged fourteen, not twelve as he inaccurately claimed—wrote a somewhat cheeky letter to the then president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and asked him for some money: a

17 million Negroes cannot wait for the hearts of men to change

Jackie Robinson was an exceptionally talented baseball player. In fact, such was his talent that on April 15th, 1947 he obliterated an unwritten policy within baseball that had, until that point, prevented players of African descent from joining teams in either the minor or major leagues. After his baseball career ended, Robsinson took an active

I can and will do more good as a Federal Agent at Large

Elvis Presley was an avid collector of police badges and the owner of dozens from departments and agencies the length and breadth of the United States. But, there was one badge in particular that he was desperate to get his hands on—one which had, for a long time, proven elusive: a badge from the Bureau

I will not sign this letter

In 1961, New York Post columnist Leonard Lyons contacted John F. Kennedy after seeing Presidential autographs for sale in a store and informed him of the prices. At the time, George Washington’s was priced at $175, Ulysses S. Grant’s at $55, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s at $75, Teddy Roosevelt’s at $67.50, and JFK’s at $75. Below