Two Richard Nixon Typed Letters Signed as President – To Vice President Spiro T. Agnew – Remarkable Segregation Content


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37th President.

** Remarkable pair of typed letters signed “Richard Nixon” AS PRESIDENT to Vice President Spiro Agnew concerning the end of segregation in schools **

The first is one page, 8×10.5, White House letterhead, January 26, 1970, in part: “The School System situation in the South as a result of the recent Supreme Court decision on desegregation is causing me great concern. My chief worry is that the quality of education may deteriorate rapidly to the detriment of all concerned. We must act on an urgent basis, and in a collaborative fashion, if extremely dangerous Federal–State confrontations are to be avoided. In this regard, I should appreciate it if you would chair a group whose purpose would be to develop political and programmatic plans to help southern communities maintain a decent system of public education while wrestling with the problem of complying with tough, categorical court orders.

The second is two pages, 8×10.5, White House letterhead, March 25, 1970, in part: “I hereby allocate from the appropriation ‘Emergency Fund for the President, 1970,’ To: Cabinet Committee on School Desegregation, Amount: $85,000, for necessary expenses.

Both letters are initialed by Agnew. In overall fine condition.  Originates from the personal estate of Spiro Agnew.

Despite the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling of fifteen years earlier, a large percentage of southern school boards had not made progress toward integration by 1969. The Supreme Court’s decision in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, handed down in October 1969, ordered the immediate desegregation of public schools. Nixon had advocated for more delays and a slow approach to the process, arguing that forced integration was just as wrong as forced segregation; he feared it would rouse violence and vigilantism across the south. To handle the situation, Nixon appointed Agnew and then-Secretary of Labor George P. Shultz to lead a committee to manage the transition; according to Shultz, however, ‘the vice president said he wanted no part’ of it and remained hands-off throughout the process. These letters to his vice president on such an important subject are of the utmost historical interest.