113
113
Kennedy, John F.
TYPED MEMORANDUM SIGNED ("JOHN KENNEDY") AS THIRTY-FIFTH PRESIDENT, DISCUSSING THE SPACE RACE WITH NASA ADMINISTRATOR JAMES E. WEBB
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 20,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
113
Kennedy, John F.
TYPED MEMORANDUM SIGNED ("JOHN KENNEDY") AS THIRTY-FIFTH PRESIDENT, DISCUSSING THE SPACE RACE WITH NASA ADMINISTRATOR JAMES E. WEBB
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 20,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Space Exploration

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Kennedy, John F.
TYPED MEMORANDUM SIGNED ("JOHN KENNEDY") AS THIRTY-FIFTH PRESIDENT, DISCUSSING THE SPACE RACE WITH NASA ADMINISTRATOR JAMES E. WEBB
1 page (8 ⅞ by 6 ¾ in.; 227 by 172 mm) on light blue The White House letterhead, Washington, 23 October 1963, directed for Jim Webb; several staple holes at top margin and light discoloration to the left third, both evidently from the news clippings referenced by the memo.
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Provenance

Sold at Bonhams, 5 May 2011, lot 162

Catalogue Note

President Kennedy huddles with NASA Administrator Jim Webb about promoting the Soviet Union's objective of putting a man on the moon in order to boost support for America' rival manned lunar program: "I think it would be helpful to collect clippings similar to the attached showing that the Russians are interested in getting a man on the moon. This would make an additional defense for our efforts."

Just three weeks prior to Yuri Gagarin's successful orbit of the earth, John F. Kennedy had told Webb, who had recently been appointed to direct NASA, that he did not plan to further fund the Apollo Project (see Reeves, President Kennedy: Profile of Power, p. 139). Gagarin's feat changed his mind, however, and in May 1961 Webb and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara authored a top-secret memo pointing out that "Major successes such as orbiting a man as the Soviets have just done, lend national prestige even though the scientific, commercial or military value of the undertaking may by ordinary standards be marginal or even economically unjustified" (quoted in Hardesty & Eisman, Epic Rivalry, p. 123).

Having been beaten to space, Kennedy was determined that the United States would not be beaten to the moon, and the present memo shows that he was quite willing to use the specter of the Hammer and Sickle flying on the lunar surface to boost the American effort. Three weeks after sending this memo, 16 November, Kennedy visited Cape Canaveral, where he was given a tour of the facilities by astronauts Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper; a week later, the President was assassinated in Dallas.

The original clippings Kennedy sent with his memo are not present, but they could have come from a myriad of popular or academic sources. By the next year, even Bob Dylan was singing about the Space Race in "I Shall Be Free No. 10." The memo is now accompanied by the front cover from a copy of the March 1958 issue of Saturn Science Fiction and Fantasy illustrating the Romney Boyd story "Red Flag Over the Moon."

Space Exploration

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New York