December 16, 1960

President Eisenhower writes President-Elect John F. Kennedy a Chilly Letter about Staffing

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The weather that day, in Washington, was just a little above freezing – outside, that is, the Oval Office. There, as the 34th President of the United States wrote to the man who would soon be the 35th, ice hung from his pen. Yes, Eisenhower says, his Defense Liaison Officer – and dear friend – General Andrew Goodpaster would be available to the new President, as Kennedy has requested, “temporarily …for a period ending sometime in February or March.” After that time, however, “he will be sent to the same assignment that is now planned for him.”
 
Kennedy had infuriated Eisenhower, during the campaign, with his attacks on the President’s timidity; the young man thought the older a fossil and worse. Eisenhower, for his part, considered Kennedy a whippersnapper who had done little else than spend his father’s money to win office. And although both had come away from their first meeting on December 6, 1960,  with a new respect for the other, it was too little, too late. The animosity that existed before the election, existed after it. This letter is a fine example of that coldness and disdain.

Typed Letter Signed, as President, 1 page, quarto, The White House, Washington, December 16, 1960. To President-Elect JOHN F. KENNEDY.

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Transcript

The White House
Washington

December 16, 1960

Dear Senator Kennedy:

I have now heard from both Secretary Gates and General Decker regarding your desire to retain General Goodpaster temporarily after your Inauguration. They have arranged, as you asked, for him to stay on in your office for a period ending sometime in February or March, the exact date to be determined later.  At the same time, they have taken steps to see that, as we agreed, when he ends his service here he will be sent to the same assignment that is now planned for him.

With best wishes,
 
Sincerely,
 
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
 
The Honorable John F. Kennedy,
The President-elect

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Handwritten notes on back of letter

1.  The plane.
2.  Luce
3.  Bank
4.  O'Brien etc. coming here