Reagan Stirringly Defends His Decision Not to Stop a Cop-Killer's Execution

May 3, 1967

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Reagan Stirringly Defends His Decision Not to Stop a Cop-Killer's Execution
Autograph Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 1475

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      Background

      How the extraordinarily busy Reagan came to write upwards of 10,000 letters is, by virtue of this letter, easily understood: he answered every question – or accusation - put to him, however abusive or almost, mad. It seems a Mr. Adams in Ohio took exception to the death sentence imposed on one Aaron C. Mitchell who, in the course of a gun battle during a café hold-up, killed a Sacramento policeman and then, blaming racism for his life of crime, claimed the shooting of Officer Arnold Gamble with a sawed-off shotgun was just “one of those unfortunate accidents.” Adams wrote Reagan that, by not commuting Mitchell’s sentence, the Governor was a murderer as well, and he, Adams, would for the rest of his life remind him of this, on each and every anniversary of the cop killer’s execution – although he doubted Reagan would ever see his letter(s). To this, Reagan (actually) replied:

      Rest assured I did receive your letter. Can I assume you wrote similar letters to the two juries who sentenced & reaffirmed the sentence of death, the two trial judges (because he had two trials) the Calif. Supreme Ct. which twice upheld the verdict and the nine U.S. Sup. Ct. justices who three times refused to intervene? If so then you might consider carrying your opposition to the death formally to our legislature which has upheld Capital punishment as necessary 22 times with the approval of the people of this state. It will probably be difficult for you to believe this but I'll need no reminder from you with regard to that lonely moment and others yet to come. But I intend also to remember the policeman who was gunned down and his widow & two children.

      Reagan, it would seem, was willing to engage, in good faith, any citizen, on any important subject of the day; and that he would do so places him in the great tradition of those earliest and most egalitarian of presidents, who opened the White House to all callers and comers.


      Autograph Letter Signed (“R.R”), as Governor, 1 page, quarto, no place, no date [May 3, 1967].To Jon L. Adams in Lakewood, Ohio. Being a draft to be typewritten.
       
      With the letter to which Reagan was responding: a 2pp., 4to ALS in the hand of one Jon L. Adams of Lakewood, Ohio.
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      Jon L. Adams
      # 603 - 12520 Edgewater Dr.
      Lakewood, Ohio

      5/3/67

      Dear Mr. Adams

      Rest assured I did receive your letter.  Can I assume you wrote similar letters to the two juries who sentenced & reaffirmed the sentence of death, the two trial judges (because he had two trials) the Calif. Supreme Ct. which twice upheld the verdict and the nine U.S. Sup. Ct. justices who three times refused to intervene?  If so then you might consider carrying [text is crossed out] your opposition to the death formally to our legislature which has upheld [text is crossed out] Capital punishment as necessary 22 times with the approval of the people of this state.

      It will probably be difficult for you to believe this but I'll need no reminder from you with regard to that lonely moment and others yet to come.  But I intend also to remember the policeman who was gunned down and his widow & two children.

      Sincerely 

      RR.

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      April 12, 1966

      Reagan,

      In a matter of one decade, when the more competent generation of today's American youth assume control of this nation's power structure, you will be called to account for your crimes against Humanity.  As History repeats itself, that is the eventual fate of individuals whom, when in positions of autocratic power, set themselves up as the autonomous dictators over the right of human beings to live out their natural lives.

      I only wish that I could plead the case for the prosecution during those imminent proceedings.  I would ask the court not to impose the death penalty.

      May you never forget the man you executed.  As a traitor to Humanity, you must not be allowed to forget.  For your appointment calendar; I will not forget.  On this day, in every year of my life, I shall personally remember him for you; and I will send you a

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      II

      reminder.

      I don't suppose your mail service will allow this letter to come to your attention; nevertheless, year after year, I will persist in sending a token of remembrance.

      This is the first, murderer.

      JON L. ADAMS

      #603 - 12520 Edgewater Dr.
      LAKEWOOD, OHIO  44107
      Phone 228-1713  26 yrs.
      Ex - G. I. (1959-62) Hon. Discharge
      BFA; Bowling Green State U. 1966
      Campus Young Republican [text is crossed out]
      (President 2 yrs.)

      Art Director/Designer at
      Robert Silverman, Inc.
      (Direct Mail Adv.)
      Cleveland, Ohio              

      and, I'm clean-shaven, too, Governor.