Newly discovered 1959 letter: Nixon feared American racism would drive world into the arms of the Russians

The history of United States’ relationship with the Russians has been marked by a delicate balancing act between internal political ramifications and external international relations goals.

In the last hundred years, the US and the Russians fought two world wars as allies and waged a long Cold War as adversaries. Following the Bolshevik Revolution, there was a Red Scare domestically and a second Red Scare following the end of World War II.

A newly surfaced letter from Richard Nixon was written against such a backdrop. The 1959 letter was written on official Office of the Vice President stationary and was addressed to Mrs. M. S. Richardson in La Grange, North Carolina on the subject of school integration.

In the letter, Nixon made the case that domestic American racism could help the Russians win the Cold War.

“I am deeply concerned with the impact of racial division in terms of world power,” Nixon wrote. “Most of the people of the world belong to the colored races. They deeply resent any slurs based on race.”
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“If we of the United States are considered racists, then we may lose to the Communist camp hundreds of millions of potential friends and allies,” Nixon explained. “That would leave us disastrously isolated in a hostile world.”

The letter will be auctioned off on Tuesday, May 9 by Alexander Historical Auctions. The auction house estimates a sale of $4,000 between $5,000.

At the time, Nixon also focused on his moral opposition to racism.

“Praise or blame, acceptance or rejection, should be personal matters based on individual achievement and not the accident of color or birth,” he wrote. “I could not accept Hitler’s idea of a master race. I cannot accept the equally false principle of an inferior race.”


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