DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN PRESIDENT, I would like to thank you for sending
Mr.Mikoyan as your representative
to my husband's funeral.
He looked so upset when he came through the line, and I was very moved.
I tried to give him a message for you that day—but as it was such a terrible
day for me, I do not know if my words came out as I meant them to.
So now, in one of the last nights I will spend in the White House, in one of
the last letters I will write on this paper at the White House, I would like
to write you my message.
I send it only because I know how much my husband cared about peace, and how
the relation between you and him was central to this care in his mind. He
used to quote your words in some of his speeches-”In the next war the
survivors will envy the dead.”
You and he were adversaries, but you were allied in a determination that the
world should not be blown up. You respected each other and could deal with
each other. I know that President Johnson will make
every effort to establish the same relationship with you.
The danger which troubled my husband was that war might be started not so
much by the big men as by the little ones.
While big men know the needs for self-control and restraint—little men are
sometimes moved more by fear and pride. If only in the future the big men
can continue to make the little ones sit down and talk, before they start to
I know that President Johnson will continue the policy
in which my husband so deeply believed—a policy of control and restraint—and
he will need your help.
I send this letter because I know so deeply of the importance of the
relationship which existed between you and my husband, and also because of
your kindness, and that of Mrs.Khrushcheva in Vienna.
I read that she had tears in her eyes when she left the American Embassy in
Moscow, after signing the book of mourning. Please thank her for that.
* Source:William Manchester, The Death of a
President, November 20-November 25, 1963 (New York, 1963), pp. 653-654.
No classification marking. The original letter has not been located. The
authenticity of the text printed here has been verified by comparing it
to the Russian translation in the Department of History and Records of
the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mrs.Kennedy wrote the following note on a
folder in which she presumably put the letter but which is now empty:
“Important: Mrs. Lincoln/This is my letter to Khrushchev to be delivered to him by
(Kennedy Library, President's Office Files,
Countries Series, USSR, Khrushchev Correspondence) According to
Manchester, the handwritten letter was forwarded to Khrushchev by McGeorge Bundy after clearance at the
Department of State by U. Alexis
Johnson. Two undated typed drafts of the letter are at
the Johnson Library. On one draft Bundy crossed out several words and
added several other words in his hand. These revisions were incorporated
in the second typed draft. (Bundy Files, Chron) In the final version,
one phrase in the second typed draft was reworded and one sentence