Kennedy Onassis, Jacqueline (1929-1994) Autograph Letter, Draft, Unsigned, and Carbon Copy of Typed Version, also Draft, [Summer, 1964]
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Kennedy Onassis, Jacqueline (1929-1994) Autograph Letter, Draft, Unsigned, and Carbon Copy of Typed Version, also Draft, [Summer, 1964], Hyannisport, Massachusetts.
Five pages, written on recto sides only, in blue ballpoint pen on typing paper, and a five-page typed carbon copy, with "Dear Dick" added in Mrs. Kennedy's hand, in pencil. To Richard Neustadt (1919-2003) containing strongly worded, impassioned, and detailed objections to the way Harvard is dealing with the organization of the Kennedy Institute, Library and Archive, the Kennedy School of Government, and the President's legacy. All sheets with a central horizontal fold, edits in the manuscript version, slight edge toning, generally good, 11 3/4 x 9 in.
"It should not come as any great surprise to you that I am not happy with the way the Institute is going.
I would have kept this to myself, and tried to work with you to find a modus operandi which would be comfortable for you, for me, and for Harvard, had I not seen so clearly at our spring meeting that we are at cross purposes.
Every one of the trustees at that meeting was disturbed--and for the first time all voiced their concern. You tried to reassure us, and I believed you, but the next message I received from you was that you thought it unnecessary to have another meeting of the Institute for a year. Then I knew that our objectives were completely different and that I must express my thoughts to you.
They are these: I believe that rather than have the Institute have any dynamism of its own, you and Harvard would like to see it swallowed up in the School of Government. The School of Government is meant to turn out civil servants. It has not and will not turn out men like President Kennedy. It does not value above all things the inquiring mind, the fresh and original idea. If the Institute continues as it is, it will become a monument to everything that President Kennedy was not.
That would be all right if Harvard had created the Institute on its own. I find it unacceptable when it was created by the love and grief and sacrifice and effort of those who believed in him most.
Perhaps it is partly our fault that it has turned out the way it has, because we were still in shock when we were working to create it. We remembered that he had so recently gone up to Harvard to discuss the plans for his future Library. So we thought his Library the best way to keep his ideas alive. Working for his Library in those days helped us to overcome our grief, because we felt that we were still working for him--that perhaps we could ensure that his vision of a world that might be did not die with him--that we could create a climate where such visions could be nurtured--a place that might turn out men like him who could inspire and lead in the even more precarious decades ahead.
To do this, we raised 20 million dollars for Harvard and we obtained for them at an unreasonably low appraisal 13 acres of land which they had always desired but could never have obtained had it not been given in the name of President Kennedy. We made it a center to which the members of President Kennedy's administration would wish to leave their papers, thus making Harvard the repository of most of the documents of this extraordinary period of history. Also, we brought to them the papers of Ernest Hemingway, for which other Universities would have paid a small fortune.
And we let Mr. Perkins, who is Harvard's lawyer, draw up these arrangements!
In return, Harvard eventually agreed to match our sum, and it named its School of Government after President Kennedy, thereby taking the Institute under its control.
The only member of the family who was allowed to be a trustee at the Institute was myself--because it was thought that Robert Kennedy, who worked so passionately to raise the money for the Library, and Edward Kennedy, who persuaded the state of Massachusetts to give the land in his brother's name, might use the Institute as "a springboard for the dynasty," or not accede to Harvard's conception of the Institute. The trustees were not even permitted to know the names of those being considered for fellowships, until Averill Harriman objected strenuously.
This summer we have had two meetings at Hyannis Port, one of which you attended, to discuss a memorial to Robert Kennedy. After the first meeting, Byron White said that we must not let happen to Robert Kennedy's memorial what had happened to President Kennedy's--that we should have known what would happen once we let it become part of an Institution.
We have not yet decided what his memorial will be, but it will be more flexible than is his brother's. I believe his papers should be where his memorial is--where his spirit will be.
I shall discourage other members of President Kennedy's administration from leaving their papers to the Kennedy Library--something they might have done out of the same hopes that we had for it in the beginning.
It might be said that I diminish my husband's memorial by this--but I do not think that President Kennedy needs a Library with 79 pushbuttons and an Institute to keep him remembered. He belongs to everyone now. He will mean more and more to them with the passage of time. Seminars and dinner meetings will not fix him as a bright star to steer by, anymore than Round Table discussions will make King Arthur forever show the young what are "truth, honor, freedom and courtesy."
The GSA will always run the Archive anyway.
And I do not think that his family should raise any more money for a memorial which is so little in keeping with the spirit of President Kennedy.
I think that what Great Britain has done--with the Kennedy Scholars, has a far greater chance of affecting the world for the better than does the Institute as it now is--where, it seems to me, fellows prepare papers for other fellows and recover from their empty in-box syndromes. I wish we had the Archive alone at Harvard and provided the same kind of scholarships abroad for American students.
The unfortunate term "in and outer" is often used at meetings. I have a feeling that if that is the status of the majority of fellows at the Institute, out, wishing they were still in or hoping to go back in, it becomes the guiding spirit of the Institute also. And no innovations are made because no one wishes to risk offending the administration in power, thus closing the door to a possible re-entry or to being persona grata [sic].
Please do not believe that I like controversy--that I would wish to see a long series of happenings like the MacNamara riot or Dr. Spock's trial erupting from the Institute. That would be terrible. I would merely like to see it do something of excellence and something original--the sort of thing President Kennedy might have had it do had he been Director. But I do not think he would ever have been permitted to be its director--because he was not "safe" enough.
The last item I would like to mention is the Hemingway papers. You know that I have asked in the past for assurances that they be in the Kennedy Library proper, because otherwise I cannot in good faith accept them from Mrs. Hemingway, who did something so noble and generous, at such a sacrifice when she offered them.
This summer my secretary, Nancy Tuckerman, called Mr. Perkins about them. She was told that Harvard did not believe that the Kennedy Library had the facilities for handling them.
I believe, as you told me in the very beginning, that Harvard would like to see them in the Widener Library, perhaps on permanent loan from the Kennedy Library--and that some things are now being said, but that that is what is eventually envisaged.
I am happy that you have made yourself such a part of the Harvard community--that they have absorbed rather than rejected this vast new transplant and all the confusion it brought them. By now they must trust you and believe that their interests are yours. I am sure that they would not be happy with any such breach of faith.
I am sorry to have had to write all this--but I could no longer keep it to myself. I shall think about it very hard--I know you will too--and perhaps at our fall meeting this impasse can in some way be broken. Thank you, dear Dick, Affectionately."
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