From General to President: Eisenhower archive commands $56,800 at Heritage

Over 250 letters relating to Dwight Eisenhower have sold in an auction of manuscripts by Heritage which brought the first section of the James Ring collection of American history under the hammer.

The archive was constituted by the typed correspondence - over 250 complete letters - between Eisenhower and his older brother Edgar and spanning the years 1941 through 1967.

Through the correspondence, Dwight Eisenhower can be seen progressing from general to president to retiree, all the while noticing his own increasing stature and, when time allowed, enjoying a game of golf. Both brothers are candid in these private letters, which cover a wide range of topics.

Many of these letters are published in the Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower and quoted in booksand scholarly journals.

Specifically, the archive contains over 150 original typed letters signed by Dwight and over 90 yellow carbon-copy typed letters (unsigned) from Edgar. Some of the exchanges were tense, as Edgar held very strong politically-conservative views and wasn't shy about sharing them, but most are amicable.

The earliest letter dates from October 7, 1941, two months before the U.S. entered World War II. In that letter, written on stationery reading "Headquarters Third Army, Office of the Commanding General," the general expresses optimism that:

"…the Russians are still hanging on - I devoutly hope they can continue to do so. Someone has got to help wear out that so and so of a Hitler and his army, and it doesn't look as if the British were accomplishing too much."

Following the conclusion of WWII, Edgar was one of those who encouraged Dwight to run for office, but after a somewhat reluctant Dwight ran and succeeded in being elected, the Eisenhower brothers had many disagreements, some heated.

Eisenhower concluding page letter
The concluding page of a sharp letter written by President Eisenhower

In a spirited exchange in early 1954, Dwight states in one letter that he is "astonished" at Edgar for being "influenced by silly rumors spread by irresponsible people." The president explains that the "political game" was something Edgar didn't "seem to be able to get into [his] head."

Sufficiently annoyed by the end of the letter, Dwight closed, "But it is rather disturbing to find one's brother that seems always ready to believe that I am a poor, helpless, ignorant, uninformed individual, thrust to dizzy heights of governmental responsibility and authority, who has been captured by a band of conniving 'internationalists.'" A few letters later, all was forgiven.

The final letter from Dwight is dated November 7, 1967, somewhat over a year before his death early in 1969. Edgar survived him, but only by two years, dying in the summer of 1971.

The entire archive sold with expectations at $56,762.50, but we think that this was a relative bargain for the collector that got their hands on it, as it could make a strong investment.


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