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When Nixon Met Elvis

Elvis-Nixon%20NARA.jpgThirty-six years ago today, Elvis Presley delivered a five-page handwritten letter to the White House. In it, he requested a personal meeting with President Nixon to discuss "the problems that our country is faced with."
The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. do NOT consider me as their enemy or as they call it The Establishment. I call it America and I love it. Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help The Country out. I have no concern or Motives other than helping the country out.

Nixon's staff acted quickly to arrange a meeting between Nixon and "The King." Presley arrived at the White House late in the morning and met Nixon in the Oval Office at 12:30 PM. According to notes taken by Egil "Bud" Krogh, Jr.--a White House official who would later go to prison for his role in the Watergate scandal--Presley called the Beatles "a real force for anti-American spirit," and Nixon stated repeatedly that Elvis needed to "retain his credibility" in order to reach young people. Krogh also reported:

At the conclusion of the meeting, Presley again told the President how much he supported him, and then, in a surprising, spontaneous gesture, put his left arm around the President and hugged him.

The National Archives have a terrific record of the meeting, with dozens of photographs (including Nixon admiring Elvis' cufflinks), images and a transcript of Presley's letter, and facsimiles of other documents related to the visit. Don't miss Krogh's agenda for the meeting, which includes statistics about radio and TV viewership in the U.S. (no indication of whether they came from the 1970 edition of The World Almanac, unfortunately), as well as a suggestion for Presley to "record an album with the theme 'Get High on Life' at the federal narcotic rehabilitation and research facility at Lexington, Kentucky."

BONUS FACT: Elvis mentions in his letter that he and Nixon have both been honored as two of America's Ten Most Outstanding Young Men. The award he refers to (now known as the Ten Outstanding Young American Awards) is conferred annually by the U.S. Jaycees. You can find Elvis' 9 fellow honorees from 1970, and Nixon's from 1947, at the Jaycees website.

When Nixon Met Elvis (The National Archives)


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