This is page one of a 5-page letter Elvis Presley wrote to President Nixon, which he hand delivered to a security guard at the northwest gate of the White House on December 21, 1970. Written on American Airlines stationary, Elvis wrote that he would like to meet the president in order to give him a gift and to discuss how Elvis wanted to help as a federal agent with the country’s war on drugs. Once the White House realized that Elvis was sincere and what a coup this would be for the government’s war on drug use, a meeting was set up between the singer and the president. I find the first line of the letter very funny: “First, I would like to introduce myself, I am Elvis Presley…” As if he needs to be introduced! I can only imagine how surprised the security guard was to see Elvis walking up to the gate. Here are some fun facts from the meeting:
1) Elvis’ present to Nixon was a World War Two-era pistol. Can you imagine how much trouble you would get into today if you arrived unannounced at the gate of the White House and told security you wanted to give the president a gun? Being Elvis means people cut you a lot of slack! Here’s a photo of the gift:
2) Nixon aide Eril Grogh even drafted a two-page agenda for the meeting, which included talking points and suggestions for how Elvis could help. One of those talking points was how the entertainment industry was a valuable tool in spreading the anti-drug message to teenagers, since they watched an average of 15,000-20,000 hours of television in-between their birth and their high school graduation, which outnumbered the amount of hours they spent in the classroom. One of the suggestions on page two was that Elvis could record an album with the theme “Get High on Life”. Here is that agenda:
3) 10 days after the meeting, Nixon sent Elvis a thank-you note for the pistol and Presley family photos that Elvis had gifted him.
4) And here’s a photo from the meeting:
For the whole story, here’s an online exhibit set up by the National Archives to explain the letter and the meeting that took place afterward. It’s a short, interesting read, and you can download all of the documents and photos in two zip files if you’re interested!: When Nixon Met Elvis
Source: [National Archives]