President Richard Nixon will be remembered for his mastery of foreign policy, his unparalleled contributions to destroying the Soviet Union, and giving Bob Woodward a career. But Nixon was more than someone’s president; he was someone’s husband, and this weekend, Politico published some of his most tender letters to his wife.
The letters, once revealed, in part, by the Nixon Foundation to celebrate what would have been the President’s 100th birthday, began as correspondence from spouse to spouse in their second year of marriage, as Nixon went off to officer training in Rhode Island. Since the military stationed Richard Nixon overseas, far away from his wife and her career, he would write her again and again. Below are five of the most romantic, inspiring, butterfly-inducing quotes revealed by Politico on Valentine’s Day:
1. “I am certainly not the Romeo type. I may not say much when I am with you–but all of me loves you all the time.”
It is certainly not difficult to imagine Richard Nixon describing himself as “not the Romeo type,” but there is something heartwarming about telling his new wife that he loves her this much but will never be able to make a dramatic gesture about it–as is the fact that he appears concerned that she will think he does not care for her. The sentiment comes at the conclusion of a romantic getaway to New York City one weekend he managed to escape the military. There they dined in Midtown Manhattan and gave themselves the luxury of each other’s time.
2. “I really get a big bang out of shopping with you–and I hope you buy everything you want always.”
What woman doesn’t want to hear that her husband actively enjoys shopping with her? Richard Nixon was the kind of husband who didn’t just come along on shopping trips like a hostage; he got a “big bang” out of them. Nixon sent the letter–along with a daily allotment of such–to Pat Nixon in San Francisco, where they had lived for some time before he joined the military. He encouraged her to use the resources available to her to shop as often as she could. Of course, this is from a letter written in 1943 as Nixon was deployed to battle in World War II; even shopping with his wife must have seemed preferable to war.
3. “I’m anti-social, I guess, but except for you–I’d rather be by myself as a steady diet rather than with most any of the people I know… I like to do what I want when I want. Only where you are concerned do I feel otherwise–Dear One.”
This, from another wartime letter, is a comment that Politico claims “foreshadowed the isolation and self-absorption of his years in the White House.” After all, he was admitting to a certain distaste for people, with the exception of his wife. The comment highlighted, above all, the soothing and positive effect his wife seemed to have on him–to draw out the extrovert living deep inside. Even in the face of adversities brought about by war, he wanted to be near at least one other person.
4. “I’m really very proud–as I have always been. I like to tell the gang how smart you are as well as being the most attractive person they’ll ever see. Dear Heart you are the tops!”
Nixon was especially proud of the work that his wife Pat did while he was abroad, particularly her work at the Office of Price Administration, where he had worked before the war. During his time abroad in the Pacific, he wrote her that he bragged about her intelligence and her career. That Nixon was proud of his wife’s work in the 1940s–a time hardly fertile for such a feminist approach to careers–speaks volumes of their relationship and his respect for her.
5. “Everybody raved–wondered how I happened to rate! (I do too.)”
Just as with foreign leaders, many have speculated that Nixon was never fully comfortable with the idea that he had successfully convinced someone like Pat to marry him. To have concrete proof with him while he was away from home, he spent many months trying to convince Pat to have her photo taken professionally at a studio so that he could have something to look at while he was at war. He convinced her, and he immediately sent praise for both the photograph and for its effect on his fellow soldiers (that effect, apparently, being confusion at how Nixon managed to marry such a lovely woman).