Reinhold Niebuhr Timeline: Accepts position in California

Reinhold Niebuhr Timeline: Accepts position in California

Correspondence with Bishop Will Scarlett

p.p.s. 2. Christopher called us yesterday to tell us he has been accepted for the municipal government program put on at the Univ. of Penn: This is for a group internship combining academic + practical work, + is supposed to train for city managing. We are v. glad as I think this is his line of work. E. Taft among others had recommended it. So here's hoping [unintelligible]

Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions
The Fund for the Republic, Inc.
Box 4068, Santa Barbara, California — WOodland 9-3281

New York Office
133 East 54th Street, New York 22, New York — Plaza 3-1340
Santa Rosa lane 592,
Santa Barbara Cal

Dear Will;

We have now been in California for two weeks. I am afraid that any letter which you might have written may have been lost in the confusion of addresses. First of all I wish I could have visited with you in the state in which I am now than in the extreme emotional fatigue, caused by my retirement, the many farewells and all the AMBIGUITIES CONNECTED WITH THE SEMINARY TRYING TO RAISE MONEY FROM SO MANY of my friends for a Professorship in my name. I have forgotten about that. My present job requires only three hours of meeting a day, perfectly adjusted to my low fatigue level; and I spend about two hours doing my own work. California is more delightful than we could have imagined. The climate here is very nice with its cool nights and a nip in the air during THE day. So Ursula and I all very pleased. I WISH I could visit with you now.

This morning Adlai Stevenson visited with a group of us and we became convinced both by what he said and what Kennedy said that Adlai will be the next secretary of state. He discoursed on world events with great wisdom. We hashed over the convention. Some of us have come to the conclusion that his position was ambiguous. He either ought to have definitely withdrawn from the race or let his friends work for HIM sooner. As it was Senator Lehman, Mrs Roosevelt and the dedicated California Stevensonites, with their pleading and their defeat obscured the great strength which he has among the people, even THOUGH THE DELEGATES WERE SO TIGHTLY COMMITTED that they could not exercise freedom of choice, Adlai's discussion of the shrewd, and sometimes ruthless tactics of the Kennedy machine, a new kind of machine which overwhelmed the bosses, supported our anti-Kennedy prejudices. But what he said about the young man's intelligrnce AND DECISIVENESS prompted one journalist to say "Stevenson with his wisdom as secretary of State and a cool and decisive president might well make an ideal team." One little piece of gossip which will interest you. Kennedy is supposed, according to one journalist here to have held a council of his inner circle and they decided to offer the vice-presidency to your friend Symington. Kennedy said "Let me offer it first as a gesture to Johnson. He is bound to refuse it and then we can go on from there." To his surprise Johnson accepted it and everyone now gives Kennedy credit for great wisdom in solidifying the party in the spirit of FDR. Politics is made up of strange accidents. The moral ambiguities in it are tremendous. When Adlai reported some of the tactics, he said rather revealingly "Of course I am not accustomed to this for I was brought up in a pious home". I had the feeling in fact that he was just a little too noble for the rough and tumble of politics and I AM GLAD HE IS SECRETARY OF State or will be,

I hope Leah is as well as can be expected.Give her my love as one invalid to another and write when you have time.

Affectionately yours

P.S. I was so sorry to miss you + say good-bye when you came to see us. But it was so good to see you again. This now is to say that Reinhold is so much now that we are [unintelligible]. The [unintelligible] business of getting [unintelligible] and that more than wretched business of being the bait for Union Seminary's development fund almost killed him, the Van Dusen chair more than the move. But he got better as soon as we left the Seminary, or so much better when we got there. So cheering that I had to tell you! Love, U.M.N.

Reinhold Niebuhr Papers: Library of Congress, Manuscript Reading Room

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Paul Elie

is senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage.

Jean Bethke Elshtain

is an author and Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Robin Lovin

is Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and the author of Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism.