Six love letters penned by Richard Nixon to his lover and future wife Patricia Ryan will be unveiled this week at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. The notes reveal a romantic side to Nixon that has rarely been seen, and is a world away from the man who was brought down in the Watergate scandal.
The letters date from 1938 to just before the couple’s marriage in June 1940, when Patricia Ryan became Pat Nixon. The revealing of the letters on Friday will coincide with what would have been her 100th birthday.
Nixon met Ryan in a community theater production in the late-30s, and was instantly struck by her. Calling her names such as “dearest heart” and his “Irish gypsy,” the future 37th President of the United States sounded thoroughly loved-up in his correspondence. Passages from the letters include:
“Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy. Let’s go for a long ride Sunday; let’s go to the mountains weekends; let’s read books in front of fires; most of all, let’s really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours.”
Olivia Anastasiadis, supervisory museum curator at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, told USA Today:
“These letters are fabulous. It’s a totally different person from the Watergate tapes that people know. President Nixon started out as an idealistic young man ready to conquer the world and with Pat Ryan he knew he could do it. There’s a lot of hope, there’s a lot of tenderness and it’s very poetic. He loved her, he was absolutely enthralled by her and that’s all he thought about.”
Nixon’s Quaker upbringing is also evident in parts of the letters. In two of the handwritten notes, he uses “thee” instead of “you” to refer to Pat – a pronoun that indicates closeness in the Quaker tradition.
Nixon and Ryan met while auditioning for The Dark Tower in the Southern California town of Whittier. They courted for two years, until Nixon proposed to his sweetheart on the south Orange County cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Through all of her husband’s political troubles, Pat Nixon stood by his side. She passed away in June 1993. Her husband would survive her by a mere ten months.