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Lot 312

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Clay Shaw, Accused of Conspiring to Assassinate JFK, Superb Letter Re: Criminal Charges & the Assassination of RFK

2pp typed letter signed by Clay Shaw (1913-1974), the only person accused and acquitted of conspiracy charges to assassinate President John F. Kennedy, as "Clay" on the second page at center. Written in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 20, 1968. On "Clay Shaw / 1313 Dauphine Street / New Orleans, Louisiana" letterhead. Shaw has made handwritten typographical edits throughout. Expected paper folds, isolated stains, and a rusted paper clip impression at upper left. Else near fine. 8.5" x 11." Provenance: From the collection of Ron Hoskins, assassinologist.

On March 1, 1967, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison formally charged Clay Shaw of conspiring to murder 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). An alleged acquittance of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963), Shaw also had connections to the Central Intelligence Agency and anti-Fidel Castro activists. The charges hinged around a September 1963 dinner party in which Shaw, accompanied by someone who looked like Oswald, discussed shooting President Kennedy.

In the middle of this legal process, Shaw wrote to a friend named Jim in Key West about his ongoing prosecution; the recent assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, younger brother of the man Shaw was accused of conspiring to murder; the Vietnam War; youth protest movements; and even the United Artists vehicle "Midnight Cowboy" which would be generally released a little over a year later, in late May 1969.

Shaw wrote in part:

"The main thing blooming on Dauphine Street these days are my hopes. After being beat over the head for sixteen months, one's optimism must be cautious. But cautiously optimistic I am, now that the Federal cavalry has ridden up to deal with the hostiles. My lawyers feel we are now in very good position, and, since they are given to facile optimism, I am much encouraged and in good spirits…

I am pleased to read in one of the local columns, that a private showing of MIDNIGHT COWBOY was greeted by cheers. And everyone is confident that Mr. Hoffman will receive yet another Academy nomination for his work therein…

The Robert Kennedy assassination left me wrung out and so drained as to be incapable of feeling much of anything. I had resolved that I would not subject myself to the orgy of guilt and grief which I knew would pour from the tube. And yet, for some masochistic reason, I did. In looking for some touchstone to which I can relate all the disorders and miseries of the day…assassinations, student riots, strikes, Viet Nam etc…I have concluded that man is sick of the civilization we have built and is determined to destroy it. Somewhere deep down in us (or in the collective unconscious if you take the Jungian view) is the notion that we have taken the wrong turn, and we are going to smash everything…

Ah well, enough of this gloomy philosophy. I feel like Mr. Dooley, who said he had tried to being a philosopher, but cheerfulness kept breaking in. And cheerfulness has broken into 1313 Dauphine Street after some 16 months when the best I could muster was stoic resignation. Let's hope we are nearing the end of the affair…"

Shaw did indeed have good reason to be hopeful. His trial concluded in February 1969 and he was acquitted on March 1, 1969, exactly two years to the day of his arrest, after the jury deliberated for less than an hour. Shaw's reflections on the tumult of the modern age are ironic; he himself was viewed by some as yet another embodiment of serious social malaise. Not technically an assassin, Shaw was accused of being a misanthrope of the ilk of Sirhan Sirhan, who had shot aspiring Democratic Party presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968. Thus, Shaw's objective appreciation of the historical moment is impressive considering that he was also an unwilling participant.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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