University Archives


Joe Biden TLS Re: End of Vietnam War

A 1p typed letter signed by then junior U.S. Senator from Delaware and now sitting 46th U.S. President Joseph R. Biden (born 1942) as "Joe Biden" at center. Written in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1975 on a single leaf of watermarked stationery with "United States Senate / Washington, D.C. 20510 / Joseph R. Biden, Jr. / Delaware" letterhead. Expected light paper folds, else near fine. 7.875" x 10.325." From the extraordinary political autograph collection of Ronald Ellis Wade.

In this reply to a letter received a month earlier, Senator Biden thanked Wade for his interest in current events "concerning Southeast Asia," namely the deteriorating military situation in Vietnam, and the imminent end of the Vietnam War. Biden's wording in the letter is carefully selected, and suggests a wish to defend his record regarding Vietnam. Biden's position on these issues were--and still are--controversial. Biden stressed that international politics were changing faster than he could respond, and mentioned that some of his own views had changed over time.

Biden, who sat as a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, rejected the proposal in April 1975 to send additional military aid to the crumbling South Vietnamese government (which would indeed collapse by April 27th.) On April 30, 1975, newly elected President of South Vietnam Huong Van Minh announced the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam to North Vietnamese troops, ending American involvement in one of the most futile foreign wars of the twentieth century.

In an April 23, 1975 speech delivered on the Senate floor, Biden questioned whether President Ford was even constitutionally authorized to evacuate foreign nationals from Vietnam. Biden's objection to both these subtle points--no military aid and the Constitutional angle--prevented him from supporting "The Vietnam Contingency Act" of April 25, 1975, and led to the common misconception that Biden did not support the entry or resettlement of Southeastern Asian refugees into the United States. The truth was much more nuanced: Biden did support funding refugee resettlement through means other than military ones.

The belief that Biden turned away refugees at the end of the Vietnam War, popularized by President Ford's Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others, still circulated fifty years later, when Biden defended his record during his 2020 presidential campaign.

Below is an interesting interview from TheHill.com, about Ron Wade and his collection of Presidential memorabilia:

"Step into Ronald Wade’s office and it’s easy to see why he’s listed in “Guinness World Records 2015” for the largest collection of U.S. presidential memorabilia — it’s really a replica of the Oval Office.

'Actually, they quit counting,' Wade says of his immense collection of White House and presidential campaign items, 'because I probably have closer to 20,000 or 30,000 items, if not closer to 100,000 — that’s with duplication.' The official count from the folks behind the famed book puts Wade’s collection in chief at 6,960 pieces as of last year.

The lifelong Republican has been racking up 'practically anything that has to do with American politics' since he was 10 years old.

'My first memory in life is wearing an "I Like Ike" button, and I was probably 4 years old. So I’ve always been interested in politics,' Wade, 64, tells ITK.

The retired Texas Department of Human Services supervisor and Ex-White House aide to President Nixon, says he counts former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush as friends. His most prized item in the collection is from the 41st commander in chief’s failed 1964 Senate bid.

'George W. has been to my house, and seen my collection, and was quite impressed,' boasts Wade, who has also donated several pieces from his massive memorabilia stockpile to the George W. Bush Presidential Library outside Dallas."

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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