This memo was written by White House aide, Dwight Chapin, to H. R. Hadelman (White House Chief of Staff to President Richard Nixon), on December 21, 1970. In the memo, Chapin describes the purpose of Elvis’ visit, ‘to become a “Federal agent at large” to work against the drug problem by communicating with people of all ages.’
He then offers his suggestions as to how the meeting should take place and is clearly in favor of Elvis meeting with the President rather than fobbing him off with the Vice President.
The memo ends with Chapin’s comment: ‘In addition, if the President wants to meet with some bright young people outside of the Governent, Presley might be a perfect one to start with.’ In handwriting by this comment, author unknown, are the words “You must be kidding.” So I guess someone at the White House, perhaps Hadelman, wasn’t quite so convinced of the benefits of having President Nixon meet with Elvis!
Note: Both Dwight Chapin and H. R. Hadelman were heavily involved in the subsequent Watergate scandal. Chapin was convicted and served nine months in prison as a result. Later in his career, Chapin worked for both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Hadelman resigned as a result of the scandal and was later convicted and served 18 months in prison. On release, Hadelmen worked as a private businessman and died of cancer in 1993.
TRANSCRIPTION OF THE CHAPIN MEMO
December 21, 1970
MEMORANDUM FOR: MR. H. R. HALDEMAN
FROM: DWIGHT L. CHAPIN [initialed]
SUBJECT: Elvis Presley
Attached you will find a letter to the President from Elvis Presley.
As you are aware, Presley showed up here this morning and has
requested an appointment with the President. He states that he knows
the President is very busy, but he would just like to say hello and
present the President with a gift.
As you are well aware, Presley was voted one of the ten outstanding
young men for next year and this was based upon his work in the
field of drugs. The thrust of Presley’s letter is that he wants to become
a “Federal agent at large” to work against the drug problem by com-
municating with people of all ages. He says that he is not a member
of the establishment and that drug culture types, the hippie elements,
the SDS, and the Black Panthers are people with whom he can com-
municate since he is not part of the establishment.
I suggest that we do the following:
This morning Bud Krogh will have Mr. Presley in and talk
to him about drugs and about what Presley can do. Bud will
also check to see if there is some kind of an honorary agent
at large or credential of some sort that we can provide
for Presley. After Bud has met with Presley, it is recom-
mended that we have Bud bring Presley in during the Open
Hour to meet briefly with the President. You know that
several people have mentioned over the past few months that
Presley is very pro the President. He wants to keep everything
private and I think we should honor his request.
I have talked to Bud Korgh [sic] about this whole matter, and we both think
that it would be wrong to push Presley off on the Vice President since
it will take very little of the President’s time and it can be extremely
beneficial for the President to build some rapport with Presley.
In addition, if the President wants to meet with some bright young
people outside of the Governent, Presley might be a perfect one to
start with. [You must be kidding.]
Approve Presley coming in at end of Open Hour [H.]
Citation: Memorandum for H.R. Haldeman from Dwight L. Chapin, 21 December 1970
For More Information Please See:
Part of the White House Central: Subject Files
The Subject Files Finding Aid, Health boxes (EX HE 5-1)