Featured Document: Angry and Frustrated, Pauling Considers a Run for the U.S. Presidency

Linus Pauling. Oslo, Norway. December 21, 1963

Linus Pauling. Oslo, Norway. December 21, 1963

Though often encouraged to, Linus Pauling never ran for elected office. From the vantage point of his peace work, Pauling believed himself to be a far more effective agent for change when working in an environment that was essentially unencumbered by political considerations. Of at least equal importance was the fact that the time commitments demanded by government service would surely diminish Pauling’s capacity to pursue his first love, scientific inquiry.

For a very brief period however, Pauling certainly did consider running for the highest office in the land — the United States Presidency. Deeply angered by his treatment at the hands of Senator Thomas Dodd and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, the frustrated scientist made, as it turned out, a temporary decision to pursue a position in the Oval Office. The three pages of notes that follow were written — as per Pauling’s annotation — on the flight home to southern California following Pauling’s first appearance before the Dodd subcommittee.

Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge each page of this fascinating manuscript.

I have decided to run for the office of Pres. of the U.S. I cannot bring myself to vote for either the Dem. or the Rep. candidate. I shall vote for myself. I invite people everywhere to help me. I do not care who they are or what they have done in the past, I pro only that they believe in what I state as my beliefs. I promise that I will not reward them in any way. If the satisfaction of having done what they think is right is not enough, I do not want them. One advantage that I have is that I know what the world of 1960 is like. No one can fool me the way Dr. Teller fooled Pres. Eisenhower.

Page 2

[Tangential Notes: We need a law that no former FBI agents should be elected to Congress. Perhaps only professors. I am shocked with the revelation that has come to me of the quality, caliber, nature of our Senators. Respect – ] It is not necessary that the Pres. be a vassal of the Rep. party or the Dem. party. I shall be the servant only of the people of the U.S. – and only then if they are unselfish.

Page 3

I have held no office. The presidency differs so much from other offices that this is not important. I can think – I shall get good advice – but I will make the decisions. We need leadership unhampered by politics. Pres. Eisen was unhampered but he did not grasp his opportunity.

4 Responses

  1. […] Pauling and the Presidents: the first in a series of three posts on Pauling’s relationship with this nation’s Commanders in Chief and with the office of the Presidency itself.  The other two posts focus on Pauling’s complicated interactions with John F. Kennedy, and with his own brief flirtation with the idea of running for the office himself. […]

  2. […] Angry and Frustrated, Pauling Considers a Run for the U.S. Presidency (a short post about an extraordinary […]

  3. […] an especially bitter one for Pauling. After the first hearing, Pauling was so angry that he briefly considered running for president, seeing no other viable corrective to what he viewed to be an absence of leadership in his […]

  4. […] once considered a run for president and argued that the country would be better off if there were more professors in the Capitol. […]

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