Alexander defeats the Persians, Destruction of PompeiiThe Crusades, The Black Death...Salem Witch TrialsWriting the Declaration of Independence, Battle of Lexington...Escape from slavery, Death of President Garfield..Battle of Gettysburg, Death of Lincoln...Custer's Last Stand, The Death of Billy the Kid...San Francisco Earthquake, Sinking of the Titanic...
Death of an air ace, Gas attack...Attack at Pearl Harbor, D-Day...Freeze Frame of HistoryPhotographic Gateways to HistorySounds from the pastFilm Clips from the PastList of ContentsReturn to Home Page

A Prisoner of the Boxer Rebellion, 1900

The Galveston Hurricane of 1900

Farm Wife, 1900

The Death of Queen Victoria, 1901

The Assassination of President William McKinley, 1901

The Roosevelts Move Into the White House, 1901

Riding a Rural Free Delivery Route, 1903

First Flight, 1903

The Gibson Girl

Early Adventures With The Automobile

Immigrating to America, 1905

San Francisco Earthquake, 1906

Henry Ford Changes the World, 1908

A Walk with President Roosevelt, 1908

Children At Work, 1908-1912

On Safari, 1909

Birth of the Hollywood Cowboy, 1911

Doomed Expedition to the South Pole, 1912

Sinking of the Titanic, 1912

1st Woman to Fly the English Channel, 1912

The Massacre of the Armenians, 1915

The Bolsheviks Storm the Winter Palace, 1917

The Execution of Tsar Nicholas II, 1918

President Wilson Suffers a Stroke, 1919

Making Movies, 1920

King Tut's Tomb, 1922

Coolidge Becomes President, 1923

Adolf Hitler Attempts a Coup, 1923

Air Conditioning Goes to the Movies, 1925

Prohibition, 1927

Lindbergh Flies the Atlantic, 1927

Babe Ruth Hits His 60th Home Run, 1927

The Wall Street Crash, 1929

The Bonus Army Invades Washington, D.C., 1932

The Reichstag Fire, 1933

Shoot-out with Bonnie and Clyde, 1933

Migrant Mother, 1936

The Bombing of Guernica, 1937

The Rape of Nanking, 1937

Dining with the King and Queen of England, 1938

Images Of War 1918-1971

The Death of President Franklin Roosevelt, 1945

Thoughts Of A President, 1945

Jackie Robinson Breaks Baseball's Color Barrier, 1945

The Assassination of Gandhi, 1948

The Russians Discover a Spy Tunnel in Berlin, 1956

The Hungarian Revolution, 1956

The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 1963

First Voyage to the Moon, 1968

President Nixon Meets Elvis, 1970

Payoff to the Vice President, 1971

President Nixon Leaves the White House 1974

President Nixon Meets Elvis, 1970

It all began at a party in Palm Springs, California in early December 1970.

Elvis's hand-written letter
Click to read a transcript
Elvis's reign as the "King of Rock and Roll" had been in decline since the "British Invasion", led by the Beatles, had jolted America's pop music market in 1964. Elvis was still an American idol and had begun a comeback in his singing career. However, his energies in recent years had been devoted to making a series of forgettable Hollywood films. In a conversation with Vice President Agnew at the party, Elvis expressed his concern for what he felt were threats to American culture posed by, not only the British Invasion, but also the drug culture, the radical SDS, the hippies and the Black Panthers. Elvis wanted to do something about it.

Three weeks later, Elvis, accompanied by two body guards, was bound for Washington, DC aboard an American Airlines flight. He spent his time writing a letter to the President. Beginning "Dear Mr. President, First, I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley. . ." the rock star expressed his desire to be made a "Federal Agent at Large" in order to communicate with and report on what he felt were deleterious factions threatening America. He believed his star-status would allow him a non-threatening entrance into the closed environment of these groups. A federal law appointment would give him credibility.

Elvis arrived at the White House gate on the morning of December 21 with his two body guards. He carried some family photos and a commemorative World War II .45 caliber pistol intended as gifts for the President. He handed his letter to the guards and waited.

Elvis's arrival ignited a flurry of activity among the White House staff. White House aide Dwight Chapman sent a quick memo to his boss, Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman. Chapman attached Elvis's letter and advised that the President meet with the rock star. Haldeman concurred and Elvis was scheduled to meet with Nixon at 12:30 that afternoon.

"He wanted to restore some respect for the flag. . . ."

Supplied with talking points prepared by his staff, President Nixon met with Elvis in the Oval office. Also in attendance were Elvis's bodyguards, a White House photographer, and presidential aide Bud Krogh who kept notes of the meeting:

"The meeting opened with pictures taken of the President and Elvis Presley.

Presley immediately began showing the President his law enforcement paraphernalia including badges from police departments in California, Colorado and Tennessee. Presley indicated that he had been playing Las Vegas and the President indicated that he was aware of how difficult it is to perform in Las Vegas.

Nixon and Elvis in the Oval Office
Click to see Elvis's gift
The President mentioned that he thought Presley could reach young people, and that it was important for Presley to retain his credibility. Presley responded that he did his thing by singing. He said he could not get to the kids if he made a speech on stage, that he had to reach them in his own way. The President nodded agreement.

Presley indicated that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit. He said that the Beatles came to this country, made their money, and then returned to England where they promoted an anti-American theme. The President nodded in agreement and expressed some surprise. The President then indicated that those who use drugs are also those in the vanguard of anti-American protest. Violence, drug usage, dissent, protest all seem to merge in generally the same group of young people.

Presley indicated to the President in a very emotional manner that he was 'on your side.' Presley kept repeating that he wanted to be helpful, that he wanted to restore some respect for the flag which was being lost. He mentioned that he was just a poor boy from Tennessee who had gotten a lot from his country, which in some way he wanted to repay. He also mentioned that he is studying Communist brainwashing and the drug culture for over ten years. He mentioned that he knew a lot about this and was accepted by the hippies. He said he could go right into a group of young people or hippies and be accepted which he felt could be helpful to him in his drug drive. The President indicated again his concern that Presley retain his credibility.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Presley again told the President how much he supported him, and then in a surprising, spontaneous gesture, put his left arm around the President and hugged him.

In going out, Presley asked the President if he would see his two associates. The President agreed and they came over and shook hands with the President briefly. At this meeting, the President thanked them for their efforts and again mentioned his concern for Presley's credibility."

   The documents related to Nixon's meeting with Elvis are part of the collection of the National Archives: Nixon Presidential Materials Project, White House Central Files: Subject Categories: Health (HE); Folder Title: EX HE 5-1 1/1/72-1/31/72; Box Number: 19

How To Cite This Article:
"President Nixon Meets Elvis, 1970" EyeWitness to History, (2007).

A few weeks after the meeting, Elvis was awarded a specially made badge from the Bureau of Narcotic and Dangerous Drugs.
Ancient World | Middle Ages/Renassiance | 17th Century | 18th Century | 19th Century | Civil War | Old West | 20th Century
World War One | World War Two | Photo of the Week | SnapShots | Voices | History in Motion | Index | Home
Copyright © Ibis Communications, Inc.

Click to read transcript Click to see gift