Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Published: March 16, 1987

John Wayne, staunch Republican though he was, wrote letters bluntly criticizing Ronald Reagan and praising Jimmy Carter for their stands on the Panama Canal.
The letters and Mr. Carter's responses are among more than six million documents on file at the library of the Carter Presidential Center here.
Mr. Wayne, the movie star who died in 1979 when he was 72 years old, took Mr. Carter to task on many issues.
However, he was one of Mr. Carter's staunchest supporters on the Panama Canal Treaty, which turned over to Panama the canal built by the United States near the turn of the century.
Mr. Wayne was a close friend of the late Panamanian leader, Brig. Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera. Mr. Wayne's first wife, Josephine, whom he divorced in 1946, was a native of Panama.
In a letter to Mr. Reagan dated Nov. 11, 1977, a copy of which was sent to Mr. Carter, the actor accused Mr. Reagan of spreading untruths about the Panama Canal Treaty in letters to his supporters.
''Now I have taken your letter, and I'll show you point by goddamn point in the treaty where you are misinforming people,'' Mr. Wayne told Mr. Reagan. ''If you continue these erroneous remarks, someone will publicize your letter to prove that you are not as thorough in your reviewing of this treaty as you say or are damned obtuse when it comes to reading the English language.''
He signed the letter ''Duke'' and enclosed with it a five-page rebuttal - written on the stationery of the Republican National Committee - of Mr. Reagan's stand on the canal issue.
Mr. Wayne wrote Mr. Carter in support of his stand on the treaty and the President wrote back in gratitude, saying, ''Your letter is great - tough and factual.''

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