10 Important Historical Letters Nearly Lost To Time

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Before the advent of the Short Messaging Service (SMS), email, and social networking, the most efficient way people who lived far apart could exchange messages was through writing. Most letters are meant for private consumption, so it isn’t surprising that they often reveal astounding secrets when we snoop through them.

10. Fidel Castro To President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fidel Castro survived the administration of about 10 United States presidents, most of whom would have loved to do away with him. (Some actually tried doing so.) Castro’s first contact with a United States president was, however, amicable.

In 1940, a young student of Colegio de Dolores School in Santiago, Cuba, wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The child, a 12-year-old boy, began the letter with, “My good friend Roosevelt.” He then proceeded to greet the president and tell him he was delighted after hearing on the radio that Roosevelt had been elected for a new term. The child also requested a $10 bill because he had never seen one. This boy was none other than Fidel Castro.

Young Castro wrote that though his English was poor, he was quite smart. As he puts it, “I am a boy, but I think very much.” The letter got to the State Department on November 27, 1940, but never got to Roosevelt, who died without ever knowing who Fidel Castro was.

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