Miller Center

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

Friday Feature: President Nixon Riding the Tiger With Elvis

View a larger version of this photo or visit an exhibit from archives.gov, “When Nixon Met Elvis.”

A president rubs elbows with dignitaries, world leaders, and politicians, yes, but a president often also sometimes comes in contact with celebrities who function far outside the traditional political sphere.

This photo of President Richard Nixon meeting Elvis Presley is the #1 most requested image from the National Archive and Records Administration (surpassing even the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution). The meeting took place in December, 1970, after Nixon received a letter from Presley wherein Presley expressed interest in being named "Federal Agent-at-Large" for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, wishing to do his part to fight the war on illegal drugs. The five-page letter is hand-written on American Airlines stationary. 

Interestingly, the meeting between Presley and Nixon was kept secret for two full years until the Washington Post broke the story in January 1972. 1972 was, of course, a big year for Nixon for other reasons… 

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.