September 9, 1956
Doctor Linus Pauling
California Institute of Technology
Dear Doctor Pauling:
I could not fall asleep last night. I picked up this week's issue of Time, and
came upon the news: a superlatively endowed individual was to labor in behalf of the
ill-begotten. I felt tremulous with excitement - as I imagine people of a former
age felt when they had read of a prince of the nobility, taking up the cudgels on
behalf of the serfs and slaves. You are a prince of the new nobility and, by your
announcement alone, you have already gifted the hopeless with the supreme gift of
hope. If your efforts should culminate in fruitful achievement, you will have liberated
the most oppressed minority of mankind, and redressed the most crying injustice of
all, the biological; for the human tragedy is not to be born and to die, but to
be born and not to grow.
There must be countless number of people all over the world who, having learned of
your decision, can no longer regard you as a stranger. No matter how lonely your
labors may seem at times, your laboratory will be humming at all times with the prayers
of your unknown friends, well-wishers, and would-be beneficiaries. If few should
have the audacity to write you, and fewer still to address you in person, they must
assure you nevertheless that the news, emanating from Pasadena, transcends in importance
all the screaming headlines of today.
Nor should you feel that you have but a small staff with which to do battle. You
have had a vast army all along which, with weapons of their own forging, has
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fought the enemies of indifference, penuriousness, cruelty, stupidity and ignorance,
and inflamed the desire and hope for victory. Now we can rejoice: we're no longer
leader-less, we've got us a general.
As a private of many years of faithful service, I stand at ease while I tell you that
I anticipate some unlooked-for benefits from your research; for it may inspire
some of your distinguished colleagues to tackle the obverse side of your problem;
namely, how to promote that measure of mental, moral and physical excellence which,
in a world of technological excellence, has become imperative.
In any event, you have caused me a happy moment which is not doomed to be swept away
into the maelstrom of memory, but is destined to grow richer every day, nurtured by
you and your associates. Can any man be in greater debt to his fellow man? I
am glad to acknowledge it.
Eugene J. Hochman