Jackie Kennedy had another suitor before she married Aristotle Onassis in October of 1968. David Ormsby Gore, a close friend of the Kennedy family and personal adviser to President John F. Kennedy, proposed to the widowed former First Lady that same year. But, The New York Timesreports, she turned him down. Kennedy detailed her decision in a handwritten letter discovered last month in the late Ormsby Gore's home.
Dated November 13, 1968 (one month after her marriage to Onassis), the letter mentions the hardships that both Kennedy and Ormsby Gore—a British ambassador to Washington and a widower—had gone through and healed from together.
"We have known so much & shared & lost so much together—Even if it isn't the way you wish now—I hope that bond of love and pain will never be cut," Kennedy wrote.
The Times reports that Ormsby Gore was skeptical of Kennedy's marriage to Aristotle Onassis; a decision she addressed in her missive. She wrote that Onassis was "lonely and wants to protect [her] from being lonely. And he is wise and kind." She continued, "Only I can decide if he can, and I decided. I know it comes as a surprise to so many people. But they see things for me that I never wanted for myself."
All of this occurred during a dark period for Kennedy, who, as biographer Barbara Leamingwrote in Vanity Fair in 2014, suffered from what would now be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing her husband's assassination.
Ormsby Gore, too, had undergone a traumatic experience. His wife Sylvia (Sissie) died in a car crash in May of 1967.
Eighteen handwritten letters and one typed letter from Kennedy were found among the papers in Ormsby Gore's home. The collection also contains a draft that he wrote to Kennedy after she turned down his proposal. In it, he recounted the memories the two had shared together.
"All the pathetic plans I had brought with me for visits to Cyrenaica, holidays near one another and a whole variety of solutions to our marriage problem, including one for a secret marriage this summer—plans which I saw us eagerly discussing, calmly and with complete frankness as we did at the Cape and in Cambodia for the next wonderful ten days—all had become irrelevant trash to be thrown away within a few hours of my landing in New York."
Ormsby Gore, who inherited the title Lord Harlech upon his father's death in 1964, advised President Kennedy on such delicate issues as the Cuban missile crisis. Jackie, though thankful for Ormsby's service, seemed to be firm in her insistence that the two would not be a match.
"Please know—you of all people must know it—that we can never really see into the heart of another," she wrote. "You know me. And you must know that the man you write of in your letter is not a man that I could marry."
Ormsby Gore's grandson Jasset Ormsby Gore, who last year inherited the title of Lord Harlech, will be selling the letters, among more of his grandfather's possessions, at a March 29 auction at Bonhams in London.
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