The Timothy Leary Defense Fund.
A group of documents issued by the Timothy Leary Defense Fund, the campaign established in March 1966 to help raise financial support for Leary’s legal costs following his marijuana bust in Laredo, Texas, in December 1965 (Leary was sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined $30,000, the heaviest ever sentence for marijuana possession).
The collection includes a printed letter on Defense Fund stationery SIGNED in black ink by Billy Hitchcock, gathered by a paper clip and folded for mailing (to Ralph Gleason, though this is not indicated), together with the campaign's Statement of Purposes, a return envelope printed with its United Nations Plaza address, and a Declaration of Principle (published jointly with the Committee for Reform of Marihuana Legislation, set up in conjunction with the Defense Fund to raise awareness about drug laws).
Hitchcock's letter, dated March 19, 1966, provides a brief outline of Leary's legal troubles, expresses shock “by this illustration of the irrationality of the marihuana laws”, and requests contributions, with a coupon in the lower part designed to be torn off. Written only ten days after Leary’s trial in Laredo, and one of the campaign’s earliest documents, it prints 17 names of Committee members ("In Formation"), among them Richard Alpert, Larry Bogart, James Coburn and Alan Watts (Hitchcock was the Chairman and Ralph Metzner the treasurer). Another copy of the letter (and an accompanying Declaration of Principle) is included, but with Hitchcock’s signature printed in facsimile.
A second version of Hitchcock’s letter, dated April 16, 1966, is also included (along with the Defense Fund's Statement of Purposes, return envelope and a new version of its Declaration of Principle), which prints a considerably expanded roll call of friends, colleagues and supporters: Susan Sontag, Peter Fonda, Laura Huxley, Charles Olson, Diane di Prima, Ad Reinhardt, Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin and 48 others.
The collection also includes Diane Di Prima’s printed letter appealing for funds (dated April 9, 1966), and an offprint of the Defense Fund's three-quarter page ad. placed in the New York Times (stamped in blue: “reprinted from the New York Times - Sunday April 3, 1966” and headlined “The Responsible Community is Shocked at the Harsh Sentencing of Psychologist Dr. Timothy Leary”), which lists Leary’s “52 Contributions to the Scientific and Religious Literature”, an account of his trial in Laredo, an announcement of his upcoming appearance at Town Hall in New York on April 5, and a coupon for donations (38x34cm., folded twice).
Introduced by his sister, Peggy, William Mellon ‘Billy’ Hitchcock first met Leary in 1963, aged 22, at which point he was drawing an allowance of $15,000 a week from the family trust fund. Soon afterwards he loaned Leary and his entourage his mansion at Millbrook, where he often joined them for group trips.
As Leary’s benefactor he was instrumental in establishing the Timothy Leary Defense Fund, but later on, in 1973, after being indicted in San Francisco for bankrolling Tim Scully, Nick Sand and other LSD chemists who were supplying the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, he agreed to testify against them in return for a suspended sentence and a fine, and to co-operate with the government as an informant.
Di Prima letter slightly foxed; Declaration of Principle (second version) slightly creased, with short tears to upper edge; o/w all items about Near Fine.