Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Martin Luther King, Jr., Autograph Letter Signed "Martin." Eight pages, 6.5" x 8", on Residency Guest House letterhead, Bangalore [India], n. d. [circa February 1959]. Martin Luther King, Jr., held firmly to the Gandhian principles of nonviolent resistance throughout his life. Gandhi used nonviolent resistance to gain India's independence from the British Empire. In an effort to expand his understanding of Gandhi and his methods, King left, with wife, Coretta, and Dr. Lawrence Reddick, historian, chairman of the history department at Alabama State College, and King's biographer, by his side on a five week tour of India on February 3, 1959.

    Writing to friend and personal secretary, Maude L. Ballou, King, nearing the end of his stay in India, updates her on his plans for his return to the States. He says that their schedule has changed and they will be returning to New York earlier than planned, three days in fact. He says that he plans on spending those three days in New York and will arrive back in Montgomery on the following Saturday. Having no plans to preach the following day, he asks that she keep their arrival quiet, saying that he may make a surprise appearance at church.

    Despite a month long absence overseas, King was still involved in his affairs back home. He asks that she get in touch with Dr. J. T. Brooks, the president of Alabama State College and editor of the Dexter Echo and inform him that Dr. King has taken a position as an editor with the Christian Century, a widely read Protestant journal. He also asks that she mention his newest book, Stride Toward Freedom, was selected as one of the fifty most notable books for the year by the American Library Association. He also asks that he add Michigan Governor G. Mennen Williams and Averell Harriman, former governor of New York, to a list of potential contributors to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In addition, he asks that she write a short note to John Lee Tilley, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, asking that he continue discussions with Glenn E. Smiley, a white civil rights activist who was an early adviser of Dr. King in the principles of nonviolence, regarding a potential conference in Tallahassee, Florida, inviting as many of Florida's civic leaders and ministers as he can.

    Regarding the remainder of his overseas trip, he says that he will soon be leaving for the Middle East via Pakistan and suggests that Mrs. Ballou mail him a letter (to the YMCA Hotel in Jerusalem) updating him on additional events. He informs her that they will be leaving Israel sometime in mid-March for Cairo, and from there to Athens, Greece, and finally New York City. He admits that they have had a wonderful time and the people of India have gone above and beyond to make them feel welcome.

    King's trip to India helped cement his beliefs in the principles of nonviolence. On his final day in India, March 9, 1959, he expressed his feelings in a message that was broadcast on All India Radio where he said that because of his time in India, he is more committed to the principles of nonviolent resistance than ever before.

    Usual folds, else fine.

    Reference: Michael Battle. Blessed are the Peacemakers: A Christian Spirituality of Nonviolence. Mercer University Press, 2004; Clayborne Carson, editor. The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr: Threshold of a New Decade, January 1959-December 1960. University of California Press, 2005.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2013
    17th-18th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,428

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $100,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $100,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 July 12 Vintage Guitars & Musical Instruments Musical Instruments Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The resulting auction of my property overwhelmed me. I want to thank Tom Slater and the Heritage team for a very satisfactory experience and profitable result with my historical consignment.
    Henry L.,
    Lexington, KY
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2020 February 22 - 23 Americana & Political Signature Auction - Dallas
    2020 February 22 - 23 Americana & Political Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $2,349,427