Office of Public Liaison: Special Assistant to the President, 1981-1984
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This collection is available in whole for research use. Some folders may still have withdrawn material due to Freedom of Information Act restrictions. Most frequently withdrawn material is national security classified material, personal privacy, protection of the President, etc.
Born in La Jara, Colorado, Morton Blackwell attended Louisiana State University during the 1960s. He was politically active from a young age, serving as a college Republican state chairman, and attending the 1964 Republican National Convention as the youngest elected delegate pledged to Barry Goldwater. Throughout 1965-1970 he worked as executive director of the College Republican National Committee in Washington, DC, and also served on the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee.
From 1972-1979 Mr. Blackwell founded and served as chairman of the Committee for Responsible Youth Politics. He worked for the Viguerie Company and served as editor of The New Right Report from 1973 to 1979, and contributing editor to Conservative Digest from 1974 to 1981.
From 1979-1981 Mr. Blackwell was the policy director for Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-New Hampshire). He oversaw outreach to youth for the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign, and was Deputy Director for Congressional Clearance for the 1980-1981 Transition. He joined the White House staff as a Special Assistant in the Office of Public Liaison in February 1981.
He is currently president of the Leadership Institute, an organization he founded in 1979 to train conservatives for positions in politics, the government and news media. Since 1988 he has held the post of Virginia’s Republican National Committeeman. From 2004-2008 Mr. Blackwell served on the Executive Committee of the Republican National Committee.
Scope and Content Note
Mr. Blackwell joined the Office of Public Liaison in February 1981 as a special assistant responsible for veterans, fraternal organizations, Native Americans, religious affairs, and limited government organizations. His general responsibilities were to facilitate communication between these groups and the White House, and raise support on various White House policies and initiatives. He served as liaison to Native American groups until February 1983, when this function was transferred from the White House Office of Public Liaison to the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (Rick Neal). After Jack Burgess left the White House in March 1983, Blackwell took over his Roman Catholic portfolio. Blackwell continued to work on Catholic outreach even after Robert Reilly was appointed as the main Catholic liaison in October 1983 (see also the Linas Kojelis collection).
Blackwell was the original White House coordinator for the Central America Outreach Working Group. The Library has maintained the entire set of meeting files within the Robert Reilly collection and these files contain work product for Blackwell for the time period May 1983-October 1983. Folders on briefings given by the group and other information about this Working Group from May 1983-October 1983 are still maintained in the Blackwell collection within a specific series on Central America.
The collection consists of six series: SERIES I: Subject File; SERIES II: American Indian Liaison; SERIES III: Religion Liaison; SERIES IV: Veteran’s Liaison; SERIES V: Central America, 1983; SERIES VI: Correspondence, June 1982-February 1984.
This series consists of material regarding issues and organizations and the following topics: defense, family planning, economic recovery, abolishment of the Department of Education, school desegregation, and testimonies from David Stockman on a proposed balanced budget constitutional amendment, and William French Smith on a proposed federal criminal code. The files are arranged alphabetically.
The American Indian Liaison series consists of correspondence, annual reports, brochures, directories, and articles on Indian resource and economic development, input of Indian leadership on Administration policies, business investments on Indian reservations, “Red Jacket” medals, unemployment, housing, and education. The files are arranged alphabetically.
The Religion Liaison series consists of correspondence, articles, and lists on topics such as religious school tax exemption, school prayer, family planning, grassroots organizations, tuition tax credit, Bob Jones University, and a National Day of Prayer. The files are arranged alphabetically.
The Veteran’s Liaison series consists of congressional testimonies, correspondence regarding defense budget estimates, arms control and disarmament, Pershing Hall, and retirement benefits. The files are arranged alphabetically.
The Central America series consists of invitations, organizational lists, and correspondence regarding El Salvador, Nicaragua, the establishment of the Kissinger Commission, the report of the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America, and White House Digest drafts. The files are arranged alphabetically.
The Correspondence series consists of letters and memorandums regarding weekly reports, meeting schedules, request for speakers, presidential messages, invitations, thank you letters, and administrative matters. The files are arranged chronologically.
Last Updated: 03/15/2023 12:02AM