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A President’s Letter

“For almost every influential man it seems that there is a published book full of letters that he wrote.” This has proven true for the generations of men who have held the position of Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America. Emails by senior leaders are rarely ever seen as positive, impactful encounters. But pouring over the handwritten notes and letters of a President has a long, prestigious history. There are many books containing the letters of our presidents, which help us better understand their lives and better see how the most powerful men in the world communicate with others to make their messages clear and memorable. A study of these letters gives perspective, but also a model of a gentleman conducting his business, personal, and family affairs.

President George H.W. Bush passed away on November 30th, 2018. He was 94 years old. President Bush spent the majority of his life in the service of his country. As with any politician, he was far from perfect and made decisions not all would find palpable. At the same time, he left a model of kindness, decency, and love of country over love of political party. After losing the 1992 Presidential Election, President Bush wrapped up his work in office and began the transition to the President-Elect William Clinton. As with many elections, the fight for the presidency had been fierce with each man debating for his ideals, his vision of the future, and his ability to provide leadership. In the end, Bill Clinton prevailed over Bush. President Bush began the transition to make sure the Clinton administration could take on the role of leading a nation with as much ease as possible.

On Inauguration Day, January 20th, 1993, George H. W. Bush left a handwritten letter for President-Elect William Clinton. It was a letter full of grace, decency, and love of country, which Bush ended with the words, “Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.” This note left an indelible impact on Bill Clinton, and even us today as we look back on how to put aside our differences and root for the success of others.

Read the full letter:

Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck—

 

George

George H. W. Bush Letter
This image provided by the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum shows a note written by George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton. (George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum via AP)

A few books containing Presidential letters:

FDR: “F.D.R. His Personal Letters 1928-1945”

Ronald Reagan: “Reagan: A Life in Letters”

Truman & Churchill: “Defending the West”

Thomas Jefferson: “Thoughts on War and Revolution”

Abraham Lincoln: “New Papers and Letters of Lincoln”

Barack Obama: “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters”

 

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