Politics & Government

George W. Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s letters of support to their successors published

Former President George W. Bush, right, hugs President Barack Obama after Obama was sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.
Former President George W. Bush, right, hugs President Barack Obama after Obama was sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. AP

It has been a tradition of recent presidents to leave notes for their successors to read in the Oval Office on Inauguration Day.

George H.W. Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton in 1993 has made the rounds on social media in recent months, with many commending the letter for its grace and contrasting it with the highly contentious presidential election of 2016. And now, with President-elect Donald Trump poised to take office on Friday, the letters from Clinton to George W. Bush and Bush to Barack Obama have been published by ABC News, and they are of a similar nature.

The letters, which were obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration, highlight both the challenges and excitement that come with the office and end with both out-going presidents wishing success for their successors.

Both presidents also said they would pray for their successors.

“No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead,” Bush wrote to Obama.

“The burdens you now shoulder are great but often exaggerated,” Clinton advised Bush. “The sheer joy of doing what you believe is right is inexpressible.”

On social media, both letters were receieved warmly by people on both sides of the political aisle.

Near the beginning of his final press conference as president, President Obama took a few moments to talk about the hospitalization of George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. He called them "really good people" and praised them for their support over t

The full text of both letters are below:

Dear Barack,

Congratulations on becoming our President. You have just begun a fantastic chapter in your life.

Very few have had the honor of knowing the responsibility you now feel. Very few know the excitement of the moment and the challenges you will face.

There will be trying moments. The critics will rage. Your “friends” will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead.

God bless you.

Sincerely,

GW

***

Dear George,

Today you embark on the greatest venture, with the greatest honor, that can come to an American citizen.

Like me, you are especially fortunate to lead our country in a time of profound and largely positive change, when old questions, not just about the role of government, but about the very nature of our nation, must be answered anew.

You lead a proud, decent, good people. And from this day you are President of all of us. I salute you and wish you success and much happiness.

The burdens you now shoulder are great but often exaggerated. The sheer joy of doing what you believe is right is inexpressible.

My prayers are with you and your family. Godspeed.

Sincerely, Bill

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