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George H.W. Bush Wrote A Moving Letter To Bill Clinton In 1993—And It Was An Act Of Pure Class

George H.W. Bush Wrote A Moving Letter To Bill Clinton In 1993—And It Was An Act Of Pure Class
Getty Images: Hulton Archive, Getty Images: STEPHEN JAFFE

Senses of grace and decorum are two things many people like to see in our President.

And few things embody those principals more than the note incoming President Bill Clinton found waiting for him in the Oval Office from outgoing President George H.W. Bush.

Though Bush had just been defeated by Clinton following his first term in office, he took the letter as an opportunity to reach across the aisle and help unite the country.

The letter, handwritten on White House stationary, read:

"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"

Despite their adversarial relationship during the campaign, Bush and Clinton would go on to become friends.

Bush once said:

"Just because you run against someone does not mean you have to be enemies. Politics does not have to be mean and ugly."

Clinton expressed a similar sentiment in a statement following the news of Bush's death:

I will be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate and genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children, and their growing brood.

Though Reagan left a letter for George H.W. Bush (his Vice-President) when he came into office, historians now think of that letter as a humorous note between two friends. Bush's choice to leave a welcoming note to a President of the opposite political party cemented the tradition as a bipartisan act of goodwill—one that's been continued ever since.

Clinton would later write to the George W. Bush:

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

Bush would then write to Barack Obama:

"There will be trying moments. The critics will rage. 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."

Obama would bring us up to the current day by writing to now-President Donald Trump:

"...regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it's up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them."

People on Twitter missed the late President Bush's sense of honor and dignity.

Rest in peace, Mr. President.

H/T - CNN, The New York Times