President George H.W. Bush on Respect

With one of the most impressive resumes of any President, Mr. Bush was also a firm believer in hand-written notes

George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Massachusetts and raised in an affluent Connecticut suburb not far from New York City.

Having already been admitted to Yale University, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve instead because the United States had entered World War II. And at the very young age of 18, he became the youngest pilot in the United States Navy. Two years later, he was shot down in combat over the Pacific, later earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.

A successful American businessman, Bush became an American politician when he was the first Republican ever elected to represent Houston in Congress in 1966. Subsequent to being in Congress, Bush served his country tirelessly:

  • Ambassador to the United Nations in 1971;
  • Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973;
  • Envoy to China in 1974;
  • Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1976;
  • Vice President of the United States in 1980; and
  • President of the United States in 1988.

But of all of Mr. Bush’s accomplishments, one he was reluctant to take credit for was his role in helping reinforce a modern presidential tradition: where the departing President left a letter of support for the incoming President on Inauguration Day.

Here’s the full text of Mr. Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton:

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—