Presidents’ Letters To Their Successors


It is customary for America’s outgoing president to leave a letter for their successor on Inauguration Day.

Obama is expected to continue the tradition by leaving a letter for the new 45th President, Donald J. Trump.  

But one former president has already sent Trump a letter.   George H.W. Bush wrote him a letter, explaining why he will not be in attendance.

Letter from George H.W. Bush to Donald Trump:

January 10, 2017

Dear Donald,

Barbara and I are so sorry we can’t be there for your Inauguration on January 20th.  My doctor says if I sit outside in January, it likely will put me six feet under.  Same for Barbara.  So I guess we’re stuck in Texas.

But we will be with you and the country in spirit. I want you to know that I wish you the very best as you begin this incredible journey of leading our great country. If I can ever be of help, please let me know.

All the best,

G. Bush


Letter from George W. Bush to Barack Obama:

January 20, 2009

“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.”

(George W. Bush)



The letter Bill Clinton sent to George W. Bush:

January 20, 2001

“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

(Bill Clinton)


Letter from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton:

January 20, 1993

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 with 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 –




Letter from Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush:

January 20, 1989

Dear George,

You’ll have moments when you want to use this particular stationery.  Well, go to it.

George I treasure the memories we share and wish you all the very best.  You’ll be in my prayers.  God bless you and Barbara. I’ll miss our Thursday lunches.



Came across this scanned document from an old book project — the note Ronald Wilson Reagan left @GeorgeHWBush on January 20 1989.

H/T: The Hill

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