Past presidential letters to incoming commander in chief

Letters from the National Archives and Records Administration show personal messages from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush (right) and from George W. Bush to Barack Obama (left). (National Archives and Records Administration)

As one White House administration transfers power to another, it's customary for the outgoing president to leave a message for the incoming commander in chief.

The letters are handwritten with the official White House seal and dated for the day of the new president's inauguration.

As Donald Trump prepares to settle into the Oval Office, ABC News is taking a look at the personal notes of previous presidents.

ABC News obtained the letters from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush and from Bush to Barack Obama.

Both letters feature words of wisdom and encouragement to the incoming president.

The following is the letter Clinton wrote to Bush:

A handwritten letter from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush dated Jan. 20, 2001.

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.

- Bill

The following is the letter Bush wrote to Obama:

A handwritten letter from George W. Bush to Barack Obama dated Jan. 20, 2009.

Jan 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.


- GW
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politicspresident barack obamageorge w. bushbill clintonpresidential inaugurationtrump inaugurationdonald trumpu.s. & world