DescriptionWilliam Jefferson Clinton Autograph Letter Signed as President. One page on embossed White House letterhead, 6.75" x 9", Washington, May 28, 1996. President Clinton writes to journalist Wily Gutman regarding an article authored by Gutman that had moved him:
"Dear Mr. Gutman -
Several weeks ago I read your very moving tribute to your father in the Wall Street Journal. It impressed me so much that I cut it out and carried it around, re-reading it from time to time.
My grandfather, who had barely a grade school education, was much the same kind of man. He ran a grocery store in a poor southern town before food stamps. He sold food on credit to poor hardworking people he knew could never repay him when he knew too, that they were doing their best.
I have been trying to start a discussion in the country on what we owe each other on the edge of a new century. Your wonderful piece certainly will help.
Written while campaigning for his second presidential election, this moving letter reveals Clinton's respect and love for the man who raised him for the first four years of his life. Clinton's biological father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., died before Clinton's birth. In order to secure a better future for herself and her newborn son, his mother turned the infant over to his grandparents so that she could study nursing. The young Clinton likely bore witness to numerous instances in which his grandfather "sold" groceries to the poor families who were down and out. And the profound impact his grandfather's humanity and empathy made a deep impression, which was awakened by Mr. Gutman's article recounting similar stories about his father.
Clinton's mother would eventually marry Roger Clinton (whose surname he would adopt), but Roger's drinking likely made him a poor male figure. Handwritten letters by Clinton as president are scarce; the example we offer is not only in fine condition, but provides a moving and evocative glimpse into Clinton's most intimate memories.
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