First on ABC: George W. Bush's Inauguration Day Letter to Barack Obama

PHOTO: President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle walk former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura to a waiting helicopter after the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. PlayMax Whittaker/Getty Images
WATCH George W. Bush's Inauguration Day Letter to Barack Obama

Writing a letter to the next commander in chief has been a tradition for outgoing presidents.

As Barack Obama prepares to hand the baton to Donald Trump, ABC News has obtained an exclusive look at the missive he received from his predecessor, as well as the note from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush in 2001.

The letters came from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Here is the full text of the letter Bush wrote to Obama:

PHOTO: President George W. Bushs letter to President-elect Barack Obama in 2009. National Archives and Records Administration
President George W. Bush's letter to President-elect Barack Obama in 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.

Sincerely,

GW

The letter from Clinton to Bush also extols the thrills of the presidency.

PHOTO: President Bill Clintons letter to President-elect George W. Bush in 2001. National Archives and Records Administration
President Bill Clinton's letter to President-elect George W. Bush in 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.

Sincerely, Bill

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