The letter-writing tradition between outgoing and incoming presidents is a relatively recent one, having been started lightheartedly by former President Ronald Reagan for his vice president George H.W. Bush. The message was written on stationary that included the aphorism “Don’t let the turkeys get you down” with a depiction of an elephant surrounded by said birds.
Arguably the most famous of these letters — Bush’s 1993 letter to Bill Clinton — is also the most comparable to the Trump-Biden dynamic, as both featured presidents leaving office following unsuccessful re-election bids and hard-fought campaigns.
In it Bush struck a conciliatory note, writing that he considers Clinton to be “our President,” underlining the first word for emphasis.
“Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you,” Bush wrote.
Upon his arrival to the White House, Trump received a letter from President Barack Obama wishing him and his administration good fortune and urging him to endeavor to leave the “instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.”