42nd President. Autograph letter signed “Bill Clinton” as sophomore at Georgetown University, undated but May 1966, front and back of folded Georgetown University stationery, to his former Principal at Hot Springs High School, Johnnie Mae Mackey, in full:
Dear Mrs. Mackey, I picked up this small but valuable book in my study of U.S. Constitution and Government. I know you are most interested in this subject, especially those sections in the book which deal with school prayer. Perhaps you do not agree with the Const’s decisions. If not, I hope this will at least be of some ‘educational benefit’-what a joke. Our relationship is surely not the same as two years ago, but it hardly come full circle. For some reason I thought of you when I just saw this book. I hope you will enjoy it and excuse the underlining which I often use as an examination crutch. Finals of course are coming up-wish me good luck-and the same to you in graduating the Class of 66-see you soon-Sincerely, Bill Clinton.
Johnnie Mae Mackey was the principal at Hot Springs High School and one of the most influential women in Bill Clinton’s life. Mackey’s hierarchy of values were God, country, and Church. Hot Springs High School, although a segregated all-white school, stood heads above most public schools in Arkansas. Mackey recruited staff committed to producing leaders who thought of personal success in terms of public service. Clinton became her brightest protégé. It was under her mentoring that Clinton was sent to Washington, D.C., as one of two Arkansas delegates to Boy’s Nation, an imitation political convention sponsored by the American Legion. While there, the seventeen-year-old Clinton was captured in a historic photograph shaking hands with his political idol, President John F. Kennedy, in the White House Rose Garden.
In his September 27, 1997 remarks at the Hot Springs High School Ultimate Class Reunion in Hot Springs, Arkansas, President Clinton stated:
“But I guess most of all, I wish Johnnie Mae Mackey were here. And apparently, so does Carol Wilson. So I would like to ask Johnnie Mae’s incarnation to come up here and lead us in a little round of hullabaloo. [Laughter].
Thank you all so much. God bless you. Let’s make this a success, what do you say? Cheerleaders, cheerleaders, come on. I swear, this is living evidence of a comment that I made the other day that our cheerleaders still all can fit in their uniforms. Here they are. [Laughter] Come on. Now, for those of us who were here when Johnnie Mae Mackey ran this school—[laughter]—you know, everybody that came out of this high school and went in the Marine Corps during the period that Johnnie Mae Mackey ran the school found that it was a step down in discipline and order. [Laughter] So try to visualize those magic days, now.”
Amazing association between Clinton and his mentor.
The book Clinton references was entitled “Religion and The Constitution” and is offered separately.