42nd President. Incredibly rare typed letter signed (TLS) “Bill“, on RARE “Clinton For Congress” stationery, December 18, 1974, 8×10.5, to Judge Glen Thames in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in full:
I want you to know how deeply grateful I am for your help in the campaign. It is a gift I will cherish all my life.
With handwritten postscript: “As it came out I see the more clearly how great an effort you made to stand by me – It was nearly enough – And there will be another day – Happy New Year”
An amazing letter from the very start of a storied political career.
On February 25, 1974, Bill Clinton officially announced his candidacy at the Avanelle Motel in Hot Springs with $10,000 his uncle had given him to get started. The main headquarters was an old house in Fayetteville on College Avenue, with “CLINTON FOR CONGRESS” signs painted on both sides of the house. This is the one of his earliest political letter we have seen and only the second on such letterhead. This letter was written while Clinton was just 28-years-old at the end of his first political campaign – an unsuccessful run for Congress. An important autographed letter from the early stages of one of America’s most successful campaigners.
In September of 1974, Clinton was lagging in the polls with only 23 percent. A few days later, the unexpected happened – President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for any and all crimes he “committed or may have committed” while president. The nation was stunned, and the support for the Republican Party as a whole decreased sharply. As Election Day grew closer, several newspapers including the Arkansas Gazette endorsed Bill Clinton. As the campaign came to a close, money became tight and although money was offered as the race neared to an end, the money had strings attached and Clinton promptly refused. At the end of the campaign a 28-year-old Bill Clinton was $45,000 in debt but his conscience was in the clear. Bill took 48.2 percent of the vote and won thirteen of the twenty-one counties in the Third Congressional District. Although a loss, the National Committee for an Effective Congress called Clinton’s campaign, “the most impressive grass roots effort in the country.” His unexpected turnout paved his way into Arkansas politics, and just two years later he would run for and win the office of state attorney general. Clinton still calls his congressional race, “the best campaign I ever ran,… just a lost cause that almost won.” This congressional race focused his energies into important social and political issues which he would vigorously support throughout his career.