Just a few of the words of presidential wisdom found in Dear Young Friend:
“I rejoice that you have learnt to write,…for as this is done with a goosequill, you know the value of a goose.” –Thomas Jefferson, to his granddaughter, Cornelia Randolph
“As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a bit of silly affection if were to begin now?” –Abraham Lincoln to Grace Bedell
“If we are successful [in the election], it will not be handsome behavior for any of my family to exhibit exultation or talk boastingly, or be in vain about it.” –Rutherford B. Hayes, to his son “Ruddy”
“The other sixty cents are for my other six grandchildren. They are not born yet.” –Theodore Roosevelt, to Marjorie Sterrett, who was collecting dimes to fund a battleship
“The John Birchers are just Ku Klux without the nightshirts.” –Harry Truman to David S. McCracken
“If you really believe, you will see them. My [Irish] ‘little people’ are very small, wear tall black stovepipe hats, green coats and pants, and have long, white beards.” –John Kennedy to Mark Aaron Perdue
Presidents since Washington have written to children. Chief executives prior to the overwhelmingly busy present even went through the White House mail themselves, choosing what to answer—a task in the e-mail age now impossible. Some earlier presidents, even as late as Eisenhower, confided opinions to young people that they rarely confessed to their peers. The letters range in subject form the monumental to the immaterial—although almost nothing is insignificant to a child.
This is the fifth book that Rodelle and Stanley Weintraub have written or edited together. Rodelle Weintraub is now a travel consultant; Stanley Weintraub, Even Pugh Profesor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities at the Pennsylvania State University, is a biographer and historian. They correspond with their eight grandchildren by email.