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Letter Accepting the Resignation of Elizabeth Hanford Dole as Secretary of Transportation

September 14, 1987

Dear Elizabeth:

It is with the deepest regret that I accept your resignation as Secretary of Transportation. For six and a half years you have dedicated yourself to the goals of this Administration and the long-range needs of the American people. You were there at the beginning of our "New Beginning." And your impact on these momentous times has been lasting.

Because of your personal emphasis on transportation safety, it is now a national priority. Countless lives have been saved and crippling injuries prevented on our highways, railroads, and in the air because of your leadership. Drunk driving is declining and seat belt use is increasing, drugs and alcohol have been declared off limits to transportation, and vigilance over our air system has never been greater. We have increased competition in industries that for years were stifled by government regulation during a time when travel has never been safer.

I also appreciate your leadership in making the Department of Transportation the first civilian agency to undertake random drug testing to assure a drug-free workplace.

No one knows better than I the challenge of making government respond to the conservative mandate of 1980. You have been invaluable in that struggle. As our economic recovery program has sparked growth in transportation, you have taken a number of major initiatives to assure that we fully meet the demands of unprecedented expansion.

You made Conrail the flagship of privatization in the United States. You transferred National and Dulles Airports to a Regional Authority, something other transportation planners had tried and failed to achieve on at least eight occasions since 1949. And in case anyone doubted the potential of American entrepreneurial know-how, under your leadership an entirely new space-based industry has been created to launch commercial satellites, thus competing with the French, the Chinese and the Russians. All this—and much, much more—is on the record.

Elizabeth, I will miss you at the Cabinet table and in the inner councils of government. But I understand your decision to leave and believe the reasons behind it will strike a chord with everyone who values the very human emotions that underlie public life at its finest.

Nancy joins me in expressing our gratitude, our friendship, and our wish that God will bless you and Bob as together you confront the challenges of the future.



September 14, 1987

Dear Mr. President:

After considerable soul-searching, I have decided to submit my resignation as Secretary of Transportation, effective October 1, 1987. As you can imagine, I have not reached this decision lightly. Only a compelling reason—the need to elect a successor who can build on your Administration's remarkable record of achievement—has persuaded me to leave office at this time. For over twenty years, public service has been my greatest satisfaction.

But I learned long ago that public life is full of private choices. I have chosen to devote all my time and energies to my husband's campaign for the Presidency, not only because Bob needs me but because I believe the American people need Bob.

It has been a rare privilege, Mr. President, to serve these past six and a half years, first as a Member of your Senior White House Staff and more recently as part of the Cabinet family. I have never forgotten your instructions early in 1981 to disregard what would be politically popular when making policy, and to concentrate instead on what conscience and intellect deem right for the American people.

Inspired by that principle, we have worked to redefine the relationship between Washington and the people: getting the Federal Government out of the business of running railroads and airports, paving avenues into space for commercial entrepreneurs and eliminating economic regulation while strengthening safety oversight. Most Americans today are freer than ever before to travel where and how they will at less cost, while during the last three years we have compiled the best safety record in history.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunities you have given me. I leave with great admiration for you and Mrs. Reagan, and with great respect for the leadership you continue to give our country. Your Administration will be remembered as a turning point in American life. Thank you for allowing me to play a part.



Ronald Reagan, Letter Accepting the Resignation of Elizabeth Hanford Dole as Secretary of Transportation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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