Ronald Reagan picture

Letter Accepting the Resignation of James A. Baker III as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff

February 01, 1985

Dear Tim:

It is with the deepest possible regret that I accept your resignation as Chief of Staff, effective February 3, 1985.

I've read that there are no indispensable men in politics but, during the past four years, you've come as close to being indispensable here in the White House as anyone I can imagine. In fact, I would not be inclined to let you leave at all if it weren't for the fact that you'll be just a short walk away dealing with some of the most crucial issues we will confront during the second term.

I'd like to make a list of the major decisions you've been involved in during the past four years, but what would I leave off?. You've been deeply involved in the planning and presentation of all the major initiatives of my Administration, and it is due in great measure to your efforts that so many of them have been enacted into law. You've fought many battles on behalf of our principles, but even those who have opposed us offer willing testimony to your intelligence, your fairness and your integrity.

It's hard to believe—in view of the immense respect in which you are held in Washington—that you occupied your first high-level Federal job less than ten years ago. You have mastered the art of Washington politics, but your roots are still deep in the soil of Texas, and it was there that you learned the fundamental values that you and I share. You know that life can be hard and is always unpredictable, but you also know that Americans are a people who look forward to the future with optimism. That sense of optimism is the most important thing we have tried to restore to America during the past four years, and it has helped me more than I can say to have someone by my side who understands that bedrock faith in our nation's future as well as you do.

But this letter is starting to sound like you're leaving public service. Fortunately for me, you're just moving across the street to be Secretary of the Treasury. I'll warn you right now that I'm going to keep on asking your advice on any and every issue that comes up during the next four years. So don't plan any long vacations until you check with me.

Nancy and I send you and Susan our warmest wishes for every future happiness.



February 1, 1985

Dear Mr. President:

I respectfully submit this letter of resignation as Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President, effective February 3, 1985.

You have accorded me the greatest privilege of my life: the honor of serving as your Chief of Staff over the past four years-years which historians will undoubtedly view as a period of much-needed and striking accomplishment. I know you are fond of saying that such achievements are a team effort, but f that is so, it is also true that rarely in our Nation's history has a team been so ably led and inspired.

In 1981, the spirit and the confidence of the American people were in decline. Our economy was stagnant, our defenses deteriorating, our values under siege at home, and our national prestige trampled abroad. Your leadership and courage have brought about a remarkable reversal of every one of those situations. Today, our economy is reinvigorated, and our defenses restored. We are also seeing new faith in our traditional values, and renewed respect for an America which again has the strength of will to uphold its interests. You have restored America's pride and confidence in itself.

Such were your tangible achievements. Yet there is one other, less tangible, but no less important point: by your success and personal example you have restored the potency, purpose and effectiveness of the Presidency. And now, by virtue of your overwhelming reelection victory last year, you are positioned to be the first President since Eisenhower to complete two successful terms.

I hope to contribute to a successful second term as your new Secretary of the Treasury. I am grateful that you saw fit to honor my desire to serve you in this capacity and I look forward to the challenges of the future with confidence and optimism.

Susan and the rest of my family agree that you have given us many fine and fond memories. In the years ahead, we will look back on this special time in our lives with a deep sense of appreciation and pride. You have my heartfelt thanks and my pledge of continued loyalty and service to you and your Administration.

With best wishes to you and Nancy,



Note: The letters were released by the Office of the Press Secretary on February 4.

Ronald Reagan, Letter Accepting the Resignation of James A. Baker III as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives