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Letter Accepting the Resignation of William French Smith as Attorney General of the United States

January 23, 1984

The President today accepted with deepest appreciation and regret the resignation of Attorney General William French Smith, effective upon the confirmation of his successor.

The President announced his intention to appoint William French Smith, upon his resignation as Attorney General, to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

The text of the exchange of letters follows:

Dear Bill:

It is with deep regret that I accept your resignation as Attorney General, effective upon the confirmation of your successor.

You have served in a fine tradition with extraordinary distinction. You may take justifiable pride in your contribution to the public good through your many accomplishments at Justice.

Particularly noteworthy among these have been: the strengthening of Justice as a Department through reorganization and improved management procedures; the consolidation of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency in the increased attack on organized crime drug trafficking; the establishment of Law Enforcement Coordinating Committees to promote maximum cooperation among Federal, state and local authorities; the successful international negotiation of important mutual law assistance and extradition treaties; the development and promotion of an historic legislative reform of our criminal laws; the vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws through more productive and effective remedies; the emphasis on economic realism in antitrust policy combined with a more vigorous attack on anti-competitive activities than ever before; and the development of a comprehensive reform of the Nation's immigration laws.

You have indeed enforced the laws fully, effectively, and impartially—while advancing beneficial changes through the Congress and urging proper restraints upon the courts.

While I will deeply miss your continued participation as a member of the Cabinet, I appreciate your offer to participate in the 1984 campaign. And I am especially pleased that you have agreed to serve as a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. We will all benefit from your continued wise counsel.

Nancy and I extend to you and Jean our very best wishes. We of course look forward to many years of continuing close friendship.

Again, let me express—on my own behalf, and on behalf of the American people-profound appreciation for your contribution to the Nation and for a job well done. Sincerely,


[The Honorable William French Smith, Attorney General, Department of Justice, Washington,

D.C. 20530]

Dear Mr. President:

Surely public service is the greatest confidence that can be bestowed in a democracy. For me—building upon so many years of close friendship and personal association-service in your Cabinet has been both a great honor and a personal pleasure. However, it is now time for me to return to private life. Among the several reasons why I must do so is the strong conviction that the interests of the country require that you run and be re-elected. I have been involved in that process since 1966, and I do not want 1984 to be an exception. This would not be possible in my present position.

As your Attorney General, I have continually kept in mind the words of our first President in offering this post to the Nation's first Attorney General. George Washington wrote to Edmund Randolph that "the due administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government." With your support and the assistance of the exceptionally fine appointees you named to posts in this Justice Department, we have done our utmost to enforce the laws fully, effectively, and impartially—and to urge beneficial changes upon the Congress and proper restraints upon the courts. I hope that our efforts have indeed provided one of the firm pillars in this Administration—a pillar that can be built upon by you and my successor.

I will leave with the deepest gratitude for the opportunity you provided me to serve the public and with the greatest pride in having served you.

With continuing admiration, respect and affection,


[The President, The White House, Washington, D.C. 20500]

Ronald Reagan, Letter Accepting the Resignation of William French Smith as Attorney General of the United States Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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