According to Steven Wayward in a review of Reagan: A Life in Letters, "Ronald Reagan not only insisted on regularly reading a large sample of mail sent to the White House, but that he spent hundreds of hours writing replies to ordinary and distinguished citizens alike. The civil servants in the White House post office raised the alarm a few days into Reagan's first term that someone was using the President's special stationery to send out letters. They couldn't believe it was the President himself. But Reagan hand-wrote an estimated 1,000 letters during his presidency--many of them written during the period in the afternoon blocked out in his schedule as "personal time," when everyone in Washington assumed that he was taking a nap. As was so often the case with Reagan, it was the conventional wisdom that was asleep."
Wayward goes on to say, "Reagan began his letter-writing habits during his Hollywood days, when he thought it important, as well as necessary for his film career, to reply to his fan mail. He kept up this practice as he began his long transition into a person of political substance."
According to Reagan's bio on Wikipedia, " In August 1994, at the age of 83, Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, an incurable neurological disorder which destroys brain cells and ultimately causes death. In November he informed the nation through a handwritten letter..."
The letter read in part, "In closing let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."
Happy Birthday Mr. President!
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