How Chelsea Clinton's Childhood Letter To President Ronald Reagan Led To A New White House Policy

Do you remember what you were doing when you were five years old? I know I was most definitely was not trying to make the world a better place.

I was stealing Laughing Cow cheese triangles from the fridge, and throwing fits for being forced to go to piano lessons.

Unlike me, at the age of five, Chelsea Clinton, the only child of former U.S. president Bill Clinton and presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, knew to speak up when something didn't seem right.

The Clintons

In 1985, a few years before her father took over the Oval Office, Chelsea penned a letter to then president Ronald Reagan about an important issue that many kids her age wouldn't even understand.

Except for her family and those who received the letter at the White House, no one knew that Chelsea wrote to the president.

It wasn't until 2016, when she was delivering a speech at an NYC fundraiser for her mother that she finally shared the story as well as the contents of the letter.

The story recently went viral after she recounted it during an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

The Clintons
Larry Downing/Sygma Corbis

In 1985, it was announced that the president would be making a visit to the Bitburg war cemetery, where German Nazi soldiers were buried.

Chelsea told host James Corden that as soon she learned about Ronald's controversial plans, she sent him a note urging him not to go.

She wrote: "I have seen the Sound of Music, the Nazi's don't look like very nice people. Please don't go to their cemetery. Sincerely, Chelsea Clinton."

Chelsea recalled decorating the special letter with a heart and rainbow stickers "for goodwill."

She previously said that she "Went to the mailbox literally every day for two months," hoping to get a reply from the White House, but nothing came.

Journal Times

Despite all the criticism, the president followed through with his visit in May 1985 as part of the 40th anniversary of the end of the World War II.

"These [SS troops] were the villains, as we know, that conducted the persecutions and all. But there are 2,000 graves there, and most of those, the average age is about 18," the 40th president said in his defense.

"I think that there's nothing wrong with visiting that cemetery where those young men are victims of Nazism also, even though they were fighting in the German uniform, drafted into service to carry out the hateful wishes of the Nazis. They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."

In an attempt to please those who opposed his visit, a stop at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was added to the itinerary.

Chelsea admitted that not only was it disappointing to see that the president visit the cemetery, it was also "devastating" that she never received a response for her letter.

Teen Vogue

Seeing how much the lack of reply affected her, when her father became president, he came up with a great solution.

"When my dad won the election in '92 and we were talking about moving to Washington and how everything is going to change my parents asked me what I wanted and I said, "˜I want every kid to get a response to any letter that they write to the White House, whether it's the president, the first lady, anyone,'" Chelsea said in 2016.

In 1993, Bill introduced a new policy and unit at the White House that guarantees a response to correspondence sent by a child.

The former First Child revealed that the policy was in place throughout George W. Bush and Barack Obama's terms, but she's unsure if the special children's correspondence unit is still functioning under President Donald Trump.

Chelsea Clinton

Now, Chelsea is no longer sad about the lack of response from the president's office because she has been able to find comfort in knowing that hundreds of thousands of children have had their voices heard and acknowledged.

After hearing her story, people were so impressed by Chelsea's inspiring actions at such a young age, and they took to social media to express their appreciation for what she did.

"I LOVE the whole write back to kids thing u started in the WH, Chelsea!!" Twitter user @hellobutifuls wrote. "That was so great of u!!  Ur family obviously cares about people!! U got me very curious wondering if it's still going on today??"

Chelsea, now 38, is still an activist who sticks up for young people whenever the opportunity arises.

The Hill

When an article published by The Daily Caller criticized 11-year-old Barron Trump for the way he dresses, Chelsea was among those who came to his defense.

Writer Ford Springer said Barron's outfit isn't "normal" and adds "the least he could do is dress the part when he steps out in public."

Chelsea, who moved into the White House when she was only 12, sent out a tweet saying that "it's high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves."

She then added that "no child should be talked about in the below manner-in real life or online. And for an adult to do so? For shame."


Mere months later, the former president's daughter was once again forced to post another similar tweet after negative media reports about Obama's eldest daughter Malia surfaced online.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Malia Obama's private life, as a young woman, a college student, a private citizen, should not be your clickbait. Be better," she wrote.

Chelsea is also an active advocate for child literacy.

In 2015, She appeared in a video alongside Sesame Street's Elmo about to promote reading to young children.

As of 2017, she has published two children's books, It's Your World" Get Informed, Get Inspired and Get Going! and the bestseller She Persisted.

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.