Dear Mr. President

2010 March 31
by Ellen Noonan

envelope addressed to President ObamaAt more than one workshop with teachers, we have used letters written by Americans to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to illuminate the successes and limitations of New Deal programs and the ways that the events of the 1930s prompted a fundamental change in the relationship between citizens and their government. The letters are notable for the personal connection their authors so evidently feel with FDR. I speculated that President Obama was engendering a similarly personal connection with many people, and this article from today’s Washington Post confirms that hunch. From it I learned that Obama reads ten pieces of mail per day, and he has specifically requested that they be representative rather than universally laudatory. The article details the procedures by which 20,000 pieces of mail (snail and electronic) are processed and profiles one letter writer whose missive was included in the president’s nightly selection.

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