“Dear Fritz – I’ve been meaning to send this to you for more than a year…”

Clinton letter

The letter from former president Bill Clinton

Among materials recently received for our Ernest F. Hollings Collection is a letter from former president Bill Clinton enclosing a copy of Hollings’ June, 1972, newsletter sent to his constituents.

Clinton, writing in August, 2005, notes “I came across it when reviewing my files for my autobiography and thought you might like to have it.  I picked it up when I was in South Carolina working for McGovern in 1972 – what you said about hunger and the importance of early childhood is as fresh and right today as it was then.  Also, I want you to know I saved the interviews you did two years ago with The State which contained all the kind things you said about me and Hillary – that meant more to me than I can say.  I miss seeing you and hope you and yours are well.  Sincerely, Bill”

Hollings article

The beginning of the 1972 newsletter article

The newsletter includes a lengthy feature, The Welfare Mess, in which Hollings lays out his thoughts gained through his immersion over the previous four years studying the issues surrounding hunger and poverty.  Hollings has pounded on this issue for decades and has always looked at the long term benefits that accrue to society if the poor receive proper prenatal care, a healthy diet, and a chance to receive an education.  He points out that with this kind of help, many will become contributing members of society.  Without, they will populate our welfare rolls and prisons.

Hollings concluded: “I don’t believe we ought to tax one man to pay another man who won’t work, and I don’t think government should make welfare more attractive than work.  But this is no reason why we can’t go to the heart of America’s welfare mess – hunger.  After giving 81,000 complete physicals in 20 states, the National Nutrition Survey found there were 15 million hardcore hungry in America.”

As always, Hollings looked for systemic solutions to our problems and was willing to invest in programs that would have major impact years down the road.


Senator Hollings meeting with President Bill Clinton at the White House

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