Bill Clinton Biography

42nd President of the United States

Years Served as President: 1993-2001

Vice President: Al Gore

Party: Democrat

Bill Clinton facts

Age at Inauguration: 46

Home State: Arkansas

Date of Birth: August 19, 1946

Married: Hillary Rodham

Children: Chelsea

Nickname: Comeback Kid

seal-of-arkansas

What is Bill Clinton known for?

Bill Clinton is known for being impeached while president and for his marriage to Hillary Rodham Clinton, a politician who also ran for president.

He’s also known for leading the country during one of its longest periods of prosperity and peace.

pay and money

Early Life

William “Bill” Clinton was born in Hope, Arkansas in 1946. Bill’s birth name was William Jefferson Blythe II.

His father, William Jefferson Blythe Jr., had died in a car accident three months before Bill was born.

His mother, Virginia Blythe, was eventually remarried to Roger Clinton, a car dealer. The family moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Bill’s brother Roger was born.

escaping-car

Bill eventually adopted his stepfather’s last name.

Growing up, Bill was an excellent student and musician. He was especially talented at playing the saxophone. He also developed an early interest in politics.

He graduated from Hot Springs High School in 1964, then enrolled at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

There, Clinton majored in international affairs and was involved in student government.

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Before graduating from Georgetown, Clinton won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England for two years.

After that, he attended Yale University, where he got his law degree.

Bill Hillary Chelsea Clinton

Family Life

While he was at Yale, Clinton met his future wife, a fellow law student named Hillary Rodham. Bill and Hillary married in 1975 and moved back to his home state of Arkansas.

The couple eventually had one daughter, Chelsea. They were very serious about keeping Chelsea out of the public eye. She was a strong student who went on to graduate from Stanford University.

Chelsea Clinton speaking

Political Career

Clinton began his involvement in politics while attending Georgetown and Yale.

He worked as a clerk for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he later managed a U.S. Senate campaign and a campaign for a Democratic presidential nominee.

After moving back to Arkansas, he taught law at the University of Arkansas and became more deeply involved in politics.

practicing lawyer

He ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974, losing to Republican John Paul Hammerschmidt.

However, it was the closest race for Hammerschmidt during his 26 years in the House. It marked Clinton as a rising political star.

Two years later, Clinton was elected the attorney general of Arkansas, then the state’s governor in 1978. At just 32, he was one of the youngest governors in history.

voting process

His first term as governor wasn’t very successful, and Clinton lost the next election. He worked at a law office while determinedly preparing to run for governor again.

After a strong campaign, Clinton was re-elected governor in 1982, and he remained the governor of Arkansas for the next ten years. He earned the nickname “Comeback Kid.”

In 1992, Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination. He ran against President George H.W. Bush and won, becoming the president of the United States.

George H.W. Bush portrait
George H.W. Bush

Presidency

First Term

As president, Clinton passed the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Violence Against Women Act. He also passed laws related to education, crime, gun violence, welfare reform, and the environment.

He appointed women and minorities to important positions. These included Janet Reno, the first female U.S. attorney general, Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female Supreme Court justice in history.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg official portrait
Ruth Bader Ginsburg – official portrait

Clinton also proposed universal health insurance for all Americans. However, the idea was controversial, and Congress did not act on it.

He signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), making trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States easier.

Clinton took action to reduce the federal budget deficit too. The economy began to do extremely well during Clinton’s presidency.

budget and taxes

Second Term

In 1996, Clinton won the presidential election again, defeating Republican Bob Dole.

During his second term, the economy continued to improve. In 1998, the U.S. achieved its first federal budget surplus in 30 years.

unemployment

Unemployment was low, and Clinton’s presidency also saw the rise of the Internet, leading to a major technology boom.

Clinton helped establish peace in Northern Ireland in 1998 and in Kosovo in 1999. In 2000, Clinton signed a trade agreement with China.

China facts

Scandal

However, Clinton’s second term was marked by scandal. He was accused of lying in court to hide information that he didn’t want people to know about.

Lying in court is called perjury, and it’s a serious offense. The U.S. House of Representatives impeached Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice.

This would have meant an early end to Clinton’s presidency, but the U.S. Senate disagreed and voted for Clinton to remain in office.

US Senate and Congress

After the Presidency

Since leaving office, Clinton has stayed involved in politics and public life. He started the William J. Clinton Foundation to fight against disease, poverty, and other issues worldwide.

He also opened the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. He wrote a bestselling autobiography, My Life.

In 2008, he helped his wife Hillary campaign for president. She lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama.

When Obama became president, he named her secretary of state.

presidential-cabinet

Fun Facts About Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was the first U.S. president born after the end of World War II.

Ever since he was a child, Bill Clinton’s mother had told him that he would become the president of the United States.

presidential elections

She lived to see her prediction come true before dying of cancer in 1994, one year after Clinton’s inauguration.

In 1963, Clinton was sent to Washington, D.C. as one of two Arkansas delegates to Boy’s Nation, a youth political convention.

JFK White House portrait
President John F. Kennedy

While he was there, 17-year-old Clinton posed for a historic photo shaking the hand of his idol, President John F. Kennedy.

Clinton’s victory in the 1996 election was the first time a Democrat was elected to a second term since Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940’s.

Clinton was the second president to be impeached. The first, Andrew Johnson, was also later acquitted.

Andrew Johnson picture
President Andrew Johnson

When Hillary became a Senator in 2001, it was the first time a U.S. president had ever been married to a U.S. senator.

US Presidents