“Work is about more than making a living, as vital as that is. It’s fundamental to human dignity, to our sense of self-worth as useful, independent, free people.”
Bill Clinton was interested in politics from the time he was very young. In high school, he campaigned for so many class offices that his high school teacher said he couldn’t run for anymore. Clinton was an honors student and a talented saxophone player who loved jazz.
While Clinton seemed happy and successful at school, things at home weren’t so rosy. Clinton’s father, William Jefferson Blythe IV, died in a car accident shortly before Clinton’s birth. His mother, Virginia, sent young Bill to her parent’s home while she went to nursing school to gain a career. Later, she married Roger Clinton, who adopted Bill. Roger was an alcoholic. Bill stood up to Roger when he abused Virginia.
- Bill Clinton, our 42nd President, was born in Hope, Arkansas August 19, 1946.
- As a high schooler, Clinton traveled to Washington D.C. for a national high school conference. There he met his hero, President Kennedy. Clinton was determined to run for President one day.
- Clinton attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C. where he majored in political science. He later won a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Oxford University in England for two years. He earned a law degree from Yale.
- Clinton met Hillary Rodham Clinton at Yale. They were married in 1975 and have one child, Chelsea.
- Clinton taught at the University of Arkansas Law School and was elected state attorney general in 1976, just three years after he graduated from law school.
- In 1978, at age thirty-two, he became governor of Arkansas. He served two non-consecutive terms.
- In 1993, he became U.S. President. As President, Clinton appointed more minorities and women to administrative positions than ever before. He enjoyed talking to people from all walks of life.
- He signed a bill calling for stricter gun laws, as well as a bill allowing families to take time off from work to care for newborn children.
- Clinton balanced the budget, once at a $290 billion deficit, and expanded programs to protect the environment.
- Clinton wasn’t perfect though. His Cabinet and administrative staff was comprised of young, inexperienced people who didn’t know how to work with Congress. The White House was often disorganized. He was in constant conflict with Republicans who thought he should make deeper tax and spending cuts.
- Clinton loves food. During his time in the White House, he consumed hefty portions of enchiladas, tacos, mango ice cream, and fast food. The White House chefs started serving fresh fruit instead of rich desserts.
- Clinton’s second term in office was marked by a scandal over Clinton’s personal life. Clinton lied about an affair he had with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. The House of Representatives charged him with perjury (lying under oath) and tried to have him impeached. The Senate acquitted him.
Questions and Answers
Question: What role did Hilary Clinton play as First Lady?
Answer: Hilary Clinton may be our country’s most independent and ambitious First Lady. During Clinton’s presidency, she worked to reform health care. She won a seat in the Senate during Clinton’s final year in the White House. Hilary later became Secretary of State, under President Obama, and is seeking the 2016 Presidential nomination.
Visit the Clinton Foundation to learn more about President Clinton.