President: Bill Clinton
Preceded by: Barbara Bush
Succeeded by: Laura Bush
Born: Hillary Diane Rodham
October 26, 1947
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Spouse(s): Bill Clinton (m. 1975)
Children: Chelsea Clinton
Father: Hugh Rodham
Mother: Dorothy Howell
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (born October 26, 1947) is an American politician, diplomat, lawyer, writer, and public speaker. She served as the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, U.S. Senator from New Yorkfrom 2001 to 2009, 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, and as the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2016 election.
Born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, Clinton graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 and earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1973. After serving as a congressional legal counsel, she moved to Arkansas and married Bill Clinton in 1975; the two had met at Yale. In 1977, she co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. She was appointed the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978, and became the first female partner at Little Rock's Rose Law Firm the following year. As First Lady of Arkansas, she led a task force whose recommendations helped reform Arkansas's public schools.
As First Lady of the United States, Clinton was an advocate for gender equality and healthcare reform. Her marital relationship came under public scrutiny during the Lewinsky scandal, which led her to issue a statement that reaffirmed her commitment to the marriage. In 2000, Clinton was elected as the first female Senator from New York. She was reelected to the Senate in 2006. Running for president in 2008, she won far more delegates than any previous female candidate, but lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. During her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State in the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2013, Clinton responded to the Arab Spring by advocating military intervention in Libya. She helped to organize a diplomatic isolation and international sanctions regime against Iran, in an effort to force curtailment of that country's nuclear program; this would eventually lead to the multinational Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement in 2015. Upon leaving her Cabinet position after Obama's first term, she wrote her fifth book and undertook speaking engagements.
Clinton made a second presidential run in 2016. She received the most votes and primary delegates in the 2016 Democratic primaries, and formally accepted her party's nomination for President of the United States on July 28, 2016 with vice presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine. She became the first female candidate to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.
She lost the presidential election to Republican opponent Donald Trump in the Electoral College, despite winning a plurality of the popular vote. She received more than 65 million votes, the 3rd-highest count in a U.S. presidential election, behind Obama's victories in 2008 and 2012. Following her loss, she wrote her third memoir, What Happened, and launched Onward Together, a political action organization dedicated to fundraising for progressive political groups
Hillary Diane Rodham was born on October 26, 1947, at Edgewater Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. She was raised in a United Methodist family that first lived in Chicago. When she was three years old, her family moved to the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. Her father, Hugh Rodham, was of English and Welsh descent, and managed a small but successful textile business, which he had founded. Her mother, Dorothy Howell, was a homemaker of Dutch, English, French Canadian (from Quebec), Scottish and Welsh descent. Clinton has two younger brothers, Hugh and Tony.
As a child, Rodham was a favorite student among her teachers at the public schools that she attended in Park Ridge. She participated in swimming and softball and earned numerous badges as a Brownie and a Girl Scout. She has often told a story of being inspired by U.S. efforts during the Space Race and sending a letter to NASA around 1961 asking what she could do to become an astronaut, only to be informed that women were not being accepted into the program. She attended Maine East High School, where she participated in the student council, the school newspaper and was selected for the National Honor Society. She was elected class vice president for her junior year, but then lost the election for class president for her senior year against two boys, one of whom told her that "you are really stupid if you think a girl can be elected president". For her senior year, she and other students were transferred to the then new Maine South High School, where she was a National Merit Finalist and was voted, "most likely to succeed". She graduated in 1965 in the top five percent of her class.
Rodham's early political development was shaped most by her high school history teacher (like her father, a fervent anti-communist), who introduced her to Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative and by her Methodistyouth minister (like her mother, concerned with issues of social justice), with whom she saw and afterwards briefly met, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. at a 1962 speech in Chicago's Orchestra Hall.
First Lady of the United States (1993–2001)
When Bill Clinton took office as president in January 1993, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the First Lady, and her press secretary reiterated that she would be using that form of her name. She was the first inaugural First Lady to have earned a postgraduate degree and to have her own professional career up to the time of entering the White House. She was also the first to have an office in the West Wing of the White House in addition to the usual first lady offices in the East Wing. She was part of the innermost circle vetting appointments to the new administration and her choices filled at least eleven top-level positions and dozens more lower-level ones. After Eleanor Roosevelt, Clinton was regarded as the most openly empowered presidential wife in American history.
Some critics called it inappropriate for the first lady to play a central role in matters of public policy. Supporters pointed out that Clinton's role in policy was no different from that of other White House advisors and that voters had been well aware that she would play an active role in her husband's presidency. Bill Clinton's campaign promise of "two for the price of one" led opponents to refer derisively to the Clintons as "co-presidents" or sometimes use the Arkansas label "Billary". The pressures of conflicting ideas about the role of a first lady were enough to send Hillary Clinton into "imaginary discussions" with the also-politically-active Eleanor Roosevelt. From the time she came to Washington, Hillary also found refuge in a prayer group of the Fellowship that featured many wives of conservative Washington figures. Triggered in part by the death of her father in April 1993, she publicly sought to find a synthesis of Methodist teachings, liberal religious political philosophy and Tikkun editor Michael Lerner's "politics of meaning" to overcome what she saw as America's "sleeping sickness of the soul"; that would lead to a willingness "to remold society by redefining what it means to be a human being in the twentieth century, moving into a new millennium."
Health care and other policy initiatives
Failing to gather enough support for a floor vote in either the House or the Senate (although Democrats controlled both chambers), the proposal was abandoned in September 1994. Clinton later acknowledged in her memoir that her political inexperience partly contributed to the defeat, but cited many other factors. The First Lady's approval ratings, which had generally been in the high-50s percent range during her first year, fell to 44 percent in April 1994 and 35 percent by September 1994.
Republicans made the Clinton health care plan a major campaign issue of the 1994 midterm elections. Republicans saw a net gain of 53 seats in the House election and seven in the Senate election, winning control of both; many analysts and pollsters found the plan to be a major factor in the Democrats' defeat, especially among independent voters. The White House subsequently sought to downplay Clinton's role in shaping policy. Opponents of universal health care would continue to use "Hillarycare" as a pejorative label for similar plans by others.
Along with Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch, Clinton was a force behind the passage of the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997, a federal bill that gave state support to children whose parents could not provide them health coverage and conducted outreach efforts on behalf of enrolling children in the program once it became law. She promoted nationwide immunization against childhood diseases and encouraged older women to get a mammogramfor breast cancer screening, with coverage provided by Medicare. She successfully sought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institutes of Health. The First Lady worked to investigate reports of an illness that affected veterans of the Gulf War, which became known as the Gulf War syndrome.
Enactment of welfare reform was a major goal of Bill Clinton's presidency, but when the first two bills on the issue came from a Republican-controlled Congress that lacked protections for people coming off welfare, Hillary urged him to veto the bills, which he did. A third version came up during his 1996 general election campaign that restored some of the protections but cut the scope of benefits in other areas; critics, including her past mentor Edelman, urged her to get the president to veto it again. But she decided to support the bill, which became the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, as the best political compromise available. This caused a rift with Edelman that Hillary later called "sad and painful".
Together with Attorney General Janet Reno, Clinton helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice. In 1997, she initiated and shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which she regarded as her greatest accomplishment as first lady. In 1999, she was instrumental in the passage of the Foster Care Independence Act, which doubled federal monies for teenagers aging out of foster care. As first lady, Clinton was the host for various White House conferences, including ones on Child Care (1997), on Early Childhood Development and Learning (1997), and on Children and Adolescents (2000). She also hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Teenagers (2000) and the first-ever White House Conference on Philanthropy (1999).
Clinton traveled to 79 countries during this time, breaking the mark for most-traveled first lady held by Pat Nixon. She did not hold a security clearance or attend National Security Council meetings, but played a role in U.S. diplomacy attaining its objectives. A March 1995 five-nation trip to South Asia, on behest of the U.S. State Department and without her husband, sought to improve relations with India and Pakistan. Clinton was troubled by the plight of women she encountered, but found a warm response from the people of the countries she visited and gained a better relationship with the American press corps. The trip was a transformative experience for her and presaged her eventual career in diplomacy.
In a September 1995 speech before the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, Clinton argued forcefully against practices that abused women around the world and in the People's Republic of China itself, declaring that "it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights". Delegates from over 180 countries heard her say: "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, once and for all." In doing so, she resisted both internal administration and Chinese pressure to soften her remarks. The speech became a key moment in the empowerment of women and years later women around the world would recite Clinton's key phrases. During the late 1990s, she was one of the most prominent international figures to speak out against the treatment of Afghan women by the Taliban. She helped create Vital Voices, an international initiative sponsored by the U.S. to encourage the participation of women in the political processes of their countries. It and Clinton's own visits encouraged women to make themselves heard in the Northern Ireland peace process.
Clinton initiated and was the founding chair of Save America's Treasures, a nationwide effort matching federal funds with private donations in order to preserve and restore historic items and sites, including the flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the First Ladies Historic Site in Canton, Ohio. She was head of the White House Millennium Council and hosted Millennium Evenings, a series of lectures that discussed futures studies, one of which became the first live simultaneous webcast from the White House. Clinton also created the first White House Sculpture Garden, located in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, which displayed large contemporary American works of art loaned from museums.
In the White House, Clinton placed donated handicrafts of contemporary American artisans, such as pottery and glassware, on rotating display in the state rooms. She oversaw the restoration of the Blue Room to be historically authentic to the period of James Monroe and the Map Room to how it looked during World War II. Working with Arkansas interior decorator Kaki Hockersmith over an eight-year period, she oversaw extensive, privately funded redecoration efforts around the building, often trying to make it look brighter. These included changing the look of the Treaty Room, a presidential study, to along 19th century lines. Overall the redecoration brought mixed notices, with Victorian furnishings for the Lincoln Sitting Room being criticized the most. Clinton hosted many large-scale events at the White House, including a state dinner for visiting Chinese dignitaries, a New Year's Eve celebration at the turn of the 21st century and a state dinner honoring the bicentennial of the White House in November 2000.