On August 19, 1946, William Jefferson Clinton was born in Hope, Arkansas. He came from a fifth-generation Arkansan family. His father, William Jefferson Blythe III, died in a vehicle accident before his son was born, so Virginia Kelly named him after him. Bill’s mother left him with her parents when he was four years old while she studied to be a nurse.
Bill’s mother married Roger Clinton when he was eight years old. The family relocated to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and lived in a tiny home with no running water. Bill’s stepfather was an alcoholic, and domestic violence was a common occurrence in the household. Bill told his stepfather not to strike his mother or half-brother, Roger Jr., again when he was fifteen. “That was a dramatic event,” Clinton said in a Time magazine interview years later. Bill later changed his last name to Clinton as a teenager, despite his tumultuous relationship with his stepfather.
Clinton met then-President John F. Kennedy when he was seventeen years old. As a result, Clinton chose to pursue a political career, and in 1964, he enrolled at Georgetown University. As a college student, he was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement and the civil rights movement.
Clinton received a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Georgetown University in 1968. He was given a Rhodes scholarship, allowing him to continue his studies at Oxford University for the next two years. He began law school at Yale University in 1970. Clinton went into private practice as a lawyer in Fayetteville, Arkansas, after graduating. In addition, Clinton lectured at the University of Arkansas School of Law.
Early political career
Clinton chose to embark on the political career he had aspired to since he was a young man in 1974. He ran for Congress but was defeated in a razor-thin margin. Clinton married Hillary Rodham on October 11, 1975, after meeting her while they were both law students at Yale. Bill Clinton served as the Attorney General of Arkansas in 1976 and served in that position from 1977 to 1979.
He aspired to be the governor of Arkansas in 1978 and lost; eventually, he became the state’s youngest governor when he was elected. Clinton attempted several reforms during his first term, many of which were highly controversial, including an effort to raise the cost of driver’s licenses. He campaigned for governor again in 1980 but lost to Republican Frank White. When Clinton ran for president against White in 1982, he stated that he had learned the value of flexibility and compromise. Getting 55 percent of the vote, he was re-elected governor of Arkansas.
While governor of Arkansas, Clinton fought for education, health care, and welfare reform. He remained involved in Democratic national politics as well. In 1991, he was elected to lead the Democratic Leadership Conference after being named the most successful governor by his peers. In the same year, Clinton launched his candidacy for president in 1992.
First Presidential Term
Clinton faced stiff competition for the Democratic presidential candidacy. He was born in a tiny state that many people considered backward and undeveloped. His lack of experience in national administration, according to critics, meant he had little grasp of international affairs. Clinton, on the other hand, claimed that he could offer a new perspective to the government.
Controversies about her personal life also marred Clinton’s campaign. He was accused of having extramarital affairs and questioned his refusal to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. On the other hand, Clinton stayed in the contest and won the Democratic nomination, with Senator Albert Gore as his running mate. Clinton’s campaign focused on economic concerns, particularly unemployment and health care. Clinton was elected president in November 1992, beating both the incumbent president, Republican George Bush, and independent candidate Ross Perot.
Clinton continued to focus on economic concerns after becoming office, and interest rates and unemployment fell. He also named his wife to lead a task committee looking into national healthcare reform. He backed the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA of 1993, which merged the US, Canada, and Mexico into a single trade bloc.
Reelection, Scandal, and Impeachment
As Clinton’s first term concluded, a fresh controversy erupted. After a shady land purchase by him and his wife along the Whitewater River in Arkansas, the controversy was dubbed Whitewater. Bill Clinton was re-elected for a second term in office in 1996 and defeated his Republican opponent, Senator Robert Dole, in a landslide victory. Clinton’s second term, on the other hand, was overshadowed by Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater inquiry.
When allegations of Clinton’s romance with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern, were made public, the inquiry grew more serious. Clinton first denied the affair but subsequently admitted to having had an improper connection with Lewinsky. The House of Representatives decided on December 19, 1998, to impeach Clinton or trial him in Congress for lying under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. After that, the Senate held an impeachment trial. Clinton was just the second president in US history to face impeachment proceedings in the Senate. Clinton was declared not guilty by the Senate on February 12, 1999. He expressed regret to the American people and Congress for his actions.
Second Presidential Term
On June 5, 2000, Clinton became the first American president to address Russia’s Duma or lower house of parliament. He stated in his address that Russians should not be afraid of America’s missile defense program and that their future is crucial to the twenty-first century. Later that month, he signed a long-awaited e-signatures bill into law, granting online “electronic” signatures the same legal significance as handwritten signatures.
On September 20, 2000, the Whitewater inquiry ended with a declaration that there was insufficient evidence to show that Clinton and his wife were involved in any criminal activity.
Stepping out of the oval office
Clinton officially confessed that he submitted false evidence in the Monica Lewinsky inquiry on January 19, 2001, his final day as president. Although he was not charged criminally, his legal license was revoked. Clinton was also forced to pay a $25,000 fine and admit to violating one of the Arkansas Bar’s conduct standards.
Clinton continues to raise funds for and advocate for a variety of causes. Small-company growth, City Year, and research and education for acquired immune deficiency syndrome are numerous reasons he spends time and money.
Despite the scandals and problems that plagued the second part of his administration, Clinton remains an active public figure who supports various global concerns and causes. He has gone a long way from his tiny Arkansas boyhood home to become the youngest president since John F. Kennedy.