Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

42nd President, 1993-2001

Early Life and Pre-presidency

White House portrait of Bill Clinton, 1999 Courtesy William J. Clinton Presidential Library

White House portrait of Bill Clinton, 1999
Courtesy William J. Clinton Presidential Library

  • Born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946 in Hope, Arkansas.
  • Parents: William Jefferson Blythe, Jr. and Virginia Dell Cassidy. Half-brother: Roger Clinton, Jr.
  • His father died before Clinton was born and his mother remarried Roger Clinton in 1950. Clinton adopted his stepfather’s name in 1962.
  • Attended St. John’s Catholic Elementary School, Ramble Elementary School, and Hot Springs High School, graduating from there in 1964.
  • Enrolled at Georgetown University and graduated in 1968 with a degree in Foreign Service.
  • Awarded the Rhodes Scholarship in 1968 to study at the University of Oxford in England. Although he enrolled in several subjects there, he left early, without receiving a degree, to enter Yale Law School.
  • While at Oxford University, he was drafted to serve during the Vietnam War. He avoided the draft with the help of a senator and the Arkansas Governor.
  • Entered Yale Law School in 1970 and graduated in 1973.
  • Returned to Arkanasa after graduation to take a teaching job as a law professor at the University of Arkansas.
  • Ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 but lost.
  • Married Hillary Rodham (1947–) on October 11, 1975. Daughter: Chelsea Victoria (1980–).
  • Elected Attorney General of Arkansas in 1976 and served from 1977 to 1979.
  • Elected Governor of Arkansas in 1978 and served from 1979 to 1981. He lost his re-election bid in 1980, but he won again in 1982 and served from 1983 to 1992.
  • Served as Chair of the National Governors Association from 1986 to 1987.
  • Nominated by the Democratic Party as the Presidential candidate in the 1992 election, with Al Gore as his running mate. He won with 43% of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral votes.


Clinton in the Oval Office, 1994 Courtesy William J. Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton in the Oval Office, 1994
Courtesy William J. Clinton Presidential Library

  • Took his oath of office on January 20, 1993 West Front, U.S. Capitol
  • Signed the Family Medical Leave Act in February 1993. The law allowed workers to get up to three months of unpaid leave for family and medical emergencies.
  • Announced his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in July 1993, which allowed homosexuals to serve in the military but required them not to reveal their sexual orientation.
  • Signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 in August. The law laid out plans for budget deficit reductions through increases in income taxes and cuts in federal spending.
  • Presided over the meeting of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in Washington, D.C. on September 13, 1993. The two leaders signed the Israeli–Palestinian Declaration of Principles.
  • Signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on December 8, 1993. The Agreement created a free trade zone between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico by eliminating many trade barriers.
  • Signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in September 1994. The law provided for the hiring of more police officers and the expansion of the death penalty.
  • Signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) with the Presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine on December 5, 1994 in Budapest, Hungary.
  • Visited Oklahoma City after a truck bomb exploded in front of a federal building, killing 168 people in April 1995.
  • Some parts of the federal government shut down in December 1995 when Clinton and the House failed to reach an agreement on the 2002 budget. More than 250,000 federal employees were furloughed.
  • Signed the Welfare Reform Bill in August 1996 that overhauled the U.S. welfare system.
  • Ran for a second term as President in the 1996 election and won.
  • On January 20, 1998, various media outlets reported that Clinton may have had a sexual relationship with a former White House intern. Clinton denied the reports. In September, the independent Counsel Kenneth Starr revealed to Congress that he had information that could be grounds for Clinton’s impeachment.
  • On December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives filed two articles of impeachment against Clinton: perjury and obstruction of justice. On February 12, 1999, the Senate voted to acquit Clinton.
  • On September 20, 2000, the Whitewater Independent Counsel found that there was not enough evidence to link Clinton and the First Lady to the Whitewater Development Corp. controversy.


Clinton near the end of his second term as president Courtesy William J. Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton near the end of his second term as president
Courtesy William J. Clinton Presidential Library

  • Retired to Chappaqua, New York where Hillary Clinton, then a U.S. Senator, was based.
  • Established the William J. Clinton Foundation in 2001 soon after his Presidency. The Foundation works “to alleviate poverty, improve global health, strengthen economies, and protect the environment.”
  • Published his autobiography My Life in June 2004.
  • Dedicated the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 18, 2004.
  • Underwent a quadruple bypass surgery in September 2004 and had two coronary stents implanted in his heart in February 2010.
  • Appointed by then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to be the U.N. special envoy to head the relief effort for the Asian tsunami disaster in 2004. President George W. Bush also appointed Clinton and his father, George H.W. Bush, to head a private fundraising effort. The two would create the Bush–Clinton Tsunami Fund in January 2005.
  • Campaigned for his wife Hillary during the Democratic Party’s presidential primary campaign in 2008. Hillary Clinton lost the Party’s nomination to Barack Obama.
  • Traveled to North Korea in August 2009 to secure the release of two American journalists who had been imprisoned for illiegally entering the country through China. The journalists were released after being pardoned by Kim Jong-Il.
  • After the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, President Barack Obama asked Clinton and former President George W. Bush to head the fundraising efforts for Haiti’s recovery.
  • Clinton continues to travel within the U.S. and abroad to deliver keynote speeches and support the initiatives of his foundation.