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William Jefferson Clinton

William Jefferson Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV on August 19th, 1946 in Hope Arkansas three months after his father, a car-parts salesman, was killed in a car crash. Seven years later his mother, Virginia Cassidy, married Roger Clinton, a car salesman, and the family moved to Hot Springs Arkansas. Life in Hot Springs was, however, not without its problems; Bill’s new father was an alcoholic who beat his wife, when he was in high school, Bill’s parents divorced but then quickly remarried. At fifteen, as a gesture to his father, Bill took his name. Despite the hardships, Clinton succeeded at Hot Springs High School and was selected to attend Georgetown University.

While at Georgetown pursuing a degree in international relations, Clinton worked for Senator William Fulbright (D) from Arkansas. Fulbright, who was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, quickly became Clinton’s mentor. After graduating from Georgetown, Clinton was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University in England. In 1969, after receiving a draft notice, Clinton enrolled in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Arkansas Law School; though, he would attend Yale Law School. At Yale Clinton met and fell in love with his future wife Hillary Rodham.

In 1974, Clinton ran on the Democratic ticket for seat of the Republican incumbent Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt. Clinton, however, lost. In 1975, he married Hillary Rodham, and the following year he was elected State Attorney General. In 1978, Clinton won the governorship with sixty-three (63) percent of the vote. However, two years later, in 1980, the same year that his first and only child Chelsea was born, he lost his reelection campaign to Republican newcomer Frank White. Never deterred, Clinton successfully regained the Governorship in 1982, a position he would hold until his election in to the presidency in 1992.

Clinton announced his candidacy for the office of the President on October 3rd, 1991. Though his campaign was immediately beset with accusations and rumors of infidelity and draft dogging, Clinton, or “Slick Willie,” as the media came to call him, won the nomination for president from the Democratic Party. For his running mate, Clinton chose the forty-four (44) year-old Senator from Tennessee, Albert A. Gore Jr. On Tuesday, November 3rd, 1992, the Democrats carried not only the White House, but the House and the Senate as well.

On January 20, 1993, Clinton and Gore took office with a wide verity of items on their agenda including: to establish universal health-care system, to draft a new crime bill, to creating millions of new jobs, and to reduce the deficit. Though most of these initiatives would never emerge from congress in their original form or at all, Clinton’s approval ratings were some of the highest in history. His approval rates would, however, suffer a significant drop when in 1998 Clinton became the only the second president in American history to be impeached.

The culmination of a five year investigation surrounding Clinton’s involvement in the White Water scandal (a land deal gone array, in which Clinton was accused of misusing his powers as Governor of Arkansas), the Star Report revealed that had misused his presidential powers in trying to cover-up an extra-marital affair that he had had with Monaca Lewinsky, a White House intern. The House found that Clinton was guilty of two of the four indictments brought against him and articles of impeachment were passed to the Senate for perjury and obstruction of justice. Though the Senate found that Clinton did not deserve to be removed from office, the impeachment stands as a stain on the record of the Clinton administration and the defining moment of his political career.

By Daniel L. Gordon
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum


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