First Ladies: Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Hillary Clinton is the only First Lady to make her own bid for president and serve in other official cabinet positions.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Diane Rodham was born on October 26, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the daughter of Hugh Ellsworth and Dorothy Emma Howell Rodham.

Growing up she was involved as a Brownie and Girl Scout. In High School, she was selected for the National Honor Society and elected class vice president in her senior year.

In 1965, she enrolled at Wellesley College and served as president of the Wellesley Young Republicans. By her junior year at Wellesley she had become a Democrat. She graduated from the school in 1969.

She then went to Yale Law School. She began taking her first steps in politics as she researched issues, helped campaign and worked as an intern.

In late spring of 1971, she began dating a fellow classmate, Bill Clinton. She graduated in 1973 and stayed to be with Clinton, but turned down his initial proposal.

She began her postgraduate study, working as a staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund and advising the House Committee during the Watergate Scandal.

Hillary Clinton

She followed Clinton to Arkansas and taught law at the University of Arkansas.

On October 11, 1975, she married Bill Clinton. She initially stated she would maintain her maiden name.

In 1977, Rodham co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a state-level alliance with the Children’s Defense Fund. That same year, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the board of directors of the Legal Services Corporation.

In 1979, she became First Lady of Arkansas. In 1979, Rodham became the first woman to be made a full partner of Rose Law Firm.

In early 1980, she had their only child, a daughter, Chelsea. In 1982, when her husband was re-elected Governor of Arkansas, she began using the name Hillary Clinton.

She was named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983 and Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984.

She served on numerous boards during her years in Arkansas.

Hillary Clinton

In 1992, she helped her husband campaign for the presidency. The couple appeared together on a 60 Minutes special.

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.

In January 1993, President Clinton named Hillary to chair a Task Force on National Health Care Reform, hoping to replicate the success she had in leading the effort for Arkansas education reform.

Hillary Clinton

As First Lady of the United States, Clinton published a weekly syndicated newspaper column titled “Talking It Over” from 1995 to 2000. It focused on her experiences and those of women, children, and families she met during her travels around the world.

Clinton was a force behind the passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997, helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice, initiated the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and worked on numerous other issues and causes.

She and her husband were part of several investigations, including the Whitewater conotroversy, which focused on a variety of political and personal affairs during their time in Arkansas.

When reports of her husband’s affairs broke she remained publically strong and supportive, but was said to privately be angry and considering leaving the marriage. Eventually she decided to stay. In her 2003 memoir, she would attribute her decision to stay married to “a love that has persisted for decades” and add: “No one understands me better and no one can make me laugh the way Bill does. Even after all these years, he is still the most interesting, energizing and fully alive person I have ever met.”

Clinton initiated and was the founding chair of the Save America’s Treasures program, a national effort that matched federal funds to private donations to preserve and restore historic items and sites.

Hillary Clinton

On January 3, 2001, she was sworn in as Senator from the state of New York. She was sworn in as U.S. senator on January 3, 2001, making her the only woman to have held an elected office either while, or after, serving as first lady.

On January 20, 2001, her husband left the presidency after two terms.

While senator, Clinton served on five Senate committees. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Clinton sought to obtain funding for the recovery efforts in New York City and security improvements in her state.

In 2006, she was elected to a second Senate term.

In 2007, she announced would run for the presidency. In the caucus, she began to come in behind Barack Obama. She eventually endorsed Obama.

In 2009, she was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State in the Obama administration. She resigned from the senate later that day. She

Hillary Clinton

became the first former first lady to serve in the United States Cabinet.

In December 2012, she was hospitalized for a blood clot but later doctors said she made a full recovery.

While Secretary of State, she visited 112 countries, making her the most widely traveled secretary of state. When President Obama won re-election she indicated she was not interested in serving a second term. Her last day as Secretary of State was February 1, 2013.

On September 11, 2012, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked, resulting in the deaths of the U.S. Ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans. The attack, questions surrounding the security of the U.S. consulate, and the varying explanations given afterward by administration officials for what had happened became politically controversial in the U.S. On October 15, Clinton took responsibility for the question of security lapses and said the differing explanations were due to the inevitable fog of war confusion after such events. She would testify on her conduct.

Hillary Clinton

When Clinton left the State Department, she became a private citizen for the first time in thirty years. She and her daughter joined her husband as named members of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation in 2013. There she focused on early childhood development efforts, including an initiative called Too Small to Fail.

A controversy arose in March 2015, when it was revealed by the State Department’s inspector general that Clinton had exclusively used personal email accounts on a non-government, privately maintained server—instead of email accounts maintained on federal government servers—when conducting official business during her tenure as secretary of state. Some experts, officials, members of Congress, and political opponents contended that her use of private messaging system software and a private server violated State Department protocols and procedures and federal laws and regulations governing record keeping requirements. The controversy occurred against the backdrop of Clinton’s 2016 presidential election campaign and hearings held by the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Hillary Clinton has published several memoirs about her time in office.

Hillary Clinton

On April 12, 2015, Clinton formally announced her candidacy for the presidency in the 2016 election. That same month she resigned from the board of her foundation.

Clinton won the nomination from the Democratic National Convention and held the lead for a long time, but lost the election to Donald Trump. She was the first female to gain a national convention nomination and if elected would have been the first female President of the United States.

Clinton has been a trailblazer for women and in the world of politics. She has been a First Lady that stood side by side with her husband instead of solely serving as his comforter, supporter and protector.