He was one of the most popular American presidents of the 20th century. He was also just the second president in American history to be impeached in the United States House of Representatives. He is Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States.
William Jefferson Clinton was born in 1946 in the small town of Hope, Arkansas. Bill never knew his father, who was killed in a car accident before he was born. After Bill’s mother remarried, Bill took the last name of his stepfather.
In school, Clinton earned good grades and was a popular student. He was elected to several positions in student government. He played tenor saxophone in his school band.
As a teenager, Clinton met President John F. Kennedy. That meeting inspired Clinton to go into politics.
COLLEGE AND MARRIAGE
After high school, Clinton went to Georgetown University. He was elected class president during his first two years at college. Later, Clinton attended Yale Law School, where he met fellow student Hillary Rodham.
Several years after graduating from law school, Bill and Hillary were married. The couple had one child, a daughter named Chelsea.
CLINTON ENTERS POLITICS
In 1974, Clinton ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Arkansas. Clinton ran as a candidate of the Democratic Party. He narrowly lost the election. Clinton went on to win election as Arkansas’s attorney general in 1976.
In 1978, Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas. As governor, he worked to improve schools and the state’s economy. He also supported tougher laws to protect consumers and the environment.
Clinton was elected governor five times in all. At the start of his fifth term, he said he had done all he promised in Arkansas. Next, he hoped to become president of the United States.
CLINTON BECOMES PRESIDENT
Clinton won the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for the presidency in 1992. Clinton picked his own running mate, Al Gore, who won the party’s nomination for vice president.
In the 1992 presidential election, Clinton ran against Republican president George H. W. Bush and businessman Ross Perot. Clinton won a close race. At the age of 46, he was the third youngest person to become president. Only Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were younger.
WHAT DID CLINTON DO AS PRESIDENT?
When Clinton took office, the government had a huge budget deficit. This meant it was spending far more money than it took in. Clinton reduced government spending and ended the deficit. By the time Clinton stepped down, the country had a big surplus, or extra money.
Clinton strongly supported equal rights for women and for African Americans and other minorities. He appointed more women and minorities to high government offices than any other president.
Clinton signed a law that let workers take 12 weeks off from work to deal with family concerns, such as illness. He also had a plan to provide health insurance to all Americans. But the Congress of the United States voted this plan down.
Clinton pushed for laws that made it easier for America to trade goods with other countries. He supported the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Countries in the WTO meet to work out trade problems.
CLINTON AND OTHER COUNTRIES
While Clinton was president, the biggest problems outside the United States arose in Europe. The world’s biggest country, the Soviet Union, had just fallen apart. New countries were forming in Eastern Europe—the lands it once controlled. Small, but bitter, wars were flaring up there.
Under Clinton, the United States joined with other countries to control this violence. In 1995, they called for peace talks that ended a civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In 1999, the United States and its allies in Europe bombed Serbia. They stopped Serbia’s government from attacking an ethnic minority in the country. They arrested Serbia’s ruler, Slobodan Milosevic.
CLINTON UNDER INVESTIGATION
In the late 1970s, the Clintons profited from a real estate deal called Whitewater. Some people believed the Clintons had broken the law in this deal. The U.S. Congress appointed a lawyer called a special prosecutor to investigate the president.
The special prosecutor found nothing illegal in the Whitewater deal. But he discovered that Clinton had been unfaithful to his wife. When asked about this affair, Clinton lied to the prosecutor. Angry critics said Clinton should be removed from office for lying under oath and other crimes.
Next, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton. This meant that members of the House officially accused Clinton of committing serious crimes. Clinton became just the second American president to be impeached, after Andrew Johnson in 1868.
Clinton’s impeachment trial then went to the Senate. But the Senate voted to reject the charges brought by the House against Clinton. This allowed Clinton to remain in office.
AFTER THE PRESIDENCY
Clinton left the presidency in 2000 after two terms in office and retired to private life. He moved with his wife to Chappaqua, New York. Hillary was elected to represent New York state in the U.S. Senate in November 2000.