Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton served as the First Lady of the United States to the 42nd President, Bill Clinton. She went on to become a U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator from New York. In the 2008 election, Clinton was a leading candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
During the 1992 presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton observed, “Our lives are a mixture of different roles. Most of us are doing the best we can to find whatever the right balance is . . . For me, that balance is family, work, and service.”
Hillary Diane Rodham, Dorothy and Hugh Rodham’s first child, was born on October 26, 1947. Two brothers, Hugh and Tony, soon followed. Hillary’s childhood in Park Ridge, Illinois, was happy and disciplined. She loved sports and her church, and was a member of the National Honor Society, and a student leader. Her parents encouraged her to study hard and to pursue any career that interested her.
As an undergraduate at Wellesley College, Hillary mixed academic excellence with school government. Speaking at graduation, she said, “The challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible.”
In 1969, Hillary entered Yale Law School, where she served on the Board of Editors of Yale Law Review and Social Action, interned with children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman, and met Bill Clinton. The President often recalls how they met in the library when she strode up to him and said, “If you’re going to keep staring at me, I might as well introduce myself.” The two were soon inseparable–partners in moot court, political campaigns, and matters of the heart.
After graduation, Hillary advised the Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge and joined the impeachment inquiry staff advising the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. After completing those responsibilities, she “followed her heart to Arkansas,” where Bill had begun his political career.
They married in 1975. She joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas Law School in 1975 and the Rose Law Firm in 1976. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, and Bill Clinton became governor of Arkansas. Their daughter, Chelsea, was born in 1980.
Hillary served as Arkansas’s First Lady for 12 years, balancing family, law, and public service. She chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Legal Services, and the Children’s Defense Fund.
As the nation’s First Lady, Hillary continued to balance public service with private life. Her active role began in 1993 when the President asked her to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. She continued to be a leading advocate for expanding health insurance coverage, ensuring children are properly immunized, and raising public awareness of health issues. She wrote a weekly newspaper column entitled “Talking It Over,” which focused on her experiences as First Lady and her observations of women, children, and families she has met around the world. Her 1996 book It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us was a best seller, and she received a Grammy Award for her recording of it.
As First Lady, her public involvement with many activities sometimes led to controversy. Undeterred by critics, Hillary won many admirers for her staunch support for women around the world and her commitment to children’s issues.
Hillary Clinton was elected United States Senator from New York on November 7, 2000. She is the first First Lady elected to the United States Senate and the first woman elected statewide in New York.
Hillary Clinton served as U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.
The biographies of the First Ladies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The First Ladies of the United States of America,” by Allida Black. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association.
Learn more about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s spouse, William J. Clinton.