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 in Chicago on October 26, 1947, and raised in suburban Park Ridge, Illinois. Life for the Rodhams was comfortable, centered in family, friends, school, and the Methodist church. Hillary’s parents expected her to study hard, and she was a student leader in high school. After a youth minister took her to hear Martin Luther King Jr. speak in Chicago, she began to have a wider view of the world.
As an undergraduate at Wellesley College, Hillary combined academic excellence with service in student government. Speaking at graduation, she told her classmates, “The challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible.” She enrolled in Yale Law School, where she served on the Board of Editors of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action, interned with children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman, and met William Jefferson Clinton.
After graduation, Hillary Rodham advised the Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge and joined the impeachment inquiry staff advising the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. Then 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, and in 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the board of the Legal Services Corporation. Bill Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas, and in 1980 their daughter, Chelsea, was born. For twelve years, as Arkansas’s ﬁrst lady, Hillary balanced family, law, and public service. Then Bill was elected president.
As the nation’s ﬁrst lady, Mrs. Clinton chaired the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. Never before had a ﬁrst lady been so directly involved in public policy. She led the fight to pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program; worked to increase funding for research and treatment of cancer, AIDS, osteoporosis, and juvenile diabetes; chaired Save America’s Treasures; and supported gun control efforts. She wrote two best-selling books and won a Grammy award for her recording of It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us.
In 2000 Hillary was elected senator from New York, and her work in health, education, aging, and the environment gained her national reputation in her own right. In 2007 she ran for president. After a hard-fought primary she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama but quickly supported his candidacy. When he was elected, he named her secretary of state. For four years Hillary traveled the world on behalf of U.S. interests.
In 2015 Hillary Clinton launched her second presidential campaign and in July 2016 became the first woman in American history to receive the presidential nomination of a major political party. That fall, she received more than 65 million votes but ultimately lost the Electoral Collect to Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.
You Might Also Like
Podcast Conversations from History Happy Hour
In this first episode of 2021, White House Historical Association President Stewart D. McLaurin introduces the Association’s popular virtual program Hi...
Podcast Fearless Leadership: A Conversation with Jean Case
Fearless leaders have walked the halls of White House for centuries. In this episode, White House Historical Association President Stewart...
Collection The Presidents
Biographies & Portraits
Collection The First Ladies
Biographies & Portraits
Podcast Entertaining at the White House
From diplomatic dinners to holiday gatherings, the White House has always played a central role in the nation’s official en...
Collection Women and the White House
While there has yet to be a female president, women have played an integral role in shaping the White House...
Collection Animal Ambassadors
Animals, whether pampered household pets, working livestock, birds, squirrels, or strays, have long been a major part of White House...
Collection Cherry Blossoms
Since the first cherry blossom planting in 1912 by First Lady Helen Herron Taft, Washingtonians have celebrated the scenic beauty and...
The First Ladies Symposium Schedule
May 6, 2021This program will be virtual9:00-9:15amWelcome and Overview Jill Biden, First Lady of the United StatesAnita McBride, Director...
The Decorative Arts in the White House Symposium Scholarly Contributors
James Archer AbbottJames Archer Abbott currently serves as the Executive Director of the Lewes Historical Society in Lewes, Delaware. A...
Articles & Publications
Since joining the White House Historical Association in 2014, Stewart McLaurin has had been published a number of times. Topics range...
The First Ladies Symposium Contributors
Jill BidenJill Tracy Jacobs Biden was born on June 3, 1951, in Hammonton, New Jersey. Growing up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, she...