Bill Clinton Middle Name
Bill Clinton was born on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas. In 1975, he married Hillary Rodham.
The following year, he was elected attorney general of Arkansas, and in 1978 he became the youngest governor in the country.
Elected U.S. president in 1992, Clinton enacted such legislation as the Family and Medical Leave Act and oversaw two terms of economic prosperity. He was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998 following the revelation of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, but was acquitted by the Senate in 1999.
Since leaving office, Clinton has remained on the global stage by working with the Clinton Foundation and campaigning for his wife, Hillary Clinton, who ran for U.S. president in the 2008 and 2016 elections.
His Early Life
William Jefferson Clinton, better known as Bill Clinton, was born on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas, a small town with a population of about 8,000. His father, William Jefferson Blythe, had died in a car crash three months before Clinton was born, leaving him in the care of his mother, Virginia Cassidy Blythe.
To provide for her son, Virginia moved to New Orleans, Louisiana to study anesthesiology, while Clinton stayed with his grandparents, Eldridge and Edith Cassidy. While opposites in many ways—Eldridge was easygoing and Edith the disciplinarian—both lavished attention on the young boy, instilling in him the importance of a good education. “My grandparents had a lot to do with my early commitment to learning,” Clinton later recalled. “They taught me to count and read. I was reading little books when I was 3.”
Clinton’s mother returned to Arkansas with her nursing degree in 1950. Later that year she married an automobile salesman named Roger Clinton, who soon moved the family back to his hometown of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Although neither his parents nor his grandparents were religious, Clinton became a devoted Baptist from a very young age. On Sunday mornings, he woke himself up, put on his best dress clothes and walked the mile to Park Place Baptist Church to attend services alone.
Throughout his childhood, Clinton grew increasingly disturbed by his stepfather’s drinking and abusive behavior toward his mother and younger half-brother. At the age of 14, already standing more than 6 feet tall, Clinton finally snapped. He told his stepfather, “If you want them, you’ll have to go through me.” The abuse stopped but the drinking continued, and the tension persisted at home even after Roger and Virginia’s 1962 divorce and subsequent reconciliation.
Clinton attended Hot Springs High School, a segregated all-white school, where he was a stellar student and a star saxophonist for the school band. The principal of Hot Springs High, Johnnie Mae Mackey, placed a special emphasis on producing students devoted to public service, and she developed a strong bond with the smart and politically inclined Clinton.
In late spring 1963, Clinton attended Boys State, an American Legion program designed to introduce students to government service. He was elected an Arkansas representative to Boys Nation in Washington, D.C., earning him an invitation to meet President John F. Kennedy at the White House Rose Garden. A photograph of the young Bill Clinton shaking hands with President Kennedy has become an iconic image symbolizing a passing of the baton between generations of modern Democratic leadership. On the same trip, Clinton met another of his political heroes, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee J. William Fulbright.
Upon graduating from high school in 1964, Clinton enrolled at Georgetown University to study international affairs. He immediately thrust himself into university politics, serving as the president of his freshman and sophomore classes, though he lost the election for student body president as a junior. The political hopeful also began working as a clerk for the Foreign Relations Committee under Senator Fulbright, one of Congress’s most outspoken critics of the Vietnam War. Clinton came to share Fulbright’s view that the war was both immoral and contrary to the country’s best interests.
Prior to graduating from Georgetown in 1968, Clinton won a highly prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study for two years at Oxford University. However, in the spring of 1969, Clinton received his draft notice and was forced to return to Arkansas. Clinton avoided military service by enrolling in the ROTC program at the University of Arkansas Law School, but instead of attending law school that fall, he returned to Oxford (and later claimed he had permission to do so). Feeling guilty about his decision to avoid the draft, Clinton resubmitted his name to the draft board, but he received a high enough lottery number to assure that he would not have to serve in Vietnam.
Clinton returned to the U.S. in 1970 to matriculate at Yale Law School. The following spring, he met a bright young Wellesley College graduate named Hillary Rodham, who shared his political ambitions. The pair graduated from Yale in 1973 and married two years later in 1975. They had their only child, a daughter named Chelsea, in 1980.
Early Political Career and Arkansas Governor
After graduating from Yale, the Clintons moved to Arkansas, where Bill began teaching at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville and thrust himself into politics. In 1974, he challenged Republican incumbent John Paul Hammerschmidt for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Clinton lost the race, but it was closer than expected, and the campaign marked him as a rising star of the Arkansas Democratic Party. Two years later, Clinton was elected state attorney general, and then in 1978, at the age of 32, he easily defeated Republican Lynn Lowe to become the youngest governor in the country.