During the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, the U.S.
enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its
history. He was the first Democratic president since Franklin D.
Roosevelt to win a second term. He could point to the lowest unemployment
rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest
home ownership in the country's history, dropping crime rates in
many places, and reduced welfare rolls. He proposed the first balanced
budget in decades and achieved a budget surplus. As part of a plan
to celebrate the millennium in 2000, Clinton called for a great
national initiative to end racial discrimination.
After the failure in his second year of a huge program of health
care reform, Clinton shifted emphasis, declaring "the era of
big government is over." He sought legislation to upgrade education,
to protect jobs of parents who must care for sick children, to restrict
handgun sales, and to strengthen environmental rules.
President Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III on August
19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas, three months after his father died
in a traffic accident. When he was four years old, his mother wed
Roger Clinton, of Hot Springs, Arkansas. In high school, he took
the family name.
He excelled as a student and as a saxophone player and once considered
becoming a professional musician. As a delegate to Boys Nation while
in high school, he met President John Kennedy in the White House
Rose Garden. The encounter led him to enter a life of public service.
Clinton was graduated from Georgetown University and in 1968 won
a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. He received a law degree
from Yale University in 1973, and entered politics in Arkansas.
He was defeated in his campaign for Congress in Arkansas's Third
District in 1974. The next year he married Hillary Rodham, a graduate
of Wellesley College and Yale Law School. In 1980, Chelsea, their
only child, was born.
Clinton was elected Arkansas Attorney General in 1976, and won the
governorship in 1978. After losing a bid for a second term, he regained
the office four years later, and served until he defeated incumbent
George Bush and third party candidate Ross Perot in the 1992 presidential
Clinton and his running mate, Tennessee's Senator Albert Gore Jr.,
then 44, represented a new generation in American political leadership.
For the first time in 12 years both the White House and Congress
were held by the same party. But that political edge was brief;
the Republicans won both houses of Congress in 1994.
In 1998, as a result of issues surrounding personal indiscretions
with a young woman White House intern, Clinton was the second U.S.
president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He was
tried in the Senate and found not guilty of the charges brought
against him. He apologized to the nation for his actions and continued
to have unprecedented popular approval ratings for his job as president.
In the world, he successfully dispatched peace keeping forces to
war-torn Bosnia and bombed Iraq when Saddam Hussein stopped United
Nations inspections for evidence of nuclear, chemical, and biological
weapons. He became a global proponent for an expanded NATO, more
open international trade, and a worldwide campaign against drug
trafficking. He drew huge crowds when he traveled through South
America, Europe, Russia, Africa, and China, advocating U.S. style