60 Facts About Bill Clinton That You Should Know

Last updated on May 30th, 2020

Bill Clinton served as the 42nd president of the most powerful nation on the planet–the United States of America. He earned the nickname “Comeback Kid” after he was re-elected as the governor of Arkansas for the second time in 1982, even after having been defeated by Republican Frank D. White in the previous election of 1980. With these 60 facts about Bill Clinton, let us learn more about his personal life, presidency and life after presidency.

Early Life, Family, Education

1. William Jefferson Blythe III was born in Hope, Arkansas, on August 19, 1946, to William Jefferson Blythe Jr. and Virginia Cassidy Blythe. It would not be until his mother remarried when he was in high school that the future president would take his stepfather’s name of Clinton.

2. His biological father was a heavy equipment salesman who died tragically in a car accident while on his way from Chicago to Arkansas three months before Bill Clinton would be born.

Bill Clinton in 2006

3. Virginia Blythe married Roger Clinton in 1950. Roger was a car dealer and a violent alcoholic. At times Bill was forced to stand up to him in an attempt to protect his younger brother and mother. Bill took the last name Clinton in high school so that he and his half-brother would share their name.

4. When his mother remarried, they moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Bill excelled in all things academic. He was known as a rare talent in his community for his intelligence and creativity.

Hot Springs, hometown of Bill Clinton.

5. In high school, he played the saxophone quite well and considered becoming a musician professionally before turning to politics.

6. Virginia Clinton divorced Roger Clinton when Bill was fifteen years old, but the separation did not last long, and she quickly remarried Rodger.

7. When he was sixteen years old, he was chosen to go on a trip to D.C., where he had the opportunity to shake hands with President John F. Kennedy. Later in life, Bill Clinton would state that this moment had a profound effect on him and his political aspirations.

8. He had a younger half-brother named Roger Clinton Jr.

9. Later in life, Roger Clinton Jr. would go on to be arrested multiple times for several charges, including selling cocaine, drunk driving, and disorderly conduct. His behavior would be used against Bill Clinton by his rivals during the running for the White House.

10. In 1964, Clinton attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C, where he studied international affairs.

11. He paid for his college tuition with scholarships and by working a part-time job. During his junior year, he worked as a clerk for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was headed by a senator from Arkansas.

12. During his time working for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he began to agree with the opinion of Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, who believed America should have no involvement in the Vietnam War.

13. He participated in the student government and was voted president of his freshman and sophomore years, thanks to his charm and popularity. While he did run for his junior year, he did not succeed in gaining the position as class president at that time.

14. Clinton graduated in 1968, at which point he was granted a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University.

15. Clinton was in England on his Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University when he got news of the draft. He returned to America and was able to postpone his draft to the fall before returning to England though he never completed his degree at Oxford.

16. While in England, he participated in multiple anti-war demonstrations. These would come to light later on during his run for the Presidency. He was able to dodge the draft and even wrote a letter of thanks to the Arkansas ROTC for not drafting him.

17. He started law school at Yale University in 1970 and graduated with a degree in 1973. After this, he moved back to Arkansas to begin his political career.

Early Career, Governorship of Arkansas, Marriage, Alleged affairs

18. In 1970 Clinton worked for the U.S. Senate campaign of Joe Duffy from Connecticut. Then near the end of his time at Yale University, he worked for the Texas democratic nominee George McGovern. Before graduating, he had gained significant political experience.

19. Once he graduated from college, Clinton moved back to Arkansas and began working as a teacher in 1973 at the University of Arkansas School of Law.

20. In 1974 he ran for a seat on the U.S. House of Representatives. He failed as a close second to Republican John Paul Hammerschmidt. Far from being discouraged, he kept running for different offices and was voted state attorney general for Arkansas two years later.

Bill and Hillary Clinton at Madame Tussaud's New York.
Bill and Hillary Clinton at Madame Tussaud’s New York.

21. Clinton met and began dating Hillary Rodham during his time at Yale University. They got married on October 11, 1975, in a quint brick out that he had bought for her as a gift.

22. For his entire political career, Bill Clinton ran under the Democratic party.

23. Clinton won the election for Arkansas Attorney General in 1976.

24. When he was 32 years old, Clinton ran for governor of Arkansas and won. He was known as the “Boy Governor” when he won election in 1978 at the age of just 32. He failed to be immediately re-elected. He was able to regain the public’s trust and retook his spot as governor in the next term. 

25. He successfully held the title of governor of Arkansas for five terms in 1982 until 1992. This helped to boost his political career even further, and he began eyeing the presidency as a viable option.

26. Clinton’s only child, his daughter Chelsea Victoria Clinton, was born February 27, 1980, during his first term as governor of Arkansas. Her name was inspired by Joni Mitchell’s classic song “Chelsea Morning.” She would go on to become NBC correspondent and member of her mother’s 2016 presidential campaign.

27. Clinton was always a supporter of equality, and during his time as governor of Arkansas, he appointed more African Americans to state boards and agencies than all of the preceding Arkansas governors combined. He also focused on welfare reforms and affirmative action during his time in office.

28. He focused on education during his time as governor and began testing programs for third, sixth, and eighth grades. He also raised the salaries of teachers in his state.

29. He began his run for president while still being the governor. During the primaries, there was a brief scandal that nearly sidelined his entire campaign. An alleged affair with a woman was brought to the attention of the media. It was alleged that he had been participating in a twelve-year relationship with Gennifer Flowers.

30. For a brief period when Clinton was running with Tennessee Senator Albert Gore Jr., both the White House and Congress were controlled by the same party. This brief synchronicity only lasted until 1994 when the Republicans won the houses of Congress.

Five Presidents, President George W. Bush, President Elect Barack Obama, Former Presidents George H W Bush, Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter, Standing.
Five Presidents, President George W. Bush, President Elect Barack Obama, Former Presidents George H W Bush, Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter, Standing.

Presidency, Political accomplishments, Impeachment

31. Clinton was voted into the Presidency in 1992 and was sworn in on January 20, 1993, as the 42nd President of America. He would be re-elected in 1996, making him the first Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt (1936) to win two terms. (President Barack Obama repeated the task in 2012.)

32. Democrat Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. was Clinton’s vice president making him the 45th vice president of the United States. Gore’s father was a Tennessee Senator.

33. Clinton was the first baby-boomer President. The duo of Al Gore and Bill Clinton were the youngest running mates ever to make it into the White House. They brought with them new ideas about policies and gave the seat a fresh perspective.

34. Several notable accomplishments during his time as President include completely obliterating the budget deficit to create a surplus. This was caused by a tax increase that Clinton pushed through during his first year. It fell almost entirely on the upper-income class of taxpayers.

35. To help improve the relationship between Vietnam and the United States, Clinton visited the country in 2000. He was the first U.S. President to travel there since the Vietnam War began.

36. He signed into law the e-signature bill that allowed electronic signatures to be as legally valid as handwritten signatures.

37. Clinton also worked very hard to ensure that environmental regulations were strengthened.

38. He signed into law on November 30, 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which requires a waiting period of at least five days for handgun sales and a background check for anyone wishing to purchase a handgun.

39. Clinton also was responsible for accomplishing the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement on December 8, 1993, which turned Canada, America, and Mexico into a single trading unit.

40. Several other notable bills created during his term as President was the bill that created a 0.08 blood-alcohol limit for drivers. He also gave China normal trading status.

41. Clinton traveled extensively to work towards fostering peace and goodwill with other countries, including Russia, Africa, South America, Europe, and China.

42. Clinton was elected to his second term as President of the United States on November 5, 1996.

43. On November 13, 1998, Clinton paid an $850,000 settlement against a woman who alleged that he sexually assaulted her earlier in his political career.

44. In 1998 Bill Clinton was impeached for an alleged affair with a young female staffer in the White House. He made a lot of positive changes globally during his Presidency, but the media routinely only mentions this affair when his term is mentioned. It created a shadow over the entire White House for a period.

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