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Hillary Rodham Clinton

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First Ladies of the United States

Picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton


[William J. Clinton]

Biography: Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived at the White House after serving as First Lady of Arkansas for 12 years. During that time she had managed many roles: wife, mother, and homemaker; full-time partner in a law firm; and chairwoman of an education committee that set public school standards in Arkansas. On many occasions Hillary Clinton has spoken about the need "to find the right balance in our lives." For her, the elements of that balance are family, work, and public service.

Hillary Diane Rodham was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 26, 1947, daughter of Hugh and Dorothy Rodham. Her father owned a fabric store, and her mother was a full-time mother and homemaker. Mrs. Rodham encouraged Hillary to go to college and pursue a profession, even though she had never done so herself.

Hillary and her younger brothers, Hugh and Tony, grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois, as a close-knit family. Her brothers played football, while Hillary enjoyed tennis, swimming, ballet, softball, volleyball, and skating. An excellent student, she was also a Girl Scout and a member of the local Methodist youth group.

She entered Wellesley College in 1965. Graduating with honors, she moved on to Yale Law School, where she served on the Board of Editors of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action. While at Yale she developed her concern for protecting the interests of children and families. It was there, too, that she met Bill Clinton, a fellow student.

In 1973 Hillary became a staff attorney for the Children's Defense Fund. A year later she was recruited by the Impeachment Inquiry staff of the judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. Hillary left Washington and "followed her heart to Arkansas," marrying Bill Clinton in 1975. The couple taught together on the law faculty of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Their daughter, Chelsea, was born in 1980.

In Arkansas, Hillary worked tirelessly on behalf of children and families. She founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and served on the board of the Arkansas Children's Hospital. In addition to serving as chairwoman of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee, she introduced a pioneering program called the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters. It soon became a model for other states. The program sent teachers into the homes of underprivileged families to train parents to work with their children in school preparedness and literacy. In recognition of her professional and personal accomplishments, Hillary was named Arkansas' Woman of the Year in 1983 and its Young Mother of the Year in 1984.

Like her predecessors, Hillary Rodham Clinton brings her own special talents to the role of First Lady. Since her arrival at the White House, Mrs. Clinton has taken delight in using it as a showcase for the performing arts, American cuisine, and crafts. The President appointed her to head his Task Force on National Health Care Reform, one of his highest priorities on taking office. As the President remarked: "We have a First Lady of many talents ... who most of all can bring people together around complex and difficult issues to hammer out consensus and get things done."

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1953 - Present,
Mrs. Eisenhower - Mrs. Clinton

Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

Claudia Taylor (Lady Bird) Johnson

Patricia Ryan Nixon

Elizabeth Bloomer Ford

Rosalynn Smith Carter

Nancy Davis Reagan

Barbara Pierce Bush

Hillary Rodham Clinton