How does this daughter of a stay-at-home mom and a small businessman dad—both committed Conservative Republicans—become the first woman to be nominated for U.S. President by the Democratic Party?
HILLARY CLINTON: THE PRIVATE YEARS
THE PRIVATE YEARS: 1947 - 1978
Hillary Diane Rodham is born in Chicago, Illinois. She learns to swim, plays baseball, and earns badges as a Brownie and a Girl Scout.
At 13 Hillary helps canvass Chicago’s South Side for Richard Nixon, Republican presidential candidate. She is active in her Methodist church youth group, where she is mentored by Don Jones in the Methodist imperative: “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, for as long as you can.”
Fourteen-year-old Hillary starts high school and sends a letter to NASA asking how she can become an astronaut (NASA writes back that women can’t be astronauts). She goes on to serve in student government, organize food drives, and become a member of the National Honor Society.
At 17, she volunteers for Republican Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign.
Hillary graduates from high school and moves on to Wellesley — a private, women’s liberal-arts college. She’s elected president of the Wellesley Young Republicans. Becomes interested in the American Civil Rights Movement.
Supports antiwar presidential hopeful, Democrat Eugene McCarthy. Is elected president of the Wellesley College Government Association. After Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Hillary organizes a 2-day student strike and works with black students to recruit more blacks as students and faculty members. In her student government role she manages to keep Wellesley from getting involved with the student disruptions common to other colleges.
Hillary interns at the House Republican Conference, and is invited to help Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s campaign for the presidential nomination. Attends the Republican National Convention in Miami and is disturbed by Richard Nixon’s portrayal of Rockefeller, and by what she sees as the convention’s veiled racist messages. She leaves the Republican Party for good.
Graduates from Wellesley with a BA and departmental honors in political science. Is the first student at Wellesley to speak at commencement exercises. Her speech immediately follows that of main speaker, Senator Brooke, and receives a standing ovation that goes on for seven minutes—partly because her speech includes some pointed criticism of Senator Brooke. As a result, Hillary is featured in Life magazine, in Illinois and New England newspapers, and appears on television.
Enters Yale Law School. Works at the Yale Child Study Center learning about new research in early child brain development. Takes on cases of child abuse at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Volunteers at New Haven Legal Services, providing free legal advice for the poor.
Hillary is awarded a grant to work at Marian Wright Edelman’s Washington Research Project where she is assigned to Senator Walter Mondale’s Subcommittee on Migratory Labor. Researches migrant workers’ problems in housing, sanitation, health and education. Is recruited by political advisor Anne Wexler to work on campaign of Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate, Joseph Duffey—Hillary’s first job in politics.
Begins dating Bill Clinton, also a Yale law student. Interns at the Oakland, California law firm of Treu, Walker and Burnstein—a firm known for its support of constitutional rights and civil liberties. Works on child custody and other cases. Bill moves in with Hillary.
Hillary and Bill campaign in Texas for Democratic presidential candidate, George McGovern.
Receives her law degree. Bill proposes, Hillary declines, not ready to tie her future to his. Begins a year of postgraduate study on children and medicine at the Yale Child Study Center. Her first scholarly article, “Children Under the Law,” is published in the Harvard Educational Review, 1973. It takes detailed positions on the new children’s rights movement. The article is often cited in the field.
Is appointed member of the Nixon impeachment inquiry staff for the House Committee on the Judiciary re the Watergate scandal. The committee’s work leads to President Nixon’s resignation. Hillary moves to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and takes a position teaching criminal law at the University of Arkansas as one of only two female faculty members. Co-founds Fayetteville’s first rape crisis center.
Marries Bill Clinton.
Co-founds Arkansas Advocates For Children and Families (AACF) — a non-profit, non-partisan, advocacy organization. Works pro bono in child advocacy. Becomes the first woman associate, and then the first woman partner at the 196-year-old Rose Law Firm.
Appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) — a non-profit corporation established and funded by Congress to provide legal aid to people who need but can’t afford a lawyer. Hillary’s tenure lasts until 1980, during which she grows LSC’s funding from $90 million to $300 million.
THE PUBLIC YEARS: 1979 - 2016
1979 - 1981, 1983 - 1992: First Lady of Arkansas
1993 - 2001: First Lady of the United States
2001 - 2009: Junior U.S. Senator from New York State (first woman Senator from New York)
2008: Runs for Democratic nominee for United States President. Loses to Barack Obama.
2009 - 2013: 67th United States Secretary of State
2016: Democratic nominee for United States President
For more information:
• Hillary Clinton
• Hillary Clinton at Wellesley College
• Hillary Clinton at Yale Law School
• Hillary Advocates for Children and Families
• Hillary as Chair of the Legal Services Corporation
• Hillary as Partner at Rose Law Firm
• Hillary "Do all the good you can!"