Hillary Clinton has served as secretary of state, U.S. senator from New York, first lady of the United States, first lady of Arkansas, a practicing lawyer and law professor, and an activist. But the first thing her friends and family will tell you is that she’s never forgotten where she came from or who she’s been fighting for throughout her life.
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Hillary Rodham was born on October 26, 1947. She grew up in a middle-class home in Park Ridge, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
Her dad, Hugh, was a World War II Navy veteran—and a lifelong Republican who worked hard and wasted nothing. He ran a business where he designed, printed, and sold draperies.
Hillary, her mom, and her brothers, Hugh Jr. and Anthony, helped out in the business whenever they could.
Hillary’s mother, Dorothy, had a tough childhood—and she inspired Hillary’s lifelong commitment to helping every child live up to his or her God-given potential.
Hillary attended public schools and was a Girl Scout. She also played in a girls' softball league.
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raised a Methodist and her mom taught Sunday school. She took the teachings of the church to heart:
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
When her youth minister took Hillary to see Martin Luther King Jr. speak in Chicago, it helped spark her lifelong passion for social justice.
Fighting for children and families
After law school, Hillary could have taken a high-paying job in Washington or New York. But instead, she went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund.
She went door-to-door in New Bedford, Massachusetts, gathering stories about the lack of schooling for children with disabilities. These testimonials contributed to the passage of historic legislation that required the state to provide quality education for students with disabilities.
After serving as a lawyer for the congressional committee investigating President Nixon, Hillary moved to Arkansas, where she taught criminal law, criminal procedure, and trial advocacy and ran the legal aid clinic and prison projects.
On October 11, 1975, she married Bill in a small ceremony in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
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Hillary continued working as a lawyer at Rose Law Firm, where she was the first female associate—and soon its first female partner.
In 1977, Hillary co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, one of the state’s first child advocacy groups.
After Bill became governor of Arkansas, Hillary made it her mission as first lady to improve the state’s lagging health care and education systems.
After decades of fighting on behalf of children and families, Hillary and Bill started their own family in 1980. Their daughter, Chelsea, was named after the Joni Mitchell song “Chelsea Morning.”
Fighting for health care and human rights
Courtesy, William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Bill was elected president in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. His second inauguration was the first to be streamed on the internet.
Courtesy, William J. Clinton Presidential Library
As first lady, Hillary led the fight to provide all Americans with affordable health care.
She chaired the President’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform—and when the insurance companies and other special interests defeated that effort, Hillary kept fighting.
She worked with Republicans and Democrats to help create the successful Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the largest expansion of public health insurance coverage since the passage of Medicaid in 1965.
CHIP helped cut the uninsured rate for children in half, and today the program provides health coverage to more than 8 million kids.
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In 1995, Hillary led the U.S. delegation at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Many within the U.S. government didn’t want her to go and others wanted her to pick a less “polarizing” topic. But she was determined to speak out about human rights abuses, and her message became a rallying cry for a generation.
“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely—and the right to be heard.”
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After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Hillary went to bat to help New York City rebuild.
She helped secure $20 billion to rebuild New York and fought to provide health care for responders who got sick from working at Ground Zero.
In the Senate, Hillary worked across the aisle to expand TRICARE so that members of the Reserves and National Guard and their families could get better access to health care.
When Congress wouldn't do enough for rural areas and small towns, Hillary didn’t back down. She launched an innovative partnership in New York with eBay and local colleges to provide small businesses with tech support, microloans, and training programs to sell their goods online.
She fought to expand broadband to remote areas of the state. And she launched Farm-to-Fork to help New York farmers and producers sell their products to New York’s restaurants, schools, colleges, and universities.
In 2006, she was re-elected to the U.S. Senate with 67 percent of the vote.
In 2008, Hillary ran for president.
When she came up short, she told her supporters, “Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it.”
Fighting for equality—at home and abroad
In 2014, Hillary took on a new role: grandmother to Chelsea’s daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky. And on June 18, 2016, she welcomed her grandson, Aidan Clinton Mezvinsky, to the family. Nothing makes her prouder or happier than watching Chelsea be a mom and getting to spend time with her grandchildren.
On April 12, 2015, Hillary announced her campaign for president.
Since then, she’s been traveling across the country to hear from families about the challenges they face in their daily lives and the issues that keep them up at night. Addressing those issues will be her mission as president.
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Hillary believes that we're stronger together—and that America does best when the economy works for everyone, not just those at the top. She believes in an America where everyone counts and everyone has a role to play in building our future.
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During her first 100 days as president, she’ll work with both parties to make the boldest investment in good-paying jobs since WWII.
She’ll make debt-free college a reality for all Americans and ensure every student has access to a quality education from cradle to college, regardless of his or her background or ZIP code. And she’ll fight for policies to raise incomes and help working families get ahead—like paid leave, equal pay, and affordable child care and health care.
“We’re stronger when every family in every community knows they’re not on their own, because we’re all in this together. It really does “take a village”—to raise a child and to build a stronger future for us all…
If we stand together, if we work together, we’ll all rise together. We’ll be stronger together.”
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