Anyone who has watched international and US news over the last 25 years has likely heard of Hillary Clinton. She is the former First Lady of the United States, an ex-Senator from New York, and was Secretary of State under the Obama Administration.
Considered a powerful figure in the Democratic Party, and once even a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton is cemented in the American political landscape. And yet there is so much more to this maverick of modern politics, much of which may be forgotten when you consider her illustrious career in public office.
So here are 27 interesting facts about Hillary Clinton that will demonstrate just how incredible her journey has been.
Interesting Facts about Hillary Clinton: Early Life and Political Interests
Hillary’s entire life is marked by activism. She was clearly a hard worker, whether in school or in the various organizations she joined.
Hillary was born on October 26, 1947. Her mother, Dorothy Howell Rodham was a homemaker, and her father, Hugh Ellsworth Rodham owned a small business in the textile trade. Hillary’s first job was working in her dad’s textile factory.
She is the eldest of three siblings and has two brothers: Hugh E. Jr and Anthony. Incidentally, Hillary’s full name is Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.
Hillary’s college life is impressive to look back upon, if only for how hard she worked. In the course of her college years, she worked several jobs, as well as excelled at her studies.
Among the surprisingly unusual jobs she took on was a stint in a fish canning factory all the way north in Valdez, Canada (from which she was fired for protesting the quality of product).
“The jobs I had when I was just starting out might not have taught me the finer points of foreign policy,” she wrote in an article for Glassdoor, “but they did a lot to shape the person I am today.”
It may not seem all that surprising today to learn that 14-year-old Hillary had ambitions way beyond what was expected of her. Even as a child, she pushed barriers, wittingly or not.
When she was 14 in 1961, she wrote a letter to NASA, asking what they could advise someone who wanted to pursue the possibility of becoming an astronaut. NASA’s reply was somewhat blunt. They declared that they did not accept any applications from women who wanted to become astronauts.
In her memoir, she explains that she was “infuriated” by this reply. In some way, this may have further inspired Hillary to push into avenues once thought not possible for women. Of course, much has changed in the space program since then.
This may come as a shock, but Hillary’s early activist days were spent as a young Republican. In 1964 — when she was about 17 — she campaigned for a Republican candidate for President, Barry Goldwater. Just four years later, she had had a change of political view and became a Democrat.
The rest, as they say, is history, and today she remains an influential member of the party.
Hillary graduated from Yale in 1973 with a Juris Doctor degree. That is a pre-law degree designed for those who had no prior legal experience. It is the first step to becoming a practicing lawyer in most states.
As a post-grad, she was a practicing staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund, a body that advocates for government policy around children’s rights and basic needs.
Hillary attended Wellesley College, a prestigious institution that boasts illustrious graduates like Madeleine Albright, Nora Ephron, and Diane Sawyer. She studied political science — that would no doubt come in handy. In 1969, Hillary made history when she became the first student to deliver the commencement speech at the college.
It didn’t go without incident, either. The speaker preceding Rodham was Republican Senator Edward W. Brook. Some of his comments didn’t sit that well with the young Democrat, and she ditched a portion of her prepared speech to address his remarks directly.
That speech was widely reported, propelling the young Rodham to some level of public interest — perhaps it was also a sign of things to come.
Even as a high-schooler, Hillary’s social interests were evident. She was a volunteer with a group that babysat the children of migrant laborers. She went on to establish the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and participated or contributed to several other such movements.
Hillary credits her mother’s personal resolve as inspiration — apparently, Dorothy had been abandoned by her own mother when very young.
Hillary was also a contributing attorney in the case to impeach President Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal. She worked for the Special Counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives, John Doar.
As the records would have it, Hillary Clinton is connected to three of the only four Presidents in the entire history of the US government to have faced impeachment (or the threat of it). Nixon resigned before he was impeached. But Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, was famously impeached. Famously, Hillary ran for President and lost to Donald Trump, who faced possible impeachment during his term in office.
The only other president to face impeachment outside of those three is Andrew Johnson (1865 to 1869), who was charged with abuses of power. He was acquitted. Johnson succeeded Abraham Lincoln after that president’s assassination.
National Law Journal reports on issues of legal interest across the nation, standing as a reference to the legal sector. While she was still a lawyer, Hillary was noted in the journal as one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.
Remarkably, she was named on the list twice — in 1988 and again in 1991. Bear in mind this was before she took office in various capacities in national government. However, at the time, she was the spouse of the governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton. She was still practicing law at this time.
Hillary Clinton was the chairperson for the Task Force on Health Care Reform and helped to create the 1993 Health Security Act. Although she wasn’t a senator in 1993 when the initial Bill was drafted, she was assisted by Senators Edward Kennedy and Orrin Hatch, who sponsored the Bill. Sadly, it didn’t pass.
But it was not the end for the idea. This would eventually lay the foundation for what is today known as the Affordable Health Care Act under President Obama.
Hillary was seen as a major proponent of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. The law opened the way for states to fund programs that helped victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and other criminal behavior.
The following year she was also directly involved in the establishment of the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice. Another area in which Hillary spoke out was sexual assault in the military. She also proposed that contraception be made available to women in the military as standard.
Hilary’s work reached beyond US borders. Later, as Secretary of State, she helped create the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. This was a program to protect women and promote gender equality in conflict zones and countries. The program also addresses the trafficking of women and children.
When Hillary Clinton became the First Lady of the US, she became the first to also have been the First Lady of Arkansas. Husband Bill was also the first (and so far only) Governor of Arkansas to become the President of the United States.
Many commentators love to joke that First Ladies seldom do much beyond being figureheads for campaigns and social programs. But by now, you may have picked up that Hillary has a passion for her work, and that reflected during her time as FLOTUS.
She was the first spouse of an American president to have their own office in the West Wing of the White House. The office ran alongside that of the president’s senior staff. Traditionally, First Ladies have offices in the East Wing of the White House.
When her tenure as First Lady was over, many would have expected Hillary to retire from public life as most presidents and their spouses do. But Hillary had other plans.
In November of 2000 — around the time that President Bill Clinton’s term came to an end, Hillary was elected as a Senator from New York. She became the first former First Lady to also become a senator.
In fact, for a brief period, she held both titles: She officially took senate office on January 03 and served as First Lady until January 20, 2001.
During his first term, President Bill Clinton asked Hillary to head up a task group around health reform.
Hillary’s term as a US Senator is no less impressive than any other period in her career.
As a US Senator, one is expected to select committees on which to serve to help guide policy and oversight. The Senator from New York served on many notable committees.
Among them; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Armed Services; Budget; Environment and Public Works, just to name a few.
Hillary was noted for her activity when pushing for the START agreement to be ratified. Among other clauses, the START agreement limits both the US and Russia to 1550 active warheads and 800 missiles and bombers.
The treaty is notable because it scaled back US armaments significantly and barely affected Russia, which was not yet at those thresholds when it came to arms.
With Senator Mike DeWine, Hillary supported the Pediatric Research Equity Act. This is significant legislation that forces drug companies to add a particular aspect to their research in development.
Generally speaking, drug companies would be forced to also declare research on how their drugs affected children. They would need to disclose warnings on their labels as well. It was seen to lower the risks of overdosing, especially with regard to children with chronic diseases and medication.
Hillary was a senator for New York at the time of the September 11 attacks. Along with Chuck Schumer, she drove the motions to acquire federal aid to help rebuild the city after the devastation of that fateful day.
She helped secure $21 billion from the federal government and wrote the legal document to help secure assistance for the first responders’ health care coverage. The Bill took a while to pass but was well in motion by the time Senator Kirsten Gillibrand finally announced that it was good to go.
In a bi-partisan achievement that seems rare these days, Hillary worked alongside Republicans to secure military benefits for reservists and members of the National Guard. Wounded veterans also benefit from the work, as they get more leave from service to spend with family.
Under the Obama administration, Hillary played a key role in opening up the Chinese-US trade relationship. The new relationship provided US companies with a brand new market to explore.
In the 1990s, Hillary had already encouraged businesses to look to China for potential opportunities. When initial efforts to liberalize trade failed under President Clinton, Hillary personally traveled to Davos and addressed business leaders there.
“The American business community made a very limited effort on behalf of the fast track,” she told them, “left the field completely clear to the rather unusual alliance between the right of the Republican party which is isolationist, anti-American engagement, quite critical and not supportive of the United Nations, IMF or any multilateral group, and the left of the Democratic party that believes that trade authority, and trade agreements, are not in the interests of American workers.”
That said, China remains a thorny issue for all administrations.
Colombia, Panama, and South Korea were the other countries to develop better relations with the US with Hillary as Secretary of State. Korea, in particular, invited US imports of nearly $10 billion.
Hillary was a key figure in the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Accord negotiations. The agreement was a general commitment to limiting the global temperature increase caused by industry.
An additional clause in the agreement stated that developed nations would pay $100 billion a year to developing countries that were worst affected by climate change.
Hillary supported and pushed for sanctions on Iran in 2010 over disagreements around their nuclear program. The sanctions involved cutting Iran’s oil exports, which led to a major economic recession.
Eventually, an agreement was reached in 2015, whereby Iran agreed not to pursue building a nuclear weapon. Clinton, as Secretary of State, was a key figure in the negotiations and eventual resolution — even though a solution only came after she left office.
Even the seemingly trivial aspects of Hillary’s life are fascinating.
The Chicago native is a proud Cubs fan, and makes no secret of that, despite living in New York and Arkansas for much of her life. She also happens to like mystery novels and chocolate.
Hillary had noted that she hadn’t driven a car in more than 20 years by the time she started preparing for her presidential campaign. In part, the high-security life of a First Lady and official of state might have made that difficult. Yet, it seems amusingly uncharacteristic for a person who has shown incredible independence and ability throughout her life.
Hillary has the distinction of being the most traveled Secretary of State of all time. Her Wellesley College fellow, Madeleine Albright, held the previous record. Hillary managed to set foot in 112 different countries during a four-year stint as the SoS.
Many Americans hoped that Hillary would become the first female US president. Based on her life achievements, it wouldn’t be out of place on her resume. Whatever one’s opinion on her political views, there’s no denying that Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton has led a life of achievement and can be considered an icon of modern politics.