Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV. His father died in a car accident three months before Bill was born. His mother, Virginia Cassidy, married Roger Clinton, an automobile dealer, when Bill was seven years old. Clinton went to Georgetown University. While pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies he worked for Democratic Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War. Clinton's own opposition to the war grew as he attended hearings and clipped newspapers. Clinton won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University. During his two years at Oxford Clinton's opposition to the Vietnam War came into conflict with his political aspirations. When he received a draft notice in 1969 he enrolled in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Arkansas Law School. He made himself available for the draft but was never called up because he received a high number in the draft lottery held that year. In the fall of 1970 Clinton entered Yale Law School. While at Yale Clinton met Hillary Rodham, a Wellesley College graduate from suburban Chicago. Together they worked for George McGovern's presidential campaign in Texas during the summer and fall of 1972. The following year they graduated from law school. Clinton worked briefly in Washington, D.C., as a staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee but soon moved back to Arkansas. In 1974, Clinton entered his first political race and lost a surprisingly close race to Republican Congressman Hammerschmidt. Clinton married Hillary Rodham in 1975. In 1976 he was elected Arkansas's attorney general. In 1978 Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas, but lost again in 1980. After his defeat, Clinton worked for a law firm and in 1982 he made a succesful bid to become governor again, a post he held until he entered the White House in 1993.
On October 3, 1991, Clinton announced his presidential candidacy. His campaign was nearly ruined by charges of marital infidelity, published in tabloid newspapers, and of unethical conduct in legally avoiding the draft during the Vietnam War. The nickname "Slick Willie", given to him by an Arkansas journalist, was used by those critical of him. He survived, however, and on June 2, 1992, primary victories in six states gave him the necessary number of convention delegates. Shortly before the party convention in July Clinton chose Tennessee Senator Albert A. Gore, Jr., as his running mate. Clinton was elected president, and he took office on January 20, 1993. At the age of 46, he was one of the youngest presidents ever, and the first Democrat since the 1976 election. Clinton entered office with a wide-ranging agenda. He immediately appointed his wife to head a task force to deal with health-care reform to try to make health care available for all. By cutting federal spending, creating millions of new jobs, and reducing the deficit, he wanted to restore economic opportunity and security. And in order to make communities and schools more secure he enacted the Assault Weapons Ban as part of the Crime Bill. In foreign policy, he failed to get a European consensus for action in the Bosnian civil war. However, he did help Israel and Jordan achieve an historic peace treaty and assisted in the creation of an accord between Israel and the Palestinians. Furthermore, he contributed to the cease-fire in Northern Ireland. He was re-elected in 1996, but his second term was marred by scandal which led to his being censured in the House.