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Hillary Clinton: A Woman of Many Firsts


Hillary Rodham Clinton once had a job sliming fish. Indeed, the woman considered the Democratic front-runner for the White House spent a summer in Alaska, washing dishes and sliming fish.


Hillary Clinton

“During a visit to Alaska when I was First Lady, I joked to an audience that of all the jobs I’ve had, sliming fish was pretty good preparation for life in Washington,” Clinton said in her autobiography, “Living History.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

From attorney and children’s advocate to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, her career history hasn’t been dull, and President of the United States could be next on the list.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Attorney and Children’s Advocate

Clinton, 59, grew up in Park Ridge, Ill., a Chicago suburb; her mother was a home-maker while her father owned a drapery fabric business and a print plant. Politically she began as a Republican, supporting Barry Goldwater for president in the 1964 race.

She graduated high school in 1965 and headed east to Wellesley College, majoring in political science. It was at Wellesley that her Republican roots gave way to Democratic leanings, and in 1969 she gave the first student commencement speech in the school’s history.

In the fall of 1969 she entered Yale Law School, where she did child advocacy work and met Bill Clinton, possibly the strongest influencer of her career and, as she explained in her book, “the person who would cause my life to spin in directions that I could never have imagined.”

On graduating from Yale in 1973, Hillary worked as a staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge, Mass. In 1974 she went to work for the House Judiciary Committee on the Watergate impeachment inquiry that led to President Nixon’s resignation. Clinton has defined the impeachment job as “one of the most intense and significant experiences of my life.”

After Nixon resigned, she headed south, to be near Bill Clinton and teach at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville. Hillary married Bill Clinton in October 1975, and joined the Rose Law Firm in 1976, specializing in intellectual property. She became First Lady of Arkansas in 1979, serving in that role until 1981, and again from 1983-1992; she also continued practicing law at the Rose firm and advocating for children.

Bill Clinton won the White House in 1992, sending Hillary’s career in a new direction as she returned to Washington.

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first First Lady with a post-graduate degree, a professional career and an office in the West Wing. President Clinton named her chair of the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, where she spearheaded a universal healthcare plan that failed to gather enough support for a floor vote in Congress.

Child advocacy remained a theme for Hillary, as she hosted White House Conferences on children and adolescents and initiated the Children’s Health Insurance Program. She also worked for women’s rights, helping launch the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and Vital Voices, an international program to encourage women’s involvement in politics.

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

When she sought a U.S. Senate seat from New York in the 2000 election, Hillary became the first First Lady to run for elected office. Initially she was to run against then-Mayor of New York City, Republican Rudy Giuliani, who dropped out of the race due to prostate cancer.

She won the seat as Junior Senator from New York and was re-elected in 2006.

Sen. Clinton has introduced a bill to tie congressional-salary raises to minimum-wage raises-because, according to her 2008 campaign Web site, “she believes if America’s working people don’t deserve a raise, neither does Congress.”

She has supported tax cuts for the middle class and helped pass legislation aimed at creating jobs in struggling areas.

Responding to the Supreme Court’s late-May decision setting a 180-day timeline for workers’ claims of pay discrimination, Clinton announced plans to introduce legislation to expand the timeframe.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, her net worth is between $10 million and $50 million, ranking her as the 14th richest among all members of the Senate.

In January she announced plans to become a candidate for president, saying, “I’m in. And I’m in to win.” Her leading opponent in the Republican camp is Rudy Giuliani (see related story here).

The Life and Times of Hillary Rodham Clinton

1947 – born in Chicago
1964 – supports Barry Goldwater, Republican candidate for president
1965 – graduates Maine South High School; heads for Wellesley College, where she switches political affiliations and becomes a Democrat
1969 – graduates from Wellesley College; enters Yale Law School, where she meets future husband, Bill Clinton
1973 – graduates from Yale
1974 – works for the House Judiciary Committee on the Watergate impeachment inquiry that leads to President Nixon’s resignation; heads to Arkansas after Nixon resigns, to be near Bill Clinton and teach at the University of Arkansas School of Law
1975 – marries Bill Clinton
1976-1992 – serves as attorney at the Rose Law Firm
1979-1981; 1983-1992 – First Lady of Arkansas
1993-2000 – First Lady of the United States
2000 – elected U.S. Senator from New York
2006 – re-elected for second Senate term
2007 – announces plans to run for president in the 2008 election

This report is based on a compilation of facts and background from the following sources:

Hillary Rodham Clinton (

Hillary for President Web site

“Living History,” by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Congressional Quarterly’s Politics in America Profile

To Avoid Conflicts, Clintons Liquidate Holdings (The New York Times)

Hillary Rodham Clinton, personal financial disclosures (Center for Responsive Politics)

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