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Study Notes

Bill Clinton

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Bill Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States serving from 1992 to 2000. He oversaw changes to the US Military, attempted healthcare reform, but his presidency was ultimately overshadowed by the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment.

Prior to the Presidency:

After graduating from Law School, Clinton took up a post as a law professor at the University of Arkansas. His first run for election was for the House of Representatives Clinton lost after running in a Republican district.

His first elected posted was as the Attorney General for Arkansas in an election without opposition. After being Attorney General for two years he was elected as Governor of Arkansas at the age of 32. This made him the youngest governor in the country. Whilst as governor he lead on educational reform and on infrastructure in Arkansas. His tenure as Governor had several policy areas which made him unpopular in the state including the tax on cars and the escape of Cuban refugees. Clinton was beaten in the 1980 election by Frank White.

Clinton became the 42nd Governor of Arkansas two years later when he won the 1982 election. He was governor for 10 years through to his election to the Presidency in 1992.


Clinton’s presidency is perhaps best remembered for the failed impeachment of Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and the failed attempts at healthcare reform. Despite this Clinton did significant work on the North American Free Trade Agreement, welfare reform and conservative fiscal policy ensuring a budget surplus.

During his first term, Clinton attempted to achieve universal healthcare coverage for Americans. He appointed Hillary Clinton to spearhead the effort to achieve this goal. However, the proposals were opposed by Republicans, the American Medical Association and those in the insurance industry. Clinton made some progress on gun control when he introduced federal background checks and a waiting period before people received guns.

Clinton also instigated the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy which meant that LGBT people could serve in the US Armed Forces provided that they keep their sexual orientation a secret. The act also made it clear that the armed forces could not enquire about the sexuality of any member of the armed forces. Despite allowing the integration of homosexuals into the military, Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage between a man and a woman.

During 1998 the House voted to impeach Clinton over the obstruction of justice regarding the Lewinsky Scandal. The basis of the impeachment centered around the allegations that Clinton had lied and then subsequently covered the details about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky a White House staffer. The Senate acquitted Clinton on all charges.

The Clinton administration also introduced websites for many areas of the US government, opening up the government to more and more citizens.

Post Presidency:

Clinton was heavily in debt when he left the White House having spent millions of dollars on the law suits he had fought whilst he was President. Since leaving office Clinton has given many speeches, fundraised and campaigned actively on issues that he cares about. He has been an active member of Hillary Clinton's campaign teams during her 2008 and 2016 Presidential runs.

During 2005, after the Boxing Day Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, Clinton teamed up with George H W Bush to raise relief funds, and it is a partnership that has been used many times to great effect.

Clinton has also been active in the Clinton Foundation.


The Clinton Library is located in Little Rock, Arkansas and is home to the Clinton Presidential Centre and their website can be visited here

Bill Clinton Approval Ratings

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