Bill Clinton became one of the most famous people in the world when he was sworn in as US President in 1993. Since then, the Arkansas native has had a long and successful career as a politician, though the infamous affair with intern Monica Lewinsky overshadowed a considerable chunk of his legacy in the White House.
At the same time, despite the affair, which was undeniably a massive scandal, Bill has remained married to his wife, Hillary Clinton, for more than 45 years. The two met while studying at college, and haven’t left each other’s sides since, despite enduring many tough times.
As it turns out, Hillary wasn’t sure about marrying Bill in the first place – it took him three times of asking before she said yes.
Here’s all you need to know about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage.
Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas. At the time, his mother, Virginia Kelley, had experienced an immense tragedy, as his father passed away in a traffic accident just three months before Bill was born.
Bill Clinton – early life
When he was four years of age, his mother married Roger Clinton. However, his stepfather wasn’t a good man at all. Reportedly, he was always drunk and beat Bill’s mother.
“This sounds crazy but I never hated my stepfather, Roger Clinton. Even after he pulled the trigger in here, when he was drunk, even after he beat my mother — even after I got big enough to stop him from beating my mother,” Bill said.
“I had some understanding that he was a good man and couldn’t whip his drinking problem. And that he was full of demons that he couldn’t control it and he took it out in destructive, hateful ways. I hated what he did, but I never hated him.”
At school, he never told any of his friends what was happening at home. In his book, Bill Clinton wrote that he was living “two parallel lives” from his childhood into his adult years, all the way to when he became a politician. What his stepfather did was his dark secret.
Despite what Roger Clinton did, Bill decided to take his last name when in high school. He kept the first and second names of his biological father, William Jefferson, but not his surname.
“I think the fact that I was born without a father, and that I spent a lifetime trying to put together a picture of one also had a lot to do with how I turned out,” Bill explained.
“Good and not so good. But I think on balance, more good than bad. But it had a lot to do with it.”
Meeting John F. Kennedy
Bill went on to become an outstanding student. He excelled at school, and at the same time, was considered a fantastic saxophone player. As a result, many thought he would pursue a career as a professional musician. Today, of course, we know that fate had different plans.
When he was in high school, a very special meeting would set Bill on course for politics. As a delegate to Boys Nation, he visited the White House Rose Garden, where he met then-President John F Kennedy. The picture of the two shaking hands has become quite legendary.
“I was about the third or fourth person in, and…I sort of muscled my way up (to the front),” Bill once recalled of the meeting.
On the way home from the meeting, several of Clinton’s friends recalled that Bill couldn’t stop talking about the fascinating thing that had just happened.
Future Minnesota Congressman Jim Ramstad recalled Clinton telling him: “Someday, I’m going to have that job.”
Bill went on to attend Georgetown University. Then, in 1968, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University, and later on earned his law degree at Yale University.
Not only did his time at Yale significantly increase the chances of him pursuing a political career moving forward, but it’s also where he met the love of his life, a woman named Hillary Rodham.
Bill Clinton – love-story with Hillary Clinton
Bill and Hillary were both studying law at Yale. When speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, he recalled his first memories of her.
“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl,” Bill said. “The first time I saw her, we were appropriately enough in a class on political and civil rights. She had thick blonde hair, big glasses, wore no makeup. And she exuded this sense of strength and self-possession that I found magnetic.”
Even though they had met on campus several times, one particular moment in 1971 changed everything.
Both Hillary and Bill were studying in opposite parts of the law library. But Hillary noticed that Bill was looking at her. The young woman decided to put her book down and walked over to Bill to have a chat about it.
“Look, if you’re going to keep staring at me, and now I’m staring back. We at least oughta know each other’s name. I’m Hillary Rodham, who are you?” Bill recalled Hillary telling him.
At the time, the future President was speechless. He introduced himself, and not long after, the two met again. Bill had grown fond of Hillary and asked her out on a date.
“She exuded this sense of strength and self-possession that I found magnetic,” Bill recalled during the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
“I just went ahead and asked her to take a walk down to the art museum. We’ve been walking, talking, and laughing together ever since.”