Knowing the Presidents: William J. Clinton

William J. Clinton

Forty-Second President, 1993-2001


In a three-way race against George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot, William J. “Bill” Clinton vowed to reform healthcare and focus on the economic prosperity of young people. He emphasized family values in his campaign and won the votes of suburban families across America.

“It’s the economy, stupid” was a Clinton campaign mantra.


Bill Clinton’s presidency was riddled with allegations of his infidelity, most famously his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was impeached by the House for lying under oath about his affair with Lewinsky, but was acquitted and finished his second term.

During Clinton’s tenure, Congress became held by Republicans for the first time in forty years.

Clinton appointed his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton as the head of a task force to push through a health-reform bill. In placing the first lady in such a position of power, Clinton drew massive criticism, and the reform bill ultimately failed.

Major Acts:

Bill Clinton eliminated the federal deficit and his presidency saw the strongest economy in recent history.

Clinton successfully deployed American military forces to stop the wars and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Clinton established several new organizations for free trade, most importantly NAFTA, which eliminated tariffs and trade barriers between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.


Bill Clinton was the first Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to be elected to a second term, but that term was largely overshadowed by his impeachment.

Clinton was the second U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

In the case of wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, Clinton continued a tradition of American diplomacy leading an effort to establish and maintain global peace and prosperity. However, his failure to act in Rwanda dims this legacy.

None of the countries involved in NAFTA have had impressive economic growth since, and the Great Recession of 2007–09 overshadowed any beneficial effects that NAFTA could have brought about.