Hillary Rodham Clinton
One of the most important American politicians of the modern era, Hillary Clinton won feminist victories and wielded considerable influence and power on a world stage for decades. Born Oct. 26, 1947 in Chicago, IL, Hillary Diane Rodham grew up ambitious, intelligent and socially conscious, majoring in political science at Wellesley College, where she earned a national reputation for her activism. While a student at Yale Law School, she began dating her classmate Bill Clinton, and the two high-achievers fell in love, inspiring each other to greater legal and political heights. Moving to Arkansas, they married on Oct. 11, 1975 and, while her husband served as Arkansas Attorney General and then governor of the state, she saw her legal career skyrocket, becoming a vital agent of change within the state and attracting national notice for her success. The couple welcomed their daughter, Chelsea, on Feb. 27, 1980, but Clinton did not slow her professional achievements, helping enact sweeping medical and educational changes and serving on the boards of such corporations as Wal-Mart. Much more comfortable with the behind-the-scenes work than in the PR aspects of politics, Clinton struggled to earn widespread approval as her husband, who found it much easier to be charismatic, ran for and won the 1992 presidency against George Bush, Sr. Seen by many as too powerful and ambitious, Clinton also drew heat for her refusal to play the traditional, submissive First Lady role, and she became a popular lightning rod for controversy, Right-wing attacks and derision. Hoping to recreate the reform success she had in Arkansas, Clinton was tasked by her husband with reforming the country's health care system, which failed in a highly public and embarrassing manner, sending her approval ratings plummeting. Weathering the white-hot scandals that threatened to destroy the couple, most notably the near-hysterical witch hunt atmosphere surrounding Bill Clinton's extramarital affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, Clinton emerged from the most scathing attacks any First Lady in history had ever undergone with her popularity on the rise, in great part due to her resilience and strength. Her independent spirit was much better appreciated when, after Bill Clinton finished his second term, Clinton ran for and won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2000 as a New Yorker. Seasoned and savvy, Clinton proved an exceptional politician and inspired a complete turnaround in popular opinion, so much so that she ran for the Democratic presidential spot in 2008 as the frontrunner. Although Barack Obama eventually won, Clinton's success represented a historical feminist breakthrough and Obama named her his secretary of state. Hailed as dedicated and hyper-capable, Clinton became the most popular and respected member of Obama's cabinet, setting a record for the most-traveled secretary of state, ever. Vindicated by history and recognized as one of the country's most intelligent, powerful, important political resources, Clinton saw her popularity continue to rise. Her decision to run for president again in 2016 made her the instant leader of the Democratic stable, with only Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) running to her left. Although Sanders' popularity among idealistic youths made him a more potent rival than many had imagined he would be, by May 2016, Clinton was the clear favorite to win the Democratic nomination and run against the likely Republican nominee, controversial businessman Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton became the first woman to claim the nomination of a major American political party on July 28, 2016, selecting Virginia senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. Although the Clinton/Kaine ticket won the popular vote by a wide margin, Trump was elected on November 9. 2016.