Bill Clinton came to national attention when, at age thirty-two, he was elected governor of Arkansas in 1978. He served a total of twelve years as governor before earning the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992 and winning the November election.
As president, Clinton made the ambitious attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system. Although that effort failed, he went on to play an important role in reshaping the country’s public welfare system. Clinton’s administration also curbed the massive federal spending deficits of the 1980s; during the late 1990s, the government had a surplus in revenues for the first time in nearly thirty years.
Clinton’s second term was marked by several scandals, including lying while under oath about a sexual relationship he had with a White House intern. For this, he was impeached by the House of Representatives but was not convicted in the Senate trial.
This painting by Nelson Shanks, a classically trained portraitist, shows Clinton in the Oval Office. The bottom portion of a portrait of George Washington by Rembrandt Peale, from around 1823, appears above the mantle.