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Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Presaging her international role as Secretary of State,

Clinton, as Arkansas First Lady, supports the AFS / Arkansas Visiting Teachers trip to Costa Rica

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, 1947–.  First Lady of the United States, 1993–2001; First Lady of Arkansas, 1979–1981, 1983–1992; United States Senator from New York, 2001–2009; Secretary of State, 2009–2013; first woman nominated by a major party for President of the United States, 2016.  Typed letter signed, Hillary, one page, 7¼” x 10½”, on stationery of the Governor’s Mansion, Little Rock, Arkansas, October 18, 1989.

In a letter that presages her international role as the United States Secretary of State some 20 years later, the then First Lady of Arkansas writes of her support of “the AFS/Arkansas Visiting Teachers to Costa Rica program” and her efforts to raise money to send teachers abroad.  She writes, in part:  “I am so pleased that you were able to participate in the AFS/Arkansas Visiting Teachers to Costa Rica program this past summer.  When I hosted the AFS ‘Think Tank’ at the Governor’s Mansion, our primary objective was to raise the funds necessary to send you and your colleagues to Costa Rica to take advantage of this opportunity.  From all the reports I have received you were a great hit, and I hope that you benefitted from this exchange because I know your students through you certainly will.”

A native of Chicago, Hillary Rodham moved to Arkansas to follow Bill Clinton, then her boyfriend, whom she had met at Yale Law School.  They both taught law school at the University of Arkansas, and she kept her maiden name when they were married in 1975.  Clinton was elected Governor of Arkansas in 1978, but observers laid on her some of the blame for his failed 1980 reelection bid, arguing that voters in a conventional southern state were uncomfortable with the unconventional First Lady who had kept her maiden name and practiced law, the first woman partner in the Rose Law Firm.  Two years later, when Clinton again sought election as Governor, Rodham began using the names “Hillary Clinton” and “Mrs. Bill Clinton” to connect better with voters.  Back in the Governor’s Mansion for what would be the next nine years, until she moved to the White House, she used the name “Hillary Rodham Clinton,” as this letter shows.

Clinton was an activist Arkansas First Lady.  When Bill Clinton appointed her chair of the Rural Health Advisory Committee, she helped to obtain federal funds to expand medical facilities in poorer areas of the state.  As chair of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee, she succeeded in establishing mandatory teacher testing and standards for classroom size and curriculum.  She pushed for an early childhood education program, and she advocated establishment of Arkansas’ first neonatal intensive care unit. 

She went on to serve eight years as First Lady of the United States.  Even before Bill Clinton left the presidency, she was elected United States Senator from New York.  She unsuccessfully sought the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, but the man who defeated her, President Barack Obama, appointed her Secretary of State, a position that she held for Obama’s first term.  In 2016, Clinton became the first woman to receive a major party’s presidential nomination.  As the Democratic nominee, she won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes over Republican Donald Trump but lost the electoral vote 304–227.  She received the largest popular vote of any candidate who was not elected.

Mrs. Clinton’s autograph material is not particularly scarce, but her letters seem to be much less available than other signed items.  This is the first of her letters that we have had.

This letter is in fine condition.  Clinton has signed in black ballpoint pen.  The letter has two normal mailing folds, one of which barely touches the bottom of the signature.  There are also  a few handling marks along the fold lines and small horizontal folds at the top and bottom edges of the page.  Otherwise the letter is clean and bright.



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