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Arkansas: Land Of Opportunity

CAPITAL: Little Rock
JOINED UNION: June 15, 1836
STATE BIRD: Mockingbird
STATE FLOWER: Apple Blossom
MEANING OF STATE NAME: French interpretation of a Sioux word "acansa," meaning
"downstream place."
1992 POPULATION: 2,398,767
LAND AREA: 52,075 square miles
ECONOMY: Soybeans, lumber, poultry, furniture, auto and airplane parts, bauxite mining
HISTORY: Land of the Quapaw Indians, Arkansas was settled by the French in the 1600s, although Spanish explorer de Soto had passed through in 1541. Included in the Louisiana Territory, Arkansas became part of America with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Arkansas seceded from the Union in 1861, although thousands of her citizens fought with the Union. In 1957, Little Rock was home to some major confrontations in the battle to desegregate America's schools.

Time For A Change

January 20, 1993


In 1963, as a top high school student, William Clinton received a trip to Washington, D.C., and got to meet President John F. Kennedy. It was a defining moment in his life and awakened his interest in politics.

Born William Jefferson Blythe 3rd in Hope, Arkansas, on August 19, 1946, he was named for his father, who had died in an automobile accident six months before. His mother remarried when he was seven, and William took his stepfather's last name when a younger brother was born.

An excellent student, Clinton attended Georgetown University, then Oxford University in Great Britain, and finally Yale Law School. It was at Yale where he met his future wife, Hillary Rodham. During his college years Clinton avoided -- some say "dodged" -- the military draft and possible service in Vietnam.

Following law school, he became a professor at the University of Arkansas and by 1976, was the state's attorney general. In 1978, he was elected governor. Defeated for reelection after raising gasoline taxes for a new highway system, Clinton won back the governorship in 1982. Adopting a more moderate stance, he concentrated on improving the state's educational system.

Clinton was an advocate for a moderate position by the Democratic Party, instead of its more traditional liberal stance. Entering the presidential race in 1992, Clinton outlasted other candidates and became the Democratic nominee despite longstanding questions about his personal life.

During the campaign against Republican President George Bush and billionaire independent H.Ross Perot, Clinton stressed that it was "time for a change." He offered plans, for economic growth, health-care reform, reduced military expenditures, and handling of the deficit. He kept as his campaign motto: "It's the economy, stupid!"

In the end, Clinton won the Presidency with only 43% of the popular vote, but by a larger margin in the Electoral College.

The Democrats now controlled both the White House and Congress, and Clinton pledged to focus on the economy "like a laser."

Clinton named the First Lady to head a task force on national health reform, with the plan becoming highly controversial, even before the study was completed.

The country's 42nd President had promised a remarkable first 100 days, but most nonpartisan observers ranked it as mixed.


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