Biography for Warren Christopher
An attorney and a member of two previous presidential administrations, Warren Minor Christopher served as President Bill Clinton's secretary of state from 1993 to 1997. Modest, diplomatic, and widely respected, Christopher was a popular choice for this office in Washington, D.C. Born in Scranton, North Dakota on October 27, 1925, Christopher moved to the Los Angeles area and was reared by his mother after his father died in 1937. He served three years in the naval reserve, during 1943-1946, while completing his bachelor's degree at the University of Southern California. He received his law degree at Stanford University in 1949 and served briefly as a clerk for Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas. After returning to Los Angeles, he worked with the firm of O'Melveny & Myers, where he became a partner in 1958. Around that time, Christopher became increasingly involved in public affairs, gaining notoriety in 1965 as head of a commission to investigate causes of the race riots in the Watts section of Los Angeles. In 1967, Christopher returned to Washington to serve as deputy attorney general. In that post, he became further involved in civil rights matters and was charged with dealing with racial violence in Chicago and Detroit. He went back to private practice in 1969 but was called back into public service in 1977, when he became deputy secretary of state under Cyrus Vance, who had been his boss at the Justice Department. Over the next four years, Christopher was a major advocate for President Jimmy Carter's human rights policies, though he was best remembered for negotiating the release of American hostages in Iran in early 1981. Once again, Christopher returned to O'Melveny & Myers in 1981, though continuing his involvement in public matters over the next 13 years. In 1992, he led the investigation of racism in the Los Angeles police department that forced Chief Daryl Gates to resign in the wake of race riots that spring. After his 1992 election to the presidency, Clinton chose Christopher as his secretary of state. After easily winning Senate approval, Christopher went right to work, traveling to various parts of the world to negotiate on such matters as Middle East peace, the conflict in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and trade relations. By the time he resigned in January 1997 to return to a private life, Christopher had traveled more miles than any secretary of state in U.S. history. He was succeeded by Madeleine Albright. Christopher briefly reappeared in the public eye in November 2000 as Vice President Al Gore's emissary to Florida following the contested presidential election of 2000 but returned to private life following Gore's defeat.