Unanimously confirmed by the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Army General Colin Luther Powell assumed duties as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was both the first African American and the youngest person to serve in that position.
Democratic nominee and Arkansas governor Bill Clinton won the presidential election over incumbent Republican George H. W. Bush and Independent candidate Ross Perot. Though Bush had used the success of the Persian Gulf War as a campaign point, Clinton’s focus on the economy propelled him to the win.
Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which prohibited American assistance in training, equipping, or advising the anti-Communist rebel Contras in Nicaragua. A second and third Boland Amendment passed in 1983 and 1984 closed loopholes in Boland, which allowed for humanitarian aid and further limited US government support for the Contras.
President Reagan ordered “pre-emptive action against terrorist installations” in the bombing of Libya in response to a terrorist attack in West Berlin, allegedly perpetrated by Libya and its leader Muammar Qaddafi, that killed an American soldier.
Nominated by President George H. W. Bush, Clarence Thomas was confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court, despite sexual harassment allegations made during his confirmation hearings by attorney and former employee Anita Hill.