Hillary Clinton has told Democrats they have “just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling” by nominating her for US president on a night awash with history.
The former US secretary of state and first lady put an electrifying cap on the Democratic convention’s second night, speaking by satellite video and offering this message to any little girls who might have stayed up to see the ground-breaking moment on Tuesday night: “I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”
Mrs Clinton earlier made history by becoming America’s the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party.
Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, later took to the convention stage in Philadelphia and described his wife as an impassioned “change-maker”.
“She’s been worth every single year she’s put into making people’s lives better,” he said.
For a man more accustomed to delivering policy-packed stem-winders, Mr Clinton’s deeply personal address underscored the historic night for Democrats, and the nation.
If she wins in November, the Clintons would also be the first married couple to each serve as president.
Mrs Clinton will take on Donald Trump, who won the Republican nomination a week ago. Mr Trump, who campaigned on Tuesday in North Carolina, mocked Bill Clinton’s speech in advance, calling him “over-rated”.
At Mr Trump’s convention last week, Mrs Clinton was the target of blistering criticism of her character and judgment, a sharp contrast to the warm and passionate woman described by her husband.
Seeking to explain the vastly different perceptions of his wife, Mr Clinton said simply: “One is real, the other is made up.”
The former president traced his relationship with his wife back decades, recalling in great detail the first time he spotted her on a law school campus and the impact she had on pushing him into politics.
The former president took voters back to a time before an affair with an intern led to his impeachment – and to intense public scrutiny of the first couple’s marriage.
While her aides believe his past transgressions are old news to voters, they have flared up anew at times during the campaign, with Mr Trump often leading the charge.
In an important move for party unity, Mrs Clinton’s primary rival Bernie Sanders helped make it official when the roll call got to his home state of Vermont, prompting delegates to erupt in cheers.
It was a striking parallel to the role Mrs Clinton played eight years ago when she stepped to the microphone on the convention floor in Denver in support of her former rival, Barack Obama.
This time she shattered the glass ceiling she could not crack in 2008.
But she leads a party still grappling with divisions. Moments after she claimed the nomination, a group of Sanders supporters left the convention and headed to a media tent to protest at what they said was their being shut out of the party.
At the same time, protesters who had spent the day marching in the hot sun began facing off with police.
Mr Trump cheered the disruptions from the campaign trail. In North Carolina, he told a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that “our politicians have totally failed you”.
Indeed, Mrs Clinton’s long political CV – secretary of state, senator, first lady – has sometimes seemed an odd fit for an electorate deeply frustrated with Washington and eager to rally around unconventional candidates like Mr Trump and Mr Sanders.
Many voters have questions about her character and trustworthiness, suggesting she has used her access to power to her personal advantage.
Bill Clinton spoke after three hours of testimonials from politicians, advocates, celebrities and citizens who argued otherwise. Each took the stage to vouch for her commitment to working on health care, children’s issues and gun control.
“Hillary Clinton has the passion and understanding to support grieving mothers,” said Sybrina Fulton, whose son Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012. “She has the courage to lead the fight for common sense gun legislation.”
The significant time devoted to the testimonials underscored the campaign’s concerns about how voters view Mrs Clinton.
Public polls consistently show that a majority of Americans do not believe she is honest and trustworthy. That perception that was reinforced after the FBI director’s scathing assessment of her controversial email use as secretary of state, even though the Justice Department did not pursue charges.
Bill Clinton complicated the email controversy last month when he met US attorney general Loretta Lynch privately in the midst of the FBI investigation.
The former president has campaigned frequently for his wife during the White House race, but mostly in smaller cities and towns, part of an effort by the campaign to keep him in a more behind-the-scenes role. His convention address was his highest profile appearance of the campaign.
Mrs Clinton’s landmark achievement saturated the roll call with emotion and symbols of women’s long struggle to break through political barriers. Jerry Emmett, a 102-year-old woman born before women had the right to vote, cast the ballots for Arizona.
The Democratic convention drew the party’s biggest stars to sweltering Philadelphia for the week-long event.
On Monday night, first lady Michelle Obama made an impassioned case for Mrs Clinton as the only candidate in the presidential race worthy of being a role model for the nation’s children.
US president Barack Obama and vice president Joe Biden will speak on Wednesday, along with Virginia senator Tim Kaine, Mrs Clinton’s new running mate.