Ms Clinton was delivering the first annual South Shields Lecture since the onset of the pandemic.
The event was held at Harton Academy on Friday, June 3, hosted by founder and ex-South Shields MP and former Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
It was the 18th lecture in a series which started in 2001, and the 12th to be held at the School.
In a Q and A-style session, Mr Miliband led a discussion with Ms Clinton, and members of the packed audience were also given the chance to put their questions.
US gun laws, Donald Trump, Brexit and how she stays so optimistic in ‘trying times’ were among the variety of topics discussed.
As was TV series Derry Girls, which features an appearance by her daughter Chelsea – and the Queen, who hosted Ms Clinton both when she was First Lady, with her husband President Bill Cinton, and as Secretary of State during the Obama Administration.
The lecture fell during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, and Ms Clinton paid tribute to the Queen as a constant presence over so many decades, and a very knowledgeable and astute woman with a good sense of humour.
She also discussed the importance of optimism, and gave the vision of Harton Academy for young people as a prime example of looking to a better future.
“I think we’ve got to have more hope and optimism in facing the future that we will all encounter inevitably so I want to do my part and I want to be a constructive advocate in helping to come to grips with problems,” she said.
“We want leaders who promote hope, kindness and love rather than to fear, anger and hatred and I think that is what we need because it’s hard enough living a life and making a living and if you’re not encouraged to get up every day and try and make the most of it and try find common ground with other people.
"It’s so easy to fall back into thinking nothing is working and everything is terrible and then that gives opportunist politicians the chance to turn us against each other.”
On visiting the North East, Ms Clinton said: “I was so intrigued to come here for this lecture series and also that my paternal grandfather’s family came from this area and I had not really explored that so it just seemed to make so much sense.”
Ms Clinton told the audience she had been keeping herself busy by publishing her book – which features an aggressive Russian president and a problematic former US president – and hosting a podcast.
“My book was a word of fiction but with a cautionary tale because it was written about some of the very large, dangerous threats we face in the world,” she said.
"As a grandmother now, I feel a sense of responsibility that we have do better for them because they didn’t make any of this mess and we want to make sure they have a safer more prosperous, stable, exciting world.”
Tickets for the event were free, but demand meant some 3,000 requests for places had to be turned down.
Mr Miliband thanked the audience for attending, and said: “Many people have already asked me how difficult it was to persuade Mrs Clinton to come to South Shields and I want to tell you how easy it was, which says a lot about Hillary.
"Hillary called me in December and at the end of the conversation I said that for 20 years we held the annual lecture and I asked if she was interested in coming to a North East community that was determined to better itself and always looking for new answers – and in a heartbeat she said yes.”