Bill Clinton is Born
Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe, III, in Hope, Arkansas.
His father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., was a traveling salesman who died in an automobile accident three months before Bill was born. Following his birth, in order to study nursing, his mother Virginia Dell Cassidy (1923-1994), traveled to New Orleans, leaving Bill in Hope with grandparents Eldridge and Edith Cassidy, who owned and operated a small grocery store. At a time when the Southern United States were racially segregated, Bill's grandparents sold goods on credit to people of all racial groups. In 1950, Bill's mother returned from nursing school and shortly thereafter married Roger Clinton, who together with his brother owned an automobile dealership in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The family moved to Hot Springs in 1950.
Although he assumed use of his stepfather's surname, it was not until Billy (as he was known then) turned fourteen that he formally adopted the surname Clinton as a gesture toward his stepfather. Clinton says he remembers his stepfather as a gambler and an alcoholic who regularly abused his mother and, at times, his half-brother Roger, Jr. Clinton intervened multiple times with the threat of violence in order to protect them.
In Hot Springs, Clinton attended St. John's Catholic Elementary School, Ramble Elementary School, and Hot Springs High School - where he was an active student leader, avid reader, and musician. He was in the chorus and played the tenor saxophone, winning first chair in the state band's saxophone section. He briefly considered dedicating his life to music, but as he noted in his autobiography My Life:
"Sometime in my sixteenth year I decided I wanted to be in public life as an elected official. I loved music and thought I could be very good, but I knew I would never be John Coltrane or Stan Getz. I was interested in medicine and thought I could be a fine doctor, but I knew I would never be Michael DeBakey. But I knew I could be great in public service.
Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946, in the small town of Hope, Arkansas. He was named after his father, William Jefferson Blythe II, who had been killed in a car accident just three months before his son was born. Needing to find a way to support herself and her new child, Bill Clinton's mother, Virginia Cassidy Blythe, moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, to study nursing. Bill Clinton stayed with his mother's parents in Hope. There he was surrounded by many relatives who gave him love and support and who played a significant role in his upbringing.
Bill Clinton's grandparents, Eldridge and Edith Cassidy, taught him strong values and beliefs. They owned a small grocery store just outside of Hope, and despite the segregation laws of the time, they allowed people of all races to purchase goods on credit. They taught their young grandson that everyone is created equal and that people should not be treated differently because of the color of their skin. This was a lesson Bill Clinton never forgot.
President Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas, three months after his father died in a traffic accident. When he was four years old, his mother wed Roger Clinton, of Hot Springs, Arkansas. In high school, he took the family name.
He excelled as a student and as a saxophone player and once considered becoming a professional musician.