A Firm Foundation in Hope
On August 19, l946, Virginia Cassidy Blythe gave birth to her son, William Jefferson Blythe III, named for his father who was killed in a car accident three months before he was born. Young Billy Blythe grew up to become William Jefferson Clintonthe 42nd president of the United States.
He and his mother lived with her parents in this house in Hope, Arkansas, where the future president spent the first four years of his life. Growing up in Hope, he embraced the values of this small town.
Here he learned early lessons in the importance of family, education, and racial equality-lessons that served him well in his public life and led him on a path to the nation's highest office.
Family and Community
Clinton's mother decided to remain in Hope with her parents, James Eldridge Cassidy and Edith Grisham Cassidy. Although still grieving, she knew she needed to create a new life for herself and her son and decided to further her education. Clinton's grandparents took care of him while his mother completed her training as a nurse anesthetist in New Orleans.
Clinton's grandmother stressed the importance of education for her grandson and taught him to read before he started kindergarten. She also worked as a private duty nurse and provided in-home care for seriously ill patients. His grandmother inspired him to dedicate his life's work to helping others.
Clinton spent much of his time in Hope at his grandfather's store. He saw his grandfather treat all customers with respect, regardless of the color of their skin. Clinton also remembered his grandparents supporting school desegregation in the mid-1950s. These experiences helped shape Clinton's views on race relations and social justice.
When his mother married Roger Clinton in 1950, the young family moved across town to a house on 13th Street. In 1953, they moved to Roger Clinton's hometown, Hot Springs, Arkansas90 miles away. Clinton often returned to Hope to visit his grandparents for holidays and summer vacation.
Although Bill went by the name of Clinton from the time his mother remarried, Roger Clinton never formally adopted him. When his younger brother, Roger Cassidy Clinton, started school, Bill legally changed his name to Clinton.
As a student at Hot Springs High School, Clinton excelled in academics and band. Near the end of high school, Clinton set his eyes on public service. He attended Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and was a Rhodes Scholar before starting Yale Law School.
In 1973, Clinton returned to Arkansas to enter politics. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1974, but was elected Attorney General of Arkansas in 1977. In 1979, he was elected Governor of Arkansas. He was defeated for re-election in 198l, but was re-elected in 1983 and served four more terms.
On November 3, 1992, Clinton was elected the 42nd President of the United States. He was re-elected in 1996. During his administration, the nation experienced the longest economic expansion in US history. President Clinton's core values included building community, creating opportunity, and demanding responsibility. He repeatedly stressed the importance of work and family-all lessons he learned in Hope.
During his second term, President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation whose mission is to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods, and protect the environment by fostering special partnerships among governments, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. The Foundation's work is based on the belief that people have the capacity to build a better world for themselves and for their children, they just need the opportunity to do so. Through business-oriented solutions that can be implemented locally and replicated globally, the Foundation has built lasting systems that have improved millions of lives and that ensure people and communities can ultimately take control of their own futures.
1946 William Jefferson Blythe III, born August 19.
1950 Virginia Blythe marries Roger Clinton and the family moves to 13th Street in Hope, AR.
1953 The Clinton family moves to Hot Springs, AR.
1956 Clinton's brother, Roger Cassidy Clinton, born.
1964 Clinton graduates from Hot Springs High School; enters Georgetown University.
1968 Clinton attends Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship.
1970 Clinton attends Yale Law School.
1973 Clinton teaches law, University of Arkansas School of Law.
1974 Clinton has an unsuccessful run for Congress.
1975 Clinton marries Hillary Rodham.
1977 Clinton becomes Attorney General of Arkansas.
1979 Clinton elected Governor of Arkansas.
1980 Chelsea Clinton born.
1981 Clinton loses bid for re-election for Governor of Arkansas.
1983 Clinton re-elected Governor of Arkansas.
1991 Clinton announces his candidacy for president of the United States.
1992 Clinton elected president of the United States.
1996 Clinton re-elected president of the United States.
1997 During his second term, Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission of strengthening the capacity of people in the US and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.
2004 The Clinton Presidential Center opens. It houses the Little Rock offices of the William J. Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
2011 Dedication of President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home NHS.
A Glimpse Inside
The interior of this modest home invites you to experience the house as Clinton did as a small child. See the stairs he hurried down on Christmas morning and the playing cards tacked to the kitchen window. President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home NHS offers a glimpse into the ordinary home that helped shape an extraordinary public servant.
About Your Visit
President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site (NHS) was established in December 2010. It includes the Birthplace Home, a visitor center (located in an adjacent historic home) and the Virginia Clinton Kelley Memorial Garden.
Begin at the Visitor Center
Source: NPS Brochure (2013)
Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards
Cultural Landscape Report Environmental Assessment, President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site, Hope, Arkansas (Bahr Vermeer Haecker Architects, OCULUS, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., Historic Resources Group, Inc., Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., April 2014)
Handbooks ◆ Books
Last Updated: 02-Dec-2021