10 Interesting Facts About Joe Biden

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Joe Biden
President of the United States Joe Biden
Credit: The White House // CC BY 3.0 US

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. is the 46th President, and previously the 47th Vice-President, of the United States of America. Joe won the Democratic nomination in early 2020 and then won the Presidential election later that year.  Many people already know about Joe Biden’s political history from his campaigns for President, but not many people may know these 10 facts about his personal life.  

1. Joe Biden Grew Up in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Yearbook photo of President Joe Biden
Joe Biden’s Yearbook Photo
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Born in 1942, Joe Biden was the first-born of Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden and Joseph Robinette Biden Sr’s 4 children in Scranton Pennsylvania. Growing up, Joe struggled with a stutter and was unable to correct his speech with normal speech therapy, so he took it upon himself to beat the disorder. He studied poets William Butler Yeats and Ralph Waldo Emerson and practiced reading them aloud while looking at a mirror.

2. Joe Moved to Delaware and Graduated Law School.

Biden's 1968 Yearbook Photo
Joe Biden’s Yearbook Photo
Credit: Syracuse University // Public Domain

Joe Biden’s family moved to Delaware in 1953, and he began taking classes at the University of Delaware once he graduated high school. By 1968, Joe had graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor’s degree and also graduated from Syracuse University in New York with a Law degree. After graduation, Joe returned to Delaware and started working as an attorney for a corporate law firm and then switched things up and became a public defender. This profession short-lived for Joe, and he joined the New Castle County Council in 1970. He remained with the council until his election into the U.S Senate in 1972.

3. Joe Biden is the 5th Youngest Person Elected to the U.S. Senate.

Senate portrait of Joe Biden
Joe Biden Senate Portrait from 1973
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1972, Joe Biden decided to run against the current Senator at the time, J. Caleb Boggs, who had been in the Senate for 2 terms already. Joe enlisted the help of his family to run the campaign; his sister was the campaign manager, his brother was in charge of fundraising, and his wife accompanied him while he went door-to-door. All of this work paid off, and Joe became the 5th youngest person to be elected into the Senate at the age of 29. Joe earned the title of Delaware’s longest-serving senator because of his re-election 6 times. This was a bittersweet moment for Joe, as tragedy shortly struck after his election in 1972. 

4. Joe’s Wife and Daughter Perished in an Auto Accident.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden
Joe and his second wife Jill Biden.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Joe Biden’s world turned upside just weeks after his election into the Senate. While out Christmas shopping with their children Joe’s wife, Neilia, was in a car accident with a tractor-trailer that resulted in the death of both Neilia and their daughter as well as the hospitalization of both of their sons with serious injuries. After some convincing by his friends, Joe decided to stay in the Senate and was sworn in next to his son’s bedside at the hospital. Joe decided to stay with his family and commute every day to Washington; whether that was by car or train. Joe eventually married Jill Jacobs in 1977, but their family struggles were far from over.

5. Joe’s Eldest Son Died of Brain Cancer.

Beau Biden with his family
Beau Biden victory speech
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Joe Biden attempted to rebuild his family in 1977, and everything seemed to be going well until the 2000s. Up until the 2000s, the Biden family led a seemingly normal life; his children grew up and made lives of their own. His eldest son Beau became Delaware’s attorney general and also served the U.S in Iraq. Tragedy soon struck again when Beau had a stroke in 2010 and then developed brain cancer in 2013. Beau underwent multiple treatment methods such as chemo and radiation therapy and surgery to remove a mass from his brain. These treatments proved to be ineffective, however, and Beau passed away in 2015; igniting a passion within Joe Biden to support the fight against cancer.

6. Joe Biden Led the National Cancer (Moonshot) Initiative.

Joe Biden speaking about Cancer Moonshot at Rice University in 2016
Joe Biden speaking about Cancer Moonshot at Rice University in 2016.
Credit: The White House // Public Domain

During Joe Biden’s time as Vice President, Joe was given the authorization to lead an initiative to combat cancer in 2016. Called the National Cancer (Moonshot) Initiative, Joe’s team had the goal to act as a catalyst for cancer research by expediting discoveries, promoting greater collaboration, and making research more transparent between researchers and the public. Joe started this off by hosting a summit and creating an expert panel. This summit included thousands of researchers and advocates located in every U.S state working together to boost the progress towards a cure. The expert panel created was called the Blue Ribbon Panel and was tasked with notifying the public of the goals set for the Moonshot Initiative and how the team plans to accomplish them while also acting as a liaison between the Initiative and experts.

7. Joe Biden Was an Adjunct Professor. 

Commonwealth Law School Classroom Building
Commonwealth Law School Classroom Building
Credit: Widener University // CC BY 2.5

In 1991, Joe Biden started teaching Congressional law as an adjunct professor at Widener University. Joe would organize his classroom around a single conference room to encourage conversation and give the class a more realistic feel. He also brought his class to a Senate meeting with the Foreign Relations Committee to give them real-world experience. Joe would retire from Widener University in 2008 to join Barack Obama in his race for the presidency, but that was not his first experience trying to get into the White House. 

8. Joe Biden Ran for president Twice Before Being Elected.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Credit: Gage Skidmore // CC BY-SA 2.0

Joe Biden’s first attempt to get into the White House was his presidential run in 1988 when he pursued the Democratic nomination. He withdrew from the nomination race after parts of his speech were discovered to be plagiarized from a British political leader without properly crediting him. Joe would try again for the Democratic nomination in 2008 but did not receive enough support and he decided to withdrawal again. This would later turn out well for Joe, as Barack Obama would ask him to run as his Vice President.

9. Joe Biden Is a Published Author. 

Joe Biden Official Portrait
Joe Biden Official Portrait.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Joe Biden used all of his experiences throughout the years to write 9 books. Some of the books that Joe has written include, Promise Me, Dad, and Democracy has Prevailed. In Promise Me, Dad, Joe describes everything that was going on when his son, Beau, was going through cancer treatment and how he coped after his son’s passing. Also in the book, Joe includes his political views and accomplishments, seemingly unable to separate his work and his grief. This is proven true during an interview when Joe explains that his passion to run for President stems from his son’s encouragement.

10. Joe Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Joe Biden Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Joe Biden’s time as Vice President peaked in 2017 when Barack Obama gave him the Medal of Freedom. Barack Obama bestowed the Medal of Freedom to Joe as a reward for all that he had accomplished during his time as Vice President, calling Joe “the best vice president America’s ever had”. Some of Joe’s accomplishments that warranted the award were the supervision of the Recovery Act execution, assisting Barack Obama with the Affordable Care Act, and taking the lead in building relationships throughout Europe and Asia-Pacific.

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