Born Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., on November 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he is of Irish Catholic heritage. Biden was the first of four children born to Joe, Sr., a car salesman, and Jean Biden. He was raised in Scranton and moved to New Castle County, Delaware, at age ten.
Biden, who overcame an embarrassing stutter, attended Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware, a Catholic prep school. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware in 1965 and a law degree from Syracuse University in New York in 1968.
After graduating from law school, he returned to Delaware to work as a trial attorney at a law firm in Wilmington, serving as a public defender. He quickly turned to politics, serving on the New Castle county council from 1970 to 1972.
Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 at the age of 29, becoming the fifth youngest senator in history. He narrowly defeated two-term incumbent Republican James Caleb "Cale" Boggs. Biden went on to win reelection five times with at least 58 percent of the vote and became Delaware's longest-serving senator.
Biden married Neilia Hunter in 1966. Shortly after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, his wife and infant daughter, Naomi (born 1971), died in a car accident while Christmas shopping. His two young sons, Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III (born in 1969); and Robert Hunter (born in 1970), were seriously injured, but eventually recovered. Biden was sworn into office from their bedside in January 1973.
Biden thought about resigning to take care of his shattered family, but instead began commuting three-hours round trip each day on the train from his home in the Wilmington suburbs to Washington, D.C., a practice he continues to this day.
In 1977, Biden married Jill Tracy Jacobs, a schoolteacher. They have one daughter, Ashley (born 1981). The Bidens have five grandchildren.
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