Irish American Museum of Washington, D.C.
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Joseph Robinette (Joe Biden), Jr



 Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., was born in the Irish heartland of Scranton, Pennsylvania,  on November 20, 1942, to Joseph Sr. and Jean Biden. The oldest of four children in an Irish Catholic family, the Bidens moved from Pennsylvania to Claymont in Delaware in 1953. Biden attended parochial school at St. Helena’s School in Wilmington and the Archmere Academy in Claymont. Public service was part of the Biden family, with one of Joe's great grandfathers serving as a Pennsylvania state senator.

After graduating from the University of Delaware in 1965 and from law school at Syracuse University in 1968, Biden moved back to the Wilmington area and set up his own law firm. He practiced law until 1972.

Biden hails from a Famine era family, the Finnegans, who fled Co. Mayo to avoid the Great Hunger. His great grandmother Mrs. Finnegan was the only one who could read Gaelic, and she used to read letters in Gaelic  and write back for those who could not understand the letters from home.

Edward F. Blewett his grandmother’s father, was the first Irish Catholic state senator, he was also the co-founder of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Scranton around 1908. There is still a plaque in existence in Scranton showing he was one of the founding members.

Biden stated that he grew up in Scranton in “a predominantly Irish neighborhood and an overwhelmingly Irish parish. The centerpiece of life in Scranton was the church, the nuns, the priest the monsignor,” he recalled.

Biden has read Irish history extensively, and to this day his hero is Wolfe Tone leader of the 1798 Rebellion.

“Wolfe Tone is the embodiment of some of the things that I think are the noblest of all. He was a Protestant who formed the United Irishmen. He had nothing to gain on the face of it but he sought to relieve the oppression of the Catholics caused by the penal laws. He gave his life for the principle of civil rights for all people.

“I view him as an honorable figure. He was obviously passionate which I admire. He had the ability to make his own comfort secondary to the greater good.”

In 1970, Biden – at age 27 – ran for New Castle County Council and won in a Republican district. At age 29, he launched an improbable bid to unseat two-term Republican U.S. Sen. J. Caleb Boggs. Just weeks after the election, Biden’s wife, Neilia, and their 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed and their two young sons critically injured in an auto accident. Biden was sworn in at his son's hospital bedside and began commuting to Washington every day by train, a practice he has maintained throughout his career in the Senate.

In 1977, Biden married Jill Jacobs. Jill Biden, who holds a PhD in education, has been an educator for over two decades in Delaware's schools. Currently she is a professor at Delaware Technical Community College.

Senator Biden has three children: Beau, Hunter and Ashley and five grandchildren: Naomi, Finnegan, Roberta Mabel, Natalie, and Robert Hunter.

Now as the 47th Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden has continued his leadership on important issues facing the nation.