The people of Hope, Arkansas, are honored by those now-famous words spoken by Bill Clinton as Democratic nominee for President in 1992. We are very proud that our native son won the election.
To "believe in a place called Hope" is to believe in a high quality of life. Hope is a great place to visit, to live, to work and to raise a family. Friends, family, churches, schools and the all-American lifestyle found in Hope are credited with first planting the traditions, values and ideals that shaped a President.
Come visit the sites where history was made. Tour the birthplace, childhood homes and first schools that President Clinton attended.
The 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, was born William Jefferson Blythe IV at Julia Chester Hospital in Hope on August 19, 1946. The baby's father, William Jefferson Blythe III, was killed in an automobile accident three months before his son was born.
Bill's mother, Virginia Cassidy Blythe, then trained to become a nurse-anesthetist in order to support her son. Bill lived with his maternal grandparents, Eldridge and Edith Grisham Cassidy at 117 South Hervey in Hope until age four. The Cassidys operated a grocery store on North Hazel Street.
"Bill's grandparents had a great influence on his life. Edith bought him flash cards to teach him to read. . .Bill was reading by age four." -Dale Drake, cousin
Kindergarten and Cowboy Boots
When Bill was four, his mother married Roger Clinton, a Hope automobile dealer, and moved to a three-bedroom home at 321 East 13th Street. Bill attended "Miss Marie Purkins' School for Little Folks" (Miss Mary's kindergarten). Childhood friends remember Bill as being intelligent, precocious, big for his age and a little clumsy. He was especially fond of his cowboy boots.
First Grade and Politics
Bill attended first grade at Brookwood Elementary School in Hope. Classmates recall the future President as being a little "bookwormish" and possessing a phenomenal memory. He was also a quick study in how to get along with school administrators and teachers.
Hope's Favorite Son Answers a High Calling
Roger Clinton moved his family to Hot Springs after Bill completed first grade. It was there that Bill took his stepfather's surname. Hope's native son excelled in academics and student politics, and went on to graduate from Georgetown University, become a Rhodes Scholar and graduate from Yale Law School. He was elected Arkansas Attorney General in 1976, to his first term as Arkansas Governor in 1978; then to the first of several more terms as Governor in 1981. Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas for 12 years before his election as President of the United States in 1992.
The Presidential Tour Starts Here
Stop by the Hope Tourist Center, intersection of U.S. Highway 67 and Arkansas 29, for information on accommodations and things to see and do in the Hope area. We'll be delighted to tell you all about "a place called Hope" and direct you to the President Clinton points of interest shown on the map below.
President Clinton's First Home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 as "the single property most significantly and exclusively associated with Clinton's humble beginnings, the inner strength he learned from his mother, and the dedication to purpose that has sustained him throughout his distinguished political career." Restoration plans to restore President Clinton's first home began in 1993, and are being coordinated by the non-profit Clinton Birthplace Foundation, Inc.
"My hometown of Hope is a model for rural development success . . . a city where teamwork has resulted in hundreds of new jobs. Arkansas is committed to education, economic development and the environment. It's a great place to visit, to live, to work and to raise a family." -Bill Clinton