Long before reaching one of the highest political offices in the nation, Biden — born on November 20, 1942 — grew up in the blue-collar city of Scranton in northeast Pennsylvania. His father, Joseph Biden Sr., worked cleaning furnaces and as a used car salesman. His mother was Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Finnegan.
Biden credits his parents with instilling in him toughness, hard work and perseverance. He has recalled his father frequently saying, "Champ, the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down, but how quickly he gets up." He's also said that when he would come home sullen because he had been bullied by one of the bigger kids in the neighborhood, his mother would tell him, "Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day!'"
Biden attended St. Paul's Elementary School in Scranton. In 1955, when he was 13 years old, the family moved to Mayfield, Delaware—a rapidly growing middle-class community sustained primarily by the nearby DuPont chemical company.
As a child, Biden struggled with a stutter, and kids called him "Dash" and "Joe Impedimenta" to mock him. He eventually overcame his speech impediment by memorizing long passages of poetry and reciting them out loud in front of the mirror.
Biden attended the St. Helena School until he gained acceptance into the prestigious Archmere Academy. Although he had to work by washing the school windows and weeding the gardens to help his family afford tuition, Biden had long dreamed of attending the school, which he called "the object of my deepest desire, my Oz." At Archmere, Biden was a solid student and, despite his small size, a standout receiver on the football team. "He was a skinny kid," his coach remembered, "but he was one of the best pass receivers I had in 16 years as a coach." Biden graduated from Archmere in 1961.