William, or Bill, Jefferson Blythe III was born on August 19, 1946, in the small town of Hope, Arkansas. He was named after his father, William Jefferson Blythe II, who had been killed in a car accident just three months before his son was born. Needing to find a way to support herself and her new child, Bill's mother, Virginia Cassidy Blythe, moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, to study nursing. Bill stayed with his grandparents in Hope. There he was surrounded by many relatives who gave him love and support and who played a significant role in his upbringing.
His mother returned from New Orleans with her nursing degree in 1950, when her son was four years old. Later that same year, she married an automobile salesman named Roger Clinton. When Bill was seven years old, the family moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Known for its natural mineral hot springs, and its scenic county, Hot Springs was bigger than Hope and offered better employment opportunities. Roger received a higher paying job, as a service manager for his brother's car dealer-ship and Virginia was able to find a better job as a nurse. In 1956, Bill's half-brother, Roger Clinton, Jr., was born. When his brother was old enough to enter school, young Bill had his last name legally changed from Blythe to Clinton.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected President. Two years later, when Bill was a senior in high school, he was selected to go to Washington D.C., to be a part of Boys Nation, a special youth leadership conference. The young men of Boys Nation and the young women of Girls Nation were invited to the White House to meet President Kennedy. Bill Clinton was one of the first in line to shake President Kennedy's hand in the Rose Garden. That event was one of the most memorable, important experiences of his youth. After that, he knew he wanted to become the President of the United States.
Playing the saxophone was his favorite pastime. He loved music, practiced every day, and played in jazz ensembles.