Like most people, future presidents are often uprooted from their hometowns for one reason or another – whether it’s educational or professional ambitions or other matters that make leaving home a practical option. However, when a person leaves home, he never fully breaks away from the influence that this place had on his life – and it seems that at least in politics, hometowns never forget about their famous former residents.
It’s difficult to stay far from home for a long time, so many presidents find themselves returning to their hometowns throughout their lives to keep these ties alive. Take a look at the following well-known presidents and discover how their hometowns continually shaped their lives:
Barack Obama – Chicago, Ill.
Although President Barack Obama was technically born in Honolulu, Hawaii, he built strong community ties in Chicago shortly after graduating college and lived there on and off for several years. Obama worked as the director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago and taught at the University of Chicago for 12 years. As a result, the city showed overwhelming support for him in the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012. As part of his 2012 campaign, Obama frequently returned for Chicago events like the one held at the Bridgeport Art Center, where he was quoted as saying, “Chicago is an example of what makes this country great.”
Bill Clinton – Hope, Ark.
Former President Bill Clinton was born in Hope, Ark., but grew up primarily in nearby Hot Springs. Clinton has often credited the teachers of Hot Springs with influencing his life, and many of those educators became fervent campaigners to help advance the president’s political career. His peers recall that Clinton developed close bonds with many of his teachers, which played a major part in his devotion to educational reform. He was also actively involved in Hot Springs High School as a member of the student government, Beta Club, National Honor Society and chorus group.
Franklin Roosevelt – Hyde Park, N.Y.
Growing up just outside of New York City, former President Franklin Roosevelt saw firsthand how the stock market crash affected his entire home state. In fact, his experience as New York governor during the Great Depression had a big influence on policies and relief efforts he initiated as president. Although he came from a privileged background, Roosevelt had strong ties to his community that enabled him to sympathize with those suffering during the Great Depression and maintain the optimism the nation needed to make it through this rough period. By remaining strong throughout the Depression in New York while also battling a paralytic illness, FDR was an inspirational leader shaped largely by his experiences in his hometown.
Although it may not always be apparent, the place where a person grows up plays a tremendous role in shaping his beliefs and values. Presidential candidates often cite how their hometowns have played a role in these beliefs, and those strong allegiances to their hometowns make it easier for everyday people to feel some connection to their president – even if they’ve never met. No matter how long these presidents might live in Washington D.C., a little part of home is always with them and is reflected in the choices they make throughout their presidencies.