John Edwards was born in Seneca, South Carolina and raised in Robbins, North Carolina, a small town in the Piedmont. There John learned the values of hard work and perseverance from his father, Wallace, who worked in the textile mills for 36 years, and from his mother, Bobbie, who ran a shop and worked at the post office. Working alongside his father at the mill, John developed his strong belief that all Americans deserve an equal opportunity to succeed and be heard.
A proud product of public schools, John became the first person in his family to attend college. He worked his way through North Carolina State University where he graduated with high honors in 1974, and then earned a law degree with honors in 1977 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For the next 20 years, John dedicated his career to representing families and children hurt by the negligence of others. Standing up against the powerful insurance industry and their armies of lawyers, John helped these families through the darkest moments of their lives to overcome tremendous challenges. His passionate advocacy for people like the folks who worked in the mill with his father earned him respect and recognition across the country.
In 1998, John took this commitment into politics to give a voice in the United States Senate to the people he had represented throughout his career. He ran for the Senate and won, defeating an incumbent Senator.
In Congress, Senator Edwards quickly emerged as a champion for the issues that make a difference to American families: quality health care, better schools, protecting civil liberties, preserving the environment, saving Social Security and Medicare, and reforming the ways campaigns are financed.
As a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Edwards worked tirelessly for a strong national defense and to strengthen the security of our homeland. He authored key pieces of legislation on cyber, bio, and port security.
Senator Edwards brought a positive message of change to the 2004 presidential primaries. During the primary season he spoke about the two Americas that exist in our country today: one for people at the top who have everything they need and one for everybody else who struggle to get by. This powerful message resonated with voters all across America.
After the Democratic primaries, Senator John Kerry picked Senator Edwards to serve as his running mate in the 2004 general election, and Senator Edwards crisscrossed the country and campaigned tirelessly on Senator Kerry’s behalf.
Today, he is the Director of the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Senator Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, whom he met when both were law students at Chapel Hill, were married in 1977. They have had four children, including: their eldest daughter, Catharine, who lives in New York; seven-year-old Emma Claire, and a five-year-old son, Jack. Their first child, Wade, died in 1996.