George H. W. Bush the Forty-First President of the United States

George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, George Herbert Walker Bush's family moved to a suburb of New York City where he was raised. His family was very wealthy, having numerous servants. Bush attended private schools. After high school, he joined the military to fight in World War II before going to Yale University. He graduated with honors in 1948 with a degree in economics.

Family Ties

George H. W. Bush was born to Prescott S. Bush, a wealthy businessman and Senator, and Dorothy Walker Bush. He had three brothers, Prescott Bush, Jonathan Bush, and William "Buck" Bush, and one sister, Nancy Ellis.

On January 6, 1945, Bush married Barbara Pierce. They had been engaged before he went off to serve in World War II. When he returned from the war in late 1944, Barbara dropped out of Smith College. They were married two weeks after his return. Together they had four sons and two daughters: George W., 43rd President of the U.S., Pauline Robinson who died at age three, John F. "Jeb" Bush - Governor of Florida, Neil M. Bush, Marvin P. Bush, and Dorothy W. "Doro" Bush.

George Bush's Military Service

Before going to college, Bush signed up to join the navy and fight in World War II. He rose to the level of lieutenant. He was a navy pilot flying 58 combat missions in the Pacific. He was injured bailing out of his burning aircraft during a mission and was rescued by a submarine.

Life and Career Before the Presidency

Bush began his career in 1948 working in the oil industry in Texas and created a lucrative career for himself. He became active in the Republican party. In 1967, he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1971, he was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He served as the chairman of the Republican National Committee (1973-4). He was the Chief Liaison to China under Ford. From 1976-77, he served as the Director of the CIA. From 1981-89, he served as Vice President under Reagan.

Becoming the President

Bush gained the nomination in 1988 to run for president. Bush chose Dan Quayle to run as Vice President. He was opposed by Democrat Michael Dukakis. The campaign was extremely negative and centered around attacks instead of plans for the future. Bush won with 54% of the popular vote and 426 out of 537 electoral votes.

Events and Accomplishments of George Bush’s Presidency

Much of George Bush's attention was focussed on foreign policies.

  • In December 1989, Bush sent troops into Panama to depose General Manuel Noriega. Noriega was heavily involved in drug trafficking. The attack was a success with Noriega removed from power.
  • From 1990-91, the U.S. and a United Nations Coalition were sent to Kuwait to remove Iraqi invading forces. This action was given the name Desert Storm. When the Iraqi forces were removed from Kuwait, Bush stopped all military activity and did not pursue deposing Saddam Hussein.
  • From 1990-91, the Soviet Union began breaking up as the Communist Party let go of its stranglehold on the country. The Berlin Wall came done in 1990.
  • Economically, Bush had boxed himself into a corner with his campaign promise, "Read my lips: No new taxes." However, he was required to sign a bill into law to raise taxes to try and reduce the deficit.
  • In 1989, many savings and loans were failing. Bush signed into law a  ​bailout plan paid for by taxpayers.

Life After the Presidency

When Bush lost in the 1992 election to Bill Clinton, he retired from public service. He has joined with Bill Clinton since the latter's retirement from the presidency to raise money for victims of the tsunami that hit in Thailand (2004) and Hurricane Katrina (2005).

Historical Significance

Bush was president when the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union fell apart. He sent troops into Kuwait to help fight Iraq and Saddam Hussein in the First Persian Gulf War. In 1989, he also ordered the removal of General Noriega from power in Panama by sending troops in.