This article is about the 41st president of the United States. For his son, the 43rd president, see George W. Bush.
|George H. W. Bush|
|41st President of the United States|
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
|Vice President||Dan Quayle|
|Preceded by||Ronald Reagan|
|Succeeded by||Bill Clinton|
|43rd Vice President of the United States|
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
|Preceded by||Walter Mondale|
|Succeeded by||Dan Quayle|
|11th Director of Central Intelligence|
January 30, 1976 – January 20, 1977
|Deputy||Vernon A. Walters|
E. Henry Knoche
|Preceded by||William Colby|
|Succeeded by||Stansfield Turner|
|2nd Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People's Republic of China|
September 26, 1974 – December 7, 1975
|Preceded by||David K. E. Bruce|
|Succeeded by||Thomas S. Gates|
|49th Chair of the Republican National Committee|
January 19, 1973 – September 16, 1974
|Preceded by||Bob Dole|
|Succeeded by||Mary Smith|
|10th United States Ambassador to the United Nations|
March 1, 1971 – January 18, 1973
|Preceded by||Charles Woodruff Yost|
|Succeeded by||John A. Scali|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Texas's 7th district
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1971
|Preceded by||John Dowdy|
|Succeeded by||William Archer|
|Born||George Herbert Walker Bush|
(1924-06-12) June 12, 1924 (age 93)
Milton, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Pierce (m. 1945)|
|Relations||See Bush family|
Dorothy Walker Bush
|Education||Yale University (BA)|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1942–1945|
|Unit||Fast Carrier Task Force|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
George Herbert Walker Bush (born June 12, 1924) is an American politician who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. Prior to assuming the presidency, Bush was the 43rd Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party, he had previously been a congressman, ambassador and Director of Central Intelligence. While active in the public sector, he was known simply as George Bush; since 2001, he has often been referred to as George H. W. Bush, Bush the Elder or George Bush Senior in order to distinguish him from his eldest son, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States. He is the nation's oldest living president and vice president, as well as the longest-lived president in its history.
A member of the Bush family, he was born in Milton, Massachusetts to Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Bush postponed his university studies, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday, and became the youngest aviator in the U.S. Navy at the time. He served until the end of the war, then attended Yale University. Graduating in 1948, he moved his family to West Texas, where he entered the oil business and became a millionaire by the age of 40 in 1964. Soon after founding his own oil company, Bush became involved in politics and won election to the House of Representatives in 1966. In 1971, President Richard Nixon appointed Bush as Ambassador to the United Nations, and in 1973, Bush became the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. The following year, President Gerald Ford appointed Bush as the ambassador to the People's Republic of China and later reassigned Bush to the position of Director of Central Intelligence. Bush ran for president in 1980 but was defeated in the Republican primary by Ronald Reagan. Reagan chose Bush as his running mate, and Bush became vice president after the Reagan–Bush ticket won the 1980 election. During his eight-year tenure as vice president, Bush headed administration task forces on deregulation and fighting the War on Drugs.
In 1988, Bush ran a successful campaign to succeed Reagan as President, defeating Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis. Foreign policy drove the Bush presidency: military operations were conducted in Panama and the Persian Gulf; the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the Soviet Union dissolved two years later. Though the agreement was not ratified until after he left office, Bush also signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, which created a trade bloc consisting of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Domestically, Bush reneged on a 1988 campaign promise and, after a struggle with Congress, signed an increase in taxes that Congress had passed. In the wake of a weak recovery from an economic recession, along with continuing budget deficits and the diminution of foreign politics as a major issue in a post-Cold War political climate, he lost the 1992 presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton.
Bush left office in 1993. His presidential library was dedicated in 1997, and he has been active—often alongside Bill Clinton—in various humanitarian activities. With George W. Bush's victory in the 2000 presidential election, Bush and his son became the second father–son combination to serve as president, following John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Bush's second son Jeb Bush, served as the 43rd Governor of Florida (1999–2007) and unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Early life and education
See also: Bush family
George Herbert Walker Bush was born at 173 Adams Street in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924, to Prescott Sheldon Bush and Dorothy (Walker) Bush. The Bush family moved from Milton to Greenwich, Connecticut, shortly after his birth. Growing up, he used the nickname "Poppy".
Bush began his formal education at the Greenwich Country Day School in Greenwich. Beginning in 1938, he attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he held a number of leadership positions including president of the senior class, secretary of the student council, president of the community fund-raising group, a member of the editorial board of the school newspaper, and captain of both the varsity baseball and soccer teams.
World War II
The United States was drawn into World War II when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Six months later, Bush enlisted into the US. Navy immediately after he graduated from Phillips Academy on his eighteenth birthday. He became a naval aviator training for aircraft carrier landings and takeoffs on the USS Sable. After completing the 10-month course, he was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi on June 9, 1943 (just three days before his 19th birthday), which made him the youngest naval aviator to that date.
In September 1943, he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT-51) as the photographic officer. The following year, his squadron was based on USS San Jacinto as a member of Air Group 51, where his lanky physique earned him the nickname "Skin". During this time, the task force was victorious in one of the largest air battles of World War II: the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
After Bush's promotion to Lieutenant (junior grade) on August 1, 1944, San Jacinto commenced operations against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. Bush piloted one of four Grumman TBM Avenger aircraft from VT-51 that attacked the Japanese installations on Chichijima. His crew for the mission, which occurred on September 2, 1944, included Radioman Second Class John Delaney and Lieutenant Junior Grade William White. During their attack, the Avengers encountered intense anti-aircraft fire; Bush's aircraft was hit by flak and his engine caught on fire. Despite the fire in his aircraft, Bush completed his attack and released bombs over his target, scoring several damaging hits. With his engine ablaze, Bush flew several miles from the island, where he and one other crew member on the TBM Avenger bailed out of the aircraft; the other man's parachute did not open. Bush waited for four hours in an inflated raft, while several fighters circled protectively overhead until he was rescued by the lifeguard submarine USS Finback. For the next month, he remained on Finback and participated in the rescue of other pilots. Several of those shot down during the attack were executed, and their livers were eaten by their captors.
In November 1944, Bush returned to San Jacinto and participated in operations in the Philippines until his squadron was replaced and sent home to the United States. Through 1944, he flew 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to San Jacinto.
Because of his valuable combat experience, Bush was reassigned to Norfolk Navy Base and put in a training wing for new torpedo pilots. He was later assigned as a naval aviator in a new torpedo squadron, VT-153, based at Naval Air Station Grosse Ile, Michigan. The unconditional surrender of Japan was announced on August 15, 1945. Bush was honorably discharged the following month.
Marriage and college years
George Bush married Barbara Pierce in Rye, New York on January 6, 1945, only weeks after his return from the Pacific and shortly before entering Yale. During the war, the couple had occupied a residence in a small rented apartment in Trenton, Michigan, near Bush's Navy assignment at NAS Grosse Ile. The marriage produced six children: George Walker Bush (b. 1946), Pauline Robinson "Robin" Bush (1949–1953, died of leukemia), John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (b. 1953), Neil Mallon Pierce Bush (b. 1955), Marvin Pierce Bush (b. 1956), and Dorothy Walker Bush (b. 1959).
Bush had been accepted to Yale University prior to his enlistment in the military, but he deferred attending the school until after he completed his military service and married Barbara Pierce. While at Yale, he was enrolled in an accelerated program that allowed him to graduate in two and a half years, rather than the usual four. He was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and was elected its president. He also captained the Yale baseball team, and as a left-handed first baseman, played in the first two College World Series. As the team captain during his senior year, Bush met Babe Ruth before a game; the event took place only weeks before Ruth's death. Like his father, he was also a member of the Yale cheerleading squad. Late in his junior year, he was initiated into the Skull and Bonessecret society; his father Prescott Bush had been initiated into the same society in 1917. He graduated from Yale in 1948 as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.
After graduating from Yale, Bush moved his young family to West Texas. His father's business connections proved useful as he ventured into the oil business, starting as an oil field equipment salesman for Dresser Industries, a subsidiary of Brown Brothers Harriman (where Prescott Bush had served on the board of directors for 22 years). While working for Dresser, Bush lived in various places with his family: Odessa, Texas; Ventura, Bakersfield and Compton, California; and Midland, Texas. (According to eldest son George W. Bush, then age two, the family lived in one of the few duplexes in Odessa with an indoor bathroom, which they "shared with a couple of hookers".) Bush started the Bush-Overbey Oil Development company in 1951 and in 1953 co-founded the Zapata Petroleum Corporation, an oil company that drilled in the Permian Basin in Texas. In 1954 he was named president of the Zapata Offshore Company, a subsidiary which specialized in offshore drilling.
In 1959 (shortly after the subsidiary became independent), Bush moved the company and his family from Midland to Houston. He continued serving as president of the company until 1964, and later chairman until 1966, but his ambitions turned political. By that time, Bush had become a millionaire. According to Time.com, Bush had a net worth of $20 million in 2015.
Political career (1964–1980)
Congressional years (1967–1971)
Bush served as Chairman of the Republican Party for Harris County, Texas in 1964, but wanted to be more involved in policy making, so he set his sights high: he aimed for a U.S. Senate seat from Texas. After winning the Republican primary, Bush faced his opponent, incumbent Democrat Ralph W. Yarborough, who attacked Bush as a right-wing extremist. Bush was a strong supporter of Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, who headed the Republican ticket as the presidential candidate. Like Goldwater, Bush strongly opposed civil rights legislation in the name of states rights. Yarborough, a leading Texas liberal, supported the civil rights legislation and was reelected by 56% - 44%. The Republican candidate for governor, Jack Crichton of Dallas, who often campaigned alongside Bush before the election, lost by a much wider margin to Governor John B. Connally Jr. Bush and the Harris County Republicans played a role in the development of the new Republican Party of the late 20th century. First, Bush worked to absorb the John Birch Society members, who were trying to take over the Republican Party. Second, during and after the Civil Rights Movement, Democrats in the South who were committed to segregation left their party, and although the "country club Republicans" had differing ideological beliefs, they found common ground in hoping to expel the Democrats from power.
Bush was elected in 1966 to a House of Representatives seat from the 7th District of Texas, defeating with 57 percent of the ballots cast the Democrat Frank Briscoe, the district attorney of Harris County known for his law and order credentials and a cousin of later Governor Dolph Briscoe. Bush was the first Republican to represent Houston in the U.S. House. Bush's representative district included Tanglewood, the Houston neighborhood that was his residence; his family had moved into Tanglewood in the 1960s. His voting record in the House was generally conservative: Bush voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1968, although it was generally unpopular in his district. He supported the Nixon administration's Vietnam policies, but broke with Republicans on the issue of birth control, which he supported. Despite being a first-term congressman, Bush was appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, where he voted to abolish the military draft. He was elected to a second term in 1968.
In 1970 Nixon convinced Bush to relinquish his House seat to run for the Senate against Ralph Yarborough, a fierce Nixon critic. In the Republican primary, Bush easily defeated conservative Robert J. Morris, by a margin of 87.6% to 12.4%. Nixon came to Texas to campaign in Longview for Bush and gubernatorial candidate Paul Eggers, a Dallas lawyer who was a close friend of U.S. Senator John G. Tower. Former Congressman Lloyd Bentsen, a more moderate Democrat and native of Mission in south Texas, defeated Yarborough in the Democratic primary. Yarborough endorsed Bentsen, who defeated Bush, 53.4 to 46.6%. As Bush's political career waned, he moved out of Houston and sold his first Tanglewood house, but for periods of time continued to reside in Tanglewood.
Ambassador to the United Nations (1971–1973)
Following his 1970 loss, Bush was well known as a prominent Republican businessman from the "Sun Belt", a group of states in the Southern part of the country. Nixon noticed and appreciated the sacrifice Bush had made of his Congressional position, so he appointed him Ambassador to the United Nations. He was confirmed unanimously by the Senate, and served for two years, beginning in 1971.
Chairman of the Republican National Committee (1973–1974)
Amidst the Watergate scandal, Nixon asked Bush to become chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973. Bush accepted, and held this position when the popularity of both Nixon and the Republican Party plummeted. He defended Nixon steadfastly, but later as Nixon's complicity became clear, Bush focused more on defending the Republican Party, while still maintaining loyalty to Nixon. As chairman, Bush formally requested that Nixon eventually resign for the good of the Republican party. Nixon did this on August 9, 1974; Bush noted in his diary that "There was an aura of sadness, like somebody died.... The [resignation] speech was vintage Nixon—a kick or two at the press—enormous strains. One couldn't help but look at the family and the whole thing and think of his accomplishments and then think of the shame.... [President Gerald Ford's swearing-in offered] indeed a new spirit, a new lift."
Envoy to China (1974–1975)
President Gerald Ford appointed Bush to be Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China. Since the United States at the time maintained official relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan and not the People's Republic of China, the Liaison Office did not have the official status of an embassy and Bush did not formally hold the position of "ambassador", though he unofficially acted as one. The 14 months that he spent in China were largely seen as beneficial for U.S.-China relations.
After Ford assumed the presidency, Bush was under serious consideration for being nominated as vice president. Ford eventually narrowed his list to Nelson Rockefeller and Bush. White House Chief of StaffDonald Rumsfeld reportedly preferred Rockefeller over Bush. Rockefeller was finally named and confirmed.
Bush was again passed over for the vice presidency by Ford when the president chose Bush's future presidential rival, Senator Bob Dole, to replace Rockefeller on the 1976 presidential ticket.
Director of Central Intelligence (1976–1977)
In 1976 Ford brought Bush back to Washington to become Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), replacing William Colby. He served in this role for 357 days, from January 30, 1976, to January 20, 1977. The CIA had been rocked by a series of revelations, including those based on investigations by the Church Committee regarding illegal and unauthorized activities by the CIA, and Bush was credited with helping to restore the agency's morale. In his capacity as DCI, Bush gave national security briefings to Jimmy Carter both as a presidential candidate and as president-elect, and discussed the possibility of remaining in that position in a Carter administration, but did not do so. He was succeeded by Deputy Director of Central Intelligence E. Henry Knoche, who served as acting Director of Central Intelligence until Stansfield Turner was confirmed.
Other positions (1977–1981)
After a Democratic administration took power in 1977, Bush became chairman on the Executive Committee of the First International Bank in Houston. He later spent a year as a part-time professor of Administrative Science at Rice University's Jones School of Business beginning in 1978, the year it opened; Bush said of his time there, "I loved my brief time in the world of academia." Between 1977 and 1979, he was a director of the Council on Foreign Relations foreign policy organization.
See also: United States presidential election, 1980
Bush had decided in the late 1970s that he was going to run for president in 1980; in 1979, he attended 850 political events and traveled more than 250,000 miles (400,000 km) to campaign for the nation's highest office. In the contest for the Republican Party nomination, Bush stressed his wide range of government experience, while competing against rivals Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, Congressman John Anderson of Illinois (who would later run as an independent), Congressman Phil Crane, also of Illinois, former Governor John Connally of Texas, former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen, and the front-runner Ronald Reagan, former actor, and Governor of California.
In the primary election, Bush focused almost entirely on the Iowa caucuses, while Reagan ran a more traditional campaign. Bush represented the centrist wing in the GOP, whereas Reagan represented conservatives. Bush famously labeled Reagan's supply side-influenced plans for massive tax cuts "voodoo economics". His strategy proved useful, to some degree, as he won in Iowa with 31.5% to Reagan's 29.4%. After the win, Bush stated that his campaign was full of momentum, or "Big Mo". As a result of the loss, Reagan replaced his campaign manager, reorganized his staff, and concentrated on the New Hampshire primary. The two men agreed to a debate in the state, organized by the Nashua Telegraph, but paid for by the Reagan campaign. Reagan invited the other four candidates as well, but Bush refused to debate them, and eventually they left. The debate proved to be a pivotal moment in the campaign; when the moderator, John Breen, ordered Reagan's microphone turned off, his angry response, "I am paying for this microphone," struck a chord with the public. Bush ended up losing New Hampshire's primary with 23% to Reagan's 50%. Bush lost most of the remaining primaries as well, and formally dropped out of the race in May of that year.
With his political future in doubt, Bush sold his house in Houston and bought his grandfather's estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, known as "Walker's Point". At the Republican Convention, Reagan selected Bush as his vice presidential nominee, placing him on the winning Republican presidential ticket of 1980.
See also: Presidency of Ronald Reagan
First term, 1981–1985
As vice president, Bush generally maintained a typically low profile while he recognized the constitutional limits of the office; he avoided decision-making or criticizing Reagan in any way. As had become customary, he and his wife moved into the Vice President's residence at Number One Observatory Circle, about two miles from the White House. After selling the house in Tanglewood, the Bushes declared a room in The Houstonian Hotel in Houston as their official voting address. The Bushes attended a large number of public and ceremonial events in their positions, including many state funerals, which became a common joke for comedians. Mrs. Bush found the funerals largely beneficial, saying, "George met with many current or future heads of state at the funerals he attended, enabling him to forge personal relationships that were important to President Reagan." As the President of the Senate, Bush stayed in contact with members of Congress and kept the president informed on occurrences on Capitol Hill.
On March 30, 1981 (early into the administration), Reagan was shot and seriously wounded by John Hinckley Jr. in Washington, D.C. Bush was in Fort Worth, Texas, and immediately flew back to Washington because he was next in line to the presidency. Reagan's cabinet convened in the White House Situation Room, where they discussed various issues, including the availability of the Nuclear Football. When Bush's plane landed, his aides advised him to proceed directly to the White House by helicopter, as an image of the government still functioning despite the attack. Bush rejected the idea, responding, "Only the President lands on the South Lawn." This made a positive impression on Reagan, who recovered and returned to work within two weeks. From then on, the two men would have regular Thursday lunches in the Oval Office.
During a Tulsa, Oklahoma Republican fundraiser in June 1981, Bush stated that President Reagan was unwilling to make additional tax cut compromises with Congress.
In September 1981, Bush traveled to Mexico for participation in Independence Day celebrations there, Bush saying in a statement that President Reagan was "deeply committed to strengthening the friendship and cooperation between our countries".
In November 1981, Bush toured western Texas to offer support for beleaguered Director of the Office of Management and BudgetDavid Stockman, who he believed was intelligent but needed to adjust to managing journalists.
During a December 1981 interview, Bush stated that he was convinced news leaks by unnamed administration officials were correct and had succeeded in hurting President Reagan: "I really feel we have been undisciplined in this White House. We've not served the president well by these leaks."
On April 28, 1982, Bush met with Prime Minister of SingaporeLee Kuan Yew for a wide-ranging discussion that included speaking about regional security, the world economy, and Soviet expansionism in Southeast Asia, and later that month, Bush confirmed he was considering traveling to China during his impending trip to Asia and the Pacific amid a news conference in Seoul, South Korea.
In November 1982, Bush toured Africa, the first instance of American government visiting there since the Reagan administration began. Bush told reporters that while he would allow for heads of state to dictate how each meeting would transpire, there was an expectation on his part for discussions on the independence of Namibia, adding that the US was going to retain the position of no settlement in Namibia until Cuban troops in Angola were withdrawn. On November 15, Bush met with United States Secretary of StateGeorge P. Shultz and Yuri Andropov in Moscow, Russia to discuss human rights and arms reductions. Bush later said, "The meeting was frank, cordial and substantive. It gave both sides the opportunity to exchange views on the state of their relations."
At the end of January 1983, Bush began a seven-day tour of West Europe intended to promote the arms reduction commitment being advocated for by the Reagan administration. During a February 8 news conference in Paris, Bush said the US's invitations for the Soviet Union to consent to a reduction in medium-range missiles were supported by Western Europe, which he stated had also consented to the deployment of new American missiles starting in the latter part of the year. The following day, Bush defended American nuclear arms policy when answering British Secretary General of the Committee on Nuclear Disarmament Bruce Kent.
In September 1983, Bush met with President of RomaniaNicolae Ceaușescu, insisting during the meeting that President Reagan intended to push for arms reductions at the Geneva talks with the Soviet Union. Shortly thereafter, Bush said the US wanted better relations with all countries within the East Bloc though stressed NATO would retaliate in the event of any threatening of European military stability by the Soviets, and the vice president assailed the Soviet Union for the Berlin Wall and destroying the Korean Air Lines jetliner.
In December 1983 Bush flew to El Salvador and warned that country's military leaders to end their death squads and hold fully free elections or face the loss of U.S. aid. "It is not just the President, it is not just me or the Congress. If these death-squad murders continue, you will lose the support of the American people and that would indeed be a tragedy." Bush's aides feared for his safety and thought about calling the meeting off when they discovered apparent blood stains on the floor of the presidential palace of Álvaro Magaña. Bush was never told of the aides' concerns and a tense meeting was held in which some of Magaña's personnel brandished semiautomatic weapons and refused requests to take them outside.
Bush was assigned by Reagan to chair two special task forces, on deregulation and international drug smuggling. The deregulation task force reviewed hundreds of rules, making specific recommendations on which ones to amend or revise, in order to curb the size of the federal government. The drug smuggling task force coordinated federal efforts to reduce the quantity of drugs entering the United States. Both were popular issues with conservatives, and Bush, largely a moderate, began courting them through his work.
In January 1984, Bush reported Reagan's stance on Moscow had projected a strong image toward the Soviets as well as heightened the possibility of an arms agreement.
On February 10, 1984, President Reagan designated Bush to lead the American delegation to the funeral of Yuri V. Andropov and convey America's "hope for an improved dialogue and cooperation which can lead to a more constructive relationship between our two countries." On February 24, Bush spoke on the progress made in Grenada as a result of the Reagan administration coming into play following Vietnam, Watergate, and the presidency of Jimmy Carter
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