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National Archives

Fathers and Sons: Two Families, Four Presidents

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GEORGE WALKER BUSH

1946 -
Forty Third President
2001 -

EARLY LIFE

George Walker Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on July 6, 1946, the first child of George and Barbara Bush. His father, the son of Prescott Bush, Senator from Connecticut, was to become the 41st President of the United States. George W. grew up in Midland, Texas, attended the exclusive Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and continued his studies at Yale (BA 1968), just as his father had done, and finished at Harvard Business School with a Masters in Business Administration in 1975. During the Vietnam War he served in the Texas National Guard as a fighter pilot. He married Laura Welsh, a teacher and librarian, in 1977. They have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.

He spent much of the 1970s and 1980s working in the oil and gas business in Texas. He ran for office of US Representative but lost, and returned to oil prospecting. In 1987-88 Bush took leave from private business to work on his father's presidential campaign as adviser and a speechwriter, and as campaign liaison to Christian Conservatives. After his father won the presidency, George W. turned his attention to major league baseball. He put together a group of investors to purchase the Texas Rangers baseball team and ultimately became managing partner of the team from 1989 to 1994.

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TEXAS GOVERNOR

In 1994 Bush undertook what most observers believed was a futile campaign to unseat popular incumbent Democratic Governor Ann Richards, but Bush proved to be an adept campaigner with strong voter appeal, and won the election with over 53% of the votes.

During his first term as Governor, the State enjoyed substantial prosperity. While instituting large tax cuts he also promoted far-reaching welfare reform, and held firm on anti-drug and anti-crime measures as well as the death penalty. Bush provided substantial spending for public education and bilingual programs, and promoted conservative goals of educational choice through charter schools and teacher accountability.

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PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

After becoming the first governor in Texas history to be elected to two consecutive terms, Bush announced his candidacy for the Presidency. He ran as the "compassionate conservative," whose main issues were making the Republican Party more inclusive, improving education, and commitment to limited government and tax reform. He named Richard Cheney as his running mate to strengthen his experience in defense and foreign affairs. The election between Bush/Cheney and Democrats Gore/Lieberman was too close to call, but after a concession by Gore, later recalled, endless recounts in Florida, a trial in Florida and a trial at the US Supreme Court, Bush was named the 43rd President of the United States.

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THE PRESIDENCY

Bush immediately pursued his common-sense bipartisan approach by proposing strengthening public school programs with more local control and accountability, reducing taxes, strengthening social security and Medicare, and strengthening the military with better pay and equipment.

This became especially important after the infamous attacks on the World Trade Center Buildings in New York and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, by Muslim extremists. He declared war on terrorism and directed military action to destroy the terrorist training camps and staging areas in Afghanistan, restoring that country to friendly control. Bush has promised similar action against any nation harboring or promoting terrorist activity. Many nations of the world are joining the US in this effort. Work is also proceeding on solving the Israeli-Palestine problem, a continuing source of terrorist activity.

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George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas 77845
Telephone: (979) 691-4000 | Facsimile: (979) 691-4050 | TTY: (979) 691-4091