George Herbert Walker Bush (born June 12, 1924) is an American politician who was the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and the 43rd Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. A member of the U.S. Republican Party, he was previously a congressman, ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence. He is the oldest living former President and Vice President. He is also the last living former President who is a veteran of World War II. Since 2000, Bush is often referred to as “George H. W. Bush”, “Bush 41”, “Bush the Elder”, or “George Bush Sr.” to distinguish him from his eldest son, George W. Bush, who became the 43rd President of the United States. Prior to his son’s presidency, he was simply referred to as George Bush or President Bush.
Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Bush postponed college, 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 and entered the oil business, becoming a millionaire by the age of 40.
Bush became involved in politics soon after founding his own oil company, serving as a member of the House of Representatives and Director of Central Intelligence, among other positions. He failed to win the Republican nomination for President in 1980 but was chosen as a running mate by party nominee Ronald Reagan, and the two were elected. During his tenure, 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. 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 controversy over his appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, 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. Besides being the 43rd president (2001–09), his son George also served as the 46th Governor of Texas (1995–2000) and is one of only two presidents—the other being John Quincy Adams—to be the son of a former president. His second son, Jeb Bush, served as the 43rd Governor of Florida (1999–2007) and made an unsuccessful run for the Republican Party nomination for the office in 2016