Born July 6, 1946, George W. Bush was the 43rd president of the United States (2001–09). He led his country’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and started the Iraq War in 2003. Despite losing the popular vote for the first time since 1888, George W. Bush was elected president; barely defeating Vice President Al Gore in one of the tensest and controversial elections in American history. Bush was a businessman before becoming president, and he served as governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.
Bush was the eldest child of George H.W. Bush (41st President) and Barbara Bush. Bush was born in Midland, Texas, and raised in Houston, Texas. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, from 1961 to 1964. The boarding school where his father had graduated. In 1968, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University. Bush was president of his fraternity and a member of Yale’s clandestine Skull and Bones organization.
George W. Bush applied as a pilot trainee in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1968, two weeks before his Yale graduation and the expiration of his student draft deferment. Texas Air National Guard members were less likely than regular troops to participate in the Vietnam War. In July 1968, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant, and in June 1970, he was qualified as a fighter pilot. He applied to the University of Texas law school in the fall of 1970 but was denied admittance. Bush was granted an early discharge so that he could begin Harvard Business School in the fall of 1973, despite missing at least eight months of service between May 1972 and May 1973.
Since Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, Bush was the first Republican president to have a majority in both chambers of Congress. Bush presented a $1.6 trillion tax cut package in February 2001, using his party’s strength. Despite Democratic concerns that it disproportionately benefited the rich, Congress enacted a $1.35 billion compromise package in June. Control of the Senate was formally handed to the Democrats in the same month as Republican Sen. James Jeffords quit his party to become an independent. As a result, several of Bush’s domestic proposals faced stiff opposition in the Senate.
On September 11, 2001, Bush was confronted with a catastrophe that would change his administration forever. Four American commercial jets were seized by Islamist terrorists that morning. Two of the jets were intentionally slammed into the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City, demolishing both towers and collapsing or damaging numerous other structures. A third was used to blow up a section of the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C.; the fourth plane crashed outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after passengers attempted to retake it. Approximately 3,000 people were murdered in the accidents, which were the deadliest terrorist attack on American territory.