What Did President George H.W. Bush Accomplish?

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  • 0:04 Who Is George H.W. Bush?
  • 1:40 Fall of the Berlin Wall
  • 2:44 End of the Cold War
  • 3:26 First Gulf War
  • 4:11 ADA and Clean Air Act
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Ruth Sanders Bracy

Mary Ruth teaches college history and has a PhD.

In this lesson, we will learn about the accomplishments of President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. He was a one-term president but had some successes both at home and abroad.

Who Is George H.W. Bush?

'Read my lips: no new taxes.' Republican presidential candidate George H.W. Bush spoke these words at the Republican National Convention in 1988, promising that in his administration, there would be no new taxes on the American people. Even though went back on this promise, he had many important accomplishments, both at home and abroad.

George H.W. Bush was the 41st President of the United States, serving in that office from 1989 to 1993. In World War II, he was a U.S. Navy pilot. He was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1966, and was vice-president under Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989. He also served in many other roles, such as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Director of National Intelligence. He was born in 1924 and is married to Barbara Bush.

George H.W. Bush was a one-term president. Because of this, his accomplishments are often overlooked or minimized. However, he undertook many actions, especially in the area of foreign policy.

His most important foreign policy accomplishments were:

  • The fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany
  • The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War
  • The First Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm

Important domestic policy achievements include:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)
  • The Clean Air Act (1990)

Let's look at each of these in a little more detail.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

After World War II, the major allied powers (France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union) divided both the nation of Germany and its capital city, Berlin, into four zones of occupation. In the late 1940s, France, Great Britain, and the United States unified their zones under a democratic government, known as West Germany, but the Soviet Union refused to participate, and East Germany remained under communist control. In an attempt to keep citizens of East Berlin from fleeing to West Berlin, where there were more jobs and a freer society, East German officials constructed the Berlin Wall in 1961.

By the late 1980s, however, communist governments were beginning to collapse throughout Eastern Europe. On November 9, 1989, East German officials announced that they would allow crossings from East Berlin into West Berlin. Germans took apart the wall, which had been the symbol of the Cold War since its construction. Germany was formally reunified on October 3, 1990.

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