|2009-2016||Democrat||August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii||Obama and his wife Michelle reside at the White House.|
|Vice President||First Lady||Previous Occupations||States in Union|
|Joseph R. Biden, Jr.||Michelle Robinson Obama (Wife)||Lawyer, Public Official||50|
Obama’s parents were Barack Obama, Sr., and Ann Dunham. Obama married Michelle LaVaughn Robinson in 1989. They have two daughters, Sasha and Malia.
Promoting a message of hope and change throughout his 2008 campaign, Obama electrified voters at home and observers around the globe as he promised to end the war in Iraq, reinvigorate the economy, modernize health care, invest in early childhood education, and promote the use of alternative fuels and renewable energy. With an education in constitutional law and years of experience working as a community organizer, state senator, and senator, our first African American president entered the executive office with both knowledge and practical experience. Yet, his administration faced many daunting challenges as the global economy continued to sink into recession and military conflicts continued in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his weekly address to the nation during the first week of January 2009, Obama reaffirmed his positive stance regarding the future, “We are a people of boundless industry and ingenuity. We are innovators and entrepreneurs and have the most dedicated and productive workers in the world. And we have always triumphed in moments of trial by drawing on that great American spirit—that perseverance, determination and unyielding commitment to opportunity on which our nation was founded. And in this new year, let us resolve to do so once again.”
To confront the exploding economic crisis, Obama recommended Congress pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an $800 billion stimulus package that funneled money to state governments, transportation and infrastructure projects, and middle-class tax relief. With mostly Democratic support, Congress passed the Act and the president was able to sign it into law less than one month following his inauguration.
Following passage of the economic stimulus, Obama turned his attention to health care reform and the goal of guaranteeing health care coverage for all Americans. With an increasingly partisan Congress influenced by the growing conservative Tea Party movement, the president ultimately appealed to the American people, explaining his goals for health care reform in a televised prime-time address to Congress. This direct appeal, coupled with one-on-one meetings with skeptical members of Congress, helped the president get the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known as “Obamacare”—passed by both houses of Congress, although with no Republican support. In fact, Republican promises to repeal Obamacare became a regular theme in the 2012 presidential election campaign.
Other policy initiatives enacted during the first term of the Obama administration included abolition of the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prevented gay people from serving openly in the military; the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for women; Race to the Top, an education initiative that encouraged states to compete for $4.5 billion in extra funding; and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, financial reform aimed at restoring responsibility and accountability within financial institutions.
Withdrawing American troops from Iraq had been a key campaign promise, and in February 2009 Obama announced his plan to gradually reduce troops and withdraw all troops before 2012. In Afghanistan, however, Obama increased our military presence by 21,000 troops in an effort to prevent the Taliban and Al Qaeda from retrenching their power and terrorist activities. Recognizing a need to reassess just months later, Obama sought recommendations from American military commanders and then in December authorized a short-term surge of troops back to Afghanistan to help train Afghani military to fight the Taliban on its own.
Editor’s Note: President Obama’s legacy information will be updated when he concludes his second term.
“Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America—there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.” (Keynote Address at the Democratic National Convention, July 27, 2004)
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.” (November 4, 2008)
“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.” (Inaugural Address, January 20, 2009)
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. That is our generation’s task—to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—real for every American.” (Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013)
At This Time
2009: In January Russia shuts off all gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine, instigating an international energy dispute • Israel begins battling Hamas militants in heavy urban warfare near and around the main city of the Gaza Strip • Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois is convicted on charges of fraud and soliciting bribes and removed from office • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act becomes law • The World Health Organization acknowledges swine flu has become a global pandemic • Tens of thousand of Iranians protest the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a second term due to fraud accusations • Pop icon Michael Jackson dies due to an overdose of prescription drugs • On June 30, the U.S. military hands over security of Iraq to Iraqi forces • Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court • In August Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy dies at age 77 • President Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize • In December Obama announces 30,000 more troops will be deployed to Afghanistan • A passenger on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam ignites a small explosive device before landing in Detroit, but is thwarted by the crew
2010: A 7.0 earthquake kills more than 200,000 in Haiti • Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23 • Volcanic ash from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland leads to the closure of airspace over most of Europe • Obama signs New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty, with President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia • Explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig kills 11 and initiates massive oil discharge in Gulf of Mexico • Jessica Watson becomes youngest person to sail, non-stop and unassisted around the world solo • Operation Iraqi Freedom ends August 19 • The Copiapó mining accident in Copiapó, Chile ends as all 33 miners arrive at surface after surviving a record 69 days underground • The International Space Station surpasses the record for the longest continuous human occupation of space, having been continuously inhabited since November 2, 2000 • WikiLeaks releases more than 250,000 American diplomatic cables, including 100,000 marked “secret” or “confidential”
2011: In January anti-government protests begin in Tunisia, and then in other Arab nations, becoming known as the Arab Spring • Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigns after widespread protests calling for his departure in February • In March a 9.1-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the east of Japan, killing 15,840 and leaving thousands missing. Tsunami warnings are issued in 50 countries and territories. • Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, marries Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London in April • On May 1, President Obama announces that Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of the militant group Al-Qaeda, has been killed during an American military operation in Pakistan • In July the world’s first artificial organ transplant is achieved, an artificial windpipe • NASA’s space shuttle program ends when Atlantis lands successfully at Kennedy Space Center • NASA announces its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured photographic evidence of possible liquid water on Mars during warm seasons • Occupy Wall Street protests begin in U.S., triggering the Occupy movement, which spreads to 82 countries by October • The U.S. formally declares an end to the Iraq War on December 15.
2012: The European Union adopts an embargo against Iran in protest of that nation’s continued effort to enrich uranium • The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II marks 60th anniversary of her accession to thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand • In February Iran suspends oil exports to Britain and France following sanctions enacted by U.S. and European Union • In March the Encyclopaedia Britannica discontinues its print edition after 244 years since first publication • A pastel version of The Scream by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch sells for $120 million in a New York City auction, setting a new world record for an auctioned work of art • Tokyo Skytree, the tallest self-supporting tower in the world, is opened to public • CERN announces the discovery of a new particle with properties consistent with the Higgs boson after experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in July • In September a series of terrorist attacks is directed against U.S. diplomatic missions worldwide, as well as diplomatic missions of Germany, Switzerland, and the U.K. • In October Hurricane Sandy kills at least 209 people in the Caribbean, Bahamas, U.S., and Canada • Israel launches Operation Pillar of Defense against the Palestinian-governed Gaza Strip, killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. More violence ensues. A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is announced by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
2013: In March the Jesuit archbishop of Beunos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is elected as the new pope and becomes Pope Francis. • In April two bombs explode near the Boston Marathon finish line killing three and wounding over 260 others. • The Guardian announces in June that thousands of top secret files, including communications of millions of U.S. citizens, have been leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. • In October the federal government shuts down for 16 days because COngress is not able to appropriate funds for the next fiscal year. • The Obama administration launches an online health care exchange to enable Americans to sign up for health insurance as provided in the Affordable Care Act. IN A ROCKY START • In November the U.S. and five other world powers agree on pact with Iran to cap development of nuclear weapons.
Did You Know?
The name “Barack” means “one who is blessed” in Swahili.
Obama was a world traveler before he even started junior high. His parents met while they were both students at the University of Hawaii. His father was born and raised in a small village in Kenya, and his mother grew up in a small town in Kansas. Obama was born in Hawaii and lived there until he was six years old. Obama’s parents separated when he was only two years old, and his mother remarried four years later. The new marriage took them to Jakarta, Indonesia, on the other side of the world from the United States. Obama learned to speak Indonesian and excelled in his Indonesian school, but his mother believed he could get an even better education in the United States. So, Obama returned to Hawaii and lived with his grandparents so he could attend a private school.
Obama has read every Harry Potter book, and he collects Spider Man and Conan the Barbarian comics.
In addition to books for adults, Obama has written a book for young people titled Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.
Biographical information, essays, and access to Obama’s presidential speeches sponsored by the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.
Short essay about Obama, as well as information about his administration.
Field Trips for Barack Obama
Obama Presidential Center
When completed, the Obama Presidential Center will include a library, museum, and foundation programming on the South Side of Chicago.