44th President

Terms: 2009-
Political Party: Democrat
First Lady: Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama
Vice President: Joseph "Joe" Biden, Jr.

Overview

Born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii… Barack Obama is the first African-American to serve as President of the United States. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Obama served as an Illinois State Senator, and U.S. Senator from the same state. He announced his campaign for President of the United States after one term in Congress, competing with fellow Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. In his first term in the executive office, Barack Obama faced a recession and rising federal deficit, war in the Middle East, and political division at home.

The Era

  • The World Health Organization declares the new strain of H1N1 (Swine Flu) a pandemic (2009)
  • President Barack Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (2009)
  • Air France flight 447 crashes into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all on board (2009)
  • Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett die (2009)
  • A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hits Haiti, killing over 230,000 (2010)
  • The Deepwater Horizon oil platform explodes, killing 11 and creates one of the largest spills in the Gulf on record (2010)
  • Wikileaks gives the public access to thousands of classified U.S. government documents (2010)
  • A group of Chilean miners are rescued after surviving 69 days underground (2010)
  • The Arab Spring begins, sparking protests and revolutions in a number of Arab countries. Civil war erupted in Libya, resulting in the fall of its regime and the death of its ruler, Muammar Gaddafi (2010-2011)
  • A 9.1 earthquake and tsunami hits Japan (2011)
  • Great Britain's Prince William marries Catherine Middleton (2011)
  • Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is killed during an American military operation in Pakistan (2011)
  • NASA's space shuttle program ends (2011)
  • The global population reaches seven billion (2011)

As President, Barak Obama worked to promote economic recovery by signing The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, along with other stimulus bills aimed at reducing the deficit and creating jobs. Environment and energy were also a top priority issue for the President; following the Deepwater platform disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that led to the largest oil spill in American history, Obama set new safety regulations for offshore drilling. Obama also addressed national health care woes by signing the Affordable Care Act -- a controversial bill reforming private sector companies and expanding coverage for Americans.

When President Obama took office in 2009, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had been going on for nearly a decade. He approved an additional 21,000-troop surge to Afghanistan and announced the U.S. pullout from Iraq. The Iraq War officially ended on August 31, 2010, with all troops to be brought home by the end of 2011. In early 2011, Obama committed the U.S. to NATO's bombing campaign on Libya in support of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi's regime. On May 1, 2011, President Obama approved the covert operation targeting and ultimately killing terrorist Osama bin Laden.

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

We invite you to tell us your own stories - whether you lived through a tumultuous time period or learned about it from a relative, a book or a movie.



  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH