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Portrait of President Donald J. Trump

Portrait by Chas Fagan; used courtesy of C-SPAN

Donald John Trump was born in Queens, New York, on June 14, 1946. His father, Fred Trump, was a highly successful real estate developer. The elder Trump was of German heritage, and his wife, Mary McLeod, of Scottish background. Their son Donald was the second youngest of five children.

Donald Trump entered the New York Military Academy at age 13 and, at 21, graduated from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania. He was drawn at once into real estate and construction. Fred Trump stepped down as official head of his firm, Elizabeth Trump & Son, and it was renamed the Trump Organization. Donald Trump’s early projects in real estate were achieved in close concert with his father. He shifted the company’s focus toward Manhattan. In the late 1970s, when many were despairing of the future of New York City, Donald Trump achieved what he considered his first major success by transforming the old Commodore Hotel, adjoining Grand Central Station, into a new Grand Hyatt Hotel.

The most famous of his projects is the 58-story Trump Tower, on New York’s Fifth Avenue, opened in 1983 and where Trump has lived since 1984. With Der Scutt as architect, the glass-walled building, which includes retail, residential, and commercial space, has become a symbol of Trump and his career. As his business life unfolded, he became involved with a myriad of projects, including hotels, residential and commercial buildings, and casinos in America and abroad, as well as beauty pageants and sports endeavors. His first of many books was The Art of the Deal, published in 1987. Trump’s fame increased when he launched still another career in 2004 as star of The Apprentice (later The Celebrity Apprentice). Produced in a studio in Trump Tower, the series was widely viewed and aired on NBC until Donald Trump decided to run for president of the United States, which he announced in June 2015.

Trump defeated more than a dozen rivals to win the Republican nomination. After three televised debates with his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and one of the most intense and rancorous presidential campaigns in American history, he won the election held on November 8, 2016. Historically Donald Trump would become the first president to be elected without experience in the military or in political office—he cited this aspect of his biography as a virtue that would help him to “drain the swamp” in Washington—as well as the fifth president to have prevailed without a popular vote plurality.

Early on the morning after election night, in New York City, with his three sons, two daughters, and wife Melania at his side, the president-elect told his supporters, “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division . . . to all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. . . . I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.” He went on to say, “As I’ve said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement, made up of millions of hard-working men and women who love their country and want a better, brighter future for themselves and for their family.”