Exclusive interviews and photos of Senator Mitchell are also available at the Academy of Achievement website.
George J. Mitchell was born and raised in Waterville, Maine and
graduated from Waterville High School, Bowdoin College, and
Georgetown University Law Center.
Senator Mitchell was appointed to the
U.S. Senate in 1980 to complete the unexpired term of Senator Edmund
S. Muskie, who resigned to become Secretary of State. Senator
Mitchell was elected to a full term in the Senate in 1982 in a
stunning come-from-behind victory. After trailing in the public
opinion polls by 36 points, he rallied to win the election,
receiving 61 percent of the votes cast.
Senator Mitchell went on to an illustrious career in the Senate
spanning 14 years. In 1988, he was reelected with 81 percent of the
vote, the largest margin in the history of Maine. He left the Senate
in 1995 as the Senate Majority Leader, a position he had held since
January 1989. He enjoyed bipartisan respect during his tenure. It
has been said, "there is not a man, woman or child in the Capitol
who does not trust George Mitchell." For six consecutive years he
was voted "the most respected member" of the Senate.
Recently, Senator Mitchell served as chairperson of the Peace
Negotiations in Northern Ireland. Under his leadership an historic
accord, ending decades of conflict, was agreed on by the governments
of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the political parties of
Northern Ireland. In May 1998, the agreement was overwhelmingly
endorsed by the voters of Ireland, North and South, in a referendum.
Senator Mitchellís leadership in Northern Ireland earned him
worldwide praise. He has been nominated for the 1998 Nobel Peace
Prize for his efforts.
While in the Senate, Senator Mitchell served on the Finance,
Veterans Affairs, and Environment and Public Works Committees. His
work led to the enactment of nursing home standards in 1987 and the
evaluation of medical care outcomes in 1989. In his work on the
Finance Committee, he concentrated on the Medicare program, welfare
reform, and tax fairness legislation. He was the impetus for the
1990 reauthorization of the Clean Air Act, including new controls on
acid rain toxins, and led the Senate to pass the nationís first
child care bill. He authored the first national oil spill prevention
and clean up law and the low income housing tax credit program, and
was a major force behind the passage in 1991 of a major
transportation bill which provided a boost to the economy by
creating millions of jobs, rebuilding the nationís deteriorating
infrastructure, and assisting with mass transit needs.
He was instrumental in the passage of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, landmark legislation extending civil rights
protections to the disabled. His efforts also led to the passage of
a higher education bill that expands opportunities for millions of
Americans. In addition, he was a leader in opening markets to trade
and led the Senate to ratification of the North American Free Trade
Agreement and creation of the World Trade Organization.
Senator Mitchell is also the author of several well-respected books.
With his colleague, Senator Bill Cohen of Maine, he wrote Men of
Zeal, describing the Iran-Contra investigation. In 1990, Senator
Mitchell wrote his second book, World on Fire, describing the
threat of the greenhouse effect and recommending steps to curb it.
His third book, published in 1997, was Not For America Alone: The
Triumph of Democracy and The Fall of Communism. In January of
2001 he published Making Peace, which chronicles the final
moments in 1998 before Senator George Mitchell was informed that his
long and difficult quest for an Irish peace effort had succeeded.
For more information on Senator
Mitchell, you can visit the archives which hold the Mitchell Papers
at Bowdoin College:
Senator Mitchell's Keynote Address at the 2004 Maine Water Conference (4/21/04)