Mikhail Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931 in the town of Privolnoye, Russia. He began working on a collective farm in his teenage years, where his father worked as an engine mechanic. In school, he was a skilled student and went on to earn a degree in law at Moscow University.
During his time at the university, Mikhail also became involved in politics. He joined the communist party, becoming the secretary of his law department's young communist league. He soon elevated his position to that of regional secretary and was elected delegate to the party congress in 1961.
Mikhail had a reputation as a very honest man and became an agricultural administrator for the region containing his hometown. In 1970, he was elected to the Supreme Soviet, where he was on the conservation and foreign affairs committees. In 1971, he was elected to the central committee, where he served until he was elected first secretary of the Stavropol territory committee.
Finally, in 1980, Mikhail was elected to the Soviet Politburo, one of the highest political positions in the Soviet Union. He had advanced quickly through the communist political system, but his rise to power was not yet over. He was taken under the wing of Yuri Andropov, who had become the General Secretary in the Politburo. After Andropov's death, he was passed over for the position, which was given to Konstantin Chernenko. Chernenko's old age caught up with him less than a year after taking the post and Mikhail was given the position.
Mikhail made his intentions clear that he wanted to reform the Soviet Union to keep up with the times. Over the next six years he worked towards his goals, giving the people more freedom and ending the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. By the end of the 1980s, Mikhail had noticed that leaders of communist countries in east Europe were seeking radical reforms to their political systems and he pledged to not intervene. The dictatorships quickly collapsed, allowing democratic governments to come to power. For his benevolent efforts in foreign policy, he was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.
Mikhail supported a democracy in the Soviet Union and began allowing free elections in Russia and the other republics in the union. In 1991, communist radicals attempted a coup, but he retained his power and life. Soon after, he gave up his office in order to split the Soviet Union into a group of independent states.
After leaving office, he continued to help Russia develop an open market economy with private ownership of businesses. He was elected president of the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies, also known as the Gorbachev Foundation.