Newton Leroy McPherson was born on June 17, 1943, in Harrisburg, Pa.; his name was changed to Gingrich when he was adopted by his mother's second husband at the age of three. After graduating from Emory University in 1965, "Newt" Gingrich went on to receive a master's degree and, in 1971, a Ph.D. in modern European history from Tulane University. While completing his doctorate he joined the faculty of the history department of West Georgia College. Ambitious and restless, he ran, unsuccessfully, for the House of Representatives in 1974 and 1976. After moving further to the right politically, and running on a platform of lower taxes and opposition to the Panama Canal treaty, Gingrich was elected in 1978.