Ronald Reagan
American actor and politician, 33rd Governor of California, 40th President of the United States
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States. Prior to that, he was the 33rd Governor of California (1967–75), and a radio, film and television actor. Born in Tampico, Illinois, and raised in Dixon, Reagan was educated at Eureka College, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Sociology.
Biography
Ronald Reagan's personal information overview.
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Photo Albums
Popular photos of Ronald Reagan
News
News abour Ronald Reagan from around the web
What's a Presidential Library to Do?
NYTimes - over 5 years
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -- When Republicans gathered at the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum here for the presidential debate last week, the backdrop was an overhauled exhibition on the Reagan presidency, done under the watchful eye of Nancy Reagan. It is intended, in part, to be a more complete depiction of the Reagan presidency, replacing one that
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51% See Being Compared to Reagan As A Positive for a Candidate - The FINANCIAL
Google News - over 5 years
The FINANCIAL -- Describing a political candidate as being “like Ronald Reagan” is a winner as far as most voters are concerned. Being called “a socialist” or “a career politician,” on the other hand, is a sure loser. Continuing Rasmussen Reports'
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Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center receives ACCF's GWTG Gold award - News-Medical.net
Google News - over 5 years
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is one of only 167 hospitals nationwide to receive the American College of Cardiology Foundation's NCDR ACTION Registry-GWTG (Get with the Guidelines) Gold Performance Achievement Award for 2011
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USS Ronald Reagan docks in the islands - KHON2
Google News - over 5 years
That's the sentiment from thousands of sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan who arrived Wednesday morning. The crew spent the past seven months assisting with the recovery effort in Japan and supporting our troops in the Middle East
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Can Obama Pull a Reagan? - Wall Street Journal
Google News - over 5 years
Democrats inside and outside the White House are looking for a comeback strategy for President Obama, and their model is Ronald Reagan. By STEPHEN MOORE Democrats inside and outside the White House are looking for a comeback strategy for President
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OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; The Strike That Busted Unions
NYTimes - over 5 years
Washington THIRTY years ago today, when he threatened to fire nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers unless they called off an illegal strike, Ronald Reagan not only transformed his presidency, but also shaped the world of the modern workplace. More than any other labor dispute of the past three decades, Reagan's confrontation with the Professional
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Joel Nelsen: Subsidy programs outlive their value - Visalia Times-Delta
Google News - over 5 years
Ronald Reagan once stated that a government program is the only thing that outlives life and death. President Barack Obama told Congress to "eat your peas." While the latter is not yet in the company of the former world leaders, his admonishment was as
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Rich Lowry: Reagan and the road to Zion - Salt Lake Tribune
Google News - over 5 years
Ronald Reagan, God rest his soul, has been dead for seven years. This is long enough for liberals to feel safe making him their pet Republican. In their telling, Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, passed tax increases,
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Deputy to lt. gov., Bryant highlights service - Hattiesburg American
Google News - over 5 years
AP Writer Phil Bryant was part of a Jaycees group invited to the White House in 1986 to meet President Ronald Reagan. He remembers sitting in the Roosevelt Room, near the Oval Office, and being in awe as the broad-shouldered Republican icon strode into
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Lawmakers continue to invoke Reagan in debt-ceiling debate - The Hill (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Democrats and Republicans are continuing to invoke former President Ronald Reagan in their arguments on the debt ceiling. On his Twitter account, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) used an image of Tea Party Rep. ... - -
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Ronald Reagan
    THIRTIES
  • 2004
    Reagan died of pneumonia, complicated by Alzheimer's disease, at his home in Bel Air, California, on the afternoon of June 5, 2004.
    More Details Hide Details A short time after his death, Nancy Reagan released a statement saying, "My family and I would like the world to know that President Ronald Reagan has died after 10 years of Alzheimer's disease at 93 years of age. We appreciate everyone's prayers." President George W. Bush declared June 11 a national day of mourning, and international tributes came in from around the world. Reagan's body was taken to the Kingsley and Gates Funeral Home in Santa Monica, California later in the day, where well-wishers paid tribute by laying flowers and American flags in the grass. On June 7, his body was removed and taken to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where a brief family funeral was held conducted by Pastor Michael Wenning. His body lay in repose in the Library lobby until June 9; over 100,000 people viewed the coffin.
  • 2002
    Every year from 2002, California Governors Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed February 6 "Ronald Reagan Day" in the state of California in honor of their most famous predecessor.
    More Details Hide Details In 2010, Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 944, authored by Senator George Runner, to make every February 6 Ronald Reagan Day in California. In 2007, Polish President Lech Kaczyński posthumously conferred on Reagan the highest Polish distinction, the Order of the White Eagle, saying that Reagan had inspired the Polish people to work for change and helped to unseat the repressive communist regime; Kaczyński said it "would not have been possible if it was not for the tough-mindedness, determination, and feeling of mission of President Ronald Reagan." Reagan backed the nation of Poland throughout his presidency, supporting the anti-communist Solidarity movement, along with Pope John Paul II; the Ronald Reagan Park, a public facility in Gdańsk, was named in his honor. On June 3, 2009, Nancy Reagan unveiled a statue of her late husband in the United States Capitol rotunda. The statue represents the state of California in the National Statuary Hall Collection. After Reagan's death, both major American political parties agreed to erect a statue of Reagan in the place of that of Thomas Starr King. The day before, President Obama signed the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act into law, establishing a commission to plan activities to mark the upcoming centenary of Reagan's birth.
    Congress authorized the creation of the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon, Illinois in 2002, pending federal purchase of the property.
    More Details Hide Details On May 16 of that year, Nancy Reagan accepted the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress, on behalf of the president and herself. After Reagan's death, the United States Postal Service issued a President Ronald Reagan commemorative postage stamp in 2005. Later in the year, CNN, along with the editors of Time magazine, named him the "most fascinating person" of the network's first 25 years; Time listed Reagan one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century as well. The Discovery Channel asked its viewers to vote for The Greatest American in June 2005; Reagan placed in first place, ahead of Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. In 2006, Reagan was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum.
  • 2001
    Gallup polls in 2001 and 2007 ranked him number one or number two when correspondents were asked for the greatest president in history.
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    On February 6, 2001, Reagan reached the age of 90, becoming the third former president to do so (the other two being John Adams and Herbert Hoover, with Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter later reaching 90).
    More Details Hide Details Reagan's public appearances became much less frequent with the progression of the disease, and as a result, his family decided that he would live in quiet semi-isolation with his wife Nancy. Nancy Reagan told CNN's Larry King in 2001 that very few visitors were allowed to see her husband because she felt that "Ronnie would want people to remember him as he was." After her husband's diagnosis and death, Nancy Reagan became a stem-cell research advocate, urging Congress and President George W. Bush to support federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, something Bush opposed. In 2009, she praised President Barack Obama for lifting restrictions on such research. Nancy Reagan said that she believed it could lead to a cure for Alzheimer's.
    President Reagan's Covert Action program has been given credit for assisting in ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, though some of the United States funded armaments introduced then would later pose a threat to U.S. troops in the 2001 War in Afghanistan.
    More Details Hide Details However, in a break from the Carter policy of arming Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, Reagan also agreed with the communist government in China to reduce the sale of arms to Taiwan.
  • 2000
    Reagan ranked third of post–World War II presidents in a 2007 Rasmussen Reports poll, fifth in an ABC 2000 poll, ninth in another 2007 Rasmussen poll, and eighth in a late 2008 poll by United Kingdom newspaper The Times.
    More Details Hide Details In a Siena College survey of over 200 historians, however, Reagan ranked sixteenth out of 42. While the debate about Reagan's legacy is ongoing, the 2009 Annual C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leaders ranked Reagan the 10th greatest president. The survey of leading historians rated Reagan number 11 in 2000. In 2011, the Institute for the Study of the Americas released the first ever UK academic survey to rate U.S. presidents. This poll of UK specialists in U.S. history and politics placed Reagan as the eighth greatest U.S. president. Reagan's ability to connect with Americans earned him the laudatory moniker "The Great Communicator." Of it, Reagan said, "I won the nickname the great communicator. But I never thought it was my style that made a difference—it was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things." His age and soft-spoken speech gave him a warm grandfatherly image.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1999
    As the years went on, the disease slowly destroyed Reagan's mental capacity. He was only able to recognize a few people, including his wife, Nancy. He remained active, however; he took walks through parks near his home and on beaches, played golf regularly, and until 1999 he often went to his office in nearby Century City.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan suffered a fall at his Bel Air home on January 13, 2001, resulting in a broken hip. The fracture was repaired the following day and the 89-year-old Reagan returned home later that week, although he faced difficult physical therapy at home.
  • 1998
    In 1998 the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation awarded Reagan its Naval Heritage award for his support of the U S Navy and military in both his film career and while he served as president.
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    On Reagan's 87th birthday, in 1998, Washington National Airport was renamed Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport by a bill signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
    More Details Hide Details That year, the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center was dedicated in Washington, D.C. He was among 18 included in Gallup's most admired man and woman poll of the 20th century, from a poll conducted in the U.S. in 1999; two years later, was christened by Nancy Reagan and the United States Navy. It is one of few Navy ships christened in honor of a living person and the first aircraft carrier to be named in honor of a living former president.
  • 1994
    His final public speech was on February 3, 1994, during a tribute to him in Washington, D.C., and his last major public appearance was at the funeral of Richard Nixon on April 27, 1994.
    More Details Hide Details On April 13, 1992, Reagan was assaulted by an anti-nuclear protester during a luncheon speech while accepting an award from the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas. The protester, 41-year old Richard Paul Springer, smashed a 2-foot-high 30-pound crystal statue of an eagle that the broadcasters had given the former president. Flying shards of glass hit Reagan, but he was not injured. Using media credentials, Springer intended to announce government plans for an underground nuclear weapons test in the Nevada desert the following day. Springer was the founder of an anti-nuclear group called the 100th Monkey. Following his arrest on assault charges, a Secret Service spokesman could not explain how Springer got past the federal agents who guarded Reagan's life at all times. Later, Springer pled guilty to reduced charges and said he hadn't meant to hurt Reagan through his actions. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor federal charge of interfering with the Secret Service, but other felony charges of assault and resisting officers were dropped.
    While having planned an active post-presidency, in 1994 Reagan disclosed his diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease earlier that year, appearing publicly for the last time at the funeral of Richard Nixon; he died ten years later in 2004 at the age of 93.
    More Details Hide Details An icon among Republicans, he ranks favorably in public and critical opinion of U.S. Presidents, and his tenure constituted a realignment toward conservative policies in the United States.
  • 1993
    For example, Reagan repeated a toast to Margaret Thatcher, with identical words and gestures, at his 82nd-birthday party on February 6, 1993.
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    On January 18, 1993, Reagan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (awarded with distinction), the highest honor that the United States can bestow, from President George H. W. Bush, his Vice President and successor.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan was also awarded the Republican Senatorial Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed by Republican members of the Senate.
  • 1992
    Reagan's doctors say that he only began exhibiting overt symptoms of the illness in late 1992 or 1993, several years after he had left office.
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    In 1992 Reagan established the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award with the newly formed Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
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  • 1991
    Five months after the end of his term, the Berlin Wall fell, and on December 26, 1991, nearly three years after he left office, the Soviet Union collapsed.
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    Previously on November 4, 1991, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was dedicated and opened to the public.
    More Details Hide Details At the dedication ceremonies, five presidents were in attendance, as well as six first ladies, marking the first time that five presidents were gathered in the same location. Reagan continued publicly to speak in favor of a line-item veto; the Brady Bill; a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget; and the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, which prohibits anyone from serving more than two terms as president.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1989
    Japan awarded him the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum in 1989; he was the second American president to receive the order and the first to have it given to him for personal reasons (Dwight D. Eisenhower received it as a commemoration of U.S.-Japanese relations).
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    In 1989, Reagan was made an Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, one of the highest British orders (this entitled him to the use of the post-nominal letters "GCB" but, as a foreign national, not to be known as "Sir Ronald Reagan"); only two American presidents have received this honor, Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan was also named an honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford.
    In his autobiography, An American Life, Reagan expressed his optimism about the new direction that they charted and his warm feelings for Gorbachev. In November 1989, ten months after Reagan left office, the Berlin Wall was opened, the Cold War was unofficially declared over at the Malta Summit on December 3, 1989, and two years later, the Soviet Union collapsed.
    More Details Hide Details Early in his presidency, Reagan started wearing a custom, technologically advanced hearing aid, first in his right ear and later in his left as well. His decision to go public in 1983 regarding his wearing the small, audio-amplifying device boosted their sales. On July 13, 1985, Reagan underwent surgery at Bethesda Naval Hospital to remove cancerous polyps from his colon. He relinquished presidential power to the Vice President for eight hours in a similar procedure as outlined in the 25th Amendment, which he specifically avoided invoking. The surgery lasted just under three hours and was successful. Reagan resumed the powers of the presidency later that day. In August of that year, he underwent an operation to remove skin cancer cells from his nose. In October, additional skin cancer cells were detected on his nose and removed. In January 1987, Reagan underwent surgery for an enlarged prostate which caused further worries about his health. No cancerous growths were found, however, and he was not sedated during the operation. In July of that year, aged 76, he underwent a third skin cancer operation on his nose.
    Nancy Reagan, citing what doctors told her, asserted that her husband's 1989 fall hastened the onset of Alzheimer's disease, although acute brain injury has not been conclusively proven to accelerate Alzheimer's or dementia.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan's one-time physician Daniel Ruge has said it is possible, but not certain, that the horse accident affected the course of Reagan's memory.
    Complicating the picture, Reagan suffered an episode of head trauma in July 1989, five years before his diagnosis.
    More Details Hide Details After being thrown from a horse in Mexico, a subdural hematoma was found and surgically treated later in the year.
    After leaving office in 1989, the Reagans purchased a home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, in addition to the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara.
    More Details Hide Details They regularly attended Bel Air Church and occasionally made appearances on behalf of the Republican Party; Reagan delivered a well-received speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention.
    On January 7, 1989, Reagan underwent surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to repair a Dupuytren's contracture of the ring finger of his left hand.
    More Details Hide Details The surgery lasted for more than three hours and was performed under regional anesthesia. This procedure was done just thirteen days before he left office. For this reason he had a hand and finger bandage the day of his farewell speech and the day of the inauguration of George H. W. Bush. During his 1980 campaign, Reagan pledged that, if given the opportunity, he would appoint the first female Supreme Court Justice. That opportunity came in his first year in office when he nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Potter Stewart. In his second term, Reagan elevated William Rehnquist to succeed Warren E. Burger as Chief Justice, and named Antonin Scalia to fill the vacant seat. Reagan nominated conservative jurist Robert Bork to the high court in 1987. Senator Ted Kennedy, a Democrat of Massachusetts, strongly condemned Bork, and great controversy ensued. Bork's nomination was rejected 58–42. Reagan then nominated Douglas Ginsburg, but Ginsburg withdrew his name from consideration after coming under fire for his cannabis use. Anthony Kennedy was eventually confirmed in his place. Along with his three Supreme Court appointments, Reagan appointed 83 judges to the United States courts of appeals, and 290 judges to the United States district courts.
    By the end of 1989, the year Reagan left office, 115,786 people had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States, and more than 70,000 of them had died of it.
    More Details Hide Details It has been suggested that far fewer would have died, both then and in the decades that followed, if the Reagan administration had applied the same determination in combatting AIDS as the Ford administration had applied to fighting Legionnaires' disease.
    Leaving office in 1989, Reagan held an approval rating of sixty-eight percent, matching those of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later Bill Clinton, as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era.
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  • 1988
    When Reagan visited Moscow for the fourth summit in 1988, he was viewed as a celebrity by the Soviets.
    More Details Hide Details A journalist asked the president if he still considered the Soviet Union the evil empire. "No," he replied, "I was talking about another time, another era." At Gorbachev's request, Reagan gave a speech on free markets at the Moscow State University.
  • 1987
    Before Gorbachev's visit to Washington, D.C., for the third summit in 1987, the Soviet leader announced his intention to pursue significant arms agreements.
    More Details Hide Details The timing of the announcement led Western diplomats to contend that Gorbachev was offering major concessions to the United States on the levels of conventional forces, nuclear weapons, and policy in Eastern Europe. He and Reagan signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) at the White House, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. The two leaders laid the framework for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I; Reagan insisted that the name of the treaty be changed from Strategic Arms Limitation Talks to Strategic Arms Reduction Talks.
    Speaking at the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, Reagan challenged Gorbachev to go further, saying "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate!
    More Details Hide Details Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
  • 1986
    But there was also speculation over how long Reagan had demonstrated symptoms of mental degeneration. Former CBS White House correspondent Lesley Stahl recounted that, in her final meeting with the president in 1986, Reagan did not seem to know who Stahl was, and that she came close to reporting that Reagan was senile, but at the end of the meeting, Reagan had regained his alertness.
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    In 1986, the Iran–Contra affair became a problem for the administration stemming from the use of proceeds from covert arms sales to Iran during the Iran–Iraq War to fund the Contra rebels fighting against the government in Nicaragua, which had been specifically outlawed by an act of Congress.
    More Details Hide Details The affair became a political scandal in the United States during the 1980s. The International Court of Justice, whose jurisdiction to decide the case was disputed by the United States, ruled that the United States had violated international law and breached treaties in Nicaragua in various ways. President Reagan professed that he was unaware of the plot's existence. He opened his own investigation and appointed two Republicans and one Democrat (John Tower, Brent Scowcroft and Edmund Muskie, known as the "Tower Commission") to investigate the scandal. The commission could not find direct evidence that Reagan had prior knowledge of the program, but criticized him heavily for his disengagement from managing his staff, making the diversion of funds possible. A separate report by Congress concluded that "If the president did not know what his national security advisers were doing, he should have." Reagan's popularity declined from 67% to 46% in less than a week, the greatest and quickest decline ever for a president. The scandal resulted in fourteen indictments within Reagan's staff, and eleven convictions.
    Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986.
    More Details Hide Details The act made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants, required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status, and granted amnesty to approximately three million illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982, and had lived in the country continuously. Critics argue that the employer sanctions were without teeth and failed to stem illegal immigration. Upon signing the act at a ceremony held beside the newly refurbished Statue of Liberty, Reagan said, "The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans." Reagan also said, "The employer sanctions program is the keystone and major element. It will remove the incentive for illegal immigration by eliminating the job opportunities which draw illegal aliens here."
    By a vote of 79 in favor to 28 against with 33 abstentions, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 41/38 which "condemns the military attack perpetrated against the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on April 15, 1986, which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law."
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    In 1986, Reagan signed a drug enforcement bill that budgeted $1.7 billion to fund the War on Drugs and specified a mandatory minimum penalty for drug offenses.
    More Details Hide Details The bill was criticized for promoting significant racial disparities in the prison population and critics also charged that the policies did little to reduce the availability of drugs on the street, while resulting in a great financial burden for America. Defenders of the effort point to success in reducing rates of adolescent drug use. First Lady Nancy Reagan made the War on Drugs her main priority by founding the "Just Say No" drug awareness campaign, which aimed to discourage children and teenagers from engaging in recreational drug use by offering various ways of saying "no." Nancy Reagan traveled to 65 cities in 33 states, raising awareness about the dangers of drugs including alcohol.
    The disintegration of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986, proved a pivotal moment in Reagan's presidency. All seven astronauts aboard were killed. On the night of the disaster, Reagan delivered a speech, written by Peggy Noonan, in which he said: In 1988, near the end of the Iran–Iraq War, the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes accidentally shot down Iran Air Flight 655 killing 290 civilian passengers.
    More Details Hide Details The incident further worsened already tense Iran–United States relations. Reagan announced a War on Drugs in 1982, in response to concerns about the increasing crack epidemic. Though Nixon had previously declared a war on drugs, Reagan advocated more militant policies. He said that "drugs were menacing our society" and promised to fight for drug-free schools and workplaces, expanded drug treatment, stronger law enforcement and drug interdiction efforts, and greater public awareness.
    The Tax Reform Act of 1986, another bipartisan effort championed by Reagan, simplified the tax code by reducing the number of tax brackets to four and slashing a number of tax breaks.
    More Details Hide Details The top rate was dropped to 28%, but capital gains taxes were increased on those with the highest incomes from 20% to 28%. The increase of the lowest tax bracket from 11% to 15% was more than offset by expansion of the personal exemption, standard deduction, and earned income tax credit. The net result was the removal of six million poor Americans from the income tax roll and a reduction of income tax liability at all income levels. The net effect of all Reagan-era tax bills was a 1% decrease in government revenues when compared to Treasury Department revenue estimates from the Administration's first post-enactment January budgets. However, federal income tax receipts increased from 1980 to 1989, rising from $308.7 billion to $549 billion or an average annual rate of 8.2% (2.5% attributed to higher Social Security receipts), and federal outlays grew at an annual rate of 7.1%.
  • 1985
    In 1985, Reagan visited a German military cemetery in Bitburg to lay a wreath with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
    More Details Hide Details It was determined that the cemetery held the graves of forty-nine members of the Waffen-SS. Reagan issued a statement that called the Nazi soldiers buried in that cemetery as themselves "victims," a designation which ignited a stir over whether Reagan had equated the SS men to victims of the Holocaust; Pat Buchanan, Reagan's Director of Communications, argued that the president did not equate the SS members with the actual Holocaust. Now strongly urged to cancel the visit, the president responded that it would be wrong to back down on a promise he had made to Chancellor Kohl. He ultimately attended the ceremony where two military generals laid a wreath.
    Reagan was sworn in as president for the second time on January 20, 1985, in a private ceremony at the White House.
    More Details Hide Details At 73 years of age, he was the oldest person to ever have been sworn into a second term. Because January 20 fell on a Sunday, a public celebration was not held but took place in the Capitol rotunda the following day. January 21 was one of the coldest days on record in Washington, D.C.; due to poor weather, inaugural celebrations were held inside the Capitol. In the coming weeks he shook up his staff somewhat, moving White House Chief of Staff James Baker to Secretary of the Treasury and naming Treasury Secretary Donald Regan, a former Merrill Lynch officer, Chief of Staff.
  • 1984
    Dr. John E. Hutton, Reagan's primary physician from 1984 to 1989, said the president "absolutely" did not "show any signs of dementia or Alzheimer's."
    More Details Hide Details His former Chief of Staff James Baker considered "ludicrous" the idea that Reagan slept during cabinet meetings. Other staff members, former aides, and friends said they saw no indication of Alzheimer's while he was president. Reagan did experience occasional memory lapses, though, especially with names.
    Reagan's opponent in the 1984 presidential election was former Vice President Walter Mondale.
    More Details Hide Details With questions about Reagan's age, and a weak performance in the first presidential debate, his ability to perform the duties of president for another term was questioned. His apparent confused and forgetful behavior was evident to his supporters; they had previously known him clever and witty. Rumors began to circulate that he had Alzheimer's disease. Reagan rebounded in the second debate, and confronted questions about his age, quipping, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience," which generated applause and laughter, even from Mondale himself. That November, Reagan was re-elected, winning 49 of 50 states. The president's overwhelming victory saw Mondale carry only his home state of Minnesota (by 3,800 votes) and the District of Columbia. Reagan won a record 525 electoral votes, the most of any candidate in United States history, and received 59% of the popular vote to Mondale's 41%.
    Reagan accepted the Republican nomination in Dallas, Texas. He proclaimed that it was "morning again in America," regarding the recovering economy and the dominating performance by the U.S. athletes at the 1984 Summer Olympics, among other things.
    More Details Hide Details He became the first president to open an Olympic Games held in the United States.
  • 1983
    On October 25, 1983, Reagan ordered U.S. forces to invade Grenada (codenamed "Operation Urgent Fury") where a 1979 coup d'état had established an independent non-aligned Marxist–Leninist government.
    More Details Hide Details A formal appeal from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) led to the intervention of U.S. forces; President Reagan also cited an allegedly regional threat posed by a Soviet-Cuban military build-up in the Caribbean and concern for the safety of several hundred American medical students at St. George's University as adequate reasons to invade. Operation Urgent Fury was the first major military operation conducted by U.S. forces since the Vietnam War, several days of fighting commenced, resulting in a U.S. victory, with 19 American fatalities and 116 wounded American soldiers. In mid-December, after a new government was appointed by the governor-general, U.S. forces withdrew.
    With the approval of Congress, Reagan in 1983 sent forces to Lebanon to reduce the threat of the Lebanese Civil War. The American peacekeeping forces in Beirut, a part of a multinational force during the Lebanese Civil War, were attacked on October 23, 1983.
    More Details Hide Details The Beirut barracks bombing killed 241 American servicemen and wounded more than 60 others by a suicide truck bomber. Reagan sent in the USS New Jersey battleship to shell Syrian positions in Lebanon. He then withdrew all the Marines from Lebanon.
    In March 1983, Reagan introduced the Strategic Defense Initiative, a defense project that would have used ground- and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan believed that this defense shield could make nuclear war impossible. There was much disbelief surrounding the program's scientific feasibility, leading opponents to dub SDI "Star Wars" and argue that its technological objective was unattainable. The Soviets became concerned about the possible effects SDI would have; leader Yuri Andropov said it would put "the entire world in jeopardy." For those reasons, David Gergen, former aide to President Reagan, believes that in retrospect, SDI hastened the end of the Cold War. Critics labeled Reagan's foreign policies as aggressive, imperialistic, and chided them as "warmongering," though they were supported by leading American conservatives who argued that they were necessary to protect U.S. security interests. The Reagan administration also backed anti-communist leaders accused of severe human rights violations, such as Efraín Ríos Montt of Guatemala and Hissène Habré of Chad.
    As a result of the shootdown, and the cause of KAL 007's going astray thought to be inadequacies related to its navigational system, Reagan announced on September 16, 1983, that the Global Positioning System would be made available for civilian use, free of charge, once completed in order to avert similar navigational errors in future.
    More Details Hide Details Under a policy that came to be known as the Reagan Doctrine, Reagan and his administration also provided overt and covert aid to anti-communist resistance movements in an effort to "rollback" Soviet-backed communist governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Reagan deployed the CIA's Special Activities Division to Afghanistan and Pakistan. They were instrumental in training, equipping and leading Mujahideen forces against the Soviet Army.
    In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals on March 8, 1983, Reagan called the Soviet Union "an evil empire."
    More Details Hide Details After Soviet fighters downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007 near Moneron Island on September 1, 1983, carrying 269 people, including Georgia congressman Larry McDonald, Reagan labeled the act a "massacre" and declared that the Soviets had turned "against the world and the moral precepts which guide human relations among people everywhere." The Reagan administration responded to the incident by suspending all Soviet passenger air service to the United States, and dropped several agreements being negotiated with the Soviets, wounding them financially.
    On March 3, 1983, he predicted that communism would collapse, stating, "Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written."
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    It has been alleged that he was overheard telling Israeli foreign minister Yitzhak Shamir in 1983 that he had filmed that footage himself and helped liberate Auschwitz, though this purported conversation was disputed by Secretary of State George P. Shultz.
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  • 1982
    Unemployment peaked at 10.8% monthly rate in December 1982—higher than any time since the Great Depression—then dropped during the rest of Reagan's presidency.
    More Details Hide Details Sixteen million new jobs were created, while inflation significantly decreased.
    Together with the United Kingdom's prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Reagan denounced the Soviet Union in ideological terms. In a famous address on June 8, 1982, to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster, Reagan said, "the forward march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism–Leninism on the ash heap of history."
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  • 1981
    Relations between Libya and the United States under President Reagan were continually contentious, beginning with the Gulf of Sidra incident in 1981; by 1982, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was considered by the CIA to be, along with USSR leader Leonid Brezhnev and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, part of a group known as the "unholy trinity" and was also labeled as "our international public enemy number one" by a CIA official.
    More Details Hide Details These tensions were later revived in early April 1986, when a bomb exploded in a Berlin discothèque, resulting in the injury of 63 American military personnel and death of one serviceman. Stating that there was "irrefutable proof" that Libya had directed the "terrorist bombing," Reagan authorized the use of force against the country. In the late evening of April 15, 1986, the United States launched a series of airstrikes on ground targets in Libya. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the UK allowed the U.S. Air Force to use Britain's air bases to launch the attack, on the justification that the UK was supporting America's right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The attack was designed to halt Gaddafi's "ability to export terrorism," offering him "incentives and reasons to alter his criminal behavior." The president addressed the nation from the Oval Office after the attacks had commenced, stating, "When our citizens are attacked or abused anywhere in the world on the direct orders of hostile regimes, we will respond so long as I'm in this office." The attack was condemned by many countries.
    The Reagan administration largely ignored the AIDS crisis, which began to unfold in the United States in 1981, the same year Reagan took office.
    More Details Hide Details AIDS research was chronically underfunded during Reagan's administration, and requests for more funding by doctors at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were routinely denied. By the end of the first 12 months of the epidemic, when more than 1,000 people had died of AIDS in the U.S., the CDC had spent less than $1 million on AIDS research. In contrast, funding had been made amply available to the CDC in their efforts to stop Legionnaires' disease after an outbreak in 1976; the CDC had spent $9 million in fighting Legionnaires' disease, though the outbreak had caused fewer than 50 deaths. By the time President Reagan had given his first speech on the epidemic, some six years into his presidency, 36,058 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS and 20,849 had died of it.
    According to historian and domestic policy adviser Bruce Bartlett, Reagan's tax increases over the course of his presidency took back half of the 1981 tax cut.
    More Details Hide Details Further following his opposition to government intervention, Reagan cut the budgets of non-military programs including Medicaid, food stamps, federal education programs and the EPA. While he protected entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, his administration attempted to purge many people with disabilities from the Social Security disability rolls. The administration's stance toward the Savings and Loan industry contributed to the savings and loan crisis. It is also suggested, by a minority of Reaganomics' critics, that the policies partially influenced the stock market crash of 1987, but there is no consensus regarding a single source for the crash. In order to cover newly spawned federal budget deficits, the United States borrowed heavily both domestically and abroad, raising the national debt from $997 billion to $2.85 trillion. Reagan described the new debt as the "greatest disappointment" of his presidency.
    Along with Reagan's 1981 cut in the top regular tax rate on unearned income, he reduced the maximum capital gains rate to only 20%.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan later set tax rates on capital gains at the same level as the rates on ordinary income like salaries and wages, with both topping out at 28%. Reagan is viewed as an antitax hero despite raising taxes eleven times over the course of his presidency, all in the name of fiscal responsibility. According to Paul Krugman, "Over all, the 1982 tax increase undid about a third of the 1981 cut; as a share of GDP, the increase was substantially larger than Mr. Clinton's 1993 tax increase."
    Conversely, Congress passed and Reagan signed into law tax increases of some nature in every year from 1981 to 1987 to continue funding such government programs as Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), Social Security, and the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 (DEFRA).
    More Details Hide Details Despite the fact that TEFRA was the "largest peacetime tax increase in American history," gross domestic product (GDP) growth recovered strongly after the early 1980s recession ended in 1982, and grew during his eight years in office at an annual rate of 7.9% per year, with a high of 12.2% growth in 1981.
    During Reagan's presidency, federal income tax rates were lowered significantly with the signing of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which lowered the top marginal tax bracket from 70% to 50% and the lowest bracket from 14% to 11%.
    More Details Hide Details Other tax increases passed by Congress and signed by Reagan ensured however that tax revenues over his two terms were 18.2% of GDP as compared to 18.1% over the 40-year period of 1970–2010. Then, in 1982 the Job Training Partnership Act of 1982 was signed into law, initiating one of the United States' first public–private partnerships and a major part of the president's job creation program. Reagan's Assistant Secretary of Labor and Chief of Staff, Al Angrisani, was a primary architect of the bill.
    His policy of "peace through strength" resulted in a record peacetime defense buildup including a 40% real increase in defense spending between 1981 and 1985.
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    In response to conservative criticism that the State Department lacked hardliners, Reagan in 1981 nominated Ernest W. Lefever as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.
    More Details Hide Details Lefever performed poorly at his confirmation hearings and the Senate committee rejected his nomination by vote of 4–13; Lefever withdrew his name. In summer 1981 PATCO, the union of federal air traffic controllers went on strike, violating a federal law prohibiting government unions from striking. Declaring the situation an emergency as described in the 1947 Taft–Hartley Act, Reagan stated that if the air traffic controllers "do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated." They did not return and on August 5, Reagan fired 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored his order, and used supervisors and military controllers to handle the nation's commercial air traffic until new controllers could be hired and trained. A leading reference work on public administration concluded, "The firing of PATCO employees not only demonstrated a clear resolve by the president to take control of the bureaucracy, but it also sent a clear message to the private sector that unions no longer needed to be feared."
    On March 30, 1981, only 69 days into the new administration, Reagan, his press secretary James Brady, Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy were struck by gunfire from would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr., outside the Washington Hilton Hotel.
    More Details Hide Details Although "close to death" upon arrival at George Washington University Hospital, Reagan was stabilized in the emergency room, then underwent emergency exploratory surgery. He recovered and was released from the hospital on April 11, becoming the first serving U.S. President to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. The attempt had great influence on Reagan's popularity; polls indicated his approval rating to be around 73%. Reagan believed that God had spared his life so that he might go on to fulfill a greater purpose.
    Reagan's 1981 proposed amendment stated: "Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions.
    More Details Hide Details No person shall be required by the United States or by any state to participate in prayer." In 1984, Reagan again raised the issue, asking Congress "why can't the freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every schoolroom across this land?" In 1985, Reagan expressed his disappointment that the Supreme Court ruling still bans a moment of silence for public schools, and said he had "an uphill battle." In 1987 Reagan again renewed his call for Congress to support voluntary prayer in schools and end "the expulsion of God from America's classrooms." Critics argue that any governmental imposition of prayer on public school students is involuntary. No Supreme Court rulings suggest that students cannot engage in silent prayer on their own. During his term in office, Reagan campaigned vigorously to restore organized prayer to the schools, first as a moment of prayer and later as a Moment of Silence.
    In 1981, Reagan became the first president to propose a constitutional amendment on school prayer.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan's election reflected an opposition to the 1962 Supreme Court case Engel v. Vitale, prohibiting state officials from composing an official state prayer and requiring that it be recited in the public schools.
    In his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, which Reagan himself wrote, he addressed the country's economic malaise arguing: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem."
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    Much of the credit for that victory came from the work of three co-chairmen, including Ernest Angelo, the mayor of Midland, and Ray Barnhart of Houston, whom Reagan as President would appoint in 1981 as director of the Federal Highway Administration.
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    Entering the presidency in 1981, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives.
    More Details Hide Details His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", advocated tax rate reduction to spur economic growth, control of the money supply to curb inflation, economic deregulation, and reduction in government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, escalated the War on Drugs, and fought public-sector labor. Over his two terms, his economic policies saw a reduction of inflation from 12.5% to 4.4%, and an average annual growth of real GDP of 3.4%; while Reagan did enact cuts in domestic discretionary spending, increased military spending contributed to increased federal outlays overall, even after adjustment for inflation. During his re-election bid, Reagan campaigned on the notion that it was "Morning in America", winning a landslide in 1984 with the largest electoral college victory in history. Foreign affairs dominated his second term, including ending of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, and the Iran–Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", he transitioned Cold War policy from détente to rollback, by escalating an arms race with the USSR while engaging in talks with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, which culminated in the INF Treaty, shrinking both countries' nuclear arsenals. During his famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate, President Reagan challenged Gorbachev to "tear down this wall! ".
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1980
    The 1980 presidential campaign between Reagan and incumbent President Jimmy Carter was conducted during domestic concerns and the ongoing Iran hostage crisis.
    More Details Hide Details His campaign stressed some of his fundamental principles: lower taxes to stimulate the economy, less government interference in people's lives, states' rights, and a strong national defense. Reagan launched his campaign by declaring "I believe in states' rights." After receiving the Republican nomination, Reagan selected one of his primary opponents, George H. W. Bush, to be his running mate. His showing in the October televised debate boosted his campaign. Reagan won the election, carrying 44 states with 489 electoral votes to 49 electoral votes for Carter (representing six states and Washington, D.C.). Reagan received 51% of the popular vote while Carter took 41%, and Independent John B. Anderson (a liberal Republican) received 7%. Republicans captured the Senate for the first time since 1952, and gained 34 House seats, but the Democrats retained a majority.
  • 1976
    Ford would go on to lose the 1976 presidential election to the Democrat Jimmy Carter.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan's concession speech emphasized the dangers of nuclear war and the threat posed by the Soviet Union. Though he lost the nomination, he received 307 write-in votes in New Hampshire, 388 votes as an Independent on Wyoming's ballot, and a single electoral vote from a faithless elector in the November election from the state of Washington, which Ford had won over Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter. After the campaign, Reagan remained in the public debate with the Ronald Reagan Radio Commentary series and his political action committee, Citizens for the Republic, which was later revived in Alexandria, Virginia, in 2009 by the Reagan biographer Craig Shirley.
    In 1976, Reagan challenged incumbent President Gerald Ford in a bid to become the Republican Party's candidate for president.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan soon established himself as the conservative candidate with the support of like-minded organizations such as the American Conservative Union which became key components of his political base, while President Ford was considered a more moderate Republican. Reagan's campaign relied on a strategy crafted by campaign manager John Sears of winning a few primaries early to damage the inevitability of Ford's likely nomination. Reagan won North Carolina, Texas, and California, but the strategy failed, as he ended up losing New Hampshire, Florida, and his native Illinois. The Texas campaign lent renewed hope to Reagan, when he swept all ninety-six delegates chosen in the May 1 primary, with four more awaiting at the state convention.
  • 1974
    Reagan did not seek re-election to a third term as governor in 1974 and was succeeded by the Secretary of State, Democrat Jerry Brown, on January 6, 1975.
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  • 1972
    His efforts to enforce the state's laws in this area were thwarted when the Supreme Court of California issued its People v. Anderson decision, which invalidated all death sentences issued in California before 1972, though the decision was later overturned by a constitutional amendment.
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  • 1969
    In 1969, Reagan, as governor, signed the Family Law Act, an amalgam of two bills which had been written and revised by the California State Legislature for over two years and became the first no-fault divorce legislation in the United States.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan's terms as governor helped to shape the policies he would pursue in his later political career as president. By campaigning on a platform of sending "the welfare bums back to work," he spoke out against the idea of the welfare state. He also strongly advocated the Republican ideal of less government regulation of the economy, including that of undue federal taxation.
    Reagan was involved in high-profile conflicts with the protest movements of the era. On May 15, 1969, during the People's Park protests at UC Berkeley, Reagan sent the California Highway Patrol and other officers to quell the protests, in an incident that became known as "Bloody Thursday," resulting in the death of student James Rector and the blinding of carpenter Alan Blanchard.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan then called out 2,200 state National Guard troops to occupy the city of Berkeley for two weeks to crack down on the protesters. A year after "Bloody Thursday," Reagan responded to questions about campus protest movements saying, "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement." When the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst in Berkeley and demanded the distribution of food to the poor, Reagan joked to a group of political aides about a botulism outbreak contaminating the food. Conversely, in that one afternoon, "Bloody Thursday," 111 police officers were injured, including one C.H.P. officer who was knifed in the chest. After calling in the National Guard, the Guard remained in Berkeley for 17 days, camping in People's Park, and demonstrations subsided as the university removed cordoned-off fencing and placed all development plans for People's Park on hold.
  • OTHER
  • 1968
    Despite an unsuccessful attempt to recall him in 1968, Reagan was re-elected in 1970, defeating "Big Daddy" Jesse M. Unruh.
    More Details Hide Details He chose not to seek a third term in the following election cycle. One of Reagan's greatest frustrations in office concerned capital punishment, which he strongly supported.
    Shortly after the beginning of his term, Reagan tested the presidential waters in 1968 as part of a "Stop Nixon" movement, hoping to cut into Nixon's Southern support and be a compromise candidate if neither Nixon nor second-place Nelson Rockefeller received enough delegates to win on the first ballot at the Republican convention.
    More Details Hide Details However, by the time of the convention Nixon had 692 delegate votes, 25 more than he needed to secure the nomination, followed by Rockefeller with Reagan in third place.
    He twice ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency in 1968 and 1976; four years later, he easily won the nomination outright, going on to be elected the oldest President, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980.
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  • 1967
    The only execution during Reagan's governorship was on April 12, 1967, when Aaron Mitchell's sentence was carried out by the state in San Quentin's gas chamber.
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    In 1967, Reagan signed the Mulford Act, which became California Penal Code 12031 and 171(c).
    More Details Hide Details The bill repealed a law allowing public carrying of loaded firearms. Named after Republican assemblyman Don Mulford, the bill garnered national attention after the Black Panthers marched bearing arms upon the California State Capitol to protest the bill.
    Prior to his presidency, he was the 33rd Governor of California from 1967 to 1975, following a career as a Hollywood actor and union leader.
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  • 1966
    Ronald Reagan accomplished in 1966 what U.S. Senator William F. Knowland in 1958 and former Vice President Richard Nixon in 1962 had tried: he was elected, defeating two-term governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, and was sworn in on January 2, 1967.
    More Details Hide Details In his first term, he froze government hiring and approved tax hikes to balance the budget.
    Building a network of supporters, he was elected Governor of California in 1966.
    More Details Hide Details As governor, Reagan raised taxes, turned a state budget deficit to a surplus, challenged the protesters at the University of California, ordered National Guard troops in during a period of protest movements in 1969, and was re-elected in 1970.
  • 1965
    California Republicans were impressed with Reagan's political views and charisma after his "Time for Choosing" speech, he announced in late 1965, his campaign for Governor of California in 1966.
    More Details Hide Details He defeated former San Francisco mayor George Christopher in the GOP primary. In Reagan's campaign, he emphasized two main themes: "to send the welfare bums back to work," and, in reference to burgeoning anti-war and anti-establishment student protests at the University of California at Berkeley, "to clean up the mess at Berkeley."
  • 1964
    Reagan gained national attention in his speeches for conservative presidential contender Barry Goldwater in 1964.
    More Details Hide Details Speaking for Goldwater, Reagan stressed his belief in the importance of smaller government. Consolidating themes he had developed in talks for GE, he argued in "A Time for Choosing" (October 27, 1964): This "A Time for Choosing" speech was not enough to turn around the faltering Goldwater campaign, but it was the key event that established Reagan's national political visibility.
    In 1964, Reagan's speech, "A Time for Choosing", in support of Barry Goldwater's floundering presidential campaign, earned him national attention as a new conservative spokesman.
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  • 1961
    When legislation that would become Medicare was introduced in 1961, Reagan created a recording for the American Medical Association warning that such legislation would mean the end of freedom in America.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan said that if his listeners did not write letters to prevent it, "we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don't do this, and if I don't do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free." He also joined the National Rifle Association and would become a lifetime member.
  • 1958
    Reagan and Nancy Davis appeared together on television several times, including an episode of General Electric Theater in 1958 called "A Turkey for the President."
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  • 1954
    He was hired by General Electric in 1954 to host the General Electric Theater, a weekly TV drama series.
    More Details Hide Details Much more importantly, he crisscrossed the country giving talks to over 200,000 GE employees as a motivational speaker. His many speeches—which he wrote himself—were non-partisan but carried a conservative, pro-business message; he was influenced by Lemuel Boulware, a senior GE executive. Boulware, known for his tough stance against unions and his innovative strategies to win over workers, championed the core tenets of modern American conservatism: free markets, anticommunism, lower taxes, and limited government. Eager for a larger stage, but not allowed to enter politics by GE, he quit and formally registered as a Republican. He often said "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me."
  • 1952
    However, in the early 1950s, as his relationship with actress Nancy Davis grew, he shifted to the right and endorsed the presidential candidacies of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 as well as Richard Nixon in 1960.
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  • 1950
    He joined numerous political committees with a left-wing orientation, such as the American Veterans Committee. He fought against Republican-sponsored right-to-work legislation and for Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950, when she was defeated for the Senate by Richard Nixon.
    More Details Hide Details It was his realization that Communists were a powerful backstage influence in those groups, that led him to rally his friends against them. Reagan spoke frequently at rallies with a strong ideological dimension; in December 1945, he was stopped from leading an anti-nuclear rally in Hollywood by pressure from the Warner Bros. studio. He would later make nuclear weapons a key point of his presidency, specifically his opposition to mutual assured destruction, building on previous efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons to a new focus to reduce the numbers and types of them. In the 1948 election, Reagan strongly supported Harry S. Truman, appearing on stage with him during a campaign speech in Los Angeles.
  • 1949
    Reagan met actress Nancy Davis (1921–2016) in 1949 after she contacted him in his capacity as president of the Screen Actors Guild to help her with issues regarding her name appearing on a Communist blacklist in Hollywood. She had been mistaken for another Nancy Davis. She described their meeting by saying, "I don't know if it was exactly love at first sight, but it was pretty close." They were engaged at Chasen's restaurant in Los Angeles and were married on March 4, 1952, at the Little Brown Church in the Valley (North Hollywood, now Studio City) San Fernando Valley.
    More Details Hide Details Actor William Holden served as best man at the ceremony. They had two children: Patti (born October 21, 1952) and Ron (born May 20, 1958). Observers described the Reagans' relationship as close, authentic and intimate. During his presidency they were reported to frequently display their affection for one another; one press secretary said, "They never took each other for granted. They never stopped courting." He often called her "Mommy" and she called him "Ronnie." He once wrote to her, "Whatever I treasure and enjoy... all would be without meaning if I didn't have you." When he was in the hospital in 1981, she slept with one of his shirts to be comforted by his scent. In a letter to U.S. citizens written in 1994, Reagan wrote "I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease... I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience," and in 1998, while Reagan was stricken by Alzheimer's, Nancy told Vanity Fair, "Our relationship is very special. We were very much in love and still are. When I say my life began with Ronnie, well, it's true. It did. I can't imagine life without him." Nancy Reagan died on March 6, 2016 at the age of 94.
  • 1948
    After arguments about Reagan's political ambitions, Wyman filed for divorce in 1948, citing a distraction due to her husband's Screen Actors Guild union duties; the divorce was finalized in 1949.
    More Details Hide Details He is the only U.S. president to have been divorced. Reagan and Wyman continued to be friends until his death, with Wyman voting for Reagan in both of his runs and, upon his death, saying "America has lost a great president and a great, kind, and gentle man."
  • 1947
    He was subsequently chosen by the membership to serve seven additional one-year terms, from 1947 to 1952 and in 1959.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan led the SAG through eventful years that were marked by labor-management disputes, the Taft–Hartley Act, House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings and the Hollywood blacklist era. During the late 1940s, Reagan and his wife provided the FBI with names of actors within the motion picture industry whom they believed to be communist sympathizers, though he expressed reservations; he said "Do they expect us to constitute ourselves as a little FBI of our own and determine just who is a Commie and who isn't?" Reagan testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee on the subject as well. A fervent anti-communist, he reaffirmed his commitment to democratic principles, stating, "I never as a citizen want to see our country become urged, by either fear or resentment of this group, that we ever compromise with any of our democratic principles through that fear or resentment."
    The adoption of conflict-of-interest bylaws in 1947 led the SAG president and six board members to resign; Reagan was nominated in a special election for the position of president and subsequently elected.
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  • 1946
    After World War II, he resumed service and became 3rd vice-president in 1946.
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  • 1945
    He returned to Fort MacArthur, California, where he was separated from active duty on December 9, 1945.
    More Details Hide Details By the end of the war, his units had produced some 400 training films for the AAF. Reagan never left the United States during the war, though he kept a film reel, obtained while in the service, depicting the liberation of Auschwitz, as he believed that someday doubts would arise as to whether the Holocaust had occurred.
    While with the First Motion Picture Unit in 1945, he was indirectly involved in discovering actress Marilyn Monroe.
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    He was recommended for promotion to major on February 2, 1945, but this recommendation was disapproved on July 17 of that year.
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  • 1944
    He was reassigned to the First Motion Picture Unit on November 14, 1944, where he remained until the end of World War II.
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    In January 1944, Reagan was ordered to temporary duty in New York City to participate in the opening of the Sixth War Loan Drive.
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  • 1943
    He returned to the First Motion Picture Unit after completing this duty and was promoted to captain on July 22, 1943.
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    On January 14, 1943, he was promoted to first lieutenant and was sent to the Provisional Task Force Show Unit of This Is the Army at Burbank, California.
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  • 1942
    Upon the approval of the Army Air Force (AAF), he applied for a transfer from the cavalry to the AAF on May 15, 1942, and was assigned to AAF Public Relations and subsequently to the First Motion Picture Unit (officially, the "18th Army Air Force Base Unit") in Culver City, California.
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    Reagan was ordered to active duty for the first time on April 18, 1942.
    More Details Hide Details Due to his poor eyesight, he was classified for limited service only, which excluded him from serving overseas. His first assignment was at the San Francisco Port of Embarkation at Fort Mason, California, as a liaison officer of the Port and Transportation Office.
    Reagan's favorite acting role was as a double amputee in 1942's Kings Row, in which he recites the line "Where's the rest of me?"—later used as the title of his 1965 autobiography.
    More Details Hide Details Many film critics considered Kings Row to be his best movie, though the film was condemned by New York Times critic Bosley Crowther. Although Reagan called Kings Row the film that "made me a star", he was unable to capitalize on his success because he was ordered to active duty with the U.S. Army at San Francisco two months after its release, and never regained "star" status in motion pictures. In the post-war era, after being separated from almost four years of World War II stateside service with the 1st Motion Picture Unit in December 1945, Reagan co-starred in such films as, The Voice of the Turtle, John Loves Mary, The Hasty Heart, Bedtime for Bonzo, Cattle Queen of Montana, Tennessee's Partner, Hellcats of the Navy (the only film in which he appears with Nancy Reagan), and the 1964 remake The Killers (his final film and the only one in which he played a villain). Throughout his film career, his mother answered much of his fan mail.
  • 1941
    Reagan was first elected to the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild in 1941, serving as an alternate.
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  • 1940
    They were engaged at the Chicago Theatre, and married on January 26, 1940, at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather church in Glendale, California.
    More Details Hide Details Together they had two biological children, Maureen (1941–2001) and Christine (who was born in 1947 but only lived one day), and adopted a third, Michael (born 1945).
    Before the film Santa Fe Trail with Errol Flynn in 1940, he played the role of George "The Gipper" Gipp in the film Knute Rockne, All American; from it, he acquired the lifelong nickname "the Gipper."
    More Details Hide Details In 1941 exhibitors voted him the fifth most popular star from the younger generation in Hollywood.
  • 1937
    After completing fourteen home-study Army Extension Courses, Reagan enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the cavalry on May 25, 1937.
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    His first screen credit was the starring role in the 1937 movie Love Is on the Air, and by the end of 1939 he had already appeared in 19 films, including Dark Victory with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart.
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    While traveling with the Cubs in California, Reagan took a screen test in 1937 that led to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers studios.
    More Details Hide Details He spent the first few years of his Hollywood career in the "B film" unit, where, Reagan joked, the producers "didn't want them good; they wanted them Thursday".
  • 1932
    After graduating from Eureka in 1932, Reagan drove himself to Iowa, where he held jobs as an announcer at several stations.
    More Details Hide Details He moved to WHO radio in Des Moines as an announcer for Chicago Cubs baseball games. His specialty was creating play-by-play accounts of games using as his source only basic descriptions that the station received by wire as the games were in progress.
  • 1927
    His first job was as a lifeguard at the Rock River in Lowell Park, near Dixon, in 1927.
    More Details Hide Details Over a six-year period, Reagan reportedly performed 77 rescues as a lifeguard. Reagan attended Eureka College, a Disciples-oriented liberal arts school, where he became a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, a cheerleader, and studied economics and sociology. While involved, the Miller Center of Public Affairs described him as an "indifferent student". He majored in Economics and graduated with a C average. He developed a reputation as a jack of all trades, excelling in campus politics, sports and theater. He was a member of the football team and captain of the swim team. He was elected student body president and led a student revolt against the college president after he tried to cut back the faculty.
  • 1920
    After the closure of the Pitney Store in late 1920, the Reagans moved to Dixon; the midwestern "small universe" had a lasting impression on Reagan.
    More Details Hide Details He attended Dixon High School, where he developed interests in acting, sports, and storytelling.
  • 1911
    Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in an apartment on the second floor of a commercial building in Tampico, Illinois on February 6, 1911, the son of Nelle Clyde (Wilson) and John Edward "Jack" Reagan.
    More Details Hide Details Reagan's father was a salesman and a storyteller, the grandson of Irish Catholic immigrants from County Tipperary, while his mother was of half Scots and half English descent (Reagan's maternal grandmother was born in Surrey, England). Reagan had one older brother, Neil (1908–1996), who became an advertising executive. As a boy, Reagan's father nicknamed his son "Dutch," due to his "fat little Dutchman"-like appearance, and his "Dutchboy" haircut; the nickname stuck with him throughout his youth. Reagan's family briefly lived in several towns and cities in Illinois, including Monmouth, Galesburg, and Chicago. In 1919, they returned to Tampico and lived above the H. C. Pitney Variety Store until finally settling in Dixon. After his election as president, residing in the upstairs White House private quarters, Reagan would quip that he was "living above the store again".
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