Ronald Wilson Reagan

From The TSP Survival Wiki
(Redirected from Ronald Reagan)
Jump to: navigation, search
This page is in the process of being scrutinized.
Please help us by being very critical of the contents and changing the article to make it better.

Ronald Wilson Reagan 200px
40th President of the United States
From: January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
Vice President George H. W. Bush
Predecessor Jimmy Carter
Successor George H. W. Bush
33rd Governor of California
From: January 2, 1967 – January 6, 1975
Predecessor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, Sr.
Successor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr.
Party Republican
Spouse(s) Jane Wyman
Nancy Davis Reagan
Religion Presbyterian

Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004), served as the 40th President of the United States of America from 1981 to 1989. He was the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975), following a successful career in film and television. He has been widely recognized as one of the greatest American Presidents and the main inspiration for the conservative movement from the 1970s to the present.

Reagan was a movement conservative, and succeeded in moving the nation to the right in terms of reducing federal regulation and lowering taxes--and indeed in promoting the conviction that government was the problem and private enterprise the solution. He cut taxes but despite his proposals, spending and the federal deficit went up. After a short sharp recession early in his first term, the economy was strong by 1984. Proclaiming "It's Morning Again in America", Reagan carried 49 of 50 states to win reelection. He moved the Supreme Court and the federal courts to the right with his appointments.

Reagan's supply-side economic policies were based on the libertarian ideas of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics. "Reaganomics" was based on the idea that tax cuts will spur savings and investment. Reagan was strongly opposed to the concept of big government, advocating a reduction in the size and budget of the federal government. During his terms in office, he faced a divided Congress split between Republican and Democratic control for six of his eight years as President. Reagan was known for forging alliances with "Blue Dog" (conservative) Democrats to overcome the apparent majority led by Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill.

In foreign affairs Reagan rejected détente with the Soviet Union, but not with China. His massive defense buildup forced the Soviets to confront their crumbling financial base. He rejected the legitimacy of Communism and in the Reagan Doctrine systematically challenged and eventually destroyed Soviet strength in the Third World. After 1986 the new leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev who tried desperately to rescue Communism by cutting its losses; they came to terms with Reagan; the Communist empire collapsed in 1989 a few months after Reagan left office, and Communism was abolished (and Gorbachev repudiated) by Russia in 1991. Reagan is thus credited with achieving victory in the Cold War.[1]

Always distrustful of nuclear weapons, Reagan proposed SDI, a space-based system to defend against nuclear missiles. The inability of the Soviet Union to match this new technological breakthrough forced it to agree to Reagan's terms for ending the Cold War. In leading the rollback of Communism in Europe, he battled powerful liberal forces that called instead for détente (peaceful relations) with Communism. As the Soviet system faltered and Gorbachev accepted Reagan's terms, ensured an unprecedented level of nuclear disarmament. His signature phrase in dealing with Communists was "trust, but verify."

In his most famous challenges to Communism, Reagan went to the Berlin Wall and gave the Soviets the American terms for ending the Cold War: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" The Soviets were forced to agree, and watched their empire collapse overnight in late 1989, a few months after Reagan was succeeded as president by his Vice President George H.W. Bush.

As a great communicator, and leader of the Republican party, he added a new base of "Reagan Democrats" (blue collar workers who were social conservatives), religious evangelicals, and neoconservatives; his success became the model for Republicans into the 21st century.

Not only was Ronald Reagan a smart individual on the surface, he also contributed many new insights to the general public not yet available before.[2]


Reagan's Conservatism

In a speech, immediately after assuming the presidency in 1981, he outlined his philosophy. After listing "intellectual leaders like Russell Kirk, Friedrich Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Milton Friedman, James Burnham, Ludwig von Mises" as the ones who "shaped so much of our thoughts," he discussed only one of these influences at length:

  • It's especially hard to believe that it was only a decade ago, on a cold April day on a small hill in upstate New York, that another of these great thinkers, Frank Meyer, was buried. He'd made the awful journey that so many others had: He pulled himself from the clutches of "The [communist] God That Failed, and then in his writing fashioned a vigorous new synthesis of traditional and libertarian thought -- a synthesis that is today recognized by many as modern conservatism.
  • It was Frank Meyer who reminded us that the robust individualism of the American experience was part of the deeper current of Western learning and culture. He pointed out that a respect for law, an appreciation for tradition, and regard for the social consensus that gives stability to our public and private institutions, these civilized ideas must still motivate us even as we seek a new economic prosperity based on reducing government interference in the marketplace.
  • Our goals complement each other. We're not cutting the budget simply for the sake of sounder financial management. This is only a first step toward returning power to the States and communities, only a first step toward reordering the relationship between citizen and government. We can make government again responsive to the people by cutting its size and scope and thereby ensuring that its legitimate functions are performed efficiently and justly. [3]

Early Life

File:Reagan graduation.jpg
1932 photo taken after his graduation from Eureka College

Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, the second son of John (Jack) Edward and Nelle Wilson Reagan. The family finally settled in Dixon, Illinois in 1920 after years of moving from town to town. Jack Reagan nicknamed his younger son “Dutch", claiming he looked like “a fat little Dutchman.”[4] Reagan's father was a working class Irish Catholic, and an active Democrat. Unemployed during the Great Depression, Jack Reagan held a minor position in the WPA during the New Deal. Reagan recalled numerous alcoholic episodes that cost his father many job opportunities. Nelle Reagan, a devout member of the Disciples of Christ, greatly influenced her son, who remained a lifelong Protestant.

He attended Eureka College, a small Disciples school where he developed a reputation as a "jack of all trades", excelling in campus politics, sports and theater. Reagan was a member of the football and track teams, the basketball cheerleading squad, captain of the swimming team, yearbook editor and was elected student body president. Reagan was a political liberal at that point and led a student revolt against the college president. In his first year at Eureka, the president of the college tried to cut back the faculty. Reagan helped organize a student strike. He received his degree in economics in 1932.

To pay for college, Reagan worked many low wage jobs such as cooking hamburgers and washing tables. He also worked as a lifeguard at Lowell Park on the Rock River in Dixon for seven summers, where he saved seventy-seven swimmers from drowning.[5]

After college Reagan became a radio sports announcer in Iowa. Although he was originally only hired to announce the University of Iowa football games, he became so popular in the Midwest he began covering Chicago Cubs baseball games at Wrigley Field. He also wrote sports columns in the Des Moines ‘’Dispatch’’.

Reagan as Disciple

Reagan took religious values into the presidency that he learned from his Disciples of Christ background at home and at Eureka College, a Disciples school. He was strongly influenced by Ben Hill Cleaver, the minister of the First Christian Church[6] in Dixon, Illinois, during the 1920s, and by Reagan's mother, Nelle, an active member of the church. At many points the positions taken by the Disciples Church of Reagan's youth coincided with the words, if not the beliefs of the latter-day Reagan. These positions included faith in Providence, the association of America's mission with God's will, belief in progress, trust in the work ethic and admiration for those who achieved wealth, an uncomfortableness with literature and art that questioned the family or challenged notions of proper sexual behavior, the presumption that poverty is an individual problem best left to charity rather than the state, sensitivity to problems involving alcohol and drugs, and reticence to use government to protect civil rights for minorities. Reagan's experiences in the church and with the Cleavers provided early training in public speaking and offered a way of learning in which acting played a central part. Reagan's use of the jeremiad and his fusing of Judeo-Christianity and patriotism into a civil religion also have their roots in this early period. For her part, Nelle was a pillar of the church and the one who provided stability to the shaky Reagan family when the head was drunkard and a poor provider. She helped spark her son's interest in acting and believed the stage could be a force for noble purposes.[7]


1953 film starring Reagan and Dorothy Malone

In 1937 Reagan traveled to Hollywood to cover the Chicago Cubs's spring training games and look at prospects in the film industry. Warner Brothers studio offered him a one year contract with a starting salary of $200 a week. He then became famous starring in numerous "B" movies, where he typically played a supporting character rather then the leading role. In 1941 Reagan gave a well received performance in the Oscar nominated film Kings Row. During the war Reagan was in the Air Force; he was assigned to make training films. He resumed his Hollywood career on release in 1946.

Reagan's movie career faded in the late 1940s but he made a successful transition to television, especially as a host, and became a celebrity on the speakers' circuit. He traveled the country as a motivation speaker for General Electric, attracting highly appreciative audiences for his polished, witty speeches based on a wide reading in current events and libertarian economic principles. Reagan also starred in the 1960s television series Death Valley Days. By 1964 he had appeared in over 50 films.

Union president

Reagan jumped into union politics and was elected to five terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, a labor union for movie actors and part of the AFL. As SAG President he traveled across the country giving speeches on behalf of actors. Until the 1950s Reagan was an avid liberal Democrat who strongly supported the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Fair Deal of Harry S. Truman. He often campaigned on behalf of the New Deal Coalition. There was talk of running Reagan for president of the AFL itself.[8]

Reagan was thus the only president to lead a labor union, a bastion of liberalism. Reagan himself was a registered Democrat well into the 1950s, but as head of the Screen Actors Guild he fought against Communist infiltration. In 1947 he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Peggy Noonan wrote, "Even in his zeal to purge the communist influence from Hollywood, he fought those who engaged in witch hunts and defended those who had been falsely accused of involvement."

While remaining a Democrat Reagan became increasingly conservative in the 1950s. After actively supporting Richard Nixon's campaign for president in 1960, Reagan switched political parties and officially became a Republican in 1962. He realized that he had diverged greatly from the tax-and-spend liberalism of the Democratic Party.

Ronald Reagan and General Electric Theater. 1954-62.


Conservatives nationwide saw Reagan as their new star when his campaigning for Senator Barry Goldwater in 1964 was better received than Goldwater's own speeches. He raised an unprecedented eight million dollars for Goldwater. Despite Goldwater's defeat, Reagan's 1964 "Time for Choosing" speech helped launch his political career and made him became a probable candidate for governor of California.

Governor of California (1967-1975)

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan at the Victory celebration for California Governor at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California 11/8/66.
In the 1966 gubernatorial campaign, conservatives generally supported Reagan over George Christopher, the Republican mayor of San Francisco. Reagan defeated Christopher, and incumbent liberal Democrat Pat Brown in the general election, taking fifty-three of California's fifty-eight counties. Reagan's strategists wanted to emphasize libertarian support for smaller government and less taxation, as the state verged on a revolt against high property taxes. As student and black unrest exploded in the headlines, Reagan's call for Law and order won the votes of former liberals. Reagan's victory marked the end of New Deal liberalism in California.[9]

Reagan inherited an enormous budget deficit from the Brown administration. In his first year as Governor, Reagan froze government spending and cut ten percent of the spending budget in each department of the government. At the end of his two terms the $194 million deficit had been transformed into a $550 million dollar surplus. The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized, "We exaggerate very little when we say that Reagan has saved the state from bankruptcy.[10]

When coming into office there was a growing number of anarchist protesters at the University California at Berkeley over the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War. The protests would become violent. Reagan sent the state police and later the national guard to handle the riots. It allowed him to showcase his populist themes of morality, Law and order, strong leadership, and defense of traditional values. Reagan was reelected in 1970, after firing the president of the state university and sending in armed force to confront student demonstrators. Reagan's handling of this crisis helped to make him into a national politician known for strength and courage. [11]

Governor Reagan briefly tested the presidential waters in 1968, but drew back when he saw Richard Nixon's strength.

Welfare spending was a major issue in the 1970 election; with 10% of the nation's population, California had 16% of its welfare recipients. Reagan promised to cut the welfare spending by rooting out fraud and abuse, by requiring recipients to take jobs, and by collecting from dead-beat fathers. Democrats in the legislature supported a much more liberal bill, which advocated the welfare rights of the poor. Reagan personally worked out a compromise that passed and won considerable praise and some criticism. Its savings to taxpayers proved small, but it represented an important political achievement for both parties. Reagan benefited as well, emerging from the compromise as a more experienced and effective politician.[12]

Reagan supported and signed laws to liberalize abortion in California (before the Supreme Court issued Roe v. Wade), but later turned strongly against abortion.

Reagan's gubernatorial style, which carried over into his presidency, was expansive in looking only at the big picture, and choosing talented staffers who were given the power to handle all the details. Reagan seldom paid attention to the minute details of his own policies. Reagan was a powerful communicator, through press conferences and public appearances, with an uncanny knack for precise timing to make the maximum impact.[13]

Liberals across the country were puzzled by Reagan, and decided that he was a weak reactionary who would be easy to defeat if he ran for president. California liberals explained they were all wrong, that Reagan was the most formidable Republican since Eisenhower.

In 1970, he was re-elected by a landslide. But in 1974, he chose not to seek a third term and was succeeded by liberal Democrat Jerry Brown.

Highlights as governor

  • Called in the National Guard to restore order when People's Park protesters began attacking police, and restored order to California's chaotic university campuses.[14] Reagan authorized the use of violent force against the peaceful protesters in Berkeley,[15] saying, "If there has to be a bloodbath, then let's get it over with."[16] In the resulting chaos, police fired buckshot into the crowd, fatally wounding one bystander and blinding another, and injuring hundreds of others.
  • Led a comprehensive and far-reaching revision of California's massive public assistance programs, actually increasing benefits to the truly needy.
  • Worked well with the Democrats to forge consensus on a variety of issues.
  • Legalized the shooting of illegal Immigrants, though the law was soon overturned by democrats after he left
  • Signed the Therapeutic Abortion Law, which had the effect of increasing the availability of legal abortion in California - later Reagan expressed regret for this and even wrote a pro-life pamphlet while he was president.
  • Despite pressure within his own party, Reagan publicly opposed the Briggs Initiative which helped it's defeat at the ballot in 1978
  • Signed the Nation's first no fault divorce law

Presidential Campaigns


Main Article: United States presidential election, 1976

After Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, the weak Gerald Ford became president, and Reagan challenged him in the 1976 Republican Party primaries. The main issue was détente with the Soviets as promoted by Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Ford won the first 13 primaries, then Reagan came roaring back. He criticized the federal government and politicians for being too large, too powerful, and too involved in American society. Reagan, however, named liberal eastern Senator Richard Schweiker as his running mate. Control of the convention came down to the Mississippi delegation, which swung the nomination to Ford. However, given how difficult it is to run against an incumbent President in a Primary, Reagan's campaign was surprisingly strong. After Ford was defeated in the general election, Reagan retired to his ranch in California and continued to give speeches across the country. There was little doubt that Reagan was the dominant Republican for the next election, and he easily won the nomination in 1980.


Main Article: United States presidential election, 1980

Before the general election, Reagan faced a Republican primary challenge from the more moderate George H. W. Bush. Bush was highly established and respected as having served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, ambassador to People's Republic of China and the United Nations, former chairman of the National Republican Committee, and two-term Congressman from Texas. Bush referred to Reagan's economic policies as "voodoo economics." After Bush won a surprising victory in the Iowa State primary, Reagan surged ahead after he outwitted Bush in the New Hampshire debate. He later won the primary, and ironically named George H. W. Bush as his running mate.

Reagan was able to crusade against the failures of incumbent Democrat, President Jimmy Carter. There was runaway stagflation, soaring interest rates, persistent unemployment, a series of humiliations abroad, and a weakened military in the face of growing Soviet superpower. As Reagan put it, "I'm told I can't use the word depression. Well, I'll tell you the definition. A recession is when your neighbor loses his job; depression is when you lose your job. Recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his." The most pressing foreign policy crisis was that Iranian President Ayatollah Khomeini was holding fifty- two Americans hostage. All of Carter's diplomatic attempts had failed.

Reagan feared that the Soviet Union's military had become much more powerful then the United States'. He proposed stronger defense systems and a larger military. Carter fought back, lashing out at Reagan as a dangerous radical who would unleash nuclear war. A liberal Republican John Anderson ran a third party campaign which received 7% of the popular vote. Reagan won a landslide victory - receiving 51% of the popular vote and winning 44 of 50 states. In the 20th century, only two presidents received a larger electoral majority: Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 and Richard Nixon in 1972. [17] His long coattails brought in the first Republican Senate in years, but the Democrats still controlled the House. The election marked the last hurrah of the New Deal era, the final collapse of the New Deal Coalition and indeed the end of liberalism as a coherent policy.[18]

Presidency (1981-1989)

President & Mrs. Reagan with their extended family.

Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th President of the United States on January 20, 1981. On that same day Ayatollah released the hostages after keeping them in captivity for 444 days.

Once in office, Reagan showed he was playing hardball. When the Federal Air Traffic Controllers struck illegally, Reagan gave them 48 hours before he fired all who hadn't gone back to work (11,359).

Reagan rebuffed liberals who complained he was killing the New Deal. Noting that he voted for FDR in 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944, as well as Truman in 1948, Reagan said he was trying to repeal the "Great Society enacted by liberals in the mid-1960s.[19]


Office Name Term
President Ronald Reagan 1981-1989
Vice President George H.W. Bush 1981-1989
Secretary of State Alexander Haig 1981-1982
George Shultz 1982-1989
Secretary of Treasury Donald Regan 1981-1985
James Baker 1985-1988
Nicholas Brady 1988-1989
Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger 1981-1987
Frank C. Carlucci 1987-1989
Attorney General William Smith 1981-1985
Edwin Meese III 1985-1988
Richard Thornburgh 1988-1989
Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt 1981-1983
William P. Clark, Jr. 1983-1985
Donald Hodel 1985-1989
Secretary of Agriculture John Rusling Block 1981-1986
Richard E. Lyng 1986-1989
Secretary of Commerce Howard M. Baldrige, Jr. 1981-1987
C. William Verity, Jr. 1987-1989
Secretary of Labor Raymond J. Donovan 1981-1985
William E. Brock 1985–1987
Ann Dore McLaughlin 1987-1989
Secretary of Health and Human Services Richard S. Schweiker 1981–1983
Margaret Heckler 1983-1985
Otis R. Bowen 1985-1989
Secretary of Education Terrel Bell 1981-1985
William Bennett 1985-1988
Lauro Cavazos 1988-1989
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Samuel R. Pierce, Jr. 1981-1989
Secretary of Transportation Drew Lewis 1981-1983
Elizabeth Dole 1983-1987
James H. Burnley IV 1987-1989
Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards 1981-1982
Donald Paul Hodel 1982-1985
John S. Herrington 1985-1989

Assassination Attempt

On March 30, 1981, Reagan was shot near the heart after giving a routine speech.[20] Surgeons at George Washington University Hospital saved his life and despite his age he recovered quickly. White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head, became permanently disabled; Brady then became an icon of the anti-gun movement.

The assassination attempt came at a critical moment and disarmed the opposition in Congress, enabling Reagan to pass his major legislation even though the Democrats controlled the House.

1984 Reelection

Main Article: United States presidential election, 1984

In 1984, Reagan was re-elected in a landslide, winning every state except Mondale's home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia, creating a record 525 electoral vote total (of 538 possible), and received 58.8%. of the popular vote. [21] [22]

During his second term, he helped end the Cold War with the help of Margaret Thatcher and some assistance from Pope John Paul II and Mikhail Gorbachev by recognizing the weakness of the Soviet economy, and spent them out of existence by their not being able to compete with defense spending.

Domestic policy


File:Reagan desk.jpg
President Reagan working at his desk in the oval office, 05/06/82.

As President, Ronald Reagan enacted his theory of "Reaganomics." His four major policy objectives were the following[23]:

  • Reduce the growth of government spending.
  • Reduce the marginal tax rates on income from both labor and capital.
  • Reduce government regulation of the economy.
  • Control the money supply to reduce inflation.

Fueled by an over spending Congress that steadfastly refused Reagan's budget proposals, the national debt increased 160% during his two terms in office. However, the economic growth that resulted from tax cuts made deficits as a percentage of GDP lower than what they had been in during the previous decade of stagflation. The period of high inflation and unemployment when Reagan took office was over after eight years of his Presidency. In 1986 Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act, which obtained an overhaul of the income tax code and eliminated many deductions and exempted millions of people with low incomes. The income tax rates of the top personal tax bracket dropped from 70% to 28% in 7 years. At the same time, Reagan sought to close tax loopholes so that the wealthy would not be able to get away with paying less tax than low to middle income earners. By the end of his administration, the Nation was enjoying its longest recorded period of peacetime prosperity without recession or depression.[24]

PATCO Strike

On 3 August 1981, 13,000 air traffic controllers, members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), walked off the job. PATCO had supported Reagan in the 1980 election but now was making exorbitant demands regarding high raises, early retirement, and reduced hours. The Federal Aviation Administration made a generous offer but PATCO said no and called a strike. PATCO assumed it would shut down all air traffic and paralyze the economy, forcing the government to surrender, but they misjudged Ronald Reagan. Under federal law, the strike was illegal. Reagan ordered the strikers as a group to return to work. Some returned but most did not; he ordered individual strikers to return, and again most refused. Reagan was ready; secretly the Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis had readied military replacements. It was the first time in over 50 years in a major strike that replacements were used. Two days later, the president fired 11,000 strikers, and they never were rehired. The planes were flying and labor unions suffered their worst defeat since the 1920s. Reagan's dramatic action energized corporations to resist union demands, and sped up the rapid decline in union membership and the political power of union bosses.[25]

Social Security Reform 1983

Mounting concerns that rising Social Security benefits were causing a long-term deficit and were growing too fast resulted in a bipartisan compromise in 1983. Brokered by conservative Alan Greenspan and liberal Claude Pepper, the agreement lowered benefits over the next 75 years and brought the system into balance. Key provisions included a gradual increase over 25 years in the retirement age from 65 to 67, to take account of longer life expectancy. (People could retire younger, but at a reduced rate of benefits.) Millions of people were added to the system, especially employees of state governments and of nonprofit organizations.[26]

Supreme Court Appointments

Reagan had maintained the promise he made in his 1980 presidential campaign to appoint the first women to the U.S. Supreme Court. On July 7, 1981, he named little-known Arizona judge Sandra Day O'Connor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Liberals, who had been ready for a knock-down battle, were stunned and meekly voted for her. Some Pro-Life groups were worried about her abortion position, which was unknown. She was confirmed by the Senate by a 99–0 vote on September 21 and took her seat September 25.

In 1987, Reagan nominated conservative judge Robert Bork to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell. Senate liberals attacked Bork as being too conservative. Senator Ted Kennedy criticized him, saying,

"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is -- and is often the only -- protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy."[27]

The U.S. Senate rejected Bork's confirmation on a 42-58 vote. Reagan turned to the much less controversial Californian Anthony Kennedy he was confirmed on a 97-0 vote.

War on Drugs

As President, Reagan declared a "war on drugs", which would be policies put forward by the United States and other countries to reduce illegal drug trade. In 1986, President Reagan signed the very prominent Anti-Drug Abuse Act which granted $97 million to build new prisons, $200 million for drug education and $241 million for treatment. Overall, $1.7 billion to fight the drug crisis.[28] First Lady Nancy Reagan started a slogan, "Just Say No" to drug use. The term was used in television advertising, and today there are many "Just Say No" drug clinics. As a result of the policies, marijuana use dropped from 33% of high-school seniors in 1980 to 12% in 1991.[29]

Foreign policy

Strategic Defense Initiative

Reagan's 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative became popularly known as "Star Wars", the name given to it by critics because they thought it was pure fantasy like the popular George Lucas films. This plan was never fully instituted. Although billions of dollars were spent on development, no space-based missile defense was tested successfully during Reagan's terms in office. However, the main goal was achieved of forcing the Soviets to realize they could no longer compete in the Cold War.

The threat the Soviet Union felt from the SDI initiative forced them to negotiate an end to the arms race, according to many involved with diplomacy at the time and can be seen by following Gorbachev's repeated public insistences that the SDI program be discontinued. Henry Kissinger wrote:

I know it's an axiomatic view of the Left around the world that missile defense is sinful, and that it's desirable to keep each nation as vulnerable as possible. But that's a debatable premise. The U.S. must defend itself against whoever has missiles that would threaten the United States. And you don't have to be able to name an enemy.[30]

Reagan was president at the time of the shooting down of Korean Airlines Flight 007. He termed the shootown of an innocent straying passenger plane with 269 passengers and crew, including Congressman Larry McDonald, a "massacre" and the ensuing rage over the tragedy both world-wide and in the U.S. provided support for the deployment of cruise and Pershing ll missiles in West Europe- just six minutes flying time from Moscow.

Soviet Union

Shortly after taking office in 1981 Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive 11-82, (NSDD 11-82), that explicitly made U.S. defense spending a form of economic warfare against the Soviets. The directive was known more unofficially as the Reagan Initiative.

File:Photo 4 250.jpg
Reagan and Gorbachev at Reykjavik

The United States would "exploit and demonstrate the enduring economic advantages of the West to develop a variety of [arms] systems that are difficult for the Soviets to counter, impose disproportionate costs, open up new areas of major military competition and obsolesce previous Soviet investment or employ sophisticated strategic options to achieve this end. Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), or "Star Wars" as the media referred to it, was a costly high tech research and development program designed to make arms spending a "rising burden on the Soviet economy."[31] The Reagan Initiative was also concerned with aiding nations in active conflict with the Soviet Union. One such group was the mujahideen of Afghanistan who were given anti-aircraft missiles to fight the Soviet invaders.

A report by the CIA of the critical domestic economic problems and social discontent Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev provided a look what the sources of his principal dilemma-the very reforms needed to deal with the problems would threaten preservation of the nomenklatura and put at risk Gorbachev’s ability to maintain the power to bring about Perestroika.[32] Gorbachev requested a Summit with Reagan in Reykjavik in October 1986 to discuss the stresses competition from the Reagan’s defense posture was having on Soviet military spending and economy, and Gorbachev’s ability to carryout his plans of restructuring Communist control. Gorbachev told the Politburo in preparation for the Summit, "Our goal is to prevent the next round of arms race. If we do not do this ... will pulled into an arms race beyond our power, and we will lose this race, for we are presently at the limit of out capabilities."[33]

Dealing with the Soviets

Gorbachev, weakened by his nation's economic malaise, frightened by SDI, and committed to reforming the Soviet system before it collapsed, realized he had to end the Cold War to save Communism. Reagan proved willing to deal, but had to face three sources of criticism inside the U.S. The political right represented by the National Review and columnists such as George F. Will feared it was all a Soviet trap. Reagan used his enormous influence within the conservative movement to disarm these critics before disarming the Russians. Second were the "realists", led by Nixon and Henry A. Kissinger, who thought Reagan was going too far. The third group comprised segments of the intelligence community and military; they did not believe that the Soviet Union was as weak as Reagan and secretary of state, George P. Shultz, believed. Reagan, reelected in a landslide and at the peak of his power, pushed ahead with a series of agreements that effectively weakened the Soviet Empire and made it clear America had the initiative.[34]

By the late 1980s, the Soviet Union began unilateral force cuts and troop withdrawals from Eastern Europe, and by May 1989 an unprecedented series of disclosures by senior Soviet officials revealed actual reductions in defense spending for the 1986-1990 and 1991-1995 Five Year Plan periods.[35] Genrikh Grofimenko, a former adviser to Leonid Brezhnev, said "Ninety-nine percent of the Russian people believe that [the US] won the Cold War because of your president's insistence on SDI".[36]

Reagan also brought about the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which was a symbol of communism and oppressed the freedom of East Berliners that wanted to move to West Berlin.

Containment and the Iranian initiative

President Reagan being sworn in for second term in the rotunda at the U.S. Capitol, 1/21/85
In 1985, after Reagan won reelection to his second term, the focus turned from reviving the domestic economy to several foreign policy matters which had been lingering throughout the decade. One such matter involved Iran, a long time ally of the Western Allies since 1941 that had experienced an Islamic Revolution in 1979 after President Carter announced Human Rights had superseded Containment as the primary focus of American foreign policy. Since 1980, Iran had been enmeshed in a brutal trench war with neighboring Iraq which was emerging as a potent military threat in the region to other allies. Members of the National Security Council staff, along with CIA Director William Casey, persuaded Reagan much could be gained and several problems could be addressed simultaneously with an overture to Iran to restore relations.

The objective of the plan was fourfold:

  1. Take steps to restore good relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran which was becoming increasingly hostile to the West;
  2. Take measures to convince Iran that Israel could become a friend and ally;
  3. Insurance against Iraq becoming too strong which would become a threat to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia;
  4. Provide funding for other operations to continue the policy of containment in the Western Hemisphere, most notably Nicaragua, and the violence the Soviet/Cuban/Nicaragua connection was creating in El Salvador and Honduras.

There were humanitarian aspects to the proposal as well; (1) the Iran-Iraq War had stalemated for nearly six years and Reagan was advised that he was in the unique position as President to help facilitate bringing a senseless war with much suffering to an end; (2) the suffering of the people of the Central American Republics at the hands of Soviet-inspired subversion which had in the decade of the '80s established a beachhead in North America; (3) Iran perhaps could be persuaded to use its good offices to influence hostage takers in Lebanon who had held several Western prisoners, many of them Christian Missionaries, for several years.

Reports had filtered back to Reagan that children as young as nine years old had been used by Iran to clear minefields.[37] In weighing Iraq's delicate Sunni/Shia balance and the growing threat of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, the NSC staff and Casey recognized the dangers of an Iraqi collapse as well as the urgent need to dissuade Iran from continuing its ruthless and inhumane tactics.[38]

The Boland amendment, a Vietnam era-style Congressional impingement on the legitimate foreign policy prerogatives of the Executive via the power of the purse, was used to deny Reagan's recommitment to the Truman Doctrine which had been adhered to by every President, Democratic and Republican alike since Truman, with the exception of President Carter whose human rights policy had brought one of the active belligerents, the Ayatollah Khomeini, to power. In three of the active Soviet fronts, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, some Congressional Democratic leaders were openly sympathetic to Soviet foreign policy.[39][40] So the decision was made to fund Containment of Soviet objectives on an active front in North America with sales of TOW missiles to Iran. Israel provided the TOWs because the Boland Amendment forbade direct US funding and it was a welcome opportunity for Israel to build bridges to a much needed friend in the Middle East.

The operation was known as the "Iran-Contra affair." After word got out about the operation in November 1986, investigations were made, leading to the convictions of several members of the Reagan administration. President Reagan himself testified before the Tower Commission that he had poor recollection of the details of the operation due in part to the heavy pain medications he had been on in that period.

Cold War victory

"Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
Reagan is credited for ending the Cold War in victory for the United States. Historian Tony Judt in Postwar credits Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, while the political scientist Jan Kubik presents a viewpoint that credits Pope John Paul II.[41] Other historians contend structural weaknesses within the Communist bloc meant Reagan's actions were inconsequential to the end of communism. This is the view adopted by Russians themselves, and many political historians, citing perestroika and glasnost as beginning an inevitable slow fading of central power, and a collapse by irreconcilable differences between the central Soviet Politburo and the constituent republics, especially the Ukraine.[42] In the end, the consensus seems to point to all of the above, that hastened the demise of the Soviet Union; Internal factors, religious pressure brought by the Pope, Gorbachev's "Perestroika" and the united front of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, leading NATO and the West to embed a missile defense system in Western Europe, and the economic superiority of Capitalism, which simply out-spent and out-performed that of the Communist one.

One thing that cannot be quantified is Reagan's ability to give hope, his never-ending optimism that good would indeed triumph over evil. Many see that as key to bringing extra confidence to those locked behind the "Iron Curtain" to press even harder for reforms.

Columnist Cal Thomas wrote about it like this:

He proved he was right about the big things. Faced with editorial denunciations at home and massive demonstrations in Europe against his plan to put missiles there to offset a Soviet threat, Reagan went ahead and did it anyway. The Soviets could not keep pace with the buildup or Reagan's proposed missile defense system (derided by insincere and dangerous critics as "Star Wars"). When those critics could not bring themselves to admit they were wrong, they unpersuasively claimed the Soviet Union fell under its own weight. More accurately, Reagan pushed it onto "the ash heap of history," with the able assistance of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. What Reagan did more than anything else - and it will be his lasting legacy - is replace despair with hope. Most people, even his detractors, felt a glow from being in his presence.

He was the kindest, most gracious president I have met, and I have met them all since JFK. In his presence you felt he was interested in you and not himself. He was a good man. [43]

Brian Mulroney, the Canadian Prime Minister, Eulogized Reagan at his state funeral:

Some in the West during the early 1980s believed communism and democracy were equally valid and viable. This was the school of "moral equivalence." In contrast Ronald Reagan saw Soviet Communism as a menace to be confronted in the genuine belief that its squalid underpinning would fall swiftly to the gathering winds of freedom. Provided, as he said, that NATO and the industrialized democracies stood firm and united. They did. And we know now who was right.[44]

Former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan paid tribute to the fallen president in a Wall Street Journal editorial. In it, Noonan noted:

Ronald Reagan told the truth to a world made weary by lies. He believed truth was the only platform on which a better future could be built. He shocked the world when he called the Soviet Union ‘evil,’ because it was, and an 'empire,' because it was that, too. He never stopped bringing his message to the people of the world, to Europe and China and in the end the Soviet Union. And when it was over, the Berlin Wall had been turned into a million concrete souvenirs, and Soviet communism had fallen. But of course, it didn’t fall. It was pushed. By Mr. Know-Nothing-Cowboy-Gunslinger-Dimwit. All presidents should be so stupid...[45]

Thatcher on Reagan

Upon his death, Margaret Thatcher, in very ill health from a series of strokes, insisted upon traveling to America to bid farewell to her old friend, and taped a stirring tribute to him:

As Prime Minister, I worked closely with Ronald Reagan for eight of the most important years of all our lives. We talked regularly both before and after his presidency. And I have had time and cause to reflect on what made him a great president. Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles - and, I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly, he acted upon them decisively. When the world threw problems at the White House, he was not baffled, or disorientated, or overwhelmed. He knew almost instinctively what to do.

When his aides were preparing option papers for his decision, they were able to cut out entire rafts of proposals that they knew 'the Old Man' would never wear. When his allies came under Soviet or domestic pressure, they could look confidently to Washington for firm leadership. And when his enemies tested American resolve, they soon discovered that his resolve was firm and unyielding. Yet his ideas, though clear, were never simplistic. He saw the many sides of truth. Yes, he warned that the Soviet Union had an insatiable drive for military power and territorial expansion; but he also sensed it was being eaten away by systemic failures impossible to reform. Yes, he did not shrink from denouncing Moscow's 'evil empire'.

But he realized that a man of goodwill might nonetheless emerge from within its dark corridors. So the President resisted Soviet expansion and pressed down on Soviet weakness at every point until the day came when communism began to collapse beneath the combined weight of these pressures and its own failures. And when a man of goodwill did emerge from the ruins, President Reagan stepped forward to shake his hand and to offer sincere cooperation. Nothing was more typical of Ronald Reagan than that large-hearted magnanimity - and nothing was more American.[46]

Thatcher criticized Ronald Reagan for his invasion in Grenada in 1983.[47]


President Bush presents the Medal of Freedom Award to Former President Ronald Reagan in the East Room of the White House, 01/13/93
Reagan retired to California. He would occasionally involve himself in politics, including a speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. On January 13, 1993 President George H. W. Bush awarded Reagan the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Reagan was becoming increasingly forgetful. In November 1994, he announced that he had been diagnosed in August with Alzheimer's disease, a degenerative nerve disorder that annihilates the victim's mental capacity.

See Reagan's letter to the American people regarding his disease.)

He died at his Bel Air home on June 5, 2004 at age 93, making him the second-longest lived president in history after Gerald Ford. Reagan was buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library, located in Sima Valley, California, on June 11, 2004.[48]


There is growing consensus among scholars, both conservative and liberal, that he was the most influential president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Reagan left a major imprint on American politics, diplomacy, culture, and economics.[49]


In 1940 Reagan married actress Jane Wyman, who won an Oscar for her 1948 movie Johnny Belinda. They had three children together: Maureen Elizabeth Reagan (1941-2001), who passed away from malignant melanoma within months of diagnosis, at age 60; Michael Edward Reagan(b. 1945-)[50], and Christine Reagan (June 26 & 27, 1947). She was born prematurely and survived only one day. The baby's death traumatized Wyman and she divorced Reagan in 1948.

In 1952 he married actress Nancy Davis (b. 1921), whom he met in 1949. They remained married until his death in 2004. Together they had two children, Patricia "Patti" Ann Davis (b. 1952) and Ronald Prescott Reagan (b. 1958).

Miscellaneous Facts

  • Reagan was the first and only divorced president.
  • Reagan was the first president to break the so-called "Curse of Tippecanoe", ie, the first president elected in a twenty year cycle who did not die in office (although an attempt was made on his life in 1981).
  • At 69, Reagan was the oldest man elected to the presidency for a first term.
  • Reagan loved jelly beans.[51] The blueberry flavor was made in his honor. Jelly Belly even created a Ronald Reagan portrait out of jelly beans.
  • After his death, some of his closest supporters wished to put him on the $10 bill.[52]
  • Reagan played college football player George Gipp in the film Knute Rockne: All American (1940), and was affectionately known as "The Gipper" ever since.[53]
  • Reagan signed Proclamation 5018 declaring 1983 the Year of the Bible.


  • "It is freedom itself that still hangs in the balance, and freedom is never more than one generation from extinction." - Commencement address to The Citadel, 1993
  • "Socialists can provide you shelter, fill your belly with bacon and beans, treat you when you are ill, all the things guaranteed to a prisoner or a slave."
  • "The house we hope to build is not for my generation but for yours. It is your future that matters. And I hope that when you are my age, you will be able to say as I have been able to say: We lived in freedom. We lived lives that were a statement, not an apology." - January 20, 1981
  • "...peace is the highest aspiration of the American People. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it, we will never surrender for it, now or ever." - January 20, 1981
  • "We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look." - January 20, 1981
  • "I've learned in Washington, that that's the only place where sound travels faster than light." - December 12, 1983
  • "The challenge of statesmanship is to have the vision to dream of a better, safer world and the courage, persistence, and patience to turn that dream into reality." - March 8, 1985
  • "I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers: Go ahead, make my day." - March 13, 1985, in a speech threatening to veto legislation raising taxes.[55]
  • "A leader, once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets rough." - December 5, 1990
  • "If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here, to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." —Speech at the Berlin Wall, June 12, 1987[56]
  • "...I know it's hard when you're up to your armpits in alligators to remember you came here to drain the swamp." - February 10, 1982
  • "There is no question that we have failed to live up to the dreams of the Founding Fathers many times and in many places. Sometimes we do better than others. But all in all, the one thing we must be on guard against is thinking that because of this, the system has failed. The system has not failed. Some human beings have failed the system." - June 21, 1973
  • "The work of volunteer groups throughout our country represents the very heart and soul of America. They have helped make this the most compassionate, generous, and humane society that ever existed on the face of this earth." - October 16, 1973
  • "In America, our origins matter less than our destination, and that is what democracy is all about." - August 17, 1992[57]
  • "I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born."[58]
  • "I, too, have always believed that God's greatest gift is human life and that we have a duty to protect the life of an unborn child." [59]
  • "Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them."
  • "If you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat." [61]
  • "The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program."




See Also

Further reading

see Bibliography below for much more detailed guide.

  • Berman, Larry, ed. Looking Back on the Reagan Presidency (1990), essays by academics
  • Busch, Andrew E.; "Ronald Reagan and the Defeat of the Soviet Empire" in Presidential Studies Quarterly. Vol: 27. Issue: 3. 1997. pp 451+. online edition by conservative
  • Cannon, Lou. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime Public Affairs. (2nd ed 2000) 948 pp. best full-length biography online edition
  • Cannon, Lou. Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power detailed biography
  • Flamm, Michael and John Ehrman. Debating the Reagan Presidency (2009), key issues explained; includes primary sources
  • Berman William C. America's Right Turn: From Nixon to Bush. (1994).
  • Brownlee, W. Elliot and Hugh Davis Graham, eds. The Reagan Presidency: Pragmatic Conservatism and Its Legacies (2003)
  • Campagna; Anthony S. The Economy in the Reagan Years: The Economic Consequences of the Reagan Administrations Greenwood Press. 1994 online edition, by conservative
  • Cannon, Lou. Ronald Reagan: The Presidential Portfolio. (2001) online edition
  • Ehrman, John. The Eighties: America in the Age of Reagan. (2005), by conservative historian
  • Griscom Tom. "Core Ideas of the Reagan Presidency." In Thompson, ed., Leadership, 23-48.
  • Hayward, Steven F. The Age of Reagan, 1964-1980: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order (2001)
  • Hayward, Steven F. The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution: 1980-1989 (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Hulten Charles R. and Isabel V. Sawhill, eds. The Legacy of Reaganomics: Prospects for Long-Term Growth. (1994).
  • Jones, Charles O. ed. The Reagan Legacy: Promise and Performance (1988) essays by political scientists
  • Jeffrey W. Knopf, "Did Reagan Win the Cold War?" Strategic Insights, Volume III, Issue 8 (August 2004)
  • Kyvig, David. ed. Reagan and the World (1990), scholarly essays on foreign policy
  • Langston, Thomas S. "Reassessing the Reagan Presidency," Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 34, 2004 online edition
  • Levy, Peter B. Encyclopedia of the Reagan-Bush Years (1996), short articles online edition
  • Matlock, Jack. Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended. (2004) by the conservative US ambassador to Moscow
  • Pach, Chester. "The Reagan Doctrine: Principle, Pragmatism, and Policy." Presidential Studies Quarterly(1): 75-88. Fulltext in SwetsWise and Ingenta; Reagan declared in 1985 that the U.S. should not "break faith" with anti-Communist resistance groups. However, his policies varied as differences in local conditions and US security interests produced divergent policies toward "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Mozambique, Angola, and Cambodia.
  • Patterson, James T. Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush vs. Gore. (2005), standard scholarly synthesis of the era
  • Pemberton, William E. Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan (1998) short, favorable biography by historian online edition
  • Reagan Ronald. An American Life. (1990). his second autobiography
  • Reeves, Richard. President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination (2005) detailed analysis by historian
  • Sullivan, George.Mr. President (1997). for middle schools
  • Schmertz, Eric J. et al eds. Ronald Reagan's America 2 Volumes (1997) articles by scholars and officeholders vol 1 onlinevol 2 online
  • Schweizer, Peter. Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism (2002), by conservative
  • Thomas, Tony. The Films of Ronald Reagan (1980)
  • Troy, Gill. Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s (2004). Study of Reagan's image.
  • Troy, Gill. The Reagan Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Wilentz, Sean. The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008 (2008), major narrative history by liberal historian who says Reagan transformed America

Detailed Bibliography


  • Benze, Jr. James G. Nancy Reagan: On the White House Stage (2005), excerpt and text search
  • Benze James G. "Nancy Reagan: China Doll or Dragon Lady?" Presidential Studies Quarterly 20 (fall 1990): 777-90
  • Cannon, Lou. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime Public Affairs. (2nd ed 2000) 948 pp. full-length biography online edition
  • Diggins, John. Ronald Reagan‎ (2008), 528 pages, by leading conservative historian.
  • D'Souza, Dinesh. Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader (1999), popular. excerpt and text search
  • Evans, Thomas W. The Education of Ronald Reagan: The General Electric Years (2006) excerpt and text search
  • Morris, Edmund. Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan (1999), includes fictional material excerpt and text search
  • Pemberton, William E. Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan (1998) short biography by historian online edition
  • Reeves, Richard. President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination (2005) detailed analysis by historian
  • Sullivan, George.Mr. President (1997). for middle schools
  • Sutcliffe, Jane. Ronald Reagan‎ (2008) 48 pages; for elementary school; excerpt and text search

Reagan before 1981

  • Brennan Mary C. Turning Right in the Sixties: The Conservative Capture of the GOP. University of North Carolina Press, 1995
  • Burbank, Garin. "Governor Reagan and California Welfare Reform: the Grand Compromise of 1971." California History 1991 70(3): 278-289. Issn: 0162-2897
  • Burbank, Garin. "Governor Reagan's Only Defeat: The Proposition 1 Campaign in 1973." California History 72 (winter 1993-94): 360-73.
  • Burbank, Garin. "Speaker Moretti, Governor Reagan, and the Search for Tax Reform in California, 1970-1972" The Pacific Historical Review Vol. 61, No. 2 (May, 1992), pp. 193-214 online in JSTOR
  • Cannon, Lou. Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power Public Affairs. detailed biography excerpt and text search
  • Dallek, Matthew. The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan's First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics. (2004). Study of 1966 election as governor.
  • DeGroot, Gerard J. "'A Goddamned Electable Person': the 1966 California Gubernatorial Campaign of Ronald Reagan." History 1997 82(267): 429-448. Issn: 0018-2648 Fulltext: in Swetswise, Ingenta and Ebsco
  • DeGroot, Gerard J. "Ronald Reagan and Student Unrest in California, 1966-1970." Pacific Historical Review 1996 65(1): 107-129. Issn: 0030-8684 Fulltext: in Jstor
  • Drew, Elizabeth. Portrait of an Election: The 1980 Presidential Campaign. (1981).
  • Ferguson, Thomas and Joel Rogers, eds. The Hidden Election: Politics and Economics in the 1980 Presidential Campaign, 1981.
  • Germond, Jack W. and Jules Witcover. Blue Smoke & Mirrors: How Reagan Won & Why Carter Lost the Election of 1980. (1981). Detailed journalism.
  • Hayward, Steven F. The Age of Reagan, 1964-1980: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order (2001)
  • Hayward, Steven F. The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution: 1980-1989 (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Hamilton Gary G., and Nicole Woolsey Biggart. Governor Reagan, Governor Brown: A Sociology of executive Power. (1984).
  • Moore, Glen. "Ronald W. Reagan's Campaign for the Republican Party's 1968 Presidential Nomination." Proceedings and Papers of the Georgia Association of Historians (1992) 12[i.e., 13]: 57-70. Issn: 0275-3863

Politics and Domestic issues

  • Aldrich, John H., and David W. Rohde. Change and Continuity in the 1984 Elections. (1987)
  • Amaker Norman C. Civil Rights and the Reagan Administration. Urban Institute Press, 1988
  • Berman, Larry, ed. Looking Back on the Reagan Presidency (1990), essays by academics
  • Berman William C. America's Right Turn: From Nixon to Bush. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
  • Birnbaum Jeffrey H., and Alan S. Murray. Showdown at Gucci Gulch: Lawmakers, Lobbyists, and the Unlikely Triumph of Tax Reform. 1987.
  • Boskin Michael J. Reagan and the Economy: The Successes, Failures, and Unfinished Agenda. ICS Press, 1987.
  • Brownlee, W. Elliot and Hugh Davis Graham, eds. The Reagan Presidency: Pragmatic Conservatism and Its Legacies (2003)
  • Busch, Andrew E. Reagan's Victory: The Presidential Election of 1980 and the Rise of the Right, (2005) online review by Michael Barone
  • Campagna; Anthony S. The Economy in the Reagan Years: The Economic Consequences of the Reagan Administrations Greenwood Press. 1994 online edition
  • Cannon, Lou. Ronald Reagan: The Presidential Portfolio. Public Affairs. (2001) online edition
  • Cook, Daniel M. and Polsky, Andrew J. "Political Time Reconsidered: Unbuilding and Rebuilding the State under the Reagan Administration." American Politics Research(4): 577-605. ISSN 1532-673X Fulltext in SwetsWise. Argues Reagan slowed enforcement of pollution laws and transformed the national education agenda.
  • Derthick Martha, and Paul J. Quirk. The Politics of Deregulation. Brookings Institution, 1985
  • Detlefsen, Robert R. Civil Rights under Reagan Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1991 online edition
  • Eads George C., and Michael Fix, eds. The Reagan Regulatory Strategy: An Assessment. Urban Institute Press, 1984
  • Ehrman, John. The Eighties: America in the Age of Reagan. (2005)
  • Evans Rowland, and Robert Novak. The Reagan Revolution. 1991.
  • Ferguson Thomas, and Joel Rogers, Right Turn: The Decline of the Democrats and the Future of American Politics 1986.
  • Germond Jack W., and Jules Witcover. Wake Us When It's Over: Presidential Politics of 1984. 1985.
  • Marshall R. Goodman; Managing Regulatory Reform: The Reagan Strategy and Its Impact Praeger Publishers, 1987 online edition
  • Greider William. The Education of David Stockman and Other Americans. 1982. Stockman was Reagan's budget chief
  • Griscom Tom. "Core Ideas of the Reagan Presidency." In Thompson, ed., Leadership, 23-48.
  • Hulten Charles R. and Isabel V. Sawhill, eds. The Legacy of Reaganomics: Prospects for Long-Term Growth. C.: Urban Institute Press, 1994.
  • Johnson, Haynes. Sleepwalking through History: America in the Reagan Years (1991) online edition
  • Jones, Charles O. ed. The Reagan Legacy: Promise and Performance (1988) essays by political scientists
  • Karier, Thomas. Great Experiments in American Economic Policy: From Kennedy to Reagan (1997) online edition
  • Laham, Nicholas. The Reagan Presidency and the Politics of Race: In Pursuit of Colorblind Justice and Limited Government 1998. online edition
  • Levy, Peter B. Encyclopedia of the Reagan-Bush Years (1996), short articles online edition
  • Minarik Joseph J. Making America's Budget Policy. From the 1980s to the 1990s. M. E. Sharpe, 1990.
  • Palmer, John L., and Isabel V. Sawhill. The Reagan Record, 1984. economics and sociology
  • Patterson, James T. Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush vs. Gore. (2005), standard scholarly synthesis.
  • Rayack; Elton. Not So Free to Choose: The Political Economy of Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan (1987) hostile critiqueonline edition
  • Sahu, Anandi P. and Ronald L. Tracy; The Economic Legacy of the Reagan Years: Euphoria or Chaos? Praeger Publishers, 1991 online edition
  • Salamon Lester M., and Michael S. Lund. eds. The Reagan Presidency and the Governing of America 1985. articles by political scientists
  • Schmertz, Eric J. et al eds. Ronald Reagan's America 2 Volumes (1997) articles by scholars and officeholders vol 1 onlinevol 2 online
  • Shirley, Craig. Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All (2005) on 1976 campaign; excerpt and text search
  • Weatherford, M. Stephen and Mcdonnell, Lorraine M. "Ronald Reagan as Legislative Advocate: Passing the Reagan Revolution's Budgets in 1981 and 1982." Congress & the Presidency (2005) 32:1 pp 1-29. Fulltext in Ebsco; Argues RR ignored the details but played a guiding role in setting major policies and adjudicating significant trade-offs, and in securing Congressional approval.

Foreign affairs

  • Arnson, Cynthia J. Crossroads: Congress, the Reagan Administration, and Central America Pantheon, 1989.
  • Baucom Donald R. The Origins of SDI, 1944-1983. University Press of Kansas, 1992.
  • Bell Coral. The Reagan Paradox: American Foreign Policy in the 1980s. Rutgers University Press, 1989.
  • Beschloss Michael R., and Strobe Talbott. At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War. 1993
  • Busch, Andrew E.; "Ronald Reagan and the Defeat of the Soviet Empire" in Presidential Studies Quarterly. Vol: 27. Issue: 3. 1997. pp 451+.
  • Dobson, Alan P. "The Reagan Administration, Economic Warfare, and Starting to Close down the Cold War." Diplomatic History(3): 531-556. Fulltext in SwetsWise, Ingenta and Ebsco. Argues Reagan's public rhetoric against the USSR was harsh and uncompromising, giving rise to the idea that his administration sought to employ a US defense buildup and NATO economic sanctions to bring about the collapse of the USSR. Yet many statements by Reagan and Shultz suggest they desired negotiation with the Soviets from a position of American strength, not the eventual demise of the USSR.
  • Draper, Theodore. A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affair (1991)
  • Fitzgerald, Frances. Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War. political history of S.D.I. (2000). ISBN.
  • Ford, Christopher A. and Rosenberg, David A. "The Naval Intelligence Underpinnings of Reagan's Maritime Strategy." Journal of Strategic Studies(2): 379-409. Fulltext in Ingenta and Ebsco; Reagan's maritime strategy sought to apply US naval might against Soviet vulnerabilities on its maritime flanks. It was supported by a major buildup of US naval forces and aggressive exercising in seas proximate to the USSR; it explicitly targeted Moscow's strategic missile submarines with the aim of pressuring the Kremlin during crises or the early phases of global war. The maritime strategy represents one of the rare instances in history when intelligence helped lead a nation to completely revise its concept of military operations.
  • Garthoff, Raymond L. The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (1994), detailed narrative by a hostile critic online edition
  • Haftendorn, Helga and Jakob Schissler, eds. The Reagan Administration: A Reconstruction of American Strength? Berlin: Walter de Guyer, 1988. by European scholars
  • Hall, David Locke. The Reagan Wars: A Constitutional Perspective on War Powers and the Presidency Westview Press, 1991 online edition
  • Jeffrey W. Knopf, "Did Reagan Win the Cold War?" Strategic Insights, Volume III, Issue 8 (August 2004)
  • Kyvig, David. ed. Reagan and the World (1990), scholarly essays on foreign policy
  • Lagon, Mark P. The Reagan Doctrine: Sources of American Conduct in the Cold War's Last Chapter (1994) online edition
  • LeoGrande, William M. Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992 (1998)
  • Matlock, Jack. Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended. (2004) by the US ambassador to Moscow excerpt and text search
  • Pach, Chester. "The Reagan Doctrine: Principle, Pragmatism, and Policy." Presidential Studies Quarterly 2006 36(1): 75-88. Issn: 0360-4918 online edition
  • Salla, Michael E. and Ralph Summy, eds. Why the Cold War Ended: A Range of Interpretations (1995). online edition
  • Schmertz, Eric J. et al eds. Ronald Reagan and the World (1997) articles by scholars and officeholders
  • Shultz, George P. Turmoil and Triumph My Years As Secretary of State (1993)
  • Schweizer, Peter. Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism (2002)
  • Suri, Jeremi. "Explaining the End of the Cold War: A New Historical Consensus?" Journal of Cold War Studies - Volume 4, Number 4, Fall 2002, pp. 60-92 in Project Muse
  • Thomas W. Walker; Reagan Versus the Sandinistas: The Undeclared War on Nicaragua (1987) online edition
  • Wallison, Peter J. Ronald Reagan: The Power of Conviction and the Success of His Presidency. (2003). 282 pp.
  • Wapshott, Nicholas. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: a political marriage‎ (2007) 336 pages excerpt and text search
  • Wills, David C. The First War on Terrorism: Counter-Terrorism Policy during the Reagan Administration. 2004.

Rhetoric, media and values

  • Aden, R. C. "Entrapment and Escape: Inventional Metaphors in Ronald Reagan's Economic Rhetoric." Southern Communication Journal 54 (1989): 384-401
  • Dallek, Robert. Ronald Reagan: The Politics of Symbolism. (1999)
  • Denton Jr., Robert E. Primetime Presidency of Ronald Reagan: The Era of the Television Presidency (1988) online edition
  • Diggins, John Patrick. Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History (2007) Reagan as follower of Emerson, by leading historian of ideas
  • Jane Feuer; Seeing through the Eighties: Television and Reaganism Duke University Press, 1995 online edition
  • FitzWater, Marlin . Call the Briefing! Bush and Reagan, Sam and Helen, a Decade with Presidents and the Press. 1995. Memoir by Reagan's press spokesman.
  • Goodnight, G. Thomas. "Ronald Reagan's Re-formulation of the Rhetoric of War: Analysis of the 'Zero Option,' 'Evil Empire,' and 'Star Wars' Addresses." Quarterly Journal of Speech 72 (1986): 390-414.
  • Greffenius, Steven. The Last Jeffersonian: Ronald Reagan's Dreams of America. June, July, & August Books. 2002.
  • Hertsgaard, Mark. On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency 1988. criticizes the press
  • Hoeveler, J. David. Watch on the Right: Conservative Intellectuals in the Reagan Era. University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.
  • Houck, Davis, and Amos Kiewe, eds. Actor, Ideologue, Politician: The Public Speeches of Ronald Reagan (Greenwood Press, 1993) W. Houck&dcontributors=Davis+W.+Houck online edition
  • Jones, John M. "'Until Next Week': The Saturday Radio Addresses of Ronald Reagan" Presidential Studies Quarterly. Volume: 32. Issue: 1. 2002. pp 84+.
  • Kengor, Paul. God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life Regan Books, 2004. ISBN.
  • Kiewe, Amos, and Davis W. Houck. A Shining City on a Hill: Ronald Reagan's Economic Rhetoric, 1951-1989. 1991.
  • Lewis, William F. "Telling America's Story: Narrative Form and the Reagan Presidency", Quarterly Journal of Speech): 280–302
  • Longley, Kyle, Jeremy D. Mayer, Michael Schaller, and John W. Sloan. Deconstructing Reagan: Conservative Mythology and America’s Fortieth President, (M.E. Sharpe, 2007. xviii, 150 pp. isbn 978-0-7656-1591-6.)
  • Meyer, John C. "Ronald Reagan and Humor: A Politician's Velvet Weapon", Communication Studies 41 (1990): 76-88.
  • Moore, Mark P. "Reagan's Quest for Freedom in the 1987 State of the Union Address." Western Journal of Communication 53 (1989): 52-65.
  • Muir, William Ker. The Bully Pulpit: The Presidential Leadership of Ronald Reagan (1992), examines his speeches
  • Noonan, Peggy. When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan (2001) memoir by a Reagan speechwriter
  • Ormanm John. Comparing Presidential Behavior: Carter, Reagan, and the Macho Presidential Style Greenwood Press, 1987 online edition
  • Ritter, Kurt W. Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator. Greenwood, 1992. online edition
  • Shogan, Colleen J. "Coolidge and Reagan: The Rhetorical Influence of Silent Cal on the Great Communicator", Rhetoric & Public Affairs 9.2 online at Project Muse; argues that Coolidge and Reagan shared a common ideological message, which served as the basis for modern conservatism. Even without engaging in explicitly partisan rhetoric, Reagan's principled speech served an important party-building function.
  • Stuckey, Mary. Getting Into the Game: The Pre-Presidential Rhetoric of Ronald Reagan. Praeger, 1989
  • Stuckey, Mary. Playing the Game: The Presidential Rhetoric of Ronald Reagan. Praeger, 1990. online edition
  • Thomas, Tony. The Films of Ronald Reagan (1980)
  • Troy, Gill. Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s (2004). Study of Reagan's image.
  • Michael Weiler and W. Barnett Pearce; Reagan and Public Discourse in America University of Alabama Press, 1992 online edition
  • Wills, Garry. Reagan's America: Innocents at Home. (1987)

Primary sources

  • Council of Economic Advisors, Economic Report of the President (annual 1947- ), complete series online; important analysis of current trends and policies, plus statistcial tables
  • Reagan Ronald, and Richard G. Hubler. Where's the Rest of Me? (1965). first autobiography
  • Reagan Ronald. An American Life. (1990). second autobiography excerpt and text search
  • Reagan Ronald. The Creative Society: Some Comments on Problems Facing America. 1968.
  • Reagan Ronald. Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation. 1984.
  • Reagan Ronald. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan. 1981-1989. 8 vols. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1982-91.
  • Reagan, Ronald. Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan That Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Reagan, Ronald. The Reagan Diaries: Extended Selections‎ ed. by Douglas Brinkley (2007)
  • Skinner, Kiron K. et al, eds. Reagan's Path to Victory: The Shaping of Ronald Reagan's Vision: Selected Writings (2004), 450 radio talks from late 1970s

Primary sources by Reagan associates

  • Anderson, Martin. Revolution: The Reagan Legacy (1990)
  • Haig, Alexander. Inner Circles: How America Changed the World (1994). Haig was Secretary of State 1981-82
  • Deaver, Michael, and Mickey Herskowitz. Behind the Scenes. 1987. Memoir by a top aide.
  • Meese Edwin. With Reagan: The Inside Story. Regnery Gateway, 1992.
  • Niskanen William A. Reaganomics: An Insider's Account of the Policies and the People. Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • Reagan, Nancy. My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan (1989)
  • Reagan Maureen. First Father, First Daughter: A Memoir. 1989.
  • Reagan Michael and Joe Hyams. On the Outside Looking In. 1988.
  • Regan Donald T. For the Record. From Wall Street to Washington. 1988; Treasury Secretary and Chief of Staff
  • Shultz, George P. Turmoil and Triumph My Years As Secretary of State 1993) Schulz was Secretary of State 1982-89
  • Stahl, Lesley. "Reporting Live" (1999) memoir by TV news reporter
  • Stockman David A. The Triumph of Politics: How the Reagan Revolution Failed. 1986. Stockman was Budget Director in 1981-82
  • Thompson Kenneth W., ed. Foreign Policy in the Reagan Presidency: Nine Intimate Perspectives. University Press of America, 1993.
  • Thompson Kenneth W., ed. Leadership in the Reagan Presidency: Seven Intimate Perspectives. 1992.
  • Thompson Kenneth W., ed. Leadership in the Reagan Presidency, Part II: Eleven Intimate Perspectives. University Press of America, 1993.
  • Weinberger, Caspar. In the Arena: A Memoir of the 20th Century (1991), by the Defense Secretary

Government documents

  • Council of Economic Advisors. Economic Report of the President, (annual, 1981-1988), detailed analysis of economic issues
  • U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States annual compilation of over 1000 tables of data.


  1. Knopf (2004)
  2. Tear Down This Wall, Laffer Curve, etc. See conservative insights
  3. Ronald Reagan's Conservative Legacy, ACUF
  5. Timeline of Ronald Reagan’s Life
  6. The formal name of the denomination is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
  7. Stephen Vaughn, "The Moral Inheritance of a President: Reagan and the Dixon Disciples of Christ." Presidential Studies Quarterly 1995 25(1): 109-127. 0360-4918
  8. Ronald Reagan, An American Life (1990) p 132
  9. Dallek, Matthew. "Liberalism Overthrown." American Heritage (1996) 47(6): 39+ Fulltext online at Ebsco
  11. Gerard DeGroot, "Reagan's Rise." History Today (1995) 45(9): 31-36. Issn: 0018-2753 Fulltext online at Ebsco
  12. Burbank (1991)
  13. Hamilton and Biggart, (1984); Ritter (1992)
  15. University of California, Berkeley - Police Department. History Topic: People's Park August 2006
  16. San Francisco Chronicle, early morning edition, May 15 1969
  17. Biography of U.S. President Ronald Reagan
  18. Busch 2005
  19. David Gergen, Eyewitness to Power (2000) p 351
  20. The assassin was John Hinckley, a mentally disturbed man who didn't shoot Reagan for political reasons, but instead did to impress an actress he had never met.
  21. National Archives
  22. Leip, David: 1984 Presidential Election Results.
  25. "Turbulence in the Tower," Time Aug. 17, 1981; Paul L. Butterworth, et al., "More than a Labor Dispute: The PATCO Strike of 1981," Essays in Economic & Business History 2005 23:125-139
  26. 1983 Greenspan Commission on Social Security Reform (1983) online version; "Claude Pepper and Social Security Reform - 1981-1983," online exhibit; Paul Charles Light, Artful Work: The Politics of Social Security Reform (1985)
  30. [1]
  31. Peter Schweizer , Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism, New York: Doubleday, 2002.
  32. CIA Assessments of the Soviet Union: Chapter 5, Enter Gorbachev , Douglas J. MacEachin, CIA Publications, 1996.
  33. Notes of Politburo Meeting 4 October 1986, Gorbachev's instructions for the group preparing for Reykjavik
  34. James Mann, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan (2009)
  35. Christopher Wilkinson NATO Review, Soviet Defense Spending, NATO's Economics Directorate No. 2 - April 1991, Vol. 39 p. 16-22
  36. Peter Schweizer, Reagan’s War.
  37. Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), Iraqi Retreats, 1982-84,, retrieved 20 March 2007.
  38. NSDD 139, 5 April 1984.
  39. One Weekend in April, A Long Time Ago ... What John Kerry thought about the Sandinista in Nicaragua, Hugh Hewitt, The Weekly Standard, 09/09/2004.
  40. Kerry: 'I'm Proud I Stood Against Reagan Carl Limbacher and Staff, 7 June 2004.
  41. [2]
  42. David Remnick, "Lenin's Tomb
  43. [3]
  44. [4]
  45. [5]
  46. [6]
  48. Exhibitions
  49. "As of this writing, among academic historians, the Reagan revisionists—who view the 1980s as an era of mixed blessings at worst, and of great forward strides in some renditions—hold the field," reports Doug Rossinow, "Talking Points Memo," in American Quarterly 59.4 (2007) p. 1279. For more historiographical support see: Troy (2009); Hayward (2009); Wilentz (2008); also Charles L. Ponce de Leon, "The New Historiography of the 1980s" in Reviews in American History, Volume 36, Number 2, June 2008, pp. 303-314; Whitney Strub, "Further into the Right: The Ever-Expanding Historiography of the U.S. New Right," Journal of Social History, Volume 42, Number 1, Fall 2008, pp. 183-194; Kim Phillips-Fein, "Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and Making of History," Enterprise & Society, Volume 8, Number 4, December 2007, pp. 986-988.
  50. Michael Reagan is the adopted son of Wyman and Reagan. See "Michael Reagan"
  53. [7]
  54. Chapter 9 Page 160 The United States Congress by Ross M. English
  58. New York Times, September 22, 1980
  59. Ronald Reagan by Office of the Federal Register
  60. [ William J. Federer, ed. Treasury of Presidential Quotations p 373
  61. [,+make+them+feel+the+heat.&ei=tvAlSsrrKZOCygS9_qycBw Ronald Reagan: how an ordinary man became an extraordinary leader‎ - Page 93] by Dinesh D'Souza
  62. War and conflict quotations P.105, by Michael C. Thomsett, Jean F. Thomsett
  63. C-SPAN: President Reagan 1981 Inaugural Address - complete video,
  64. How California Governor Reagan summed up the future President Obama in the first 5 minutes of a speech over 45 years ago.
  65. Farewell Speech - President Reagan's Farewell Speech from the Oval Office 1/11/89 For more information on the ongoing works of President Reagan's Foundation, visit

External Links

Personal tools