Ronald Reagan

Official White House photo of President Ronald Reagan, 1981

Official White House photo of President Ronald Reagan, 1981

Ronald Reagan was the fortieth President of the United States. He served from 1981- 1989. He was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. Reagan was a lifeguard in the summers. He had saved some 77 swimmers from drowning through the six years working as a lifeguard.

Reagan attended Eureka College. He majored in Sociology and Economics. He was active as a student and got four varsity sweaters in football as well as had parts in school plays. After graduation, he searched for a job in radio. Reagan was hired to broadcast Big Ten football games as well as baseball games. In 1937, Reagan did a screen test and he was off to Hollywood. He ended up in 53 films.

Reagan became the President of the Screen Actors Guild. He had to testify before Congress as a witness when the communists allegedly attempted to take over the movie industry. The views of Reagan became to slowly change from liberal to conservative.

General Electric hired Reagan as a spokesperson. Reagan traveled around the country and he was able to interact with Americans from all over the country. While touring, Reagan became more and more convinced that government was too involved in people’s lives. He eventually switched parties and became a Republican.

One defining speech that Reagan made was for the Republican nominee for President, Barry Goldwater. The speech was so well done that Reagan emerged as a leader as a conservative. In 1980, Reagan became the Republican Presidential nominee and selected Texan Congressman George Bush as his Vice President.

Reagan’s strong communicative style and his large tall stature were well received by the American public. Reagan was an optimist and believed that American was in position for a great future. Helped by a bad economy, with high inflation, high levels of unemployment, and high interest rates, as well as the hostage crisis in Iran, Reagan won 489 electoral votes to 49 votes for Jimmy Carter, the incumbent.

Reagan had three main principles from which he operated throughout this presidency. He thought that the government was too big, that taxes were too large and the Soviet Union was a real threat. He had made plans to systematically move to combat the three aforementioned troubles.

Reagan hit the ground running. Reagan met with 467 legislators during his first 100 days in office. He was preparing for his Economic Recovery Act to go to the Congress. On March 30, Reagan was shot by John Hinckley. Hinckley shot Reagan trying to impress actress Jodie Foster, whom he had never met but fantasized about.. Reagan retained his sense of humor throughout the whole ordeal. Reagan told Nancy that, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” And joked with his surgeons by saying, “Please tell me you’re all Republicans”.

After recovering from being shot, Reagan again took up his Economic Recovery Act. He appeared on national television and addressed the American people explaining his plan. The Act was passed by a huge margin. Reagan was even able to get 40 Democrats to vote with the Republicans.

The second-term campaign was benefited by the effects of Reagan’s tax cuts which had simulated the economy, the build up of defense which began to affect the Soviet Union. Reagan and Bush defeated Mondale and Ferraro by a very large margin.

During his second term, Reagan was able to focus on the Soviet Union. He had called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and some thought his statements were ridiculous. However, after an arms build-up, and in the same year that Reagan’s term ended, the Berlin Wall came down.

In 1986, some of Reagan’s National Security Council members had diverted some of the profits from secret arms deals with Iran to aid the contra rebels in El Salvador.. The Iran-contra scandal had a bad effect on Reagan. Either Reagan directly disobeyed a congressional resolution against such aid or, as Reagan maintained, he did not know what his top aides did, and they had acted without his direction.

Reagan, the first president to have been divorced, had been married to an actress, Jane Wyman which ended in divorce in 1949. They had two children together, Maureen and Michael. Reagan then married Nancy Davis in 1952, who was also an actress. They had two children together, Patricia and Ronald.

After his Presidency, Reagan went to his California ranch, Rancho del Cielo, near Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, Reagan had Alzheimer’s disease. He wrote a letter to the American people telling them of his diagnosis. Reagan’s letters to Nancy were published in a book, showing his great style and fantastic ability writing and showing his great love for Nancy.

Reagan died on June 5, 2004. The country mourned his death. His funeral was held with great respect and many Americans honored Reagan by viewing him lying in state. Many are declaring that Reagan was one of the best loved Presidents ever, and that he restored the pride of the American people in their country and their government.

Ronald Reagan Facts

  • President No.: 40th
  • Served: 1981-1989
  • Party: Republican
  • From: Tampico, Illinois
  • Married: Nancy Davis Reagan
  • Born: February 6, 1911
  • Died: June 5, 2004
  • Education: Eureka College (Illinois)
  • Jobs Before President: Radio announcer and commentator, actor and public speaker, Governor of California
  • Height: 6 feet, 1 inch
  • Population at time: 226,542,199
  • Hobbies: Riding, swimming
  • Pets: Dog named Rex
  • Transportation: Helicopter, airplane, car
  • Communication Methods: Telephone, typed letter


Ronald Reagan Inaugural Addresses

Ronald Reagan State of the Union Addresses

Other Ronald Reagan Speeches

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