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Reagan, Ronald W. - 40th President
20 January 1981 to 20 January 1989

Russell Renka
Southeast Missouri State University

General Sources:   The Miller Center's American President.org site has American President - Ronald Reagan.
    The American Experience The Presidents Ronald Reagan PBS has an overview plus five topics; a Primary Sources - Ronald Reagan with texts of many speeches plus a letter revealing Alzheimer's in the 1990s; and a Teacher's Guide - Ronald Reagan with a Timeline - Ronald Reagan for 1981 to 1988.
    There is also The American Experience Reagan, organized somewhat like the similar citation with Jimmy Carter (above) but not so comprehensive.  The American Experience Reagan People & Events has some useful coverage.  The American Experience Reagan Timeline (1911 - 1958) opens a sequence of six of these, including three covering the presidential period.
    The IPL POTUS -- Ronald Wilson Reagan has eight subsections. 
    The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Resource Page includes The Public Papers of President Ronald W. Reagan with a search engine for speeches and quotes dating from January 1981 through May 1985.  For a given month, see Public Papers of Ronald Reagan - May 1985 to illustrate.

Personal Biographies:  See Encyclopedia Americana Ronald Reagan written by Robert J. Huckshorn, Florida Atlantic University (and revised by Donald Young); PBS site The American President - Ronald Reagan;  and Ronald Reagan:  Brilliant, Ordinary, and Enigmatic by Chester Pach.

Character Above All: Ronald Reagan Essay is by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan.

1980 and 1984 Presidential Elections:  The 1980 Election Results shows that it wasn't close, as Reagan won ten percentage points more national popular vote and a boatload more Electoral College vote than incumbent Jimmy Carter.  Dave Leip's 1984 Election Results show that former Vice-President Walter Mondale fared very poorly against Reagan.  Only counties with strong minority voting representation went for Mondale.

Historical Events, 1980sUnited States History Index - USA: 1980s

Photographic History of Reagan Administration:  The Reagan Library's 100 Photographs - categories has a variety.

Ronald Reagan Oral History Project:  Begun in August 2001 by the Miller Center of Public Affairs as part of its extensive Presidential Oral History, the program has "some forty-five interviews with those most closely involved in Reagan’s political career, including Cabinet members, White House staff, and campaign advisors. Among those who have been interviewed are Richard Allen, Frank Carlucci, Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Miller, George Shultz, William Webster, and Caspar Weinberger."  C-SPAN and NPR sites include considerable coverage of this material.

Assassination Attempt:  A photographic sequence from the Reagan Library is at 100 Photographs - Assassination.  Reagan's own recollections of that 30 March 1981 event are recorded at Ronald Reagan... Assassination Attempt.  A recent article from National Security Advisor Richard Allen in The Atlantic is The Day Reagan Was Shot; it includes a taped account of the internal dispute over Alexander Haig's celebrated statement about being in charge at the White House while Reagan convalesced and Vice President Bush was en route from Texas.

Ideology:  See

Speech and Quote List:  The Reagan Library has a chronological list of RONALD REAGAN'S MAJOR SPEECHES 1964-89.  At The Public Papers of President Ronald W. Reagan is a browser covering January 1981 through May 1986--and note, the version linked from the Library only goes to May 1984, so use this version instead.  If you want to navigate to newer months from the dated Library site, start with a listed month and then substitute the desired year and three-letter designation for month in lieu of the default month.  For example, Public Papers of Ronald Reagan - May 1985 is at http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/resource/speeches/1985/85may.htm.  Substitute "85jun" in the URL and you're in that month.  RDR, 4/5/02

Major Speeches:
    Ronald Reagan, In His Own Words - Audio-Video Archive from National Public Radio has a montage of audio clips from Reagan's career, concluding with the 11 January 1989 Farewell Address to the nation.
    The PBS American Experience site includes To Restore America from 31 March 1976 announcing his challenge to Ford for the GOP presidential nomination; the Acceptance of the Republican Nomination for President-July 17, 1980; the famously successful post-gunshot Economic Recovery Program-April 28, 1981 speech before Congress asking the public to write Members on behalf of the President's budget plans; the National Security-March 23, 1983 'Star Wars' speech announcing his intent to create an aerial shield against nuclear missiles; the campaign against drug abuse-September 14, 1986; the ill-fated Speech about Iran Contra-March 4, 1987; the Farewell Address of 21 January 1989; and the 1990 Brotherhood of Man speech at Westminster College commemorating the end of the Cold War from the very locale of Churchill's Iron Curtain speech 44 years earlier.
    The Reagan Information Interchange from Michael Reagan has 17 speeches, mostly from the presidential period.
    USA Index: R. Reagan has text files of A Time for Choosing, aka 'the Speech' before the 1964 Republican National Convention on behalf of Barry Goldwater; Reagan's 'Evil Empire' Speech deriding the Soviet Union before the British House of Commons on 8 June 1982; Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach on 6 June 1984 in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Allied D-Day landing; the Challenger Disaster Speech of 28 January 1986; and Reagan's Speech at the National Republican Convention 1992.  Also included are both inaugural speeches of 1981 and 1985 plus the six State of the Union speeches of 1982-84 and 1986-88.
    Additional speeches are Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals on 8 March 1983 elaborating the 'Evil Empire' thesis; Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate - June 12, 1987 calling upon Soviet leader Gorbachev to bring down the Berlin Wall; and Anniversary of the Announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative on 23 March 1993.  Also, see below under 'Margaret Thatcher.'
    The americanpresidency.org Audio-Video Archive - Ronald Reagan has 25 excerpts, starting with "The Speech" by Reagan in 1964 on behalf of Barry Goldwater, and concluding with the post-presidential 1992 address to the 1992 Republican National Convention.

Margaret ThatcherLady Thatcher Salutes Reagan during 1994 Gala on 3 February 1994 illustrates the ideological similarity and close relationship of the former Prime Minister of Great Britain with President Reagan.  Margaret Thatcher Foundation has numerous links illustrating the close ideological and working relationship of the British leader with Reagan.  Included are pieces on negotiations with Soviet leader Gorbachev, and post-Reagan looks back at his impact on conservatism and the Cold War.

Campaign Commercials:  This peculiarly modern American practice began in America with the 1952 Eisenhower-Stevenson presidential campaign, and it flourished in the 1980s.   Among the classic Reagan commercials cited at AllPolitics - Ad Archive is the Cold War side of 1984, namely "Reagan and the Bear" and on the domestic side, "Morning Again in America."  MoviePlayer is required for this site, and can be downloaded from Apple - Products - QuickTime.

Executive Orders and Proclamations:  See Federal Register - Executive Orders - Ronald Reagan.

Reaganomics:  Reagan economic policy is so deeply woven into the belief system of conservatives that the web is overstuffed with ideological treatments.  Objective and scholarly treatments are considerably harder to find, but of course are much more rewarding.  A friendly and professional treatment of the monetary side of Reaganomics is at Monetary Policy in the Cold War Era by Mark S. Sniderman, senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland; this treatment demonstrates the emphatic attack upon inflation undertaken by the Fed in the early Reagan years.
    A far less flattering portrayal of Reagan budgetary policy and Reaganomics is The Education of David Stockman - 81.12 in The Atlantic by William Greider.
    Debate among several principals on Reaganomics, sponsored by Public Broadcasting System, is at Commanding Heights: Reaganomics on PBS.  A number of Reagan economics officials have websites lauding Reaganomics; a prominent and detailed one from Martin Anderson is Hoover Essay in Public Policy- THE TEN CAUSES OF THE REAGAN BOOM 1982-1997, written in 1997.

Reagan tax policy:  Two major tax laws were enacted, in 1981 and 1986.  Dan Miller, economist, and William K. MacReynolds, senior economist, co-authored Tax Policy, Economic Growth and American Families in 1995 at the Joint Economic Committee congressional website (see Joint Economic Committee (JEC) Home Page).  The snapshot may now look dated, but still is instructive of fundamental impacts of tax policy.  Economist Christopher Frenze in 1996 authored The Reagan Tax Cuts: Lessons for Tax Reform showing a favorable effect of reducing high marginal tax rates on the affluent.  As students of Congress may expect, JEC publications remain an excellent source of professional website information on economic policy.
    Tax Reform History of the Federal Income Tax from The Century Foundation sets out the case for the changes effected in the 1986 Tax Reform Act.
    Tax Policy Center: A Project of the Urban Institute & the Brookings Institution has short analyses, some critical of the Reagan tax policy for contributing to large deficits.  Many supportive Reagan sites exist, at The Heritage Foundation Research Taxes Class-Warfare Tax Policy  Myth and Reality and Cato Institute's Supply Tax Cuts And The Truth About The Reagan Economic Record as well as other sites.

Foreign Policy with Reagan:

    Documents:  See H-Net's Diplomatic History site for Documents Relating to the Reagan Administration.  An extensive links source on Reagan military and nuclear policy is Professor Chris H. Lewis' President Reagan, Nuclear War, and the Global Crusade against Soviet Communism in the 1980s.

    Cold WarCold War Policies 1945-1991 has event outlines of each Reagan term, at Ronald Reagan & Confrontation 1981-1984 and Ronald Reagan & Glasnost 1985-1989.  Included are major events associated with the Cold War; also mixed in are thumbnail pictures and events on the domestic side.  The Arms Race Renewed shows some of the most important military hardware of this period.  Mikhail Gorbachev's Home Page demonstrates the seminal importance of the new Soviet leader's arrival in 1985; 100 Photographs - Gorbachev Summits at the Reagan Library demonstrate the regularity of this relationship.  Included is the famous Governors Island photo-op including Vice President George Bush.

    LebanonLebanon 1982-1984 from Rand Corporation's John H. Kelly is a grim reminder of the limits of a modern superpower's foreign policymaking capacity.

    Strategic Defense Initiative:  Also commonly called 'Star Wars' by those not certain of its correctness, this 1983 proposal introduced a new element into dialogue on Cold War defenses.  A 4 June 1986 PBS presentation background is at NewsHour Online -The Strategic Defense Initiative. An SDI home page is at Index page for the SDI Information Web-Site; (BROKEN LINK) despite its in-construction profile, there are useful analyses and Links. Other background from Federation of American Scientists is at Nuclear Resources.  They also have extensive documents at Reagan Administration on Ballistic Missile Defenses dating back to the "Evil Empire" speech of 8 June 1982 and the SDI speech of 23 March 1983.  An unclassified 1983 CIA document entitled Possible Soviet Responses to the US Strategic Defense Initiative is self-explanatory.
    Critical review is of course available via Federation of Atomic Scientists with John Pike, at their Space Policy Program's Star Wars Advocates page.

    Iran-Contra scandal:  Selling arms to Iran in exchange for funding the Nicaraguan anti-leftist rebels, got President Reagan into serious difficulty upon its disclosure in November 1986.  Primary documents are at The Iran-Contra Affair The Making of a Scandal, 1983-1988; The Iran-Contra Affair, 1983-1988; National Security Archive-Publications-Documents Readers-The Iran-Contra Scandal; and Iran/contra affair. CNN Cold War - Backyard Interactive Archive has a collection of e-mails between principals John Poindexter and Oliver North.
     The Final Report on Iran-Contra by Lawrence E. Walsh went to Congress on 4 August 1993, well after the Bush Administration's last days.  See also Senator Mitchell's comments to Oliver North, at Speeches (Iran-Contra Investigation, questioning by members - July 13, 1987).  The full Walsh Report is also at Walsh Iran Contra Report.  Specific section on President Reagan's role is Walsh Iran Contra Report - Chapter 27 President Reagan.

    Cold War near its end:  Conversation with Jack Matlock - p. 3 of 10 portrays Reagan's view of the USSR, pre-Gorbachev (1985-   ), from the former Ambassador to the USSR.  Following that is Reagan's perspective once Gorbachev arrived in 1985; see Conversation with Jack Matlock - p. 5 of 10.  Matlock issues post hoc judgments on the defense buildup and on nuclear weapons, in Conversation with Jack Matlock - p. 7 of 10.  The precipitous decline of the Soviet Union is discussed at Conversation with Jack Matlock - cover page.  Another source is Reagan and the Russians - 94.02 by Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein in The Atlantic.

Space Program and Challenger Disaster:  The NASA historical site at history.nasa.gov is organized by decade.  The Reagan decade of the 1980s was the early period of the Space Shuttle program.  The Challenger disaster of 28 January 1986 is cited only in its aftermath, via NASA's Report of the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident - June 6th, 1986 - usually known as the Rogers Commission after its chair.   But its Challenger STS-51L Information is an extensive site with abundant material plus links to some outside sites.  Note Feynman's Appendix to the Rogers Commission Report on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, covering physicist Richard Feynman's famous demonstration of a core factor in the accident.
    The Federation of Atomic Scientists (FAS) site includes a Space Policy Project site with 51-L:  The Challenger Accident.  Numerous links from open forums are included.
    See also:  preceding material under Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon; and in General Topics above that, "Space Program."

CIA Briefing:  See Ronald Reagan and the President's Daily Brief for an unclassified account by Richard J. Kerr and Peter Dixon Davis of the CIA's early briefings of President-elect Reagan.

Air Traffic Controllers strike and termination:  On 3 August 1981, President Reagan fired more than 11000 air traffic controllers who had gone on strike.  See Air Traffic Controllers Strike - August 3, 1981 on the President's announcement and press conference.

Reagan on civil rights:  Unlike Ford, Reagan took the same positions recognized as today's conservative positions on this, including opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment and to affirmative action.

Person of the Year:  Time Magazine awarded this to Reagan in pre-presidential 1980:  Ronald Reagan - 1980.  As president he shared it with a short-tenured Soviet leader:  Ronald Reagan and Yuri Andropov, 1983.

Ideological sources:  Like Kennedy, Reagan has inspired a legion of devout admirers.  There may be more ideological websites honoring Reagan than any other former President, but I leave to others the job of sifting these.  Worthwhile for a look are The Ronald Reagan Home Page and God Bless Ronald Reagan - Introduction:  The Underestimated President.  Also, see Reagan 2000 - Reagan Record.  Look a little further, and one will also find naysayers.  One of the useful ones for the economics-minded is THE REAGAN YEARS from Steve Kangas of Liberalism Resurgent.  Pro or con on Reagan, be tolerant of rants if you examine this genre of material.

Book bibliography of President Reagan:  See American Presidents Life Portraits; and The American Experience-Presidents-Resource-Reagan.

Reagan obituary (6/5/04):  The New York Times Obituaries Ronald Reagan Dies at 93; Fostered Cold-War Might and Curbs on Government


Copyright©2004-2007, Russell D. Renka