1979-1980

  • 11/13/1979 Announcement for Presidential Candidacy
  • 07/16/1979 Ronald Reagan Wins the Presidential Nomination at the Republic National Convention, Detroit, MI
  • 10/28/1980 Reagan/Carter Presidential Debate
  • 11/04/1980 Ronald Reagan Wins the Presidential Election in a Landslide Victory (489-49 Electoral College Votes)

1981

  • 01/20/1981 Inauguration Day
  • 01/20/1981 American Hostages in Iran Released
  • 01/22/1981  Establishment of Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief
  • 01/27/1981  White House Ceremony for Iran Hostages
  • 01/29/1981  First Press Conference
  • 02/05/1981 Address to Nation on the Economy
  • 02/18/1981 Address to Congress on Economic Recovery Program
  • 02/26/1981 Initial Formation of the Cabinet Councils
  • 03/26/1981 Signing of  Executive Order 12301 establishing the Presidential Council on Integrity & Efficiency
  • 03/30/1981 Assassination Attempt on the President by John Hinckley, Jr.
  • 04/11/1981  Release from George Washington Hospital
  • 04/28/1981 Address to Congress on Economic Recovery Program
  • 05/17/1981 Honorary Degree from Notre Dame University
  • 07/07/1981 Nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to Supreme Court
  • 07/19/1981-07/21/1981 Summit of Industrialized Nations ("G7) Summit in Ottawa, Canada
  • 07/27/1981 Address to the Nation on Federal Tax Reduction Legislation
  • 07/29/1981 Tax Cut Bill Approved by House of Representatives
  • 08/03/1981 Air Traffic Controllers Strike Ultimatum Issued by President Reagan
  • 08/13/1981 President Reagan Signs Tax Cut Bill, the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA)
  • 09/24/1981 Address to the Nation on Economic Recover & Social Security
  • 09/25/1981 Sandra Day O'Connor Sworn-In as First Female Supreme Court Justice
  • 09/29/1981 World Bank and IMF Address on Free Enterprise, Not Aid
  • 10/02/1981 US Strategic Weapons Program Announced
  • 10/05/1981 Voluntarism Initiative Launched
  • 10/06/1981 Assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
  • 10/07/1981 Fifty States Project for Women Launched
  • 10/15/1981 World Affairs Council Speech on Third World & Free Enterprise
  • 10/18/1981-10/19/1981 Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown, with French President Francois Mitterand
  • 10/21/1981-10/24/1981 Cancun Summit on International Cooperation & Development
  • 10/28/1981 Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) Sale to Saudi Arabia Approved by the Senate
  • 11/10/1981 Director of the Office of Management & Budget David Stockman's Atlantic Monthly Article on Reaganomics Released
  • 11/18/1981 Arms Reduction Speech to the National Press Club
  • 11/23/1981 First Veto - 1982 Continuing Budget Resolution
  • 12/01/1981 White House Conference on Aging
  • 12/22/1981 Meeting with Defected Polish Ambassador Romuald Spasowski
  • 12/23/1981 Address to the Nation on the Situation in Poland

1982

  • 01/26/1982 First State of the Union Address - Social Programs Transferred to States
  • 02/09/1982 Indianapolis Speech, One of Several Launching New Federalism
  • 02/22/1982 Ceremony on the 250th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington
  • 02/24/1982 Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) Announced at Organization of American States (OAS)
  • 03/03/1982 J. Peter Grace Named as Chairman of the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control (PPSSCC) (Commonly Known as The Grace Commission)
  • 03/23/1982 Enterprise Zones Initiative Announced
  • 04/14/1982 Establishment of the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving
  • 04/15/1982 Tuition Tax Credit Plan Announced
  • 04/29/1982 Address to the Nation the Budget & the Balanced Budget Amendment
  • 05/09/1982 START/SALT II (Strategic Arms Reductions) Speech at Eureka College, Eureka, IL
  • 05/18/1982 Centennial Commission for Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Launched
  • 05/31/1982 Joint US-USSR Announcement on Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START)
  • 06/04/1982-06/06/1982 Summit of Industrialized Nations ("G7") Summit in Versailles, France
  • 06/08/1982 First US President to Address Both Houses of Parliament, UK
  • 06/11/1982 Visit to West Berlin
  • 06/17/1982 UN Special Session on Disarmament, “Agenda for Peace” Speech
  • 06/25/1982 Alexander Haig Resigns as Secretary of State, George Shultz Appointed Secretary of State
  • 06/30/1982 Signed Executive Order 12369 Establishing President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control (Grace Commission, PPSSCC)
  • 07/16/1982 George Shultz Sworn In as Secretary of State
  • 07/19/1982 Rally at the Capitol for Balanced Budget Amendment
  • 08/16/1982 Address to the Nation on Taxes & Budget Reconciliation
  • 08/20/1982 Middle East Initiative “Fresh Start”
  • 08/25/1982 US Marine Forces Arrive in Beirut, Lebanon
  • 09/01/1982 Address to the Nation on the Middle East
  • 09/03/1982 Tax Equity & Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) Signed at the Reagan Ranch
  • 09/20/1982 Address to the Nation on Formation of Multinational Force for Lebanon
  • 10/01/1982 House Defeats Balanced Budget Amendment
  • 10/12/1982 Missing Children Act & Victim & Witness Act Signed
  • 10/13/1982 Address to the Nation on the Economy
  • 10/14/1982 Organized Crime & Drug Trafficking Initiatives Launched
  • 11/10/1982 USSR Leader Leonid Brezhnev Dies
  • 11/11/1982 First Commercial Operations Mission of the Space Shuttle
  • 11/12/1982 Yuri Andropov Becomes Leader of USSR
  • 11/13/1982 US Sanctions on Soviet Pipeline Lifted
  • 11/17/1982 Visit to South Florida Task Force on Drugs
  • 11/22/1982 Address to the Nation on Arms Control & MX Missile Bases
  • 11/23/1982 Highway & Bridge Repair Program Proposed, (Includes Five Cents Gas Tax)
  • 12/28/1982 Recommissioning Ceremony for Battleship USS New Jersey

1983

  • 01/03/1983 Commission on Strategic Forces Created
  • 01/06/1983 Surface Transportation Assistance Act Signed
  • 01/07/1983 Nuclear Waste Policy Act Signed
  • 01/11/1983 Crop Swap Program Announced in Texas
  • 01/24/1983 Native American Policy Announced
  • 01/25/1983 State of the Union Address - Federal Spending Freeze
  • 03/08/1983 Address to National Association of Evangelicals (the “Evil Empire” Speech re: the Soviet Union)
  • 03/10/1983 Address on Central America, El Salvador
  • 03/23/1983 Address to the Nation on National Security and Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars")
  • 03/31/1983 World Affairs Council Address on Defense Matters
  • 04/18/1983 Bombing of US Embassy in Beirut, 32 Killed
  • 04/20/1983 Social Security Amendments Signed
  • 04/27/1983 Address to Congress on El Salvador
  • 04/30/1983 Address to the Nation on Education
  • 05/28/1983-05/31/1983 Summit of Industrialized Nations ("G7") Summit in Williamsburg, VA
  • 06/03/1983 Excellence in Education Campaign
  • 07/18/1983 Commission on Central America Created, Henry Kissinger Appointed Chairman
  • 07/19/1983 Captive Nations Week Designated
  • 07/28/1983 Commission on Organized Crime Created
  • 08/14/1983 US-Mexico Agreement on the Environment in the Border Area
  • 09/01/1983 Soviet Attack on Korean Airliner Flight 007 (KAL007) Kills 269
  • 09/05/1983 Address to the Nation on KAL007
  • 09/07/1983 Adult Literacy Initiative Announced
  • 09/24/1983 Address to the Nation via Voice of America (VOA) Setting Long Term Framework for Negotiation with USSR
  • 09/26/1983 Address to UN General Assembly on USSR
  • 10/05/1983 Caribbean Basin Launch Ceremony
  • 10/05/1983 Job Training Partnership Program Launched
  • 10/17/1983 Re-Election Campaign Committee Formed on Exploratory Basis
  • 10/23/1983 Bombing of US Marine Barracks, Beirut, Lebanon, 307 Killed
  • 10/25/1983 Invasion of Grenada
  • 10/27/1983 Address to the Nation on Lebanon & Grenada
  • 11/02/1983 Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Signing Ceremony
  • 11/11/1983 Address to Japanese Diet on Trade Policy
  • 12/04/1983 Air Strike on Syrian Installations in Lebanon

1984

  • 01/16/1984 Address to the Nation on US/Soviet Relations
  • 01/16/1984 Grace Commission Findings on Pay Announced
  • 01/25/1984 State of Union Address - "America is Back with Four Great Goals"
  • 01/29/1984 Candidacy for Re-Election Announced
  • 02/03/1984 Henry Kissinger's Report on Central America Received
  • 02/09/1984 USSR Leader Yuri Andropov Dies
  • 02/13/1984 Konstantin Chernenko Becomes Leader of the USSR
  • 04/26/1984 Arrival in Beijing, China
  • 04/30/1984 Nuclear Agreement with China
  • 05/09/1984 Address to the Nation on Central America
  • 05/14/1984 Drunk Driving Campaign Address with Michael Jackson
  • 05/24/1984 Remarks Honoring the Vietnam War's Unknown Soldier
  • 06/04/1984 Speech to Irish Parliament
  • 06/06/1984 Speeches on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day
  • 06/07/1984-06/09/1984 Summit of Industrialized Nations ("G7") Summit in London, UK
  • 07/17/1984 Minimum Drinking Age Bill Signed
  • 07/18/1984 Deficit Reduction Bill (DEFRA) Signed
  • 08/23/1984 Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention, Dallas, Texas
  • 10/07/1984 First Reagan/Mondale Presidential Debate (Domestic Issues)
  • 10/12/1984 Whistlestop Presidential Campaign Train Tour of Ohio
  • 10/21/1984 Second Reagan/Mondale Presidential Debate (Foreign Policy)
  • 10/30/1984 Assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India
  • 11/06/1984 President Reagan Wins Landslide Victory (525-13 in Electoral College)

1985

  • 01/05/1985 Nomination of Long-time Advisor and Counselor to the President Edwin Meese III to be Attorney General
  • 01/08/1985 Don Regan appointed Chief of Staff, Jim Baker III nominated as Secretary of Treasury
  • 01/20/1985 Inaugural Day - Indoor White House Ceremony
  • 01/21/1985 Public Inauguration Ceremonies at U.S. Capitol (Held Indoors Due to Extreme Cold in Washington, DC )
  • 02/06/1985 State of the Union Address - American Revolution II
  • 02/25/1985 Edwin Meese III Sworn In as Attorney General
  • 03/10/1985 USSR Leader Konstantin Chernenko Dies
  • 03/11/1985 Mikhail Gorbachev Becomes Leader of USSR (General Secretary of the Communist Party)
  • 03/19/1985 Senate Vote to Approve MX Missiles
  • 03/25/1985 Youth Employment Opportunity Wage Initiative Launched
  • 04/04/1985 Nicaraguan Peace Plan Announced
  • 04/11/1985 Establishment of Domestic Policy Council & Economic Policy Council
  • 04/24/1985 Address to the Nation on Federal Budget & Deficit Reduction
  • 05/04/1985 Summit of Industrialized Nations ("G7") in Bonn, Germany
  • 05/05/1985 Speeches at Bergen-Belsen and Bitburg Air Force Base
  • 05/08/1985 Address to European Parliament on Soviet Arms, Strasbourg, France
  • 05/20/1985 Summer Jobs for Youth Program Launched
  • 05/28/1985 Address to the Nation on Tax Reform
  • 06/12/1985 House Approves US Assistance to Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance
  • 06/14/1985 TWA Flight 847 Hijacked at Beirut Airport
  • 06/20/1985 Medal of Freedom Awarded to Mother Teresa
  • 06/30/1985 Address to the Nation on Release of the TWA Hostages
  • 07/08/1985 Address at the American Bar Association Convention on Terrorism
  • 07/13/1985 President Reagan Undergoes Surgery for Colon Cancer
  • 10/07/1985 Achille Lauro Hijacked off the Coast of Egypt
  • 10/24/1985 Speech at UN 40th Anniversary on “Fresh Start” with Soviets
  • 11/14/1985 New US Proposal on Arms Reduction Announced
  • 11/14/1985 Address to the Nation & USSR, via VOA, on US-Soviet Geneva Summit
  • 11/16/1985-11/20/1985 Geneva Summit with General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev of the USSR
  • 11/21/1985 Address to Congress on Geneva Summit’s “Fresh Start”
  • 12/01/1985 All-Star Tribute to Dutch Reagan
  • 12/12/1985 248 US Soldiers Killed in Plane Crash in Newfoundland
  • 12/12/1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act Signed (First Binding Spending Constraints on Federal Budget)
  • 12/19/1985 Domestic & Economic Policy Councils Briefed on AIDS Programs
  • 12/12/1985 248 US Soldiers Killed in Plane Crash in Newfoundland

1986

  • 01/01/1986 Address by President Reagan to the USSR & Address by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to the USA
  • 01/07/1986 Economic Sanctions Imposed on Libya
  • 01/28/1986 Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion
  • 02/03/1986 Commission on Challenger Disaster Formed
  • 02/04/1986 State of the Union Address - Welfare Plan
  • 02/25/1986 US Recognizes Aquino Government of Philippines
  • 02/26/1986 Address to the Nation on National Security
  • 02/28/1986 Packard Commission Report on Defense Management
  • 03/16/1986 Address to the Nation on Nicaragua
  • 04/14/1986 Libyan Air Strike
  • 04/25/1986 Nuclear Reactor Accident at Chernobyl
  • 05/04/1986-05/06/1986 Summit of Industrialized Nations ("G7") Summit in Tokyo, Japan
  • 05/25/1986 Hands Across America Day
  • 06/09/1986 Rogers Commission on Challenger Disaster Recommendations
  • 06/17/1986 Resignation of Warren Burger from Supreme Court, Nomination of William Rehnquist for Chief Justice, Nomination of Antonin Scalia
  • 06/24/1986 Address to the Nation on Aid to Contras
  • 07/03/1986 Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration
  • 07/22/1986 World Affairs Council Address on South Africa
  • 09/14/1986 Address to the Nation with Mrs. Reagan, on Drugs
  • 09/22/1986 Address to UN on Arms Reduction Progress
  • 09/26/1986 William Rehnquist & Antonin Scalia Sworn In as Chief Justice and Justice of the Supreme Court
  • 10/11/1986-10/12/1986 Reykjavik, Iceland Summit with General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev
  • 10/22/1986 Tax Reform Bill Signed
  • 11/02/1986 Release of Hostage David Jacobsen from Beirut
  • 11/04/1986 Democrats Win Control of Senate 55-45
  • 11/06/1986 Immigration Reform & Control Act Signed
  • 11/13/1986 Address to the Nation on Iran Arms & Contra Aid Controversy
  • 11/25/1986 Iran-Contra Scandal Breaks
  • 11/26/1986 Tower Commission Appointed to Study Iran-Contra Affair
  • 12/02/1986 Address to the Nation on the Iran-Contra Affair
  • 12/19/1986 Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh Selected
  • 12/31/1986 New Year’s Radio Address to the People of the USSR

1987

  • 01/27/1987 State of the Union Address - “I’m Back”
  • 01/30/1987 Veto of Water Quality Act
  • 02/06/1987 “Up From Dependency” Welfare Initiative
  • 02/17/1987 Competitiveness Initiative Launched
  • 02/19/1987 Economic Sanctions against Poland Lifted
  • 02/26/1987 Tower Commission Reports
  • 02/27/1987 Don Regan Resigns as Chief of Staff, Replaced by Senator Howard Baker
  • 03/04/1987 Address to the Nation on the Tower Commission Report
  • 03/27/1987 Veto of Highway Bill
  • 04/03/1987 Privatization of CONRAIL
  • 04/07/1987 Q & A with Reporters on Security Breach at New Moscow Embassy
  • 04/10/1987 World Affairs Council Address on Possible Negotiations Breakthrough
  • 05/05/1987 White House Conference on a Drug Free America Launched
  • 05/17/1987 USS Stark Bombed by Iraq
  • 05/26/1987 William Webster Sworn-In as Director of CIA
  • 05/29/1987 Russian Gulf Policy Outlined
  • 06/01/1987 GI Continuation Act Signed
  • 06/02/1987 Paul Volcker Resigns, Alan Greenspan Appointed as Chairman of Federal Reserve Board
  • 06/08/1987-06/10/1987 Summit of Industrialized Nations ("G7") Summit in Venice, Italy, Tariffs on Japan Lifted
  • 06/12/1987 Visit to Berlin and Speech at the Brandenburg Gate (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”)
  • 06/15/1987 Address to the Nation on Arms Reduction & the Venice Summit
  • 06/26/1987 Supreme Court Justice Powell Resigns
  • 07/01/1987 Conservative Judge Robert Bork Nominated to be Associate Justice to Supreme Court
  • 07/03/1987 Economic Bill of Rights Launched
  • 08/05/1987 Central American Peace Initiative
  • 08/11/1987 Alan Greenspan Sworn-In as Chairman of the Federal Reserve
  • 08/12/1987 Address to the Nation on Iran-Contra Affair
  • 09/15/1987 Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers Treaty Signed
  • 09/16/1987 Bicentennial Celebration of US Constitution
  • 09/21/1987 Address to UN on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Agreement & Iran
  • 10/06/1987 Senate Judiciary Committee Does Not Recommend Supreme Court Nominee Robert Bork
  • 10/07/1987 Address to Organization of American States (OAS) on Central American Peace Initiative
  • 10/14/1987 Address to the Nation on Washington Summit
  • 10/16/1987 Mrs. Reagan Undergoes Surgery for Breast Cancer
  • 10/19/1987 Air Strike at Iranian Oil Platform
  • 10/19/1987 Stock Market Crash "Black Monday"
  • 10/23/1987 Whole Senate Rejects Supreme Court Nominee Robert Bork
  • 10/29/1987 Douglas Ginsburg Nominated to Supreme Court
  • 10/30/1987 US-Soviet Washington, DC Summit Announced
  • 11/02/1987 William Sessions Sworn In as Head of FBI
  • 11/04/1987 Address to Europe via Worldnet on Soviet-US relations
  • 11/07/1987 Ginsburg Withdraws Nomination over Marijuana Scandal
  • 11/11/1987 Anthony Kennedy Nominated to Supreme Court
  • 11/24/1987 INF Treaty Announced in Denver
  • 12/08/1987-12/10/1987 US-USSR Summit, Washington, DC
  • 12/08/1987 INF Treaty Signed
  • 12/10/1987 Address to the Nation on the Washington Summit

1988

  • 01/01/1988 Address by President Reagan to the USSR & Address by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to the USA
  • 01/02/1988 Canada-US Free Trade Agreement Signed in Palm Springs
  • 01/25/1988 State of the Union Address - “We’re not finished yet,” Budget Process
  • 02/18/1988 Anthony Kennedy Sworn-In as Supreme Court Justice
  • 02/29/1988 White House Conference on a Drug Free America
  • 03/01/1988 NATO Summit in Brussels
  • 03/14/1988 Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis Conference on SDI
  • 03/17/1988 Deployment of US Forces to Honduras
  • 04/18/1988 US Air Strike against Iranian Oil Platforms
  • 04/21/1988 World Affairs Council Address on Soviets & Afghanistan, INF
  • 05/03/1988 Briefing on Religious Freedom in USSR
  • 05/11/1988 Reagan Endorses Vice President George H.W. Bush Candidacy for US President
  • 05/27/1988 Senate approves INF Treaty
  • 05/29/1988-06/03/1988 US-USSR Summit, Moscow, USSR
  • 05/31/1988 Address at Moscow State University
  • 06/01/1988 Ratification of the INF Treaty at Moscow Summit with Gorbachev
  • 06/03/1988 Address to Royal Institute of International Affairs, London
  • 06/13/1988 Address to Atlantic Council, Preparation for G7 Toronto Summit
  • 06/19/1988-06/21/1988 Summit of Industrialized Nations ("G7") Summit in Toronto, Canada
  • 07/01/1988 Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act Signed
  • 07/03/1988 Iran Air Flight 655 Shot Down in Persian Gulf by USS Vincennes
  • 07/09/1988 Resignation of Attorney General Edwin Meese III Announced
  • 07/12/1988 Richard L. Thornburgh Nominated to be Attorney General
  • 07/25/1988 Free Trade Agreement with Canada Sent to Congress
  • 08/02/1988 HIV Action Plan Announced
  • 08/03/1988 Veto of National Defense Authorization Act
  • 08/10/1988 Japanese-American Internment Compensation Bill Signing
  • 08/11/1988 Disaster Assistance Act Signed
  • 08/12/1988 Richard L. Thornburgh Sworn In as Attorney General
  • 08/15/1988 Farewell Address at Republican National Convention, New Orleans, LA
  • 08/12/1988 Trade & Competitiveness Act Signed
  • 09/13/1988  Fair Housing Act Amendments Signed
  • 09/26/1988 Speech to UN General Assembly on Disarmament
  • 09/28/1988  US-Canada Free Trade Agreement Signed
  • 10/05/1988 Cornerstone Laying Ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • 10/13/1988  Family Support Act Signed
  • 10/25/1988  Department of Veteran Affairs Act Signed
  • 11/18/1988   Anti-Drug Abuse Act Signed
  • 11/21/1988 Ground Breaking Ceremony at Reagan Presidential Library
  • 12/07/1988 Mini-Summit in New York with General Secretary Gorbachev
  • 12/07/1988 Address to American Enterprise Institute
  • 12/08/1988 Final Press Conference
  • 12/13/1988 Address to Administrative Officials on Domestic Policy
  • 12/14/1988 Ban on Conducting Talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Dropped
  • 12/16/1988 Address to University of Virginia on Foreign Policy

1989

  • 01/01/1989 Address by President Reagan to the USSR & Address by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to the USA
  • 01/11/1989 Farewell Address to the Nation
  • 01/20/1989 Inauguration of George H.W. Bush, President and Mrs. Reagan Return to California

The Presidency

Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States on November 4, 1980. His triumph capped the rise of the new right/conservative wing of the Republican Party and ushered in a new era of governing. Reagan served as arguably the first true conservative U.S. president in over 50 years. Reagan advanced domestic policies that featured a lessening of federal government responsibility in solving social problems, reducing restrictions on business, and implementing tax cuts. Internationally, Reagan demonstrated a fierce opposition to the spread of communism throughout the world and a strong distrust of the Soviet Union, which in 1983 he labeled an "evil empire." He championed a rearmed and strong military and was especially supportive of the MX missile system and the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") program.

Economic Policy

When Reagan took office the economy was one of double-digit inflation and interest rates near 20%. During the campaign Reagan promised to restore the free market from excessive government regulation and encourage private initiative and enterprise.

Reagan's economic policies highlighted his long-standing dislike of high federal income taxes. Reagan embraced the theory of "supply side economics," feeling that tax cuts encouraged economic expansion which would result in increases in federal government revenue at a lower tax rate. Higher revenues would then be used to increase defense spending and balance the federal budget. This overall approach became known as "Reaganomics," or as Republican primary candidate Vice President George H.W. Bush once called it, "voodoo economics." The President also vowed to protect certain entitlement programs (like Medicare and Social Security) while cutting the budgets for other social programs by targeting waste, fraud and abuse.

During his first year in office, Reagan engineered the passage of $39 billion in budget cuts into law, as well as a massive 25 percent tax cut spread over three years for individuals, and faster write-offs for capital investment for business. At the same time, he insisted on, and for the most part, was successful in gaining increased funding for defense.

Although inflation dropped from 13.5% in 1980 to 5.1% in 1982, a severe recession set in, with unemployment exceeding 10% in October, 1982 for the first time in forty years. The administration modified its economic policy after two years by proposing selected tax increases and budget cuts to control rising deficits and higher interest rates. After the 1982 downturn, the reduced inflation rate (under 5% for the remainder of the administration), lowering interest rates, and added discretionary income from tax cuts sparked record economic growth, and produced one of the lowest unemployment rates in modern U.S. history (unemployment hit a 14 year low in June of 1988). As Reagan left office, the nation was experiencing its sixth consecutive year of economic prosperity.

The economic gains, however, came at a cost of a record annual deficit and a ballooning national debt. The budget deficit was exacerbated by a trade deficit. Americans continued to buy more foreign-made goods than they were selling. Reagan, however adhered to his free trade stance, and was the primary proponent of the Free Trade Agreement with Canada, which evolved into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He also signed, reluctantly, trade legislation designed to open foreign markets to U.S. goods.

Domestic Affairs

Reagan's domestic policies had a major impact on the American people and have had for many years. He followed up the passage of the largest tax cut in U.S. history by supporting and signing into law the Tax Reform law of 1986. Reagan led the battle for a Social Security reform bill designed to ensure the long-term solvency of the system, and oversaw the passage of immigration reform legislation, as well as the expansion of the Medicare program to protect the elderly and disabled against "catastrophic" health costs.

Reagan elevated William Rehnquist to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and appointed three justices to the bench: Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and the first woman named to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor. Part of the New Right's basic beliefs was that "judicial activism" was un-Constitutional and judges should be selected by an adherence to "judicial restraint." Reagan's judicial selections were based on this principle.

Reagan consistently received very high approval ratings. He was not popular with some minority groups, particularly African-Americans, many of whom did not benefit from the economic prosperity. In 1986, over 30 percent of the black population had an income below the official poverty level. While many labor leaders disliked Reagan, especially after he fired the air traffic controllers when they refused to end their strike (1981), he was popular with labor union members.

Reagan encouraged the development of "private sector initiatives" as well as federalism, with the objective of transferring from the federal government some of the responsibilities believed to be better served by private business or state and local government.

As the president called for international cooperation to stop the influx of illegal drugs, especially cocaine, into the U.S., First Lady Nancy Reagan led the campaign against drug abuse, urging the nation's youth to "just say no."

Foreign Policy

At the heart of Reagan's foreign policy was preventing communist expansion in the world. US actions throughout the world demonstrated this including strong financial and military support of the Contras against the communist Nicaraguan government, the aid given to the government of El Salvador in their fight against the communist guerrillas, the U.S invasion of Grenada when that nation was perceived as falling under Cuban domination in 1983, the support given to UNITA anti-communist fighters in the Angolan Civil War involving Cuban proxy troops, and the support given to rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan. These combined efforts were named "The Reagan Doctrine." While efforts for peace in Central America faltered, the Soviets announced the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan in 1988, and the Angola conflict was successfully negotiated with a withdrawal of Cuban troops.

Reagan believed that the nation should negotiate with the Soviet Union from a position of strength. To such an end, the administration embarked on a strategic modernization program which included the production of an intercontinental missile, a stengthened navy, and a feasibility study for the Strategic Defense Initiative. The increase in military spending, and the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary of the Soviet Union at the beginning of Reagan's second term, opened a new era of relations between the two superpowers. After a number of meetings between Reagan and Gorbachev, the two men signed an Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty at the Washington Summit in December, 1987. The agreement promised to eliminate an entire class of intermediate-range nuclear missiles and was the first arms control agreement in history to reduce the nuclear arsenal. In addition, the administration began the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) which would reduce the strategic nuclear arsenals by 50%, including large multiple warhead missiles.

When pro-U.S. dictators in Haiti and the Philippines appeared on the verge of being toppled from power, Reagan engineered their safe removal from their countries, ensuring bloodless coups and new government which, he hoped, would be friendly to the U.S.

In Middle East affairs, Reagan reported in his inaugural address that the 52 American hostages held in Iran for 444 days were at that moment being released and would soon return to freedom. The President maintained a firm stance against terrorism, exemplified by the American retaliating against Libya for an air attack in 1981 and again in 1986 for the death of Americans in a Berlin discotheque. Reagan's peacekeeping force in war-torn Lebanon experienced tragedy in 1983 when a truck bomb killed 241 soldiers. Tragedy struck again in 1987 when a missile from an Iraqi warplane killed 37 sailors aboard the U.S.S. Stark, part of a U.S. naval taskforce which had been sent to the Persian Gulf to keep that waterway open during the Iran-Iraq war.

The darkest hour of the Reagan administration would become known as the Iran-Contra affair. After lengthy, nationally televised hearings, a special congressional hearings review board reported that Reagan authorized the sale of arms to Iran in exchange for help in freeing U.S. hostages in Lebanon. Investigations revealed the money gained from the arms sale was illegally diverted to aid the Contras, opponents of the Nicaraguan Sandinista government. The congressional report criticized Reagan for his detached, hands-off style of management. In the aftermath of the affair, National Security Advisors Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter, as well as National Security Council aide Colonel Oliver North were indicted by a federal grand jury and convicted of various charges regarding the Iran-Contra operations. McFarlane was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush and both Poindexter and North's convictions were set aside on appeal for technical reasons.

The Reagan Legacy

The eight years of the Reagan presidency was one of the most dynamic periods, in recent U.S. history, resulting in a major refocusing of the nation's social, business, and international agenda. More importantly, his election changed the demographic composition of the Republican Party and built the core beliefs still practiced today: lower taxes, less government restrictions on businesses and individuals and a strong military.

Few presidents have enjoyed the affection of so many of the American people. Support for Ronald Reagan grew when he was seriously wounded by an assassin's bullet in 1981 and during major surgical procedures in 1985 and 1987. Reagan was known as the "Great Communicator," and often went on television to ask the viewers for their support for a particular piece of legislation. When he ran for a second term in 1984 against former Vice-President Walter Mondale, Reagan stood by his record and asked the voters if they were better off now than they were four years ago. At 73 years of age, Reagan became the oldest man ever elected president, receiving 525 electoral votes, the most of any presidential candidate. As his second term ended, polls showed that more than half of the American people gave him a favorable rating. When Ronald Reagan became president, he had a distinct vision of what the nation should be and spelled out the direction he hoped it would take during his administration. Reagan had a clear social, economic, and foreign policy agenda, and with political guile and personal persuasiveness he was able to achieve many of his goals. Early in his presidency, Reagan remarked: "What I'd really like to do is go down in history as the President who made Americans believe in themselves again."

A month before the election of his successor, Reagan looked back on his eight years in office: "I am the same man I was when I came to Washington," he said, "I believe the same things I believed when I came to Washington, and I think those beliefs have been vindicated by the success of the policies to which we hold fast."

About his foreign policy, he said, "At every point on the map that the Soviets have applied pressure, we've done all we can to apply pressure against them." He went on "And now we are seeing a sight many believed they would never see in our lifetime: the receding of the tide of totalitarianism." Reagan lived to see the dismantling of the Soviet Union's communist empire and it's retreat from surrounding neighboring countries which ultimately resulted in the toppling of the Berlin Wall in the fall of 1989.