Reagan was named "the great communicator." He oversaw the largest peacetime increase in defense spending, as well as the largest single tax cut in American history. His conservative view would set new norms for a President. Elected 1980, Elected 1984
The Early Years
Ronald Reagan was born in Tamico, Illinois. He grew up in a lower middle class environment. He attended public schools where he was an average student.
From 1928 to 1932 he attended Eureka College, where he was on the football team. He had received a partial football scholarship. In 1932 Reagan began a radio career as a sports broadcaster for radio station WOC in Davenport, Iowa. In 1937, Reagan quit radio and started a career in Hollywood. Reagan played the lead role in a whole string of B movies. By World War II he advanced to becoming one of Hollywood leading actors. During the war he served in supply and then in films produced for the air force.
In 1947 Reagan become the President of the Screen Actors Guild. In his early years Reagan was an active Democrat, but in 1952 he joined the Democrats for Eisenhower. In 1960 he worked actively for the election of Richard Nixon. In 1962 he formally joined the Republican party.
In 1966 Reagan was elected to the governorship of California. During his eight year tenure he established a conservative record as governor. His two greatest achievements were the return of fiscal stability to the budget of California, and welfare reform.
In 1968 Reagan attempted to receive the Republican nomination for President. He finished in third place behind Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller. In 1976 he challenged President Ford for the nomination of the party. He fell only 60 votes short of achieving his goal of the nomination. In 1980 he received the nomination for the Presidency.
Accomplishments in Office
Ronald Reagan's Presidency was dominated by two major themes: rigorously opposing the Soviets, and less government is best. Reagan believed that the United States had to resist Soviet advances and strengthen its own defenses. He strongly advocated the development of the Strategic Defense Initiative, that was designed to provide a missile defense from an attack. Reagan other theme was that less government was best.
Reagan successfully led the United States to a massive armaments program. A program that was probably responsible to the Soviets decision that they could no longer afford to compete, and in fact were falling far behind. Thus, Perestroika was born, the loosening of the hold of the Soviet State on the Soviet economy. Unfortunately for the Soviets once you begin to loosen control a little in a nation that was held together by fear and coercion you have begun an irreversable process. The Soviet Union would soon fall apart.
Early in his first term Reagan fired striking air traffic controlers, and thus breaking the power of its' union. Reagan passed a massive tax reduction and reform package. The tax package was successful in getting the American economy moving again, but started large deficits that the US is still struggling with today. Reagan was considered the "Great Communicator" and remained extremely popular throughout his Presidency.
The First Family
Father: John Edward Reagan
Mother: Nelle Wilson
Wives: Jane Wyman, Nancy Davis
Daughters: Maureen, Patti
Sons: Michael, Ronald
Secretaries of State: Alexander Haig, Jr. George Schultz
Secretaries of The Treasury: Donald Regan, James Baker, Nicholas Brady
Secretaries of Defense: Caspar Weinberger, Frank Carlucci
Attorney Generals: William French Smith, Edwin Meese, Richard Thornburgh
Secretaries of The Interior: James Watt, William Clark, Donald Hodel
Secretaries of Agriculture: John Block, Richard Lyng
Secretary of Commerce: Malcolm Baldridge, C. William Verity, Jr.
Secretary of Labor: Raymond Donovan, William Brock, Ann Dore McLaughlin
Secretaries of Health and Human Services: Richard Schweiker, Margaret Heckler, Otis Bowen
Secretary of Housing & Urban Dev.: Samuel Pierce
Secretaries of Transportation: Andrew Lewis, Elizabeth Dole, James Burnley
Secretaries of Energy: James Edwards, Donald Hodel, John Herrington
Secretaries of Education: Terrel Bell, William Bennett, Lauro Cavazos
Invasion of Grenada
Attack on Libya
Did You Know?
First President to be born in Illinois.
First President to have been divorced.
First President to have been an actor.
Oldest President when inaugurated.