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Ronald Reagan Birthday

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Born in Tampico, Illinois, on February 6, 1911, Ronald Reagan initially chose a career in entertainment, appearing in more than 50 films. While in Hollywood, he served as president of the Screen Actor's Guild and met his future wife, Nancy (Davis) Reagan. He served two terms as governor of California. Originally a liberal Democrat, Reagan ran for the U.S. presidency as a conservative Republican and won two terms, beginning in 1980.

1981 Inauguration and Assassination Attempt

In his inaugural speech on January 20, 1981, Reagan rhetorically announced that "government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem." He called for an era of national renewal and hoped that America would again be "a beacon of hope for those who do not have freedom." He and his wife, Nancy Reagan, ushered in a new era of glamour to the White House, with designer fashions and a major redecoration of the executive mansion.

On March 30, 1981, as President Ronald Reagan was exiting the Washington Hilton Hotel with several of his advisors, shots rang out and quick-thinking Secret Service agents thrust Reagan into his limousine. Once in the car, aides discovered that the president had been hit. His would-be assassin, John Hinckley Jr., also shot three other people, none of them fatally. At the hospital, doctors determined that the gunman's bullet had pierced one of the president's lungs and narrowly missed his heart. Reagan, known for his good-natured humor, later told his wife, "Honey, I forgot to duck." Within several weeks of the shooting, President Reagan was back at work.

Domestic Agenda

On the domestic front, President Reagan advanced policies that reduced social programs and restrictions on business. Tax cuts were implemented to stimulate the United States' economy. He also advocated for increases in military spending, reductions in certain social programs and measures to deregulate business. By 1983, the nation's economy had begun to recover and, according to many economists, entered a seven-year period of prosperity. Critics charged that his policies had actually increased the deficit and hurt the middle class and poor, however. In 1981, Reagan made history by appointing Sandra Day O'Connor as the first woman to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Foreign Affairs

The most pressing foreign policy issue of Ronald Reagan's first term was the Cold War. Dubbing the Soviet Union "the evil empire," Reagan embarked on a massive build-up of U.S. weapons and troops. He implemented the "Reagan Doctrine," which provided aid to anti-communist movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 1983, he announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, a plan aiming to develop space-based weapons to protect America from attacks by Soviet nuclear missiles.


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