How much do you know about President Ronald Reagan? Did you know he was an actor for many years before he became President? Did you know President Reagan was the only President, up until current President Donald Trump, to have had a divorce and remarried? Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States of America and he served two terms, from 1981 until 1989. Prior to serving as President, he served as the Governor of California for two terms. The next few paragraphs will cover some interesting facts about his life.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois. He was the son of Edward “Jack” Reagan and Nelle Wilson Reagan. He had an older brother named Neil Reagan. His father was a shoe salesman and a heavy drinker. His drinking caused many problems, one of which was he was not able to keep the same job for long periods of time causing the family to move often when Ronald and his brother were young. The family finally settled down in Dixon, Illinois in 1920. In Dixon, Reagan’s father, Jack, opened a shoe store. Starting his own business was hard on the family’s budget, but Nelle, Reagan's mother, always made known to them about how well off they were.
Ronald Reagan and his brother, Neil, attended Dixon High School where he played football and swam on the swim team. He loved swimming most of all. During the summers, when he was off from school, he would lifeguard on the Rock River in Dixon, Illinois. After he graduated from Dixon High School in 1928, he attended Eureka College. He enrolled at Eureka with an athletic scholarship and majored in economics and sociology.
Reagan's Interests in college included studying, football, track, Student Council President, Captain of the swim team, and acting in school productions. Acting in school productions sparked his interest to continue in an acting career, which he did for many years. While attending Eureka College, he led a successful rally to stop the increase of student tuition. This is when he got his first taste of politics. Reagan and his father loved to watch Franklin Roosevelt speak. After he graduated from Eureka College in 1932 he got a temporary announcing job from WOC, which was a news station in Davenport, Iowa.
While attending a party in 1937, he met a man who got him a screen test at Warner Brothers. Reagan did an amazing job during his screen test and got a seven year contract from Warner Brothers. Over the next 30 years he played in over 50 films. Some of the films he is best known for are: “Knute Rockne”, “All American”, and “Kings Row”. In Knute Rockne, he played the Notre Dame football star George Gipp.
Reagan was married to his first wife, Jane Wyman, in 1940. They had a daughter Maureen and adopted a son Michael. Maureen was born in 1941 and passed away in 2001. Son, Michael, was adopted in 1945 and is still alive today. Reagan and Jane were divorced in 1948. Ronald Reagan was remarried in 1952 to actress Nancy Davis. They had two children, a son and a daughter. Their daughter, Patricia, was born in 1952 and is still alive today. Son, Ronald was born in 1958 and is also still alive today.
In 1964 Reagan gave a speech for the Republican Presidential Candidate, Barry Goldwater, which was well received. Most of America had not heard of him until that speech. Two years later, in 1968, Reagan ran in his first race for political office. Reagan beat Democratic incumbent Edmund “Pat” Brown Sr. in the race for Governor of California, winning by almost a million votes. In 1970, Reagan was up for re-election for Governor of California, which he won.
After making two unsuccessful bids for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1968 and 1976, Reagan won the bid in 1980. Later that year, Reagan won the Presidency beating President Jimmy Carter. George H.W. Bush was named as Reagan’s running mate and they were running against President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale. Reagan won 489 electoral votes, which left 49 for President Jimmy Carter. Reagan had almost 51 percent of the popular vote in his first election, and was the oldest person to be elected President, at the time. He was 69 years old when he was elected President.
While Reagan was known and called by many names, one of them was “The Great Communicator” due to the fact that he was always giving the perfect speech at just the right time. Some of his most notable speeches are the “Evil Empire” speech, the “Star Wars” speech, his 1985 State Of the Union Address, and his “Tear Down This Wall” speech.
On March 30, 1981, two months after his inauguration, John Hinckley Jr. carried out an assassination attempt on President Reagan. He was almost successful in taking the President’s life. Fortunately for President Reagan, Hinckley had bad aim. The assassination attempt was made near a hotel in Washington D.C. One of the bullets went through the President's lung, narrowly missing his heart. Reagan famously said to Nancy “I should have ducked.” President Reagan worked from the hospital, during his short recovery, and returned to the White House on April 11, 1981.
One of President Reagan’s well known sayings is, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.” Some of President Reagan's domestic policies were centered around lowering tax rates, and increases in military spending. He believed the government needed to stay out of the daily life and pocketbook of the American people. His popularity with the American people could be attributed to these views. President Reagan enacted his economics plan which was called Reaganomics. Reaganomics was, and still is, a supper controversial economics plan. Some say that this was an amazing plan to help the economy recover from large amounts of inflation and the sluggish growth of the economy, which lead to the rise of the cost of goods, the increase of unemployment, and higher tax rates. Reagan built his economics plan around the Trickle Down Theory. The Trickle Down Theory stated that if you cut taxes on big corporations they would have more money to spend on hiring more employees, and that would help the unemployment rates. Corporations could also give their employees a raise (or larger raise), which would increase spending on more goods in other markets ultimately helping the economy grow. Some critics say that by cutting taxes it will hurt programs like Social Security and others that help the oppressed. But, that was only one of the four parts of Reaganomics; he also wanted to cut regulations on business, lower the budget that was spent on domestic social programs, and use private companies to do the works of the government services. The deregulation of business would help them to be able to expand and help the economy with the increase of jobs. After President Reagan enacted Reaganomics the economy started to recover from the troubles that it was in.
Reagan took office in 1981, during the middle of the cold war. He is credited with causing the end of the cold war due to the policies against Communism. Reagan implemented a doctrine to try and stomp out the spread of Communism, as well as, end the cold war with the Soviet Union. This was called the Reagan Doctrine. It allowed the government to help fund, train, and arm Guerrilla Communist Resistance Fighters. This was done in Asia, Africa,and Latain America with this they would help to tear down the Communist Party from the inside and weaken them to the point that the Soivut Union would fall in 1991.
President Reagan dealt with a lot of foreign affairs while serving his two terms in office. In his first years as President, he started building up the U.S. military with both troops and weapons. He wanted to develop a way to protect the U.S. from Soviet nuclear missiles from space. In 1982, he sent 800 Marines to Lebanon to help keep the peace in the Middle East. In October of 1983, there was a suicide bombing on the barracks of the Marines who were sent to keep the peace, killing 241 of the American Marines.
In 1985, during his second term, President Reagan formed a relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union. President Reagan held four Summit meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev during his second term in office, between the years of 1985 and 1989. On June 12, 1987, Reagan gave the famous speech “Tear Down This Wall” in West Berlin, challenging Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Almost two and a half years later the Berlin Wall came down reuniting East Germany and West Germany. Also in 1987, he signed an agreement with Gorbachev to get rid of all intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
President Reagan’s second term ended in 1989. Reagan and his wife, Nancy, moved back to Los Angeles, CA. In 1991, President Reagan opened the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California. In 1994, in an open letter to the American People, he told them of his diagnosis of Alzheimer's. Back in 1983, President Reagan named the month of November, Alzheimer's awareness month. On June 5, 2004, at the age of 93, almost ten years after announcing his diagnosis, he passed away. He died in his home, in Los Angeles, California, with Nancy and his family by his side. After the State funeral in Washington D.C., President Ronald Wilson Reagan was laid to rest at his Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
In 2019 the wild fires that broke out in southern California near Los Angeles, came very close to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The Presidential Library is located in the hills around the Simi Valley. The Easy Fire, which started on October 30, 2019 in the Simi Valley, came close to causing around 500,000 dollars worth of damage to the library's internet systems as well as damaging surrounding gardens and green spaces and their lighting systems. Banners that were hung on the lights were also damaged. Thankfully, none of the Reagan family heirlooms or books were lost in the fire.
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