President Reagan’s Farewell Speech

The President spoke at 9:02 P.M. from the Oval Office at the White House. The address was broadcast live on nationwide radio and television.


This is the 34th time I’ll speak to you from the Oval Office and the last. We’ve been together 8 years now, and soon it’ll be time for me to go. But before I do, I wanted to share some thoughts, some of which I’ve been saving for a long time.

It’s been the honor of my life to be your President. So many of you have written the past few weeks to say thanks, but I could say as much to you. Nancy and I are grateful for the opportunity you gave us to serve.

One of the things about the Presidency is that you’re always somewhat apart. You spent a lot of time going by too fast in a car someone else is driving, and seeing the people through tinted glass—the parents holding up a child, and the wave you saw too late and couldn’t return. And so many times I wanted to stop and reach out from behind the glass, and connect. Well, maybe I can do a little of that tonight.

People ask how I feel about leaving. And the fact is, `parting is such sweet sorrow.’ The sweet part is California and the ranch and freedom. The sorrow—the goodbyes, of course, and leaving this beautiful place.

You know, down the hall and up the stairs from this office is the part of the White House where the President and his family live. There are a few favorite windows I have up there that I like to stand and look out of early in the morning. The view is over the grounds here to the Washington Monument, and then the Mall and the Jefferson Memorial. But on mornings when the humidity is low, you can see past the Jefferson to the river, the Potomac, and the Virginia shore. Someone said that’s the view Lincoln had when he saw the smoke rising from the Battle of Bull Run. I see more prosaic things: the grass on the banks, the morning traffic as people make their way to work, now and then a sailboat on the river.

I’ve been thinking a bit at that window. I’ve been reflecting on what the past 8 years have meant and mean. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one—a small story about a big ship, and a refugee, and a sailor. It was back in the early eighties, at the height of the boat people. And the sailor was hard at work on the carrier Midway, which was patrolling the South China Sea. The sailor, like most American servicemen, was young, smart, and fiercely observant. The crew spied on the horizon a leaky little boat. And crammed inside were refugees from Indochina hoping to get to America. The Midway sent a small launch to bring them to the ship and safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck, and stood up, and called out to him. He yelled, `Hello, American sailor. Hello, freedom man.’

A small moment with a big meaning, a moment the sailor, who wrote it in a letter, couldn’t get out of his mind. And, when I saw it, neither could I. Because that’s what it was to be an American in the 1980’s. We stood, again, for freedom. I know we always have, but in the past few years the world again—and in a way, we ourselves—rediscovered it.

It’s been quite a journey this decade, and we held together through some stormy seas. And at the end, together, we are reaching our destination.

The fact is, from Grenada to the Washington and Moscow summits, from the recession of ’81 to ’82, to the expansion that began in late ’82 and continues to this day, we’ve made a difference. The way I see it, there were two great triumphs, two things that I’m proudest of. One is the economic recovery, in which the people of America created—and filled—19 million new jobs. The other is the recovery of our morale. America is respected again in the world and looked to for leadership.

Something that happened to me a few years ago reflects some of this. It was back in 1981, and I was attending my first big economic summit, which was held that year in Canada. The meeting place rotates among the member countries. The opening meeting was a formal dinner of the heads of goverment of the seven industrialized nations. Now, I sat there like the new kid in school and listened, and it was all Francois this and Helmut that. They dropped titles and spoke to one another on a first-name basis. Well, at one point I sort of leaned in and said, ‘My name’s Ron.’ Well, in that same year, we began the actions we felt would ignite an economic comeback—cut taxes and regulation, started to cut spending. And soon the recovery began.

Two years later, another economic summit with pretty much the same cast. At the big opening meeting we all got together, and all of a sudden, just for a moment, I saw that everyone was just sitting there looking at me. And then one of them broke the silence. ‘Tell us about the American miracle,’ he said.

Well, back in 1980, when I was running for President, it was all so different. Some pundits said our programs would result in catastrophe. Our views on foreign affairs would cause war. Our plans for the economy would cause inflation to soar and bring about economic collapse. I even remember one highly respected economist saying, back in 1982, that `The engines of economic growth have shut down here, and they’re likely to stay that way for years to come.’ Well, he and the other opinion leaders were wrong. The fact is what they call `radical’ was really `right.’ What they called `dangerous’ was just `desperately needed.’

And in all of that time I won a nickname, `The Great Communicator.’ But I never though it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation—from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I’ll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.

Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So, we cut the people’s tax rates, and the people produced more than ever before. The economy bloomed like a plant that had been cut back and could now grow quicker and stronger. Our economic program brought about the longest peacetime expansion in our history: real family income up, the poverty rate down, entrepreneurship booming, and an explosion in research and new technology. We’re exporting more than ever because American industry because more competitive and at the same time, we summoned the national will to knock down protectionist walls abroad instead of erecting them at home.

Common sense also told us that to preserve the peace, we’d have to become strong again after years of weakness and confusion. So, we rebuilt our defenses, and this New Year we toasted the new peacefulness around the globe. Not only have the superpowers actually begun to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons—and hope for even more progress is bright—but the regional conflicts that rack the globe are also beginning to cease. The Persian Gulf is no longer a war zone. The Soviets are leaving Afghanistan. The Vietnamese are preparing to pull out of Cambodia, and an American-mediated accord will soon send 50,000 Cuban troops home from Angola.

The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we’re a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. And something else we learned: Once you begin a great movement, there’s no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world.

Countries across the globe are turning to free markets and free speech and turning away from the ideologies of the past. For them, the great rediscovery of the 1980’s has been that, lo and behold, the moral way of government is the practical way of government: Democracy, the profoundly good, is also the profoundly productive.

When you’ve got to the point when you can celebrate the anniversaries of your 39th birthday you can sit back sometimes, review your life, and see it flowing before you. For me there was a fork in the river, and it was right in the middle of my life. I never meant to go into politics. It wasn’t my intention when I was young. But I was raised to believe you had to pay your way for the blessings bestowed on you. I was happy with my career in the entertainment world, but I ultimately went into politics because I wanted to protect something precious.

Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: `We the People.’ `We the People’ tell the government what to do; it doesn’t tell us. `We the People’ are the driver; the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which `We the People’ tell the government what it is allowed to do. `We the People’ are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I’ve tried to do these past 8 years.

But back in the 1960’s, when I began, it seemed to me that we’d begun reversing the order of things—that through more and more rules and regulations and confiscatory taxes, the government was taking more of our money, more of our options, and more of our freedom. I went into politics in part to put up my hand and say, `Stop.’ I was a citizen politician, and it seemed the right thing for a citizen to do.

I think we have stopped a lot of what needed stopping. And I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.

Nothing is less free than pure communism—and yet we have, the past few years, forged a satisfying new closeness with the Soviet Union. I’ve been asked if this isn’t a gamble, and my answer is no because we’re basing our actions not on words but deeds. The detente of the 1970’s was based not on actions but promises. They’d promise to treat their own people and the people of the world better. But the gulag was still the gulag, and the state was still expansionist, and they still waged proxy wars in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Well, this time, so far, it’s different. President Gorbachev has brought about some internal democratic reforms and begun the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He has also freed prisoners whose names I’ve given him every time we’ve met.

But life has a way of reminding you of big things through small incidents. Once, during the heady days of the Moscow summit, Nancy and I decided to break off from the entourage one afternoon to visit the shops on Arbat Street—that’s a little street just off Moscow’s main shopping area. Even though our visit was a surprise, every Russian there immediately recognized us and called out our names and reached for our hands. We were just about swept away by the warmth. You could almost feel the possibilities in all that joy. But within seconds, a KGB detail pushed their way toward us and began pushing and shoving the people in the crowd. It was an interesting moment. It reminded me that while the man on the street in the Soviet Union yearns for peace, the government is Communist. And those who run it are Communists, and that means we and they view such issues as freedom and human rights very differently.

We must keep up our guard, but we must also continue to work together to lessen and eliminate tension and mistrust. My view is that President Gorbachev is different from previous Soviet leaders. I think he knows some of the things wrong with his society and is trying to fix them. We wish him well. And we’ll continue to work to make sure that the Soviet Union that eventually emerges from this process is a less threatening one. What it all boils down to is this: I want the new closeness to continue. And it will, as long as we make it clear that we will continue to act in a certain way as long as they continue to act in a helpful manner. If and when they don’t, at first pull your punches. If they persist, pull the plug. It’s still trust by verify. It’s still play, but cut the cards. It’s still watch closely. And don’t be afraid to see what you see.

I’ve been asked if I have any regrets. Well, I do.The deficit is one. I’ve been talking a great deal about that lately, but tonight isn’t for arguments, and I’m going to hold my tongue. But an observation: I’ve had my share of victories in the Congress, but what few people noticed is that I never won anything you didn’t win for me. They never saw my troops, they never saw Reagan’s regiments, the American people. You won every battle with every call you made and letter you wrote demanding action. Well, action is still needed. If we’re to finish the job. Reagan’s regiments will have to become the Bush brigades. Soon he’ll be the chief, and he’ll need you every bit as much as I did.

Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in Presidential farewells, and I’ve got one that’s been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough it starts with one of the things I’m proudest of in the past 8 years: the resurgence of national pride that I called the new patriotism. This national feeling is good, but it won’t count for much, and it won’t last unless it’s grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.

An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.

But now, we’re about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs production [protection].

So, we’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important—why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, 4 years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who’d fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, `we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did.’ Well, let’s help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let’s start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.

And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven’t been teaching you what it means to be an American, let ’em know and nail ’em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.

And that’s about all I have to say tonight, except for one thing. The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the `shining city upon a hill.’ The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

We’ve done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for 8 years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.

And so, goodbye, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

President Reagan’s Speech before the National Association of Evangelicals

President Reagan addressed the annual convention in Orlando, Florida on March 8, 1983.


Reverend Clergy all, Senator Hawkins, distinguished members of the Florida congressional delegation, and all of you:

I can’t tell you how you have warmed my heart with your welcome. I’m delighted to be here today.

Those of you in the National Association of Evangelicals are known for you spiritual and humanitarian work. And I would be especially remiss if I didn’t discharge right now one personal debt of gratitude. Thank you for your prayers. Nancy and I have felt their presence many times in many years. And believe me, for us they’ve made all the difference.

The other day in the East Room of the White House at a meeting there, someone asked me whether I was aware of all the people out there who were praying for the President. And I had to say, “Yes, I am. I’ve felt it. I believe in intercessionary prayer.” But I couldn’t help but say to that questioner after he’d asked the question that – or at least say to them that if sometimes when he was praying he got a busy signal, it was just me in there ahead of him. [Laughter] I think I understand how Abraham Lincoln felt when he said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” From the joy and the good feeling of this conference, I go to a political reception. [Laughter] Now, I don’t know why, but that bit of scheduling reminds me of a story – [Laughter] – which I’ll share with you.

An evangelical minister and a politician arrived at Heaven’s gate one day together. And St. Peter, after doing all the necessary formalities, took them in hand to show them where their quarters would be. And he took them to a small, single room with a bed, a chair, and a table and said this was for the clergyman. And the politician was a little worried about what might be in store for him. And he couldn’t believe it then when St. Peter stopped in front of a beautiful mansion with lovely grounds, many servants, and told him that these would be his quarters.

And he couldn’t help but ask, he said, “But wait, how-there’s something wrong – how do I get this mansion while that good and holy man only gets a single room?” And St. Peter said, “You have to understand how things are up here. We’ve got thousands and thousands of clergy. You’re the first politician who ever made it.” [Laughter]

But I don’t want to contribute to a stereotype. [Laughter] So I tell you there are a great many God-fearing, dedicated, noble men and women in public life, present company included. And yes, we need your help to keep us ever mindful of the ideas and the principles that brought us into the public arena in the first place. The basis of those ideals and principles is a commitment to freedom and personal liberty that, itself, is grounded in the much deeper realization that freedom prospers only where the blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly accepted.

The American experiment in democracy rests on this insight. Its discovery was the great triumph of our Founding Fathers, voiced by William Penn when he said: “If we will not be governed by God, we must be governed by tyrants.” Explaining the inalienable rights of men, Jefferson said, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” And it was George Washington who said that “of all the disposition and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supporters.”

And finally, that shrewdest of all observers of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, put it eloquently after he had gone on a search for the secret of America’s greatness and genius – and he said: “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the greatness and the genius of America . . . America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Well, I’m pleased to be here today with you who are keeping America great by keeping her good. Only through your work and prayers and those of millions of others cans we hope to survive this perilous century and keep alive this experiment in liberty, this last, best hope of man.

I want you to know that this administration is motivated by a political philosophy that sees the greatness of America in you, here people, and in your families, churches, neighborhoods, communities – the institutions that foster and nourish values like concern for others and respect for the rule of law under God.

Now, I don’t have to tell you that this puts us in opposition to, or at least out of step with, a prevailing attitude of many who have turned to a modern-day secularism, discarding the tried and time-tested values upon which our very civilization is based. No matter how well intentioned, their value system is radically different from that of most Americans. And while they proclaim that they’re freeing us from superstitions of the past, they’ve taken upon themselves the job of superintending us by government rule and regulation. Sometimes their voices are louder than ours, but they are not yet a majority.

An example of that vocal superiority is evident in a controversy now going on in Washington. And since I’m involved I’ve been waiting to hear from the parents of young America. How far are they willing to go in giving to government their prerogatives as parents?

Let me state the case as briefly and simply as I can. An organization of citizens, sincerely motivated and deeply concerned about the increase in illegitimate births and abortions involving girls well below the age of consent, some time ago established a nationwide network of clinics to offer help to these girls and, hopefully, alleviate this situation. Now, again, let me say, I do not fault their intent. However, in their well-intentioned effort, these clinics have decided to provide advice and birth control drugs and devices to underage girls without the knowledge of their parents.

For some years now, the federal government has helped with funds to subsidize these clinics. In providing for this, the Congress decreed that every effort would be made to maximize parental participation. Nevertheless, the drugs and devices are prescribed without getting parental consent or giving notification after they’ve done so. Girls termed “sexually active” – and that has replaced the word “promiscuous” – are given this help in order to prevent illegitimate birth or abortion.

Well, we have ordered clinics receiving federal funds to notify the parents such help has been given. One of the nation’s leading newspapers has created the term “squeal rule” in editorializing against us for doing this, and we’re being criticized for violating the privacy of young people. A judge has recently granted an injunction against an enforcement of our rule. I’ve watched TV panel shows discuss the issue, seen columnists pontificating on our error, but no one seems to mention morality as playing a part in the subject of sex.

Is all of Judeo-Christian tradition wrong? Are we to believe that something so sacred can be looked upon as a purely physical thing with no potential for emotional and psychological harm? And isn’t it the parents’ right to give counsel and advice to keep their children from making mistakes that may affect their entire lives?

Many of us in government would like to know what parents think about this intrusion in their family by government. We’re going to fight in the courts. The right of parents and the rights of family take precedence over those of Washington-based bureaucrats and social engineers.

But the fight against parental notification is really only one example of many attempts to water down traditional values and even abrogate the original terms of American democracy. Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged. When our Founding Fathers passed the First Amendment, they sought to protect churches from government interference. They never intended to construct a wall of hostility between government and the concept of religious belief itself.

The evidence of this permeates our history and our government. The Declaration of Independence mentions the Supreme Being no less than four times. “In God We Trust” is engraved on our coinage. The Supreme Court opens its proceedings with a religious invocation. And the members of Congress open their sessions with a prayer. I just happen to believe the schoolchildren of the United States are entitled to the same privileges as Supreme Court justices and congressmen.

Last year, I sent the Congress a constitutional amendment to restore prayer to public schools. Already this session, there’s growing bipartisan support for the amendment, and I am calling on the Congress to act speedily to pass it and to let our children pray.

Perhaps some of you read recently about the Lubbock school case, where a judge actually ruled that it was unconstitutional for a school district to give equal treatment to religious and nonreligious student groups, even when the group meetings were being held during the students’ own time. The First Amendment never intended to require government to discriminate against religious speech.

Senators Denton and Hatfield have proposed legislation in the Congress on the whole question of prohibiting discrimination against religious forms of student speech. Such legislation could go far to restore freedom of religious speech for public school students. And I hope the Congress considers these bills quickly. And with you help, I think it’s possible we could also get the constitutional amendment through the Congress this year.

More than a decade ago, a Supreme Court decision literally wiped off the books of fifty states statutes protecting the rights of unborn children. Abortion on demand now takes the lives of up to one and a half million unborn children a year. Human life legislation ending this tragedy will someday pass the Congress, and you and I must never rest until it does. Unless and until it can be proven that the unborn child is not a living entity, then its right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must be protected.

You may remember that when abortion on demand began, many, and indeed, I’m sure many of you, warned that the practice would lead to a decline in respect for human life, that the philosophical premises used to justify abortion on demand would ultimately be used to justify other attacks on the sacredness of human life – infanticide or mercy killing. Tragically enough, those warnings proved all too true. Only last year a court permitted the death by starvation of a handicapped infant.

I have directed the Health and Human Services Department to make clear to every health care facility in the United States that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects all handicapped persons against discrimination based on handicaps, including infants. And we have taken the further step of requiring that each and every recipient of federal funds who provides health care services to infants must post and keep posted in a conspicuous place a notice stating that “discriminatory failure to feed and care for handicapped infants in this facility is prohibited by federal law.” It also lists a twenty-four-hour, toll-free number so that nurses and others may report violations in time to save the infant’s life.

In addition, recent legislation introduced in the Congress by Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois not only increases restrictions on publicly financed abortions, it also addresses this whole problem of infanticide. I urge the Congress to begin hearings and to adopt legislation that will protect the right of life to all children, including the disabled or handicapped.

Now, I’m sure that you must get discouraged at times, but you’ve done better than you know, perhaps. There’s a great spiritual awakening in America, a renewal of the traditional values that have been the bedrock of America’s goodness and greatness.

One recent survey by a Washington-based research council concluded that Americans were far more religious than the people of other nations; 95 percent of those surveyed expressed a belief in God and a huge majority believed the Ten Commandments had real meaning in their lives. And another study has found that an overwhelming majority of Americans disapprove of adultery, teenage sex, pornography, abortion, and hard drugs. And this same study showed a deep reverence for the importance of family ties and religious belief.

I think the items that we’ve discussed here today must be a key part of the nation’s political agenda. For the first time the Congress is openly and seriously debating and dealing with the prayer and abortion issues – and that’s enormous progress right there. I repeat: America is in the midst of a spiritual awakening and a moral renewal. And with your biblical keynote, I say today, “Yes, let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”

Now, obviously, much of this new political and social consensus I’ve talked about is based on a positive view of American history, one that takes pride in our country’s accomplishments and record. But we must never forget that no government schemes are going to perfect man. We know that living in this world means dealing with what philosophers would call the phenomenology of evil or, as theologians would put it, the doctrine of sin.

There is sin and evil in the world, and we’re enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might. Our nation, too, has a legacy of evil with which it must deal. The glory of this land has been its capacity for transcending the moral evils of our past. For example, the long struggle of minority citizens for equal rights, once a source of disunity and civil war, is now a point of pride for all Americans. We must never go back. There is no room for racism, anti-Semitism, or other forms of ethnic and racial hatred in this country.

I know that you’ve been horrified, as have I, by the resurgence of some hate groups preaching bigotry and prejudice. Use the mighty voice of your pulpits and the powerful standing of your churches to denounce and isolate these hate groups in our midst. The commandment given us is clear and simple: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

But whatever sad episodes exist in our past, any objective observer must hold a positive view of American history, a history that has been the story of hopes fulfilled and dreams made into reality. Especially in this century, America has kept alight the torch of freedom, but not just for ourselves but for millions of others around the world.

And this brings me to my final point today. During my first press conference as president, in answer to a direct question, I point out that, as good Marxist-Leninists, the Soviet leaders have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is that which will further their cause, which is world revolution. I think I should point out I was only quoting Lenin, their guiding spirit, who said in 1920 that they repudiate all morality that proceeds from supernatural ideas – that’s their name for religion – or ideas that are outside class conceptions. Morality is entirely subordinate to the interests of class war. And everything is moral that is necessary for the annihilation of the old, exploiting social order and for uniting the proletariat.

Well, I think the refusal of many influential people to accept this elementary fact of Soviet doctrine illustrates a historical reluctance to see totalitarian powers for what they are. We saw this phenomenon in the 1930s. We see it too often today.

This doesn’t mean we should isolate ourselves and refuse to seek an understanding with them. I intend to do everything I can to persuade them of our peaceful intent, to remind them that it was the West that refused to use its nuclear monopoly in the forties and fifties for territorial gain and which now proposes a 50-percent cut in strategic ballistic missiles and the elimination of an entire class of land-based, intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

At the same time, however, they must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards. We will never give away our freedom. We will never abandon our belief in God. And we will never stop searching for a genuine peace. But we can assure none of these things America stands for through the so-called nuclear freeze solutions proposed by some.

The truth is that a freeze now would be a very dangerous fraud, for that is merely the illusion of peace. The reality is that we must find peace through strength.

I would agree to freeze if only we could freeze the Soviets’ global desires. A freeze at current levels of weapons would remove any incentive for the Soviets to negotiate seriously in Geneva and virtually end our chances to achieve the major arms reductions which we have proposed. Instead, they would achieve their objectives through the freeze.

A freeze would reward the Soviet Union for its enormous and unparalleled military buildup. It would prevent the essential and long overdue modernization of United States and allied defenses and would leave our aging forces increasingly vulnerable. And an honest freeze would require extensive prior negotiations on the systems and numbers to be limited and on the measures to ensure effective verification and compliance. And the kind of a freeze that has been suggested would be virtually impossible to verify. Such a major effort would divert us completely from our current negotiations on achieving substantial reductions.

A number of years ago, I heard a young father, a very prominent young man in the entertainment world, addressing a tremendous gathering in California. It was during the time of the cold war, and communism and our own way of life were very much on people’s minds. And he was speaking to that subject. And suddenly, though, I heard him saying, “I love my little girls more than anything -” And I said to myself, “Oh, no, don’t. You can’t – don’t say that.” But I had underestimated him. He went on: “I would rather see my little girls die now, still believing in God, than have them grow up under communism and one day die no longer believing in God.”

There were thousands of young people in that audience. They came to their feet with shouts of joy. They had instantly recognized the profound truth in what he had said, with regard to the physical and the soul and what was truly important.

Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness – pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

It was C.S. Lewis who, in his unforgettable Screwtape Letters, wrote: “The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid ‘dens of rime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do no need to raise their voice.”

Well, because these “quiet men” do no “raise their voices,” because they sometimes speak in soothing tones of brotherhood and peace, because, like other dictators before them, they’re always making “their final territorial demand,” some would have us accept them as their word and accommodate ourselves to their aggressive impulses. But if history teaches anything, it teaches that simpleminded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.

So, I urge you to speak our against those who would place the United States in a position of military and moral inferiority. You know, I’ve always believed that old Screwtape reserved his best efforts for those of you in the church. So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride – the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

I ask you to resist the attempts of those who would have you withhold your support for our efforts, this administration’s efforts, to keep America strong and free, while we negotiate real and verifiable reductions in the world’s nuclear arsenals and one day, with God’s help, their total elimination.

While America’s military strength is important, let me add here that I’ve always maintained that the struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.

Whittaker Chambers, the man whose own religious conversation made him a witness to one of the terrible traumas of our time, the Hiss-Chambers case, wrote that the crisis of the Western world exists to the degree in which the West is indifferent to God, the degree to which it collaborates in communism’s attempt to make man stand alone without God. And then he said, for Marxism-Leninism is actually the second-oldest faith, first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with the words of temptation, “Ye shall be as gods.”

The Western world can answer this challenge, he wrote, “but only provided that its faith in God and the freedom He enjoins is as great as communism’s faith in Man.”

I believe we shall rise to the challenge. I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man. For in the words of Isaiah: “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increased strength . . . But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary . . . ”

Yes, change your world. One of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, said, “We have it within our power to begin the world over again.” We can do it, doing together what no one church could do by itself.

God bless you, and thank you very much.

Reagan’s Speech at the Eureka College Library Dedication

Eureka College, September 28, 1967


It must be evident to most of you that only a thin wall of wavering willpower stands between you and an engulfing flood of nostalgia.

Ten years ago, in cap and gown, I stood in this place to receive an honorary degree—a happening which only compounded an already heavy burden of guilt. I had always figured the first degree you gave me was honorary.

That first degree was thirty-five years and a few months ago.

Now, as far as you students are concerned, that makes it definite I am not of your generation. There are those with differing political views who would go even further and place me as far back as the Ice Age some even further to the time of McKinley.

Some here today, however, can bear witness that thirty- five years are like thirty-five minutes, so clear and fresh is memory. No matter how much you students may want to believe this, your imaginations are not quite up to it. you will just have to wait and find out for yourselves. But you will find out.

There is a tendency in today’s world to put more than years between us. Somehow, as humans, we have been stratified into a horizontal society instead of vertical. Layers of humanity are separated into age groups from preschool to those the social thinkers refer to as senior citizens. And somehow we are losing our ability to establish communications between layers. What is even worse, there is a growing hostility between these layers.

It is an unnatural situation. Humanity is vertically structured. The teenager will become the young married or junior executive, and, in turn, the middle-aged and eventually the senior citizen. Each one of us will take his faults and virtues, his pluses and minuses, through the years, being at all times the sum total of all he has experienced.

This separation into horizontal layers makes no sense at all. What of this talk that no one over thirty understands the youth of today? If this is true, then what happens when you reach thirty? Do you suddenly join us and quit understanding those who have not quite reached the magic age?

Each generation is critical of its predecessor. As the day nears when classroom and playing field must give way to the larger arena with its problems of inequality and human misunderstanding, it is easy to look at those in that arena and demand to know why the problems remain unsolved. We who preceded you asked that question of those who preceded us and another younger generation will ask it of you.

I hope there will be less justification for the question when it is your turn to answer. What I am trying to say is that no generation has failed completely, nor will yours succeed completely.

But don’t get me wrong. When the generation of which I am a part leaves the stage, history will record that seldom has any generation fought harder or paid a higher price for freedom.

We have known three wars and now a fourth, a cataclysmic worldwide depression that toppled governments and reshaped the map. And, because we could not find the single cure-all for man’s inhumanity to man or the answer to human frailty, we have downgraded our performance and confused you as well as ourselves.

It is easy to point to the failures and talk of the mess of our times, and even to promise we will do better. But for the record, since we are the generation that exploded the atomic bomb and brought a permanent terror to the world, we also harnessed the atom for peaceful purposes. And some of those peaceful purposes, in medicine and industrial power, have brought man to the threshold of a fabulous era.

We have defeated polio and tuberculosis and a host of plague diseases that held even more terror for mankind than the threat of the bomb. It is a certainty that your generation and ours will overlap in defeating cancer.

Point an accusing finger and list smog, water pollution, poverty, civil rights, inequality of opportunity. We still seek the answers, and, while many of us disagree as to the solutions, we were the ones who faced up to the problems and charged ourselves with finding the answers. No one in public life fails to treat these problems.

This horizontal stratification has led to lateral communication, and it is highly essential that we restore vertical dialogue, if not an outright recognition of the naturalness and rightness of a vertical structuring of society.

How well do young people understand those whose defect is age thirty-plus? Can you possibly believe your fathers who knew the savagery of World War II or your grandfathers who came of age in the muddy trenches of the Great War could possibly have an affection for war? That we would callously send our sons to war?

Permit me here to build at least a footbridge between the age groups of parent and child, remembering that bridges are open to traffic both ways.

That fellow with the thickening waist and the thinning hair who is sometimes unreasonable about your allowance or letting you have the car… his life seems a little dull to you now as he reports for his daily 9 to it chores, or looks forward to lowering a golf handicap, or catching a fish no one wants to eat.

I wish you could have known him a few years back on a landing craft at Normandy or Tarawa or on a weekend pass in Peoria. He was quite a guy. Winston Churchill said he was the only man in the world who could laugh and fight at the same time. General [George] Marshall called him our secret weapon. He hated war more than he hated the enemy, but he did what had to be done.

A few years after the end of World War II, I was in a little pub in rural England. The motherly soul who was waiting on trade figured out I was an American (for the life of me, I don’t know how). She began to reminisce. “During the war,” she said, “some of your chaps were stationed just across the road. They used to come in here and have song-fests. They called me Mom and my husband Pop. It was Christmas Eve and we were here all alone when the door burst open and there they were with presents for us.” she paused for a tear or two and then said: “Big strappin’ lads they was from a place called ‘Iowa’.”

I know those over-thirty fellows probably don’t tell it very well so that you can see them as they were then, but they all knew what it was like to dream, to say good-bye to a girl and wonder when, if ever, they would see her again. They missed a world that let things like that happen, and swore they would do better when they got back and were running the show.

They came back from war and created an organization to outlaw war, and we have not known a single minute’s peace since. The dream was a good dream, no effort was spared and we continue to pour out our treasure to make the dream come true. Proving again our vertical structures this problem will be yours as well as ours to solve.

It wasn’t that we faltered or lacked in willingness. There are organizational difficulties that could not have been foreseen. New and emerging nations with neither power nor responsibility for controlling world forces have a disproportionate voice in world councils. A two-thirds majority can be mustered among a half hundred nations who represent less than 10 percent of the world’s population.

Are the problems of urban ghettoes and poverty the result of selfishness on our part or indifference to suffering? No people in all the history of mankind have shared so widely its material resources.

We taxed ourselves more heavily and extended aid at home and abroad. And when the problems grew, we planned more and passed more legislation to add to the scores of programs, until today, they are listed in government catalogues of hundreds of pages. We who are called materialist have tried to solve human problems with material means. We have forgotten man’s spiritual heritage; we have placed security above freedom and confused the citizen’s responsibility to society with society’s responsibility to the individual.

We have to re-study some of our social legislation, legislation that meant well, but has failed in its goals or has created greater problems than the ones it was meant to cure.

We have to re-examine our individual goals and aims.

What do we want for ourselves and our children? Is it enough to have material things? Aren’t liberty and morality and integrity and high principles and a sense of responsibility more important?

The world’s truly great thinkers have not pointed us toward materialism; they have dealt with the great truths and with the high questions of right and wrong, of morality and of integrity.

They have dealt with the question of man, not the acquisition of things. And when civilizations have disregarded their findings, when they have turned to the things of the flesh, they have disappeared.

You are concerned with us and what seems to be hypocrisy and lack of purpose on our part. And we in turn are concerned about you, seeing a rising spirit of unrest, aimlessness, and drifting, a feeling of rebellion without a real cause that results sometimes in meaningless but violent actions. Now, let me make it plain. I am aware that all of you are unfairly suspect because of a very small percentage of dissidents.

Nevertheless, you do seek a purpose and a meaning to life, and apparently we have failed to give it to you. But, again, our failure was not one of bad intent.

We are the classic example of giving to you what we never had from TV to wheels and dental care to Little League. But I am afraid we shortchanged you on responsibilities or the right to earn for yourselves.

All too often, because we had to earn, we wanted to give. our motives have been laudable, but our judgment has been bad. “No” was either a dirty word or dropped from our vocabulary.

Some time ago in Newport, California, a row of luxurious oceanfront homes were threatened by an abnormally high tide and heavy surf. All through the day and night, volunteers worked, piling sandbags, in an effort to save these homes. Local TV stations, aware of the drama, covered the struggle. It was about 2 A.M. when one newscaster grabbed a young fellow in his teens, attired only in wet trunks. He had been working all day and night one of several hundred of his age group. No, he did not live in one of the homes they were trying to save, and, yes, he was cold and tired. The newscaster inevitably got around to why. The answer was so poignant, such an indictment of so many of us, it should be on a billboard across the nation. He said: “Well, I guess it’s the first time we’ve ever felt like we were needed.”

You are needed; we need your courage, your idealism, your new and untried viewpoint. You know more than we did at your age; you are brighter, better informed, even healthier. And because human kind is vertically structured, we can take a little credit for that. But, you want a purpose, a cause, a banner to follow, and we owe you that.

A few years ago, a national magazine did a series of articles by prominent people including a president, a vice- president, and distinguished statesmen. Each wrote his idea of what was our national purpose. Somehow, nothing very exciting or profound resulted from these articles. I have always felt it was because they tried to invent something we already have and have had for two hundred years. Our national purpose is to unleash the full talent and genius of the individual, not to create mass movements with the citizenry subjecting themselves to the whims of the state. Here, as nowhere in the world, we are established to provide the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order.

Today, we dedicate this library because Wesley and Clinton Melick have thought not in horizontal lines of just their associates in time. you want a purpose, something to believe in? You might try resolving that you will contribute something to generations unborn a handhold above your own achievement so that another generation can climb higher and achieve more.

This library is more than a beautiful and functional building. It is first and foremost a repository of knowledge and culture. More facts will be available in this one library than were available in all the libraries of the world a hundred years ago.

That shouldn’t surprise you.

Man’s knowledge has increased at such a rapid rate since the turn of the century that any book of facts written then would be obsolete now, both in terms of what we know to be true and also what we know to be true no longer.

But a library is more than just a place to go for facts. A library is also a place to go for wisdom. And the purpose of an educational institution is to teach not only knowledge, but also wisdom.

Someone once said that people who want to understand democracy should spend less time in the library with Aristotle and more time on buses and subways.

In a way, that may be true.

But to understand democracy is not necessarily to solve its problems.

And I would venture to say Aristotle, and those others whom you will find not in the buses and subways, but instead in this building here, will give you more answers and more clues to the solutions of our problems than you are likely to find on the buses and subways.

Maybe the best answer is to be found in both, but do not let the library go to waste because you are awaiting the completion of Eureka’s first subway.

Now, when I suggest that we turn to books, to the accumulated knowledge of the past, I am not suggesting that we turn back the clock or retreat into some dim yesterday that we remember only with nostalgia, if at all. But we must learn from yesterday to have a better tomorrow.

We are beset by problems in a complex world; we are confused by those who tell us only new and untried ways offer hope. The answers to all the problems of mankind will be found in this building by those who have the desire to find them and perception enough to recognize them.

There will be the knowledge of Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, and from the vantage point of history, their mistakes. We can look back and see where pure democracy became as dictatorial as a sultan and majority rule without protection for the minority became mob rule.

One of mankind’s problems is that we keep repeating the same errors. For every generation some place, two plus two has added up to three, or in another place, five four seems to elude some of us. This has happened in my generation and I predict, without smugness, it will happen to yours.

But, these two men here today have given something almost beyond comprehension.

Do you doubt the answers can be found here? From the eleventh century, Maimonides, Hebrew philosopher and physician, will give you the eight steps in helping the needy to help themselves.

Can you name one problem that would not be solved if we had simply followed the teachings of the man from Galilee? We can redirect our nation’s course into the paths of freedom and morality and high principle.

And, in so directing it, we can build better lives for ourselves and our children and a better nation for those who come after us, or we can ignore history and go the way of Greece and Rome.

I think that this is the significance of this library. The fact that we can use it to rechart our course, not into the great unknown, but onto paths that are clear and which, if followed, can show us how to cope with the new problems that always confront each generation and can lead us, as a people, on to continued greatness.

There were many who had a hand in this, but they would be the first to say it happened because of you, Woes and Clint Melick. On behalf of all of us who knew Eureka and those still to come, we thank you. Eureka means “We have found a way of life.” you have made the search much easier.

Reagan’s Commencement Address at Eureka College

Eureka College, June 7, 1957


I’m sure you all must know the depth of my gratitude for this honor you have done me. What you can’t know is how great is my feeling of unworthiness. For some 25 years I have nursed a feeling of guilt about the degree given me here upon the occasion of my own graduation. It was, I feel, more honorary than earned and for all these years I have carefully refrained from referring to myself as a “student” here. My very instinct is to mumble a modest “thanks” and sit down, but that retreat is denied me. Inherent in my invitation is the obligation to make some remarks appropriate to this occasion which shall climax your years of academic endeavor. I do not take this responsibility lightly. Realizing there are many present who are better qualified to perform this function, I have inquired right down to the start of the Processional as to an appropriate theme.

There was a temptation of course to beg your favor by citing the mistakes of my generation, dwelling on the awful site of the world and suggesting that you would bring order out of chaos and set things right. I’m not that pessimistic, however, and would be less than honest and sincere if I chose such a course. With your permission I would rather speak of something very close to my heart. You members of the graduating class of 1957 are today coming into your inheritance. You are taking your adult places in a society unique in the history of man’s tribal relations. I would like to play the role of a “legal light” in the reading of the will, and to discuss with you the terms and conditions of your legacy.

Looming large in your inheritance is this country, this land America, placed as it is between two great oceans. Those who discovered and pioneered it had to have rare qualities of courage and imagination nor did these qualities stop there. Even the modern-day immigrants have been possessed of courage beyond that of their neighbors. The courage to tear up centuries-old roots and leave their homelands, to come to this land where even the language was strange. Such courage is part of our inheritance, all of us spring from these special people and these qualities have contributed to the make-up of the American personality.

There are conditions to this “will” of which I speak. There are terms the heirs must meet in order to qualify for the legacy. But, I have never been able to believe that America is just a reward for those of extra courage and resourcefulness. This is a land of destiny and our forefathers found their way here by some Divine system of selective service gathered here to fulfill a mission to advance man a further step in his climb from the swamps.

Almost two centuries ago a group of disturbed men met in the small Pennsylvania State House they gathered to decide on a course of action. Behind the locked and guarded doors they debated for hours whether or not to sign the Declaration which had been presented for their consideration. For hours the talk was treason and its price the headsman’s axe, the gallows and noose. The talk went on and decision was not forthcoming. Then, Jefferson writes, a voice was heard coming from the balcony:

They may stretch our necks on all the gibbets in the land. They may turn every tree into a gallows, every home into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. They may pour our blood on a thousand scaffolds and yet from every drop that dyes the axe a new champion of freedom will spring into birth. The words of this declaration will live long after our bones are dust.To the mechanic in his workshop they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom; but to the coward rulers, these words will speak in tones of warning they cannot help but hear. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck. Sign if the next minute this hall rings with the clash of falling axes! Sign by all your hopes in life or death, not only for yourselves but for all ages, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom the bible of the rights of man forever.

Were my soul trembling on the verge of eternity, my hand freezing in death, I would still implore you to remember this truth God has given America to be free.

As he finished, the speaker sank back in his seat exhausted. Inspired by his eloquence the delegates rushed forward to sign the Declaration of Independence. When they turned to thank the speaker for his timely words he couldn’t be found and to this day no one knows who he was or how he entered or left the guarded room.

Here was the first challenge to the people of this new land, the charging of this nation with a responsibility to all mankind. And down through the years with but few lapses the people of America have fulfilled their destiny.

Almost a century and a half after that day in Philadelphia, this nation entered a great world conflict in Europe. Volumes of cynical words have been written about that war and our part in it. Our motives have been questioned and there has been talk of ulterior motives in high places, of world markets and balance of power. But all the words of all the cynics cannot erase the fact that millions of Americans sacrificed, fought and many died in the sincere and selfless belief that they were making the world safe for democracy and advancing the cause of freedom for all men.

A quarter of a century later America went into World War II, and never in the history of man had the issues of right and wrong been so clearly defined, so much so that it makes one question how anyone could have remained neutral. And again in the greatest mass undertaking the world has ever seen, America fulfilled her destiny.

A short time after that war was concluded a plane was winging its way across the Pacific Ocean. It contained dignitaries of the Philippines and of our own government. Landing at a naval installation a short distance from Manila, the plane was held there while those people listened by radio to the first detonation of an experimental atomic weapon at the Bikini Atoll. Then the plane took to the air again and soon landed in Manila. There these people, together with our vice president, senators, generals and admirals, met with 250,000 Philippines in the Grand Concourse, where they watched the American flag come down and the flag of the Philippine independence take its place.

I was privileged to sit in an auditorium one night and hear one of the passengers on that plane, a great man of the Philippines, describe this scene, General Carlos Romulo, whose father was killed by American soldiers in the Philippine insurrection. As a boy, the General was taught to be a guerrilla and to fight Americans and hate them. But I saw him, with tears in his eyes, tell us how he turned to his wife that day in Manila and said, a hundred years from now will our children’s children learn in their schoolrooms that on this day an atomic weapon was detonated for the first time on a Pacific Island, or will they learn that on another Pacific Island a great and powerful nation, which had bled the flower of its youth into the sands of the island’s beaches reconquering them from a savage enemy, had on this day turned to the people of that island and for the first time in the history of man’s relationship to man had said, ‘Here, we’ve taken your country back for you. It’s yours. As we heard him, I think most of us realized once again the magnitude of the challenge of our destiny, that here indeed is “the last best hope of man on earth.”

And now today we find ourselves involved in another struggle this time called a cold war. This cold war between great sovereign nations isn’t really a new struggle at all. It is the oldest struggle of human kind, as old as man himself. This is a simple struggle between those of us who believe that rnan has the dignity and sacred right and the ability to choose and shape his own destiny and those who do not so believe. This irreconcilable conflict is between those who believe in the sanctity of individual freedom and those who believe in the supremacy of the state.

In a phase of this struggle not widely known, some of us came toe to toe with this enemy this evil force in our own community in Hollywood, and make no mistake about it, this is an evil force. Don’t be deceived because you are not hearing the sound of gunfire, because even so you are fighting for your lives. And you’re fighting against the best organized and the most capable enemy of freedom and of right and decency that has ever been abroad in the world. Some years ago, back in the thirties, a man who was apparently just a technician came to Hollywood to take a job in our industry, an industry whose commerce is in tinsel and colored lights and make-believe. He went to work in the studios, and there were few to know he came to our town on direct orders from the Kremlin. When he quietly left our town a few years later the cells had been formed and planted in virtually all of our organizations, our guilds and unions. The framework for the Communist front organizations had been established.

It was some time later, under the guise of a jurisdictional strike involving a dispute between two unions, that we saw war come to Hollywood. Suddenly there were 5,000 tin-hatted, club- carrying pickets outside the studio gates. We saw some of our people caught by these hired henchmen; we saw them open car doors and put their arms across them and break them until they hung straight down the side of the car, and then these tin-hatted men would send our people on into the studio. We saw our so- called glamour girls, who certainly had to be conscious of what a scar on the face or a broken nose could mean careerwise going through those picket lines day after day without complaint. Nor did they falter when they found the bus which they used for transportation to and from work in flames from a bomb that had been thrown into it just before their arrival. Two blocks from the studio everyone would get down on hands and knees on the floor to avoid the bricks and stones coming through the windows. And the 5,000 pickets out there in their tin hats weren’t even motion picture workers. They were maritime workers from the water-front-members of Mr. Harry Bridges’ union.

We won our fight in Hollywood cleared them out after seven long months in which even homes were broken, months in which many of us carried arms that were granted us by the police, and in which policemen lived in our homes, guarding our children at night. And what of the quiet film technician who had left our town before the fighting started? Well, in 1951 he turned up on the Monterey Peninsula where he was involved in a union price-fixing conspiracy. Two years ago he appeared on the New York waterfront where he was Harry Bridges’ right hand man in an attempt to establish a liaison between the New York and West Coast waterfront workers. And a few months ago he was mentioned in the speech of a U.S. Congresswoman who was thanking him for his help in framing labor legislation. He is a registered lobbyist in Washington for Harry Bridges.

Now that the first flush of victory is over we in Hollywood find ourselves blessed with a newly developed social awareness. We have allowed ourselves to become a sort of a village idiot on the fringe of the industrial scene fair game for any demagogue or bigot who wants to stand up in the pulpit or platform and attack us. We are also fair game for those people, well-meaning though they may be, who believe that the answer to the world’s ills is more government and more restraint and more regimentation. Suddenly we find that we are a group of second class citizens subject to discriminatory taxation, government interference and harassment.

This harassment reaches its peak, of course, in censorship. Here in this great land of the free exchange of ideas our section of the communications industry is subjected to political censorship in more than 200 cities and 11 states and it’s spreading every day. But are we the only victims of these restraints and restrictions on our personal freedom? Is censorship really a restriction on us who already have a voluntary censorship code of good taste, or is this an invasion of your freedom? Isn’t this the case of a few of your neighbors taking it upon themselves the right to tell you what you are capable of seeing and hearing on a motion picture screen?

So we worry a little about the class of ’57, we who are older and have known another day. We worry that perhaps someday you might not resist as strongly as we would if someone decides to tell you what you can read in a newspaper, or hear on the radio, or hear from a speaker’s platform, or what you can say or what you can think. So there are terrns and conditions to the will, and one of the terms is your own eternal vigilance guarding against restrictions on our American freedom.

You today are smarter than we were. You are better educated and better informed than we were twenty-five years ago. And that is part of your heritage. You enjoy these added benefits because, more than 100 years ago near this very spot, a man plunged an ax into a tree and said, here we will build a school for our children.” And for over 100 years people have contributed to the endowment and support of this college. Their contributions were of the utmost in generosity because they could never know the handclasp of gratitude in return for their contributions. Their gifts were to generations yet unborn.

Many of us here share this heritage with you, and some of us shared it under different circumstances. I recall my own days on this campus in the depths of the depression. Even with study and reading I don’t think you can quite understand what it was like to live in an America where the Illinois National Guard, with fixed bayonets, paraded down Michigan Avenue in Chicago as a warning to the more than half million unemployed men who slept every night in alleys and doorways under newspapers. On this campus many of us came who brought not one cent to help this school and pay for our education. The college, of course, had suffered and lost much of its endowment in the stock crash, had seen its revenue not only from endowment but from gifts curtailed because of the great financial chaos. But we heard none of that. We attended a college that made it possible for us to attend regardless of our lack of means, that created jobs for us, so that we could eat and sleep, and that allowed us to defer our tuition and trusted that they could get paid some day long after we had gone. And the professors, God bless them, on this campus, the most dedicated group of men and women whom I have ever known, went long months without drawing any pay. Sometimes the college, with a donation of a little money or produce from a farm, would buy groceries and dole them out to the teachers to at least try and provide them with food. We know something of your heritage, but even if we had been able to pay as many of you have paid for your education we, and you, must realize that the total price paid by any student of this college is far less than it costs this college to educate you. This is true not only of Eureka, but of the hundreds of schools and universities across the land.

Now today as you prepare to leave your Alma Mater, you go into a world in which, due to our carelessness and apathy, a great many of our freedoms have been lost. It isn’t that an outside enemy has taken them. It’s just that there is something inherent in government which makes it, when it isn’t controlled, continue to grow. So today for every seven of us sitting here in this lovely outdoor theater, there is one public servant, and 31 cents of every dollar earned in America goes in taxes. To support the multitudinous and gigantic functions of government, taxation is levied which tends to dry up the very sources of contributions and donations to colleges like Eureka. So in this time of prosperity we find these church schools, these small independent colleges and even the larger universities, hard put to maintain themselves and to continue doing the job they have done so unselfishly and well for all these years. Observe the contrast between these small church colleges and our government, because, as I have said before, these have always given far more than was ever given to them in return.

Class of 1957, it will be part of the terms of the will for you to take stock in the days to come, because we enjoy a form of government in which mistakes can be rectified. The dictator can never admit he was wrong, but we are blessed with a form of government where we can call a halt, and say, “Back up. Let’s take another look. ” Remember that every government service, every offer of government financed security, is paid for in the loss of personal freedom. I am not castigating government and business for those many areas of normal cooperation, for those services that we know we must have and that we do willingly support. It is very easy to give up our personal freedom to drive 90 miles an hour down a city street in return for the safety that we will get for ourselves and our loved ones. Of course, that might not be a good example it seems sometimes that this is a thing we have paid for in advance and the merchandise hasn’t yet been delivered. But in the days to come whenever a voice is raised telling you to let the government do it, analyze very carefully to see whether the suggested service is worth the personal freedom which you must forego in return for such service.

There are many well-meaning people today who work at placing an economic floor beneath all of us so that no one shall exist below a certain level or standard of living, and certainly we don’t quarrel with this. But look more closely and you may find that all too often these well-meaning people are building a ceiling above which no one shall be permitted to climb and between the two are pressing us all into conformity, into a mold of standardized mediocrity. The tendency toward assembly-line education in some of our larger institutions, where we are not teaching but training to fulfill certain specific jobs in the economic life of our nation, is a part of this same pattern.

We have a vast system of public education in this country, a network of great state universities and colleges and none of us would have it otherwise. But there are those among us who urge expansion of this system until all education is by way of tax- supported institutions. Today we enjoy academic freedom in America as it is enjoyed nowhere else in the world. But this pattern was established by the independent secular and church colleges of our land schools like Eureka. Down through the years these colleges and universities have maintained intellectual freedom because they were beholden to no political group, for when politics control the purse strings, they also control the policy. No one advocates the elimination of our tax-supported universities, but we should never forget that their academic freedom is assured only so long as we have the leavening influence of hundreds of privately endowed colleges and universities throughout the land.

So you should resolve, here and now, that you will not only accept your heritage but abide by the terms and conditions of the will. You should firmly resolve that these schools will not just be a part of America’s past, but that they will continue to be a part of America’s great future. Democracy with the personal freedoms that are ours we hold literally in trust for that day when we shall have fulfilled our destiny and brought mankind a great and long step from the swamps. Can we deliver it to our children? Democracy depends upon service voluntarily rendered, money voluntarily contributed.

These institutions which have contributed so much to us, from which we have received so much of our heritage, were here for our benefit only because our forefathers preferred voluntarily to support institutions of their choice in addition to sharing taxation for the support of governmental institutions. The will provides, class of 1957, not only that you receive this heritage and cherish it, but that you voluntarily tax your own time and your own money and contribute to these free institutions so that generations not yet born in this country and in the rest of the world, may benefit from this same heritage of freedom.

It will be very easy for you to say, “Well, I will do something, some day. When I can afford it, I am going to.” But would you let an old “grad” tell you one thing now? Giving is a habit. Get into the habit now, because you will never be able to afford to give and contribute, thus to repay the obligation you owe to those people who made this college possible, if you wait until you think you can afford it. Start now regardless of how small, and in the days to come when you are confronted with demands for many worthwhile causes and charities I think you will find that you will give dutifully to all the worthy ones. But here and there you will pick one or two that will be favorites, and you can do no better than to pick this, your Alma Mater, because you will not only be repaying your own personal obligations, you will be making your contribution to the very process which has made and continues to keep America great.

This democracy of ours which sometimes we’ve treated so lightly, is more than ever a comfortable cloak, so let us not tear it asunder, for no man knows once it is destroyed where or when he will find its protective warmth again.

Economic Recovery Program

Address to a joint session of Congress, April 28th, 1981


You wouldn’t want to talk me into an encore, would you? Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Congress, honored guests, and fellow citizens: I have no words to express my appreciation for that greeting. I have come to speak to you tonight about our economic recovery program and why I believe it’s essential that the Congress approve this package, which I believe will lift the crushing burden of inflation off of our citizens and restore the vitality to our economy and our industrial machine.

First, however, and due to events of the past few weeks, will you permit me to digress for a moment from the all-important subject of why we must bring government spending under control and reduce tax rates. I’d like to say a few words directly to all of you and to those who are watching and listening tonight, because this is the only way I know to express to all of you on behalf of Nancy and myself our appreciation for your messages and flowers and, most of all, your prayers, not only for me but for those others who fell beside me. The warmth of your words, the expression of friendship and, yes, love, meant more to us than you can ever know. You have given us a memory that we’ll treasure forever. And you’ve provide an answer to those few voices that were raised saying that what happened was evidence that ours is a sick society.

The society we heard from is made up of millions of compassionate Americans and their children, from college-age to kindergarten. As a matter of fact, as evidence of that I have a letter with me. The letter came from Peter Sweeney. He’s in the second grade in the Riverside School in Rockville Centre, and he said, “I hope you get well quick or you might have to make a speech in your pajamas.” And he added a postscript. “P.S. If you have to make a speech in your pajamas, I warned you.”

Well, sick societies don’t produce men like the two who recently returned from outer space. Sick societies don’t produce young men like Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, who placed his body–he placed his body between mine and the man with the gun simply because he felt that’s what his duty called for him to do. Sick societies don’t produce dedicated police officers like Tom Delahanty or able and devoted public servants like Jim Brady. Sick societies don’t make people like us so proud to be Americans and so very proud of our fellow citizens.

Now, let’s talk about getting spending and inflation under control and cutting your tax rates. Mr. Speaker and Senator Baker, I want to thank you for your cooperation in helping to arrange this joint session of the Congress. I won’t be speaking to you very long tonight, but I asked for this meeting because the urgency of our joint mission has not changed. Thanks to some very fine people, my health is much improved. I’d like to be able to say that with regard to the health of the economy.

It’s been half a year since the election that charged all of us in this government with the task of restoring our economy. And where have we come in this six months? Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, has continued at a double-digit rate. Mortgage interest rates have averaged almost 15 percent for these six months, preventing families across America from buying homes. There are still almost eight million unemployed. The average worker’s hourly earnings after adjusting for inflation are lower today than they were six months ago, and there have been over 6,000 business failures.

Six months is long enough. The American people now want us to act and not in half-measures. They demand and they’ve earned a full and comprehensive effort to clean up our economic mess. Because of the extent of our economy’s sickness, we know that the cure will not come quickly and that even with our package, progress will come in inches and feet, not in miles. But to fail to act will delay even longer and more painfully the cure which must come. And that cure begins with the federal budget. And the budgetary actions taken by the Congress over the next few days will determine how we respond to the message of last November 4th. That message was very simple. Our government is too big, and it spends too much.

For the last few months, you and I have enjoyed a relationship based on extraordinary cooperation. Because of this cooperation we’ve come a long distance in less than three months. I want to thank the leadership of the Congress for helping in setting a fair timetable for consideration of our recommendations. And committee chairmen on both sides of the aisle have called prompt and thorough hearings. We have also communicated in a spirit of candor, openness, and mutual respect. Tonight, as our decision day nears and as the House of Representatives weighs its alternatives, I wish to address you in that same spirit.

The Senate Budget Committee, under the leadership of Pete Domenici, has just today voted out a budget resolution supported by Democrats and Republicans alike that is in all major respects consistent with the program that we have proposed. Now we look forward to favorable action on the Senate floor, but an equally crucial test involves the House of Representatives. The House will soon be choosing between two different versions or measures to deal with the economy. One is the measure offered by the House Budget Committee. The other is a bipartisan measure, a substitute introduced by Congressmen Phil Gramm of Texas and Del Latta of Ohio.

On behalf of the administration, let me say that we embrace and fully support that bipartisan substitute. It will achieve all the essential aims of controlling government spending, reducing the tax burden, building a national defense second to none, and stimulating economic growth and creating millions of new jobs. At the same time, however, I must state our opposition to the measure offered by the House Budget Committee. It may appear that we have two alternatives. In reality, however, there are no more alternatives left.

The committee measure quite simply falls far too short of the essential actions that we must take. For example, in the next three years, the committee measure projects spending $141 billion more than does the bipartisan substitute. It regrettably cuts over $14 billion in essential defense spending, funding required to restore America’s national security. It adheres to the failed policy of trying to balance the budget on the taxpayer’s back. It would increase tax payments over a third, adding up to a staggering quarter of a trillion dollars. Federal taxes would increase 12 percent each year. Taxpayers would be paying a larger share of their income to the government in 1984 than they do at present. In short, that measure reflects an echo of the past rather than a benchmark for the future. High taxes and excess spending growth created our present economic mess; more of the same will not cure the hardship, anxiety, and discouragement it has imposed on the American people.

Let us cut through the fog for a moment. The answer to a government that’s too big is to stop feeding its growth. Government spending has been growing faster than the economy itself. The massive national debt which we accumulated is the result of the government’s high spending diet. Well, it’s time to change the diet and to change it in the right way.

I know the tax portion of our package is of concern to some of you. Let me make a few points that I think–feel have been overlooked. First of all, it should be looked at as an integral part of the entire package, not something separate and apart from the budget reductions, the regulatory relief, and the monetary restraints. Probably the most common misconception is that we are proposing to reduce government revenues to less than what the government has been receiving. This is not true. Actually, the discussion has to do with how much of a tax increase should be imposed on the taxpayer in 1982.

Now, I know that over the recess in some informal polling some of your constituents have been asked which they’d rather have, a balanced budget or a tax cut, and with the common sense that characterizes the people of this country, the answer, of course, has been a balanced budget. But may I suggest, with no inference that there was wrong intent on the part of those who asked the question, the question was inappropriate to the situation. Our choice is not between a balanced budget and a tax cut. Properly asked, the question is, “Do you want a great big raise in your taxes this coming year or, at the worst, a very little increase with the prospect of tax reduction and a balanced budget down the road a ways?” With the common sense that the people have already shown, I’m sure we all know what the answer to that question would be.

A gigantic tax increase has been built into the system. We propose nothing more than a reduction of that increase. The people have a right to know that even with our plan they will be paying more in taxes, but not as much more as they will without it. The option, I believe, offered by the House Budget Committee, will leave spending too high and tax rates too high. At the same time, I think it cuts the defense budget too much, and by attempting to reduce the deficit through higher taxes, it will not create the kind of strong economic growth and the new jobs that we must have.

Let us not overlook the fact that the small, independent business man or woman creates more than 80 percent of all the new jobs and employs more than half of our total work force. Our across-the-board cut in tax rates for a three-year period will give them much of the incentive and promise of stability they need to go forward with expansion plans calling for additional employees.

Tonight, I renew my call for us to work as a team, to join in cooperation so that we find answers which will begin to solve all our economic problems and not just some of them. The economic recovery package that I’ve outlined to you over the past weeks is, I deeply believe, the only answer that we have left. Reducing the growth of spending, cutting marginal tax rates, providing relief from overregulation, and following a noninflationary and predictable monetary policy are interwoven measures which will ensure that we have addressed each of the severe dislocations which threaten our economic future. These policies will make our economy stronger, and the stronger economy will balance the budget which we’re committed to do by 1984.

When I took the oath of office, I pledged loyalty to only one special interest group–“We the People. ” Those people–neighbors and friends, shopkeepers and laborers, farmers and craftsmen–do not have infinite patience. As a matter of fact, some 80 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt wrote these instructive words in his first message to the Congress: “The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled, it burns like a consuming flame. ” Well, perhaps that kind of wrath will be deserved if our answer to these serious problems is to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The old and comfortable way is to shave a little here and a little there. Well, that’s not acceptable anymore. I think this great and historic Congress knows that way is no longer acceptable. Thank you very much. Thank you. I think you’ve shown that you know the one sure way to continue the inflationary spiral is to fall back into the predictable patterns of old economic practices. Isn’t it time that we tried something new? When you allowed me to speak to you here in these chambers a little earlier, I told you that I wanted this program for economic recovery to be ours–yours and mine. I think the bipartisan substitute bill has achieved that purpose. It moves us toward economic vitality.

Just two weeks ago, you and I joined millions of our fellow Americans in marveling at the magic historical moment that John Young and Bob Crippen created in their space shuttle Columbia. The last manned effort was almost six years ago, and I remembered on this more recent day, over how–over the years, how we’d all come to expect technological precision of our men and machines. And each amazing achievement became commonplace, until the next new challenge was raised. With the space shuttle we tested our ingenuity once again, moving beyond the accomplishments of the past into the promise and uncertainty of the future. Thus, we not only planned to send up a 122-foot aircraft 170 miles into space, but we also intended to make it maneuverable and return it to earth, landing 98 tons of exotic metals delicately on a remote, dry lake bed. The space shuttle did more than prove our technological abilities. It raised our expectations once more. It started us dreaming again.

The poet Carl Sandburg wrote, “The republic is a dream. Nothing happens unless first a dream.” And that’s what makes us, as Americans, different. We’ve always reached for a new spirit and aimed at a higher goal. We’ve been courageous and determined, unafraid and bold. Who among us wants to be first to say we no longer have those qualities, that we must limp along, doing the same things that have brought us our present misery? I believe that the people you and I represent are ready to chart a new course. They look to us to meet the great challenge, to reach beyond the commonplace and not fall short for lack of creativity or courage. Someone, you know, has said that he who would have nothing to do with thorns must never attempt to gather flowers. Well, we have much greatness before us. We can restore our economic strength and build opportunities like none we’ve ever had before. As Carl Sandburg said, all we need to begin with is a dream that we can do better than before. All we need to have is faith, and that dream will come true. All we need to do is act, and the time for action is now.

Thank you. Good night.

Ronald Reagan Biography

Reagan served from 1981 to 1989 as the 40th president of the United States. At the age of 69, he was the oldest man ever sworn into that office. Reagan’s previous executive experience included two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild (1952, 1959-60) and governor of the nation’s most populous state, California (1966-74).

Many books have been written about Ronald Reagan which describe his life in great detail. Reagan also wrote two biographies. For those looking for some highlights of his life we provide this brief timeline and details about events during his presidency.

Timeline: 1911-1980

You may skip ahead to 1981-9.

  • February 6, 1911Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, Ill. to Nelle Wilson and Jack Reagan. The Reagans had one previous son, Neil “Moon” Reagan, born in 1908. Reagan earned the nickname “Dutch” from his father, who remarked that “he looked like a fat little Dutchman.”
  • 1920The Reagans moved to a succession of rural northern Illinois towns until they settled in Dixon, Illinois in December. Though the Reagans moved frequently, Dixon remains the place that Reagan considers his hometown.
  • 1922Reagan baptized at the Christian Church of Dixon, Illinois.
  • 1926Beginning in 1926, Reagan was employed as a lifeguard at Lowell Park in Dixon. Lowell Park is located alongside the Rock River, a sometimes dangerous body of water. He was credited with saving 77 lives during the six years he worked there, making him a local legend long before his careers in media and politics.
  • 1924-1928Reagan attended Dixon High School. He played on the football team and participated in school plays, foreshadowing his own movie career. Reagan was elected student body president in 1927.
  • 1928-1932Reagan attended Eureka College, a small liberal arts institution, and majored in economics and sociology. While at Eureka, Reagan pursued his interest in drama and became determined to become an actor. Reagan also served as student body president and helped organize a student strike.
  • 1932Reagan casts his first presidential vote, for FDR.

    Reagan received a temporary sports broadcasting job with WOC, a small radio station in Davenport, Iowa. He impressed the station manager with his ability to replay entire football games from memory. He obtained a part-time job announcing University of Iowa games before landing a full time job the next year.

  • 1933WHO, in Des Moines and WOC merge. Reagan moved to Des Moines as chief sports announcer. Reagan broadcast Cubs games from the studio, including a memorable incident where he described repeated “foul balls” to the audience when his game feed was interrupted for over six minutes.
  • 1935Reagan enlists in the Army Reserve.
  • 1937Reagan traveled west to cover the Cubs spring training. While in LA he took a screen test and was soon offered a contract by Warner Brothers for $200 per week. When told of the offer via telegram Reagan replied “sign before they change their minds”.

    Reagan appeared in his first film, Love is on the Air.

    Among other films and roles, Reagan realized his boyhood dream by playing George Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American. Over the next few years he starred in such films as King’s Row, Sante Fe Trail and Brother Rat.

    Reagan promoted to Second Lieutenant in the Reserve Corps of Cavalry.

  • 1938Reagan joins board of the Screen Actor’s Guild.

    The film Sergeant Murphy is released on February 1st.

  • January 16th, 1940Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman married. They met while making the movie Brother Rat.
  • January 4th, 1941Maureen was born.
  • September 17th, 1941Reagan testifies before before the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Communism in Hollywood
  • April 19th, 1942Reagan is called up from the Army reserves and assigned to the Army Air Corps. He spent WWII in the Army Air Corps Intelligence 1st Motion Picture Unit, dedicated to training pilots. Reagan would make many training films, briefing films for pilots and wartime films like Rear Gunner to boost morale.
  • September, 1942Reagan stars in King’s Row, wherein he plays Drake McHugh. One of the film’s most memorable lines “Where’s the rest of me?” would later become the title of Reagan’s first autobiography.
  • January 14th, 1943Reagan is promoted to First Lieutenant
  • July 22nd, 1943The Army promoted Reagan to the rank of Captain
  • February 2nd, 1945Reagan is recommended for promotion to Major
  • March 14th, 1945Adopted son, Michael, was born.
  • July 17th, 1945Promotion to Major denied
  • August 21st, 1945Reagan signs multi-million dollar contract with Warner Brothers studio.
  • Fall, 1945Reagan is one of the first persons to be able to view film of liberated concentration camps when it is delivered to the 1st Motion Picture Unit. It is a major influence on his world view.
  • December 9th, 1945The Army honorably discharged Captain Reagan. Reagan spent 10 years in the Army Reserve and on active duty in the Army Air Corps.
  • 1945-1965Reagan resumed his acting career after the war. Reagan made fifty-three motion pictures and one television movie.
  • 1945Michael adopted by Ronald and Jane.

    1946-1948 Reagan becomes President of the Screen Actor’s Guild. He guides the Guild through a difficult strike period which was intermixed by a hunt for Communists in Hollywood. As later information would reveal, the Communist Party, USA was behind the strikes, and was acting on orders from their counterparts in the Soviet Union.

  • March, 1947Reagan is elected President of the Screen Actor’s Guild for the first time. He is subsequently re-elected five times.
  • June 4th, 1947 Reagan stars in That Hagan Girl, with Shirley Temple.
  • October 25th, 1947Testifies before the House Un-American Activities Committee about Communism in Hollywood.
  • Fall, 1948Reagan supports Harry Truman for President.
  • June 28th, 1949Reagan’s divorce from Jane Wyman is finalized. Reagan’s increasing involvement in politics and the couple’s diverging movie careers were the main reasons behind the split.
  • 1950Reagan writes guest columns for Victor Riesel’s labor column.
  • April, 1950Reagan campaigned for Helen Gahagan Douglas for the Senate.
  • Fall, 1950Reagan switches his support to Richard Nixon. Inheriting from his father a New Deal orientation in politics, Reagan slowly shifted his views over the years as a concern with Communism overshadowed his ties to the party of the New Deal. In the 1950s he began to campaign on behalf of the strongest candidate against Communism, which was frequently a Republican.
  • December 7th, 1950Reagan makes his network television debut in Nash Airflyte Theatre. He would eventually star in over sixty television shows.
  • 1951Reagan stars in the comedy Bedtime for Bonzo.
  • March 4th, 1952Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis wed.
  • June, 1952Reagan delivers the commencement address America the Beautiful at William Woods College in Fulton, Missouri.
  • October 22nd, 1952Patricia was born.
  • Fall, 1952Reagan campaigned as a Democrat for Eisenhower.
  • Fall, 1952Reagan stars as Grover C. Alexander in The Winning Team, his last film for Warner Brothers.
  • May 2nd, 1953Named Honorary Mayor of Malibu Lake, California.
  • 1954Reagan accepted a job as spokesman for the General Electric Company. This allowed him to tour the country as he gave motivational speeches to GE employees. He also starred in GE Theater, hosting the show an occasionally appearing in feature roles.
  • 1955Named Honorary Mayor of Thousand Oaks, California.
  • 1956Reagan again campaigns as a Democrat for Eisenhower.
  • May 28th, 1958Ronald Prescott was born.
  • November, 1959Reagan is again elected President of the Screen Actors Guild.
  • July, 1960Reagan resigns as President of the Screen Actors Guild following a strike. He and Nancy also resign from the Board.
  • Fall, 1960Reagan campaigns for Richard Nixon for President.
  • February 5th, 1962Reagan makes a Grand Jury appearance in the MCA-SAG anti-trust hearing.
  • March, 1962GE discontinues GE Theatre. Reagan’s last appearance is broadcast on August 26th, 1962.
  • Fall, 1962Reagan officially changes his party registration to Republican. He supports Richard Nixon’s campaign for California governor.
  • 1964Reagan becomes host of Death Valley Days on TV. He appeared in or hosted twenty-one episodes broadcast from 1965-6.

    Starred in The Killers, uncharacteristically portraying the villain.

  • October 27th, 1964Reagan’s television address for Goldwater, A Time for Choosing, launches his political career. A group of California businessmen soon afterward approached Reagan and convinced him to run for Governor of California. Reagan would continue to use A Time for Choosing in the months and years ahead as a staple of his fundraising appearances and motivational talks.
  • 1965Reagan’s first autobiography, Where’s the Rest of Me? is published.

    Reagan resigns as host of Death Valley Days

  • 1966Reagan defeated incumbent governor Edmund G. (“Pat”) Brown in a landslide, winning by more than a million votes. He obtains the second nickname “Governor”. His success in the election and as governor made him a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968. Governor Reagan won the loyalty of conservatives by initially opposing state spending and tax increases, but he proved to be a pragmatist when California’s growth required an expansion of government services. He left Sacramento in 1974 with the California budget showing a $550-million surplus.
  • January 2nd, 1967Reagan is sworn in as California Governor.
  • 1968Reagan made a tentative run for the presidency, waiting until the Republican National Convention in August to announce his candidacy. He later joined in unanimously supporting Richard Nixon.

    An attempt is made on Reagan’s life. At least two people tried to firebomb Reagan’s residence, but were driven off by Secret Service gunfire.

  • May 15th, 1969Governor Reagan calls out the National Guard to quell violence at Berkeley. Reagan’s most controversial decision while Governor was his hard-line stance against student uprisings at Berkeley and other California colleges. Reagan believed the disturbances were caused by outside agitators. Subsequent research would reveal that Communist organizations were behind many of the violent activities in and around the campuses.
  • November, 1970Reagan is re-elected Governor of California.
  • 1971Reagan signs the California Welfare Reform Act.
  • Fall, 1974For several months after his gubernatorial term ended, Reagan wrote a syndicated newspaper column and provided commentaries on radio stations across the country.

    Reagan declines offers from the Ford Administration to become either the Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, Secretary of Transportation or Secretary of Commerce.

  • November 20th, 1975Reagan announced candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. He lost the party’s nomination, but his strong showing and moving speech at the convention laid the groundwork for his election in 1980.
  • August 19th, 1976Reagan addresses the Republican National Convention in Kansas City.
  • November 13th, 1979Reagan announced his candidacy for President.
  • February 23rd, 1980Famous debate in Nashua, New Hampshire where Reagan states “I paid for this microphone” when debate moderators try to exclude anyone except candidates Reagan and Bush. Reagan’s inclusion of all candidates garners voter good will and helps him win the New Hampshire primary.
  • March 18th, 1980Reagan debates Bush, John Anderson and Phil Crane (the only remaining candidates).
  • April 24th, 1980Debates George Bush in Houston.
  • July 16th, 1980Reagan nominated by the Republican Party to run for President. He choses fellow candidate George Bush as his running mate after talks with former President Gerald Ford fail to achieve and agreement for him to join the ticket as the VP candidate. Reagan’s platform calls for “a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom.” Reagan also championed an across-the-board cut in tax rates, increased defense spending and decreasing overall Federal spending to lower deficits.
  • September 21st, 1980Reagan debates John Anderson, who is running as an independent candidate for President after failing to win the Republican nomination. Jimmy Carter declines to participate.
  • October 28th, 1980Debates Jimmy Carter.
  • November 4th, 1980Reagan is elected the 40th President of the United States in a landslide victory over the incumbent, Jimmy Carter.