Ronald Reagan

Serving the People: 1950–1974

Governor Reagan stood firm against the increasing number of anti-war and anarchist protests prevalent throughout California and the rest of the country during the 1960s. In 1969, he even declared a state of emergency when a group of student rioters at the University California at Berkeley occupied a parking lot and declared it "People's Park." The protest turned violent when rioters began to throw rocks at the police. Reagan sent the state police to disband the riot, but the students quickly overpowered them. In response, Reagan sent in the National Guard who forcefully occupied the campus for nearly twenty days. To end the protest, Army helicopters blanketed the grounds with tear gas. One student was killed, another blinded, and dozens were injured. Reagan's decision to use the military to quell the Berkeley riots was the most controversial decision he made during his eight years as governor.

The voters still loved him, however, and, in 1970, they reelected Reagan over Democratic opponent Jesse Unruh. When Reagan's political advisors encouraged him to run again in 1974, however, the former actor declined because he believed a governor–like the President–should be permitted to serve only two terms. He left the office of governor in 1974 with bigger and brighter things in mind.