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Ronald Reagan

Important Terms, People, and Events

Summary

Early Life: 1911–1932

Terms

A Time for Choosing -   · Reagan made the speech A Time for Choosing in 1964 in support of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. This speech marks the beginning of Reagan's political career.
An American Life -   · Reagan published his second autobiography, An American Life, in 1990. This autobiography focuses primarily on his political career.
Boland Amendment -   · Congress passed the Boland Amendment in 1982 to prohibit the United States (primarily the Reagan administration) from assisting the Contras in Nicaragua.
CSU  -   · The CSU, or the Conference of Studio Unions, was a growing umbrella organization for various labor unions representing members within the motion picture industry in the 1940s. Reagan strongly opposed the CSU because he believed the organization was a front for Soviet Communists trying to take over Hollywood.
Detente -   · Detente was Nixon's and Ford's attempt to reduce tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Disciples of Christ  -   · The Disciples of Christ were a Protestant religious organization of which Ronald Reagan was a member while living in Dixon, during his Eureka College days, and while in Hollywood. The organization was noted for its conservatism.
Dixon -   · Dixon, Illinois, was Ronald Reagan's home from the time he was eleven until he graduated high school. Reagan himself characterized the town as small, but friendly and supportive. Living in Dixon, Reagan could hunt, fish, hike, and eventually play football and swim for his high school teams.
Eureka College -   · Reagan attended Eureka College in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He graduated in 1932 with degrees in economics and sociology. In college he was also president of the student body and several student organizations, a popular political leader, and prominent member on the football and swimming teams.
First Motion Picture Unit -   · Reagan served in the First Motion Picture Unit from 1942 until 1946. The FMPU was a branch of the Army Air Intelligence department and based at Fort Roach. While a lieutenant in the Army, Reagan produced many training films for American pilots and also handled much of the war footage. He was also among the first Americans to ever see confiscated Nazi footage of the Holocaust.
Fort Roach -   · Fort Roach was a movie production studio in Los Angeles, California, that the US Army took over during World War II in order to produce training films for American servicemen. Reagan, serving in the First Motion Picture Unit helped recruit prominent people in Hollywood to help the military, and also starred in and narrated many of the films.
General Electric Theater -   · Reagan starred in the TV show General Electric Theater during the 1950s.
Grenada -   · President Reagan sent 10,000 US Army Rangers to invade and occupy the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1983 to fight Communist insurgents.
House Un-American Activities Committee -   · This committee within the House of Representatives was established during the Red Scare to investigate suspected Communists in the United States.
Iran -   · Iran was one of the US's worst enemies during the late 1970s and through the 1980s. Under the Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran held over 200 Americans hostage for 444 days between 1979 and 1981. This hostage crisis actually helped Reagan defeat Carter in 1980. The Reagan administration later illegally sold arms with Iran for the release of 52 hostages held by Iranian agents in Lebanon in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Iran-Contra scandal  -   · In the Iran-Contra scandal, the Reagan administration illegally sold arms with Iran for the release of fifty-two hostages held by Iranian agents in Lebanon. The proceeds of the sale were then used to illegally assist the Contras in Nicaragua to fight the Communist Sandinistas.
King's Row -   · Reagan's 1941 film King's Row brought the young actor even more fame than had Knute Rockne, All American. His greatest scene appeared in this film when his character wakes up in a hospital only to discover that his legs have been amputated. Shocked and scared he shouts, "Where's the rest of me?" Reagan's emotional portrayal of the character almost won him an Academy Award.
Knute Rockne, All American -   · The 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American was the movie that pushed Ronald Reagan into stardom. Although he was only a supporting actor in the film, critics and audiences alike loved his portrayal of Notre Dame's star football player George Gipp.
MCA -   · Reagan's entertainment agency, MCA, eventually entered the television production business in the 1950s, and Reagan used his position as president of the Screen Actors Guild to secure special rights for MCA. The government investigated Reagan and MCA in the 1960s to determine whether or not the actor and the company engaged in any unfair business practices; however, no indictments were issued.
Nicaragua -   · The Reagan administration assisted the Nicaraguan Contras in their fight against the Communist Sandinistas throughout both of Reagan's terms in office. When Congress passed the Boland Amendment prohibiting the US from assisting the Contras any further, Reagan secretly continued helping them anyway. Reagan's illegal assistance was eventually exposed in the Iran-Contra scandal.
People's Park -   · The People's Park was a parking lot overtaken by rioting students at the University of California at Berkeley in 1969. To end the violent rioters, Reagan authorized the National Guard to forcefully occupy the campus. Many students were injured and one student was killed in the battle.
SALT  -   · SALT, or Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, were agreements made by Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter with leaders of the Soviet Union to reduce the build-up of nuclear weapons in both countries.
Screen Actors Guild -   · Reagan served as on the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild for several years before being elected president of the organization in 1946. He served five consecutive terms as president of the Guild until 1960. The Guild originally existed primarily to protect the interests and careers of newer actors, but under Reagan came to be a strong, anti-Communist organization.
Soviet Union  -   · The Soviet Union (1917–1991) or USSR was a union of socialist-communist states dominated by what the country that is today known as Russia. The USSR and the US were involved in a Cold War between the years 1945 until the USSR's collapse in 1991.
Strategic Defense Initiative  -   · The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), or Star Wars, was Reagan's plan to develop a missile defense system over the US to shield the country from any incoming enemy missiles. The project cost $1 trillion dollars, but was never actually completed.
voodoo economics -   · George Bush coined the phrase "voodoo economics" in critique of Reagan's economic plans, which were based on supply-side economic theory.
WHO -   · The WHO radio station in Des Moines Iowa took Reagan on as announcer when it merged with its sister station WOC. They promoted Reagan to covering Chicago Cubs baseball games. Through radio, young Dutch Reagan became famous throughout the Midwest.
Window of vulnerability -   · Reagan coined this phrase to refer to the moment in time when he felt the Soviet Union would be able to wipe out US nuclear weapons capabilities in a single pre-emptive first strike attack.
WOC  -   · The WOC radio station hired Reagan as a radio announcer in 1932 to cover University of Iowa football games. They eventually promoted him to full time announcer when they realized how skilled Reagan was on the air. Within a few years of hiring Reagan, the WOC merged with its sister station WHO.

People

George Bush -  George Bush served as Vice President of the United States in both terms of the Reagan administration even though he had run against Reagan in the 1980 Republican primary elections and had criticized Reagan for his voodoo economics, a phrase Bush coined himself. Bush was later elected to be the forty-first President of the United States from 1989 to 1993. He is the father of the forty-third President of the United States George W. Bush.
Pat Brown -  Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent Governor Pat Brown in California's 1966 gubernatorial race.
Jimmy Carter -  Jimmy Carter was the thirty-ninth President of the United States. Reagan defeated Carter in the 1980 elections.
Margaret Cleaver -  Margaret Cleaver was Ronald Reagan's sweetheart for eight years during high school and college, and were engaged after graduating from Eureka College together in 1932. While traveling in Europe, however, Margaret met another man and returned Reagan's engagement ring to him by mail. Reagan was depressed for a long time, but eventually bounced back.
Nancy Davis  -  Reagan married actress Nancy Davis on March 4, 1952. They have been married ever since. They had two children together, Ron and Patricia.
Dwight D. Eisenhower -  Dwight D. Eisenhower was the thirty-fourth President of the United States.
Geraldine Ferraro -  Geraldine Ferraro ran with Walter Mondale as the Vice Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket in the 1984 presidential elections. She was the first woman to ever run on a presidential ticket for a major political party.
Gerald Ford  -  Gerald Ford served as President of the United States from 1974 until 1977. Reagan first crossed paths with Ford in the 1930s when Ford played center for the University of Michigan's football team while Reagan broadcast the game.
Mikhail Gorbechev -  Mikhail Gorbechev served as the leader of the Soviet Union during the second half of the 1980s. He brought reform to the USSR's political and economic systems. He also worked with the United States during Reagan's second term to end the Cold War between the US and the USSR.
John Hinckley -  John Hinckley tried to assassinated President Reagan on March 30, 1981, outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. He shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster.
John F. Kennedy -  John F. Kennedy was the thirty-fifth President of the United States. He was assassinated in 1963.
Arthur Laffer -  An economist who developed the supply-side economic theories upon which Reagan based his domestic plans during his presidency.
John Meiklejohn -  John Meiklejohn was Reagan's first agent. Without Meiklejohn's assistance, Reagan would never have been hired by the Warner Brothers studio.
Walter Mondale -  Reagan defeated Democrat Walter Mondale in an unprecedented landslide victory in the 1984 presidential elections. Mondale's running mate was Geraldine Ferraro.
Richard Nixon  -  Richard Nixon was the thirty-seventh President of the United States.
Oliver North -  Lt. Col. Oliver North was indicted and penalized for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. Even though Reagan had authorized North to continue assisting the Contras after Congress had passed the Boland Amendment, North was tried and convicted.
Sandra Day O'Connor -  Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the US Supreme Court. She was the first woman to become a Supreme Court Justice.
John "Jack" Reagan  -  John "Jack" Reagan was Ronald Reagan's father. He was a heavy drinker and chain smoker even though his wife Nelle Reagan disapproved. Although he didn't receive much education growing up, he worked hard as a shoe salesman throughout Illinois and encouraged his son Ronald to go to college and make a name for himself.
Maureen Reagan  -  Maureen Reagan was born in 1941 to her parents Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman. She was their first child. To Reagan's dismay, Maureen ran for US Senator in California and lost when the President refused to endorse her campaign because of the obvious conflict of interests.
Michael Reagan  -  Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman adopted Michael Reagan in 1945. He was their second child and only son. When Reagan became President, Michael tried to use his father's name to promote his own business interests.
Nelle Wilson Reagan  -  Nelle Wilson Reagan was Ronald Reagan's mother, and Jack Reagan's wife. She was a devout Disciple of Christ and imparted her moral beliefs on her sons.
Patricia Reagan  -  Reagan and wife Nancy Davis had their first child together, Patricia, in October of 1952. In 1985 she published an exposé novel critiquing her parents.
Ron Reagan  -  Ron Reagan was the son of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Donald Regan -  Donald Regan served as President Reagan's first Chief of Staff in the White House. He resigned because he could not work with First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Franklin Roosevelt  -  Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as President of the United States from 1933 until 1945. His New Deal legislation helped pull the country out of the Depression, and he lead the country through most of World War II. As a college student and young actor, Reagan wholeheartedly supported Franklin Roosevelt's liberal policies.
Jane Wyman -  Jane Wyman was Ronald Reagan's first wife. The two met while working on the set for Brother Rat, and were married on January 26, 1940. Wyman gave birth to their daughter, Maureen, and they adopted another son Michael. Their third child died shortly after birth, and the couple eventually separated and divorced in 1948. Wyman was awarded a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Johnny Belinda that same year.

Events

Cold War -  The United States fought the Cold War with the Soviet Union from 1945 until the USSR's collapse in 1991. It is referred to as a "cold war" because the two countries never actually fought each other with weapons as they would have in a "hot war". Instead, these two countries stockpiled conventional and nuclear weapons to outgun the other in the event that war did break out between them.
Crash of 1987 -  The stock market crash of 1987 was one of the worst crashes since the 1929 crash that instigated the Depression. Many believe the 1987 crash was caused by Reagan's voodoo economics.
Depression  -  The economic Depression of the 1930s marked one of the nation's worst periods in history. Approximately twenty-five percent of Americans were out of work, putting many families in abject poverty. See The Great Depression (1929–1941).
Holocaust -  The Holocaust refers to the Nazi program to exterminate Jews as well as other minority groups in Europe. Millions died horrific deaths during the Holocaust while in Nazi concentration camps. See World War II (1939–1945).
Pearl Harbor -  On December seven, 1941, Japanese Imperial forces launched a massive air raid on the US Naval facility in Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. Dozens of US Navy ships were sunk, and thousands of American servicemen died. The attack prompted Franklin Roosevelt and Congress to declare war on Japan and enter the fray of World War II.
Red Scare -  The Red Scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s was a time when Americans were fiercely feared that Communists were trying to infiltrate the United States. Although some of the fears were justified, many historians now believe that no serious Communist threats existed. Many Americans were wrongfully accused and sentenced for being Communists during these years.
Vietnam War -  Although the US never officially declared war on Vietnam, thousands of American servicemen died in the 1960s and 1970s fighting Communist Vietnamese forces. See Vietnam War.
World War II -  See World War II (1939–1945)

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