Key Terms and Events
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
- 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.
Great Depression (1929–1941)
- 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
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.
- 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