One of the most influential and perhaps well loved of Republicans, Ronald Wilson Reagan was the Fortieth President of the United States of America from 1981 to 1989. His illustrious career covered not only the spotlight of the international political scene but also that of the silver screen during his early years (Cannon 201). Remembered, among many things, for his Reaganomics, President Ronald Reagan was as bold on screen as he was with his policies. During his second term as President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan was responsible for the ending of the Cold War (Canon 201).
Born on February 6, 1911, Ronald Reagan was born in a small apartment that was located right above a small bank building in Tampico, Illinois to proud parents John “Jack” Reagan and Nelle Wilson Reagan (Cannon 21). Reagan began practicing his faith and it was even remembered that he had a very strong opposition to racial discrimination which was shown when he brought back black people to his house when they were denied lodging at a local inn (Cannon 21). This anecdote shows that Ronald Reagan already had the makings of greatness even at a young age.
The path of Ronald Reagan towards the American Presidency was crooked, to say the least. While there were showings that he was destined for greatness, there was no clear indication that he was headed for the White House as the Fortieth President of the United States of America (Lafeber 452). The early political exposure of Ronald Reagan began with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in 1941 where he was elected to the Board of Directors. After World War II he became the Third Vice President of the SAG in 1946 (Cannon 153).
Early on during the career of Ronald Reagan as President of SAG, he was already being trained to face controversy. From the years 1947 to 1952 and again in 1959, Ronald Reagan weathered the issues that SAG had to face such as the labor disputes that arose as well as the Taft-Hartley Act, House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings and the Hollywood blacklist era (Cannon 153). This leadership that marked the tenure of Reagan with the HUAC included testifying before the HUAC to protect many of the members of the film industry during that time.
The Presidential career of Ronald Reagan was memorable for several reasons. The changes that he instituted with regard to individual freedom and the economic policies that he enacted are but some of the many great things that he contributed to American Society. Though he was the oldest person ever elected as President of the United States of America, one could never tell due to the impact that he has had throughout his career. The impact was apparent even during the first day of his career as the 52 hostages held by Iran were released as Ronald Reagan was delivering his inaugural address (Beschloss 99).
One of the main reasons why Ronald Reagan is widely regarded by most Americans of the present generation as one of the best American presidents in history is because of his Reaganomics. The economic turnaround and growth that manifested during his tenure highlighted the peak of the United States Economy. Upon assuming office, the inflation rate was at 11.83% and the unemployment rate was at 7.5% (Beschloss 217). By implementing the principles of Laissez-Faire Economics, Ronald Reagan was able to stimulate the economy and turn the inflation and unemployment rate around.
Even though he had lowered tax rates significantly during his term, Reagan was able to efficiently increase the tax base resulting in an annual Gross Domestic Product increase of 3.4% which led to the creation of sixteen million new jobs (Beschloss 217). By appointing Paul Volcker as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, he was also able to put an end to the price controls on domestic oil production (Beschloss 217). This led to increases in fuel supply and also led to the booming of the American economy that was felt even into the 1990s.
Perhaps one of the most important achievements of the Reagan administration was the cessation of the Cold War. Though it was Reagan who stopped the Cold War it was also during his administration that the cold war escalated in 1979 after the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan. Denouncing the ideologies of the Soviet Union, Reagan and ally, Margaret Thatcher, led the campaign against the Soviet Union (Beschloss 217). In his famous address to the British Parliament, Ronald Reagan said that “the forward march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history. (Beschloss 219)”
Ronald Reagan was a great man who helped create a better, safer and freer world. He was always destined for greatness and we all have him to thank for bringing us along on his journey, making us great as well. “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life”
Beschloss, Michael (2001). Ronald Reagan: The Presidential Portfolio: A History Illustrated from the Collection of the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum. PublicAffairs. ISBN 1891620843.
Cannon, Lou (2000). President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 1891620916
Lafeber, Walter (2008) American Century: A History of the United States since the 1890s Sharpe, M.e., Inc. ISBN-13: 9780765620644