Ronald Reagan Fast Facts

Fortieth President of the United States

Ronald Reagan
Public Domain

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) was the oldest president to ever serve as president. Before turning to politics, he had been involved in the movie industry not only through acting but also through serving as the president of Screen Actors Guild. He served as the Governor of California from 1967-1975. Reagan challenged Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election for the Republican nomination but ultimately failed in his bid. However, he was nominated by the party in 1980 to run against President Jimmy Carter. He won with 489 electoral votes to become America's 40th president. 

Facts About Ronald Reagan

Birth: February 6, 1911

Death: June 5, 2004

Term of Office: January 20, 1981 - January 20, 1989

Number of Terms Elected: 2 Terms

First Lady: Nancy Davis

Ronald Reagan Quote: "Every time the government is forced to act, we lose something in self-reliance, character, and initiative."
Additional Ronald Reagan Quotes

Major Events While in Office:

  • Sandra Day O'Connor named first woman Supreme Court justice (1981)
  • Attempted assassination (1981)
  • Granada invasion (1983)
  • Iran-Contra Scandal (1985-89)
  • Glasnost with the Soviet Union (1985-1991)
  • Stark incident in Gulf War (1987)

Reagan became president as America entered the worst recession in its history since the Great Depression. This led to the Democrats taking over 26 seats in the Senate in 1982. However, recovery soon began and by 1984, Reagan easily won a second term. In addition, his inauguration brought an end to the Iran Hostage Crisis. More than 60 Americans were held hostage for 444 days (November 4, 1979 - January 20, 1980) by Iranian extremists. President Jimmy Carter had attempted to rescue the hostages, but due to mechanical failures was unable to go through with the attempt. There are still theories on why they released after his inaugural speech. 

Sixty-nine days into his presidency, Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr. He justified his attempted assassination as an attempt to woo Jodie Foster. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. While in recovery, Reagan wrote a letter to then-Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev hoping to find common ground. However, he would have to wait until Mikhail Gorbachev took over in 1985 before being able to build a better relationship with the Soviet Union and ease tensions between the two nations. Gorbachev ushered in an era of Glasnost, greater freedom from censorship and of ideas. This brief period lasted from 1986 to 1991 and ended with the fall of the Soviet Union during the presidency of George H. W. Bush.