Miller Center

Presidential Key Events

Ronald Reagan

 

Ronald Reagan - 01/20/1981: Reagan is inaugurated as the fortieth President of…
Reagan is inaugurated as the fortieth President of the United States. January 20, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 01/20/1981: Fifty-two American hostages held in Iran since Nov…
Fifty-two American hostages held in Iran since November 1979 are released. January 20, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 02/18/1981: Reagan proposes increased defense spending, and de…
Reagan proposes increased defense spending, and decreased taxes and domestic spending in speech to Congress. February 18, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 03/10/1981: Reagan sends budget proposal for fiscal year 1982 …
Reagan sends budget proposal for fiscal year 1982 to Congress. The budget calls for spending $695.3 billion with a projected deficit of $45 billion. It includes funding cuts for 200 programs in addition to those cuts already proposed by President Carter. March 10, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 03/30/1981: Reagan is shot in the chest by John Warnock Hinckl…
Reagan is shot in the chest by John Warnock Hinckley Jr. March 30, 1981

Ronald Reagan - President Reagan Shot

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot by John W. Hinkley, Jr., while leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel after giving a speech. The President was hit under his left arm by a bullet that ricocheted off his limousine. Once the sound of shots rang in the air, Secret Service agent Jerry Parr shoved Reagan into his limousine, and then, after noticing the President had been shot, directed the car to the George Washington University Hospital. Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and Washington, D.C., police officer Thomas Delahanty were also shot and seriously wounded.

Parr's quick-witted diversion of the presidential limousine to the hospital was a move that probably saved Reagan's life. The bullet had missed Reagan's heart by a mere inch. Although not believed to be serious at the time, Reagan's wounds were in fact life-threatening. He underwent surgery to remove the bullet and repair a lung that had collapsed.

Still President Reagan, ever the trouper, walked into the hospital before he collapsed. Later he won the heart of the nation when the stories of his courage and humor disarmed critics and endeared him to the public. When he arrived at the hospital, he reportedly joked with the medical staff, “Please tell me you're Republicans,” and he quipped to an anxious Nancy, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” One of the older Presidents when elected, Reagan was 70 years old when he took the oath of office; questions about his stamina and energy were commonplace during the early months of his presidency. His quick recovery from the assassination attempt, however, helped to brush those concerns aside.

President Reagan appeared before a joint session of Congress a few months after the assassination attempt to thunderous support. The attempt on his life and speedy recovery from his wounds helped establish his reputation for toughness, humility, and strength-a far cry from the public perception of his predecessor, Jimmy Carter. Press Secretary James Brady, however, suffered permanent brain damage from his wounds, and later advocated the passage of gun control laws. The “Brady Bill,” named in his honor, limited handgun purchases and required background checks on gun purchasers.

In 1982, a District of Columbia jury tried John W. Hinkley, Jr., and found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was then committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital for treatment of his mental illness.

March 30, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 04/11/1981: Reagan leaves the hospital after recovering from a…
Reagan leaves the hospital after recovering from a gunshot wound. April 11, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 04/24/1981: Reagan lifts a grain embargo imposed on Soviet Uni…
Reagan lifts a grain embargo imposed on Soviet Union by President Carter. April 24, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 07/07/1981: Reagan nominates Sandra Day O’Connor to fill the s…
Reagan nominates Sandra Day O'Connor to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart, making O'Connor the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court. July 07, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 08/05/1981: Reagan orders the dismissal of 13,000 PATCO air tr…
Reagan orders the dismissal of 13,000 PATCO air traffic controllers out on strike, citing their violation of a federal law against industry strikes. August 05, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 08/13/1981: Reagan signs the tax cut into …
Reagan signs the tax cut into law. August 13, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 10/02/1981: Reagan declares that the United States will produc…
Reagan declares that the United States will produce the B-1 bomber and MX missiles as part of military buildup. October 02, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 11/18/1981: Reagan states that he will not deploy intermediate…
Reagan states that he will not deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe if the Soviet Union agrees to dismantle similar weapons already in place. November 18, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 12/28/1981: Reagan imposes economic sanctions on Poland follow…
Reagan imposes economic sanctions on Poland following that government's imposition of martial law. December 28, 1981

Ronald Reagan - 01/26/1982: Reagan calls for “New Federalism” in his State of …
Reagan calls for “New Federalism” in his State of the Union address, advocating less federal spending and more state initiative to solve social and economic problems. January 26, 1982

Ronald Reagan - 06/06/1982: Reagan becomes the first U.S. President to address…
Reagan becomes the first U.S. President to address the combined Houses of Parliament, taking Britain's side in the Falkland Islands conflict with Argentina. June 06, 1982

Ronald Reagan - 06/11/1982: Reagan visits West Berlin
Reagan visits West Berlin. June 11, 1982

Ronald Reagan - 06/30/1982: Reagan establishes the Preside…
Reagan establishes the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control through Executive Order 12369. June 30, 1982

Ronald Reagan - 09/03/1982: Reagan signs the Tax Equity & Fiscal Responsibilit…
Reagan signs the Tax Equity & Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA). September 03, 1982

Ronald Reagan - 01/05/1983: Reagan signs into law a five cents per gallon gaso…
Reagan signs into law a five cents per gallon gasoline tax increase. January 05, 1983

Ronald Reagan - 01/25/1983: In his State of the Union address, Reagan calls fo…
In his State of the Union address, Reagan calls for a freeze on domestic spending and increases in military outlays. January 25, 1983

Ronald Reagan - 03/23/1983: Reagan urges development of the Strategic Defense …
Reagan urges development of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), an attempt to create a high-technology anti-ballistic missile shield to protect the United States from nuclear attack. March 23, 1983

Ronald Reagan - 04/20/1983: President Reagan signs the Social Security Reform …
President Reagan signs the Social Security Reform Bill into law. April 20, 1983

Ronald Reagan - 04/20/1983: The U.S. GNP shows dramatic growth for the first q…
The U.S. GNP shows dramatic growth for the first quarter of 1983, signaling the end of the recession. April 20, 1983

Ronald Reagan - 06/18/1983: Reagan nominates Paul Volcker to a second term as …
Reagan nominates Paul Volcker to a second term as head of the Federal Reserve Board. June 18, 1983

Ronald Reagan - 07/01/1983: The final phase of the tax cut goes into…
The final phase of the tax cut goes into effect. July 01, 1983

Ronald Reagan - Bombing of Lebanon Barracks

On October 23, 1983, suicide bombers crashed a truck bearing more than 2,000 pounds of explosives through protective barricades at U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon, Beirut. Since the attack took place early on a Sunday morning, it found most of the troops asleep in their beds. The explosion devastated the compound, collapsing the floors of the building on top of each other, killing 241 U.S. servicemen.

President Ronald Reagan had sent American troops to Lebanon earlier in 1983, hoping to stabilize a country ravaged by years of civil war. Their mission was to support a government friendly to U.S. interests and to Israel, and to help end the cycle of violence. The United States was supposed to play the part of an “honest broker” between competing interests.

Hezbollah, the militant Islamic group, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The ability of the United States to remain detached and play the role of honest broker became more difficult after the attack. American military ships shelled Lebanese positions, and the United States was drawn into supporting certain factions against others in the Lebanese civil war. The surviving Marines were withdrawn to U.S. vessels waiting offshore, and just two years after the bombing, President Reagan withdrew all U.S. military forces from the area at the request of the Lebanese government. The experience in Lebanon was devastating one for the President, and it altered his administration's policy in the Middle East; he never again sent ground troops into Lebanon or any other place in the Middle East.

October 23, 1983

Ronald Reagan - 01/25/1984: Reagan delivers State of the Union message, callin…
Reagan delivers State of the Union message, calling on Congress to cooperate to reduce the deficit. January 25, 1984

Ronald Reagan - 04/30/1984: Reagan signs scientific and cultural exchange acco…
Reagan signs scientific and cultural exchange accords with the Beijing leadership while on six-day visit to China. April 30, 1984

Ronald Reagan - 08/22/1984: The Republican Party re-nominates Reagan and Bush …
The Republican Party re-nominates Reagan and Bush for 1984 presidential election. August 22, 1984

Ronald Reagan - 09/21/1984: Congress and Reagan work out a compromise on the M…
Congress and Reagan work out a compromise on the MX missile. September 21, 1984

Ronald Reagan - 11/06/1984: Reagan is reelected President, defeating Democrati…
Reagan is reelected President, defeating Democratic candidate Walter Mondale. November 06, 1984

Ronald Reagan - 01/20/1985: Reagan is inaugurated for a second term as Preside…
Reagan is inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. January 20, 1985

Ronald Reagan - 02/06/1985: Farm credit crises pose serious a threat to U.S. a…
Farm credit crises pose serious a threat to U.S. agriculture. The Reagan administration eases rules on a loan-guarantee program, but rejects provisions for additional funding. February 06, 1985

Ronald Reagan - 05/01/1985: The Reagan administration announces trade embargo …
The Reagan administration announces trade embargo against Nicaragua. May 01, 1985

Ronald Reagan - 05/05/1985: Reagan attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Bitburg…
Reagan attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Bitburg military cemetery in West Germany, the gravesite of 200 German soldiers including 49 members of Adolf Hitler's SS. Responding to criticism of the visit, Reagan visits and lays a wreath at a nearby concentration camp earlier in the day. May 05, 1985

Ronald Reagan - 07/13/1985: Reagan has a malignant polyp removed from his colo…
Reagan has a malignant polyp removed from his colon; Vice President Bush serves as acting President for eight hours. July 13, 1985

Ronald Reagan - 09/09/1985: The Reagan administration announces limited econom…
The Reagan administration announces limited economic sanctions against South Africa after the South African government declares martial law. September 09, 1985

Ronald Reagan - 11/19/1985: Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev hold a…
Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev hold a summit meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. It is the first such meeting between U.S and Soviet heads of state since 1979. November 19, 1985 - November 21, 1985

Ronald Reagan - 12/12/1985: Reagan signs the Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction bi…
Reagan signs the Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction bill. December 12, 1985

Ronald Reagan - 06/17/1986: Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger announce…
Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger announces his retirement; Regan elevates Justice William Rehnquist to the position of chief justice and nominates Anthony Scalia as an associate justice. June 17, 1986

Ronald Reagan - 10/11/1986: Reagan and Gorbachev meet in Reykjavik, …
Reagan and Gorbachev meet in Reykjavik, Iceland. October 11, 1986 - October 12, 1986

Ronald Reagan - 10/22/1986: Reagan signs a revision of the tax code into law. …
Reagan signs a revision of the tax code into law. October 22, 1986

Ronald Reagan - 11/04/1986: The Democrats win control of Senate, the first tim…
The Democrats win control of Senate, the first time during Reagan's tenure that both houses of Congress are in Democratic hands. November 04, 1986

Ronald Reagan - 11/13/1986: The White House informs Congress that the United S…
The White House informs Congress that the United States secretly sold arms to Iran in violation of federal laws prohibiting arms deals with Iran. The administration denies that the sales were part of an attempt to secure the release of American hostages held by Iranian-backed forces. November 13, 1986

Ronald Reagan - 11/25/1986: The administration admits that…
The administration admits that between $10 and $30 million had been diverted from Iranian arms sales and funneled to the Nicaraguan contras. November 25, 1986

Ronald Reagan - 11/26/1986: The Tower Commission is appointed to investigate t…
The Tower Commission is appointed to investigate the Iran-Contra affair. Reagan forgoes any claim of executive privilege and orders his administration to cooperate fully with the investigation. Lawrence Walsh is appointed special prosecutor to investigate criminal wrongdoing. November 26, 1986

Ronald Reagan - 02/03/1987: Congress overrides Reagan’s veto of the Water Qual…
Congress overrides Reagan's veto of the Water Quality Control Act. February 03, 1987 - February 04, 1987

Ronald Reagan - 02/26/1987: The Tower Commission releases its report, finding …
The Tower Commission releases its report, finding no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the White House but remaining critical of the administration nonetheless. February 26, 1987

Ronald Reagan - 03/04/1987: In televised address, Reagan accepts responsibilit…
In televised address, Reagan accepts responsibility for actions in Iran-Contra affair that occurred without his knowledge. March 04, 1987

Ronald Reagan - 11/18/1987: Congress issues its Iran-Contra report, declaring …
Congress issues its Iran-Contra report, declaring that Regan must assume “ultimate responsibility” for the affair. November 18, 1987

Ronald Reagan - 12/07/1987: Gorbachev and Reagan meet in Washington, D.C., and…
Gorbachev and Reagan meet in Washington, D.C., and sign the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. December 07, 1987 - December 10, 1987

Ronald Reagan - 01/29/1988: The administration prohibits federally funded fami…
The administration prohibits federally funded family-planning centers from providing assistance to women seeking abortions. January 29, 1988

Ronald Reagan - 05/29/1988: Reagan visits the Soviet Union for the first time.…
Reagan visits the Soviet Union for the first time. May 29, 1988 - June 01, 1988

Ronald Reagan - 08/15/1988: The Republican Party nominates George H.W. Bush an…
The Republican Party nominates George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle for President and vice president. August 15, 1988 - August 18, 1988

Ronald Reagan - 11/08/1988: Vice President George H.W. Bush is elected Preside…
Vice President George H.W. Bush is elected President of the United States, defeating Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis. November 08, 1988

Ronald Reagan - 01/11/1989: Reagan delivers his farewell a…
Reagan delivers his farewell address. January 11, 1989

Ronald Reagan - 01/20/1989: Reagan leaves office with public opinion casting h…
Reagan leaves office with public opinion casting him as the nation's most popular President since Franklin D. Roosevelt. January 20, 1989