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An Overview of Ronald Reagan's Administration

A conservative tide in 1980 swept Ronald Reagan into the presidential race and on to an electoral victory that also gave him a Republican Senate and a House that could provide a bipartisan conservative majority. During a term that was most noteworthy for its foreign policy, arms treaties were signed with the Soviet Union, the Panama Canal was returned to Panama, and the Berlin Wall came down in a wave of protests that also led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

White House portrait of Ronald Reagan

Election of 1980

Ronald Reagan
Jimmy Carter
John B. Anderson

Popular Vote


Electoral Vote


Election of 1984

Ronald Reagan
Walter F. Mondale

Popular Vote


Electoral Vote


His Vice-President and Cabinet
Vice-President George Herbert Walker Bush
Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr.
George P. Shultz (1982)
Secretary of the Treasury Donald T. Regan
James A. Baker III (1985)
Nicholas F. Brady (1988)
Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger
Frank C. Carlucci (1987)
Attorney General William French Smith
Edwin Meese (1985)
Dick Thornburgh (1988)
Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt
William P. Clark (1983)
Donald P. Hodel (1985)
Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block
Richard E. Lyng (1986)
Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldridge
C. William Verity (1987)
Secretary of Labor Raymond J. Donovan
William Brock (1985)
Ann Dore McLaughlin (1987)
Secretary of Health and Human Services Richard S. Schweiker
Margaret M. Heckler (1983)
Otis R. Bowen (1985)
Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell
William J. Bennett (1985)
Lauro F. Cavazos, Jr. (1988)
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.
Secretary of Transportation Andrew L. Lewis, Jr.
Elizabeth H. Dole (1983)
James H. Burnley (1987)
Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards
Donald P. Hodel (1982)
John Herrington (1985)
U.S. Events During His Administration
U.S. Population
January 20, 1981 Fifty-two American hostages held in Iran since November 1979 were released.
March 30, 1981 Reagan and three others were shot in an assassination attempt outside the Washington, D.C., Hilton Hotel.
1981 Sandra Day O'Connor became the first female Justice of the Supreme Court.
1981 13,000 PATCO air traffic controllers were fired for staging what Reagan deemed an illegal strike.
May 28, 1984 An Unknown soldier from the Vietnam War was interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
January 28, 1986 The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lifting off from Cape Kennedy.
World Events During His Administration
1981 Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first identified.
1981 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated.
1982 Great Britain and Argentina fought a brief war over ownership of the Falkland Islands.
1983 U.S. troops invaded Grenada.
1984 A poisonous gas leak killed 2,500 people in Bhopal, India.
1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.
1985 Live Aid concerts were held in England and the United States to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief.
1985 Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro.
1986 The nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, Russia, exploded.
1986 Ferdinand Marcos and his wife fled the Philippines.

Notes and Trivia

At 70+ years of age, Reagan was the oldest man ever elected President at the time; he has since been surpassed by Donald Trump.

93+ years old at the time of his death, Reagan was the second oldest ex-President in U.S. history, after Jimmy Carter.

See Also

Jimmy Carter
Walter Mondale
James A. Baker III
Sandra Day O'Connor
Tomb of the Unknowns
Anwar Sadat
Indira Gandhi
Ferdinand Marcos

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The Robinson Library >> Ronald Reagan's Administration

This page was last updated on February 06, 2019.