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"No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."

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Ronald Wilson Reagan

40th president of the United States (1981–89) He was born in Tampico, Ill and began his acting career shortly after graduating from Eureka College. Reagan appeared in 50 films. A liberal Democrat he became interested in politics during his six terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild (1947–51, 1959). After joining the Republican party in 1962 he began to champion conservative causes and defeated the Democratic incumbent, Edmund G. “Pat” Brown for governor of California, during his two terms (1967–75), he cut state welfare and medical services and aid to public schools and higher education. He also signed a series of tax increases aimed at ending the state’s deficit. Nonetheless, during his tenure California’s budget more than doubled and the number of state employees increased significantly. In 1980 presidential race, with his running mate, George H. W. Bush, he resoundingly defeated incumbent President Jimmy Carter. On March 30, 1981, Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr. but recovered completely and quickly. Advocating a balanced budget to combat inflation, he reversed long-standing political trends by successfully pursuing his supply-side economic program of tax and non-defense budget cuts through Congress. Adopting a hard-line stance against the Soviet Union and other Communist countries, Reagan advocated and oversaw the largest peacetime escalation of military spending in American history. Beginning in 1985, Reagan began to soften his stance toward the Soviet Union in response to signals of a new openness under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The two leaders met four times between 1985 and 1988, when they concluded the Intermediate-Range Nuclear-Force Missile Treaty (INF treaty) which reduced intermediate nuclear forces. The last years of Reagan’s presidency were disrupted by the Iran-contra affair, which involved the White House’s involvement in the illegal diversion of profits from arms-for-hostage deals with Iran to the U.S. supported contra guerrillas fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. In 1994, Reagan disclosed that he had Alzheimer’s disease in hope of increasing public awareness of the illness; he died of complications from the disease a decade later.


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