The 40 President of the United Statesby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Ronald Reagan’s political career began rather late in his life. He was the oldest president ever to be in office. He was in office for two terms. By the time Reagan was in office many American believed that he had restored public confidence in government. He was reelected with enormously huge popular vote. In fact, he got the greatest number of electoral votes ever by a presidential candidate.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, Ill., on Feb. 6, 1911. His father had an Irish back round and his mother was of Scottish-English ancestry. At nine years of age, he and his family moved to Dixon, Ill. Reagan began working as a sports announcer for WOC, a radio station in Davenport, Iowa, after graduating from Eureka College. Reagan took a trip to California in 1937 for Baseball spring training, and while he was on the trip an agent from Warner Brothers studios signed him for his film debut as a radio announcer in Love Is on the Air. That role was the very beginning of a film career that included the making of more than 50 movies, the best known of which were Knute Rockne—Al.
After sixteen years of acting in Hollywood, he decided to settle down and have a family. In 1945, he and his family, which now consisted of his wife, Jane Wyman, and his daughter, Maurren, adopted a baby boy named Michael. And as a board member of Green Actors Guild (SAG) since 1941, Reagan took more interest in political activities. National politics also held Reagan’s interest. Many times Reagan spoke of the evils of communism, and he worked hard to keep communist influences out of Hollywood. Because the SAG members were impressed by Reagan’s stand, they elected Reagan as their president in March of 1947, a position which he kept for six years.
His political views and business with being an actor hurt his marriage greatly. Reagan and Wyman spent less and less time together, and finally, the strain of work pressures and different interests split them apart, and Wyman filed for a divorce. While in court she testified, “In recent months my husband and I engaged in continual arguments on his political views . . .finally, there was nothing in common between us . . . nothing to sustain our marriage.” On June 29, 1948, the court granted the divorce and awarded Wyman the custody of their daughter and son. The divorce left Reagan, who was thirty-seven, very stunned.
Reagan remained fully involved with SAG. He still had many friends and dated
many young starlets, but he was still unhappy. “My loneliness is not from
being unloved, but rather from not loving,” he remembered. And then he
found Miss Nancy Davis. They dated for two years and then were married. In order
to resolve an $18,000 debt, Ronald agreed to act for two weeks at a nightclub
which eventually paid him $30,000. Nancy retired from films the next year after
having a son, Little Ronald Prescott Reagan. They already had a daughter, Patti,
who was born in 1952.
In 1960 he gave two hundred campaign speeches in behalf of Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon. Four years later he campaigned even harder when Republican Barry Goldwater ran for president. Overnight, conservative Republicans recognized Reagan as a hero of their cause, and urged him to run for Governor of California in 1966. At first he refused, but finally he agreed. On June 2, his skills as a communicator won him the Republican nomination. On election day, November 8, 1966, California voted for Reagan by an overwhelming vote of 3,742,913 to 2,749,174. And four years later Californians who admired Reagan, voted him in office again.
As the 1976 national election approached, Reagan thought that maybe it was time, for he wanted to run for president. On November 21, 1976, Reagan announced his decision. He would indeed run for president of the United States. He lost to Ford for the Republican votes, but he still had hope. For in 1980 many people regarded him as their clear choice for Republican candidate. The Democrats voted for Jimmy Carter as their candidate. On election day, November 4, 1980, it became so clear that Americans wanted Reagan that Carter admitted defeat even before the polling places were closed.
At the age of sixty-nine, Ronald Reagan became the Fortieth President of the United States. While in Office, he strengthened America’s economy, and he cut taxes up to twenty-five percent. He is primarily remembered as the President who brought an end to the Cold War. Reagan said during his 1984 State of the Union addresss, "America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. He is ours. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it's all right to keep asking if we're on His side."
Reagan's achievements and personality made him one of America’s most loved Presidents. Through it all he knew, "If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under."
"Within the covers of that single Book are all the answers to all the
problems that face us today -- if only we’d read and believe" -Ronald
Reagan (Christianity Today, March 2, 1984, p. 38).
-Encyclopedia of American Presidents
-Ronald W. Reagan
-Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times