Serving as the President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan remains one of the most well-known figures in Western politics. A polarizing figure during the Cold War between the US and Russia, Reagan won two terms from voters but also earned critics. Here are ten fun facts about Ronald Reagan they might not have taught you in school.
1. Reagan was an Illinois native born prior to World War I.
Ronald Wilson Reagan, future President, was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois, USA. He was the only President born in Illinois, though Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, and Ulysses S Grant all claimed it as their home state.
2. He was a star of the silver screen before entering government.
It’s true – Reagan was a Hollywood actor before taking office, laying the groundwork for pop culture figures such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the decades to come. He appeared in over 50 films and became known as “The Gipper” for his role in the film “Knute Rockne, All American.”
3. He was a Governor before he was President.
Ronald Reagan first served in politics as Governor of California from 1967 to 1975. His political career began as a Democrat, but he later switched to the Republican Party. He wasn’t the first President to do this – John Tyler beat him to that accolade.
4. Ronald Reagan ran for the US Presidency multiple times.
Ronald Reagan initially ran for the Republican Presidential nomination twice before being voted in as President. He tried first in 1968 and then again in 1976 but was unsuccessful both times. Interestingly, Joe Biden ran unsuccessfully for President in 1988, at the end of Reagan’s second term!
5. He eventually became the 40th President of the United States of America.
Reagan was inaugurated as the landmark 40th President of the US on January 20th, 1981. He served two terms in office until January 20th, 1989, succeeded by George HW Bush. Like his British counterpart in then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, his leadership endured most of the 1980s, thus defining the era.
6. He sought to change the economy for the better with Reaganomics.
They might sound cheesy now, but “Reaganomics” were highly important policies for the Reagan government – these landmark policies included tax cuts, reduced government spending, and deregulation to stimulate economic growth. The policies did inspire GDP growth, but are characterized as trickle-down economics – controversial policies that appear to favor corporations and wealthy business owners.
7. He was a key player during the Cold War.
Ronald Reagan was also well-known for his strong stance against the Soviet Union. He famously demanded that Soviet head Mikhail Gorbachev “tear down this wall,” referring to the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Berlin. The wall would eventually fall, but not until Reagan left office.
8. Reagan sought to arm and protect the US with nuclear defenses.
He was also known for supporting “Star Wars,” or the Strategic Defensive Initiative (SDI). Its goal was to develop a missile defense system to protect the United States from nuclear attacks – a key point of concern for millions worried about the USSR’s actions in the 1980s.
9. The Iran-Contra Affair remains a controversial mark on his legacy.
A major scandal during Reagan’s presidency was the Iran-Contra affair. It involved the covert sale of arms to Iran and the diversion of funds to anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua, despite a congressional ban.
10. Following his presidency, Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
FAQs about Ronald Reagan
What did Ronald Reagan fight for?
Ronald Reagan believed in a supply-side economy and tax cut stimulation. He believed, thanks to a few economic indicators, that this kind of philosophy was a success – and while it boosted the US’ GDP, Reaganomics still has critics.
What is Reagan’s legacy?
Some viewed his approach to the economy as being short-sighted, while others viewed him as being a savior for the economy. To this day, some economists still view Reagan’s policies as harmful.
Do you know any fun facts about Ronald Reagan? Share them in the comments below!