Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) was the fortieth president of the United States, serving from 1981 to 1989. Reagan worked as an actor before entering politics, and until 1952, when he endorsed Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, he was active in the Democratic Party. By 1962, he was a solid Republican, taking part in Nixon’s campaign for California governor. In 1966, Reagan himself won the governorship, serving two terms. In 1980, he earned the Republican nomination for president, and beat out Jimmy Carter in the general election, having campaigned on smaller government, economic reform, and conservative family values. Reagan’s presidency saw the implementation of “supply side” economics—or “Reaganomics”—and major cuts to social welfare programs, followed by recession and recovery. Reagan also helped usher in the end of the Cold War, taking part in summits with Gorbachev to create arms limitations. He was re-elected in 1984, and during his second term, the administration’s role in the Iran-Contra affair came to light. Though the scandal did damage Reagan’s reputation, he was still well respected by the public when he left office in 1989.

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