Vital Statistics

40th President

Years in Office: 1981–1989

Born: February 6, 1911

Birthplace: Tampico, Illinois

Party: Republican

Vice President: George Bush

First Lady: Nancy Davis

Children: Maureen, Michael, Patricia, Ronald

Nickname: Dutch

Fast Fact: The first president to have been divorced.

Important Events During Presidency

  • American Embassy hostages in Iran released (1981).

  • President wounded in assassination attempt (1981).

  • First female Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, appointed (1981).

  • Major tax cuts and increased defense spending (1981).

  • Equal Rights Amendment fails to gain state ratification (1982).

  • Star Wars program proposed (1983)

  • Supreme Court reaffirms Roe vs. Wade abortion decision (1983).

  • 241 American troops killed by terrorists in Lebanon (1983).

  • U.S. troops invade Grenada (1983).

  • Soviets boycott Summer Olympics in Los Angeles (1984).

  • Congress provides nonmilitary aid for Nicaraguan contra rebel forces (1985).

  • Space shuttle Challenger explodes (1986).

  • Hearings on Iran-contra affair (1987).

  • Black Monday stock market crash (1987).

  • Soviet-American summit in Moscow (1988).

  • 14th Cabinet post added: Department of Veterans Affairs (1988).

  • Antidrug legislation creates post of drug czar (1988).

News Flash From Past: Drifter Shoots President

Washington, March 30, 1981 — President Reagan was shot in the chest today outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, where he had just delivered a speech. The president was rushed to a nearby hospital, where an emergency surgical team was standing by.

"I forgot to duck," Reagan joked as the doctors prepared him for surgery to remove the bullet lodged in his left lung. Despite the seventy-year-old president's age, doctors say he appears to be making a remarkable recovery.

Also injured in the attack were a policeman, a secret service agent, and presidential press secretary James Brady, who suffered permanent brain damage from a bullet wound to the head.

Reagan's would-be assassin is a twenty-five-year-old drifter named John W. Hinckley, Jr. The shooting appears to have no political motive. Instead, Hinckley claims that he shot the president as a love offering to actress Jodie Foster, whom he has never met.

The Early Years

As the son of a shoe salesman in Dixon, Illinois, Ronald Reagan grew up collecting butterflies and bird eggs. and watching cowboy movies at the local movie theater. In high school, he was elected president of the student body and acted in school plays. At Eureka College, his grades were more often C's than A's. After college, he looked for work as a radio announcer.

For further information about President Ronald W. Reagan, look in Compton's online encyclopedia. Some of the information here courtesy: Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times (1994: Scholastic, Inc.)