Irish American Museum of Washington, D.C.
View another in the Leadership category
View all categories






Ronald Reagan



The 40th President of the United States, Ronal Regan was born in Tampico, Illinois, raised in Dixon, Illinois, and educated at Eureka College Class of 1932 in Eureka, Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics-sociology. Regan like JFK also delighted in his Irish roots. His great-grandfather, Michael Reagan, was from County Tipperary, immigrated to Canada and then the United States. Michael's wife, Catherine Mulcahey, was also born in Ireland.        

Reagan first moved to Iowa as a radio broadcaster and then to Los Angeles, California in 1937, he began a career as an actor, first in films and later television, appearing in over fifty movie productions and gaining enough success to become a famous, publicly recognized figure. Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and later spokesman for General Electric (GE); his start in politics occurred during his work for GE. Originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election in 1980.

As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics," advocated controlling the money supply to reduce inflation, and spurring economic growth by reducing tax rates, government regulation of the economy, and certain types of government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, and ordered military actions in Grenada. He was reelected in a landslide in 1984, proclaiming it was "Morning in America". His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, such as the ending of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair. Reagan negotiated with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty and the decrease of both countries' nuclear arsenals.Reagan left office in 1989. In 1994, the former president disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier in the year; he died ten years later at the age of 93. He ranks highly in public opinion polls of U.S. Presidents, and is considered a conservative icon.