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“Dear Mr. President” brings together a wide array of letters written to President Reagan shortly after he was elected president on 4 November 1980. The letters come from students of all ages and from across the country. Some are letters that were written by the student on their own, while others were a class project. These letters contain the hopes, dreams, and concerns of these students for the incoming administration.
President Ronald Reagan was known as a staunch anti-communist. Many students are unaware that this reputation began years prior to President Reagan’s time in the White House. President Reagan began his anti-communist crusade as president, but not of the United States, instead it was the Screen Actors Guild of America. The attached documents highlight some of the members of the motion picture industry that were asked to testify before the committee, the perception of President Reagan that was held by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and two selections from the testimony that President Reagan gave before the Committee in 1947.
“Elections - Debates” is a series of documents related to the Reagan campaign’s efforts to prepare for the Presidential Debates in September and October of 1980. The first debate, which featured Governor Reagan and Congressman John B. Anderson but did not feature President Carter, took place on September 21, 1980 in Baltimore, MD. The second debate, which was between Governor Reagan and President Carter, took place on October 28, 1980 in Cleveland, OH, just a week before Election Day.
“Elections - Campaign Ads” is a set of primary documents related to the Tuesday Team, the group which organized the advertising for President Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign. The Tuesday Team produced many successful ads, including the famous “Bear in the Woods” ad. However, the most famous and effective ad was “Prouder, Stronger, Better”, or as it is more commonly known, “Morning in America”.
Most summits have a specific goal in mind, whether it is a peace treaty, arms negotiation, or trade. Many summits have alternate goals as well. These meetings are often used as an opportunity to get a feel for the other side and their points of view. Other times it is to make a statement to that nation, your own nation, or the world. Sometimes it is about making connections beyond the political ones.
The Moscow Summit was very much a Summit of alternate goals rather than substantive ones. President Reagan was determined to make a personal connection with everyday Russians. He wanted to help them understand the people of the United States and for him to better understand the hearts and minds of the Soviet people.
The summit at Reykjavik was a turning point in the Cold War. The leaders of both the USA and USSR were finally able to meet and to come to terms with the fact that both had perhaps underestimated the other and that there really was a chance towards real nuclear disarmament. While both leaders were disappointed by the lack of an agreement at the end of the meeting, Reykjavik would set the stage for further negotiations that would eliminate an entire class of nuclear weaponry (Intermediate Range Nuclear Missiles) and real reductions in the other strategic nuclear weapons.
What was anticipated to be a throw-away speech of very little importance ended up turning into one of the most iconic moments of the late 20th Century. Most people are unaware of the amount of back and forth over the text of the speech that went on between the speechwriters, the State Department, the National Security Advisor’s office, and the President himself. Up until the last minute, people were still trying to change the words of the speech and in particular, President Reagan’s call to “tear down this wall”. In the end, President Reagan went with his gut and ended up making one of the most memorable speeches of his career.
On 26 June, 1987, Justice Lewis Powell announced his retirement from the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Powell, was known as a moderate Justice and was considered to be a ‘swing vote’. With his retirement, a heated debate over the make-up and ‘balance’ of the court took up almost the next eight months of political discourse until the confirmation of Justice Anthony Kennedy to the seat on 3 February, 1988. This collection of documents can be used to create a discussion in your classroom of just how a Supreme Court Justice should be judged. Should the primary concern be about the nominees’ political ideology or should their past rulings carry more weight? Should the idea of ‘balance’ come into play? What should the Senate focus on when conducting their ‘advise and consent’ role? Ultimately, how do you judge a judge?