Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1989

Reagan gives his farewell address

After eight years as president of the United States, Ronald Reagan gives his farewell address to the American people. In his speech, President Reagan spoke with particular enthusiasm about the foreign policy achievements of his administration.

In his speech, Reagan declared that America “rediscovered” its commitment to world freedom in the 1980s. The United States was “respected again in the world and looked to for leadership.” The key, according to the president, was a return to “common sense” that “told us that to preserve the peace, we’d have to become strong again after years of weakness.”

Reagan proudly enumerated the successes of his vigorous foreign policy: achieving peace in the Persian Gulf, forcing the Soviets to begin departing from Afghanistan, and negotiating for the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia and Cuban forces from Angola. These efforts were all waged against communism, the ideology that Reagan believed was the main threat to freedom. “Nothing,” he stated, “is less free than pure communism.”

Reagan’s Cold War record was a bit more complicated than he described. One of the costs of America’s renewed “strength” was vastly increased defense expenditure, which helped create a national debt of over one trillion dollars. Peace in the Persian Gulf was temporary, as the Gulf War–which erupted during the presidency of Reagan successor George Bush–later demonstrated. Finally, the Iran-Contra scandal revealed that the Reagan administration employed some questionable means to reach its anticommunist ends-specifically, a complicated scheme involving covertly selling weapons to Iran and illegally supplying the Contra forces in Nicaragua. Nonetheless, the achievements of his administration gained him much favor with the American public, and Ronald Reagan left office as one of the most popular modern U.S. presidents.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Van der Sloot admits to Peru murder

On this day in 2012, Joran van der Sloot, a longtime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba, pleads guilty to the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, in Lima, Peru. Flores was killed on May 30, 2010, exactly five years to the day ...read more

Stalin banishes Trotsky

Leon Trotsky, a leader of the Bolshevik revolution and early architect of the Soviet state, is deported by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to Alma-Ata in remote Soviet Central Asia. He lived there in internal exile for a year before being banished from the USSR forever by Stalin. ...read more

Charlie Chaplin’s assets frozen

On January 11, 1927, Charlie Chaplin’s $16 million estate is frozen by court receivers after his second wife, Lita Grey Chaplin, sues for divorce. Lita was a 16-year-old hopeful actress when the 35-year-old Chaplin married her in 1924. The bitter and prolonged divorce ended a ...read more

Battle of Arkansas Post

On this day in 1863, Union General John McClernand and Admiral David Porter capture Arkansas Post, a Confederate stronghold on the Arkansas River. The victory secured central Arkansas for the Union and lifted Northern morale just three weeks after the disastrous Battle of ...read more