Revue of Sources
Thesis:Ronald “Dutch” Reagan is an elite kind of person that believed in perseverance and hard work and doing what had to be done, even if it meant a low approval rating.
I.From Dutch to Ronald
II.Hollywood to Governor
Somewhere at sometime a philosopher once said, “The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who are skeptical of others until the others prove themselves, and those who assume that other people are good and decent unless proven otherwise.” Ronald Reagan was one of those people who assumed that other people are good and decent until otherwise proven. However if a person was to ask another about Ronald Reagan they would give you another answer more than likely. Some would say that he was an actor and didn_t know a thing about politics, others would say that he believed in what he did and did what he felt needed to be done to improve a situation. Some would say that he lived for others and put himself last as long as those he cared for were well. Ronald “Dutch” Reagan is an elite kind of person that believed in perseverance and hard work and doing what had to be done, even if it meant a low approval rating.
Review of Sources
Davis (1995), Edwards (1987), and Meese (1992), shared the same thoughts on the life of Reagan. There is a since of flow throughout the books and the talk of his growing up and experiences. They deal with him growing up, going to school, and Hollywood. Edwards did an outstanding job with her book and kept directly to what she said she was going to talk about. Davis and Meese were more of a tribute to Reagan, but they seemed to stick with the main points.
Reagan (1990) is giving is first hand experiences to the reader and does a very good job at it. He makes you feel as though you were there and part of what he was doing and going through. I enjoyed the book so much that I called his library in Simi Valley, California and bought a copy for myself.
Evans (1988) and Lowe (1989) gave good supporting information that seemed to be pretty straight forward with the facts. The information that I read in their books agreed with what I had read in others, so I was quite impressed with them too, but not quite enough to go and buy the book.
From Dutch to Ronald
John Edward Reagan, who normally went by Jack, was an Irish man who carried a great deal of pride within him for his Irish Catholic ancestry and his love for Irish whiskey. He was a dashing dresser with a glib tongue and loved to speak whenever given the opportunity (Edwards 23). His wife was Nelle Clyde Wilson, who normally went by Nelle, was a devoted Christian and her one priority was to serve the Lord (Edwards 28). The two met at J.W. Broadhead Dry Goods Store in Fulton, Illinois, and later on the 8th of November, 1904 were married in the parsonage of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fulton by Reverend J.L. Moloney (Edwards 32). Shortly after Jack and Nelle were married they moved to a town called Tampico, Illinois. Tampico was one-third the size of Fulton with the population of about 1,276. It was a standard Midwestern town with a couple lumberyards and drugstores. The social life centered around school or church activities and patriotic holidays were an occasi!
on for picnics and firework displays. The community was fairly cohesive and its residents shared similar educational and economical backgrounds. Few in the community had gone past grade school, and most had never traveled as far Chicago and considered the nearby towns of Dixon and Fulton, which were an equidistant 26 miles, an excursion (Edwards 33).
On September 16th, 1908, the Reagan_s had their first child John Neil Reagan. Later he would acquire the nickname “Moon” after the comic-strip character Moon Mullins. Then about two and a half years later the Reagan_s had their second and final child Ronald Wilson Reagan. Ronald was born on February 11th, 1911 at home because of the blizzard the previous night before which made the roads impassable. The doctors comment after the birth was, “For such a little bit of a Dutchman, he makes a hell of a lot of noise, doesn_t he?” (Edwards 33-34). Ronald was such a big baby that everyone started calling him “Dutch” and that continued with him for a lifetime.
School came very easy for Dutch and his desire to learn was great, but due to his fathers drinking, the Reagan_s moved from time to time, but eventually ended up in Dixon, Illinois. It was when he was going to school that it came apparent the young Dutch had a vision problem. He was afraid to put the burden on his parents, so he started memorizing the things that his teachers said and he was amazing with numbers (Edwards 38). During his senior year he was the Class President, President of the dramatics club, part of the varsity basketball team, tackle on the varsity football team and broadcasted the games over the radio when he didn_t play, and editor of the school paper called The Dixonian (Edwards 69).
Nelle was very dedicated to the Christian church and had influenced her children to be the same. Dutch was very active in the church and by the age of fifteen he had his own Sunday School class. Along with the Sunday School classes, he was also the leader of several prayer meetings and loved to spread the word of God through his actions and his love everyday contacts (Edwards 59).
As a young boy growing up in Dixon, the people put the term _All-American boy,_ to Dutch. One town member once said when describing Dutch, “Well, [he_s] a kid who believes in the Lord_s word, respects his elders, and still has enough spit in him to get into trouble once and a while” (Edwards 59). Moon and Dutch were very competitive in sports thoughtout the town. Both of the boys loved football, but Moon was better at it, however Dutch_s strong sport was swimming.
Lowell Park was the local swimming lake for the community of Dixon. The park was ran by YMCA Park Commission, which was head up by Mr. and Mrs. Graybill. The Graybill_s and the other members of the Park Commission were talking about closing Lowell Park due to the number of drownings. Dutch heard of the talk and applied to the concessionaires for the job of being the life guard. He was hired and worked seven days a week, twelve hours a day for $18.00 a week and all the nickel root beers he could drink and all the ten cent hamburgers he could eat. During his spare time he would give small children swimming lessons and help others when he saw an opportunity. His boss said, “He was a wonderful, good-natured young man. I never heard him speak one cross word to the bathers. He was real pleasant to everybody and treated everybody the same” (Edwards 64). Along with helping others, another thing that Dutch enjoyed about being a lifeguard was being on the lifeguard stand. He !
enjoyed the fact that he was the only one up there because it felt as though he was on a stage and everyone had to look at him. Dutch worked his next seven summers as the lifeguard at Lowell Park and not one drowning accrued while he was on guard, and during his time as a lifeguard he had 71 saves (Edwards 64).
While life guarding at Lowell Park, Dutch met a young lady by the name of Margaret Cleaver, the daughter of the Reverend Ben Cleaver. The two of theme decided to go to school at Eureka College. Eureka was a Christian Church School that was located in Eureka, Illinois, about a hundred miles from Dixon. Dutch hadn_t been accepted to Eureka, but he had an appointment with Dean S.G. Harrod. His intentions were to talk the Dean into giving him an athletic scholarship and secure work, because he didn_t intend to return to Dixon on a Greyhound in the morning (Edwards 75). That night Dutch stayed at the Tau Kappa Epsilon House (TEKE). Since it was a Christian school, the majority of the financial aid and grants went to the students who intended into going into ministry or the teaching of religion, and Dutch didn_t want to study in that field, but instead was pursuing a degree in social sciences and economics, so he had to rely on a scholarship in athletics. Needless to say the!
school board accepted him to Eureka and granted him an athletic scholarship for half of the $180 tuition, and Dean Harrod secured him a job washing dishes for his meals at the TEKE house. The fraternity cost $270, enrollment was five dollars, and the half of his tuition was $90, which left him $35 from the $400 he had saved (Edwards 83). Throughout his years in college continued with being active in school and Margaret and him continued to see each other. By his senior year he had lettered twice in track, was the official swimming coach, a cheerleader for the basketball team, President of the booster club, editor of the yearbook, member of the student senate, treasurer of the drama fraternity, and was still a member of the football team (Edwards 109).
After graduating from college in 1932, Dutch decided to take up a career in radio. He went to Chicago and was turned away by all of the big names like ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. So he strived on with persistence and went to the smaller town of Davenport, Iowa. In Davenport he went to a radio station called WOC, which stood for World of Chiropractic_s, and was given a shot at being a sports announcer. With his distinctive mellow voice he inherited from his mother, and his great memory from his younger school days, Dutch was outstanding and within three months was offered a job as chief sports announcer at two times his current pay of $100 a month, and he would be working for an affiliate of NBC in Des Moines (Edwards 125).
At about the same time he arrived in Des Moines for his new job, he received a letter from Margaret telling him that she was going to France with her sister Helen, and she felt as though her and Dutch needed to find themselves. One year later she wrote again, except this time telling him of a young man she met that was in the U.S. Consular Service whom she later married on June 18, 1935 (Edwards 131).
Once in Des Moines he became the talk of the town. Dutch was not only a sports announcer, but he did interviews with celebrities that came through the city, he did commercials, and he contributed greatly to society. While there he met Joy Hodges who was involved with Hollywood. Joy setup a meeting with Dutch and some associates of Warners (later became Warner Brothers) and went to Hollywood for a screen test and Warners was so impressed with him that they offered him $200 a week, seven year contract with one a one year option (Edwards 156).
On June 1, 1937 his contract with Warners began, he became known as Ronald Reagan, no longer Dutch Reagan. Reagan_s first film he was called Love is in the Air. After that he continued to make films with names such as Dick Powell, Humphrey Bogart, Pat O_Brien, and others. He enjoyed Hollywood, but at the same time he was concerned with his parents back in Illinois. So he sent for them and provided them an apartment with easy accessabilities (Edwards 176).
While in Hollywood he met a young lady named Jane Wyman from St. Joseph, Missouri. Jane was an actor and work close to Reagan. After a while of steady dating, Reagan and Wyman decide to wed. On January 24, 1940, Ronald and Jane were married by Reverend C. Kleihauer, a pastor of the Hollywood-Beverly Christian Church (Edwards 220). Later in June of the same year Jane became pregnant and later delivered a baby girl on January 4, 1941, who was named Maureen Reagan (Edwards 230). Later they would go on and adopt a boy named Michael.
Aside to his family Reagan was still growing in Hollywood. He was an active member and president of the Screen Actors Guild, and also an officer in the U.S. Calvery (Davis 43). Reagan loved his career and his family and continued to put others before himself.
In June of 1948, Wyman filed suit for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. She said that they engaged in continual arguments on political views and that there was nothing in common between them. Reagan didn_t contest the divorce and Wyman took the children (Edwards 355).
After the divorce with Jane, Reagan continued to date, but he didn_t get himself caught up in the glamour of things. One day on the set at work he met Nancy Davis. Nancy and Ronald dated for quite awhile and on March 4, 1952 at the Little Brown Church in the Valley, Nancy and Ronald were married. The wedding was private and small in fear that if the Hollywood Press had gotten wind they would_ve stormed the church (Reagan 122).
After the wedding Nancy quit her job and stayed at home, because that is where she felt she was needed most. Reagan said that he felt as though his life had just begun when he met Nancy and summed up his marriage to Nancy by telling her, “God must think a lot of me to have given me you” (Reagan 124). On October 21, 1952, Nancy gave birth to Patricia Ann Reagan and a few years later gave birth to Ronald Prescott Reagan on May 20, 1958 (Reagan 125).
Hollywood to Government
Reagan started to cut back on movies and took on a program with the General Electric Company which show business historians now refer to nostalgically as the “Golden Age of Television” (Reagan 126). On the GE Show initially speeches were only about the picture business and he used it as a warning tool to others that they needed to be aware of unfair treatment by the government. He then realized how the government really operated and affected to people in America, and not how it was taught to him in school. He would give examples of how the government had six programs to help poultry growers increase egg production, and with a seventh program costing almost as much as the first six, to buy up surplus eggs (Reagan 128).
In 1960 when Nixon was running for election against Kennedy, it was then that Reagan changed over to Republican. He had realized that everything he stood for and believed in were Conservative Republican ideas. Some referred to him as a “right wing extremist” because of the views he stated on the GE Show (Reagan 137).
During the 1964 election race, Barry Goldwater asked Reagan if he would be the cochairman of his presidential campaign in California. So as cochairman he traveled around the state of California speaking on the behalf of Barry and to help him raise campaign funds (Reagan 139). The _64 election was a landslide with Lyndon Johnson over Goldwater, but others that had heard Reagan speak on Goldwater_s behalf thought that Reagan should run for the 1966 election for Governor of California. Reagan replied, “I_m an actor, not a politician, I_m in show business” (Reagan 145). Reagan had never thought of running for office and had no interest. After all the research he had did on the operations of government, the last thing he wanted to do was become part of it, all he wanted to do is give speeches on it. He finally gave in to the pressure and ran for Governor of California, and in November of 1966 he won the election.
During his inauguration speech on January 2, 1967, he told the people of California the financial mess that he uncovered and promised he would do everything he could to put the states financial house back in order, but he warned them that it was going to be tough and he needed them behind him all of the way. The first task he had before him was to draw up a balanced budget, and that was the first difficulties of many he ran into with the Democratic leadership of the state senate, with Jesse Unruh, the speaker of the assembly leading them up. After all he was a classic tax-and-spend liberal (Reagan 156). Another thing that he did was make up what he called his “kitchen cabinet.” This cabinet was made up of people he knew didn_t want the jobs, but could be persuaded, as he had been, to make a sacrifice and help put the government back on track.
Reagan went right to work as govoner, his first objective was working one on one with minorities such as the blacks and Mexicans. When he was doing this he found problems with certain systems and corrected them. One such problem was with the states testing system and how it favored the whites. Reagan fixed that problem so that it didn_t favor anyone and he gained more respect for that (Reagan 164).
The biggest problem that Reagan faced was the states debt. He had to raise the taxes in order to lower the debt, and in 1968the state financial director after going through the books took notice that the state would have a surplus of more than $100 million the following fiscal year. Reagan said that it would go back to the people as a tax rebate (Meese 115).
In 1970 Reagan ran for governor again, this time he ran against Jesse Unruh. Reagan was reelected by a margin of 53% to 45% (Reagan 185). His main objective was still ahead of him and that was reforming the bloated California welfare program.
In 1970 about 10% of the California population was on welfare, and the state had more than 16% of the nations total welfare recipients. Through computer cross checking, they discovered thousands of people who were receiving welfare checks at the same time they were gainfully employed, and others who were receiving aid that didn_t need it. Reagan didn_t want to get rid of welfare because he believed that we shouldn_t take aid from the people who really needed and deserved it, the truly impoverished elderly, blind, and disabled.
In order for Reagan to pass the bills that needed to be passed, he would have to go to the people because they would apply the pressure upon the Democratic legislature that was needed to get the bills passed. His plan worked as planned and a welfare reform package that cut hundreds of millions of dollars a year while raising benefits and providing cost-of-living increases for the truly needy in the state. By tightening eligibility standards and eliminating loopholes, he turned a monthly increase in the welfare caseload of 40,000 to a monthly decrease of 8,000, thus California was no longer the welfare capital of the country (Meese 56).
During his second term as govoner, he gave his forth rebate of state taxes to the people, which was also the biggest at $5 billion largely through property tax. While govoner Reagan used his line item veto 943 times and was never overridden by legislature (Reagan 191). He did not run for reelection again because he accomplished what he set out to do by making the state government less costly, smaller, and more businesslike. He was able to upgrade the quality of people attracted to government, and cut the governments growth to a rate at or below the level of California_s population. He made the bureaucracy more responsive to the public, and begun to return some of the power and taxing authority seized by the state from local communities back to where they belonged, at the local level (Meese 91).
In 1976 Reagan decided to run for President, however he ran short of delegates to Ford and started looking towards the 1980 campaign. On November 13,1979 he announced his decision to run at the New York Hilton Hotel. This time he had a strong showing in New Hampshire and all the canidiants besides Bush dropped out, and later in May he did too. Later Reagan asked Bush to run as Vice President and together they went after Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale. The night of the election, two hours before the polls closed in California, Carter called Reagan telling him he conceded, and congratulated him (Reagan 222). It was then that Reagan realized he would become the fortieth President of the United States.
When Reagan took office in 1980 inflation was at 13.5%, meaning that the value of the dollar was decreasing. Reagan felt that the size and cost of government was too high, and figured that a cut in this field would drop inflation. The result was that inflation dropped to 4.3% in 1984, and continued to drop to 4.1% in 1988 (Lowe 381). The Middle Class income for families earning between $20,000.00 and $50,000.00, enjoyed the fastest expansion in net worth during the Reagan boom, a 28% rise.
Another effect Reagan had on society was in the way of charitable donations. When Reagan took office in 1980, charitable donations where at an all time low, inflation was high and people did not want to give, but when inflation was starting to drop, the people came around. For example, the Greenpeace organization experienced a 44% increase in membership, along with the Wilderness Society increasing members by 35%, even the National Wildlife Federation experienced a 14% increase. But it did not stop there, over 53% of the families in the United States volunteered time for worthy causes, a sharp increase from just 36% while Carter held office (Evans 220).
With the cuts in government spending, and a drop in inflation, Reagan created an economic boom that resulted in creating more than 21 million new jobs. President Reagan didn_t create low paying “hamburger flipper” type jobs, but he created jobs for the middle class paying anywhere from $7,012.00 on up. For example, while Carter was in office, his main contribution to the job market was only that for jobs paying under $7,012 at 41.77%, while Reagan only increased that job market by 6.0%. Reagan however increased the job market for jobs paying between $7,012.00 and $28,048.00 by 46.2%, and increased the market for jobs paying over $28,048.00 by 46.1%, while Carter had a fall of -9.9% from the Nixon/Ford era (Evans 125).
While I was doing this paper on Ronald Reagan I learned a lot of things about him and how he lived his life. Ronald Reagan was an inspiration to me, he grew up and put all of his faith in the Lord and did what he had to do to get by. He was always looking out for his family and making sure that they were okay, either by always sending them money or finding work for them. He never let down and hated to loose a battle. I guess what inspired me the most is how it seems our lives are so familiar in what we believe and hold closest to our hearts. It is my personal opinion that more people should study him and his way of life and they too would be inspired.
Ronald “Dutch” Reagan was the kind of person that believed in perseverance and hard work by doing what had to be done, even if it meant not having everyone_s approval. He demonstrated this from the time he was a child in school and church, work and play, and helping others. When he went into the radio business he never gave up and ended up with a good job. In Hollywood he didn_t always have the best roles, but he played them, and eventually the good ones came around. He even went as far with his relationships and there to he felt as though he had started a new life when he met Nancy. Reagan gave a 110% when he held office, he reestablished the welfare state in California and even gave four rebates to the citizens. When he was President he did a lot of things that others couldn_t do with a Democratic Congress, and he improved society as we know it. Ronald Reagan is one of the elite people in the United States for all that he has done and the life that he lived.
Davis, Patti. Angels Don_t Die: My Father_s Gift of Faith. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
Edwards, Anne. Early Reagan: The Rise to Power. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1987.
Evans, Rowland, Jr., and Robert D. Novak. The Reagan Revolution. New York: Elsevier-Dutton Pub., 1988.
Lowe, Carl, ed. Reaganomics: The New Federalism. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1989.
Meese, Edwin, III. With Reagan: The Inside Story. Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway, 1992.
Reagan, Ronald W. An American Life: The Autobiography/Ronald Reagan. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.