Free Shipping on Orders of $40 or More
Reagan, in His Own Hand: Ronald Reagan's Writings That Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America

Reagan, in His Own Hand: Ronald Reagan's Writings That Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America

Reagan, in His Own Hand: Ronald Reagan's Writings That Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America

Reagan, in His Own Hand: Ronald Reagan's Writings That Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America



Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now


Until Alzheimer's disease wreaked its gradual destruction, Ronald Reagan was an inveterate writer. He wrote not only letters, short fiction, poetry, and sports stories, but speeches, newspaper articles, and radio commentary on public policy issues, both foreign and domestic.
Most of Reagan's original writings are pre-presidential. From 1975 to 1979 he gave more than 1,000 daily radio broadcasts, two-thirds of which he wrote himself. They cover every topic imaginable: from labor policy to the nature of communism, from World War II to the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, from the future of Africa and East Asia to that of the United States and the world. They range from highly specific arguments to grand philosophy to personal stories.
Even those who knew him best were largely unaware of Reagan's output. George Shultz, as he explains in the Foreword, was surprised when he first saw the manuscripts, but on reflection he really was not surprised at all. Here is definitive proof that Ronald Reagan was far more than a Great Communicator of other people's ideas. He was very much the author of his own ideas, with a single vision that he pursued relentlessly at home and abroad.
Reagan, In His Own Hand presents this vision through Reagan's radio writings as well as other writings selected from throughout his life: short stories written in high school and college, a poem from his high school yearbook, newspaper articles, letters, and speeches both before and during the presidency. It offers many surprises, beginning with the fact that Reagan's writings exist in such size and breadth at all. While he was writing batches and batches of radio addresses, Reagan was also traveling the country, collaborating on a newspaper column, giving hundreds of speeches, and planning his 1980 campaign. Yet the wide reading and deep research self-evident here suggest a mind constantly at work. The selections are reproduced with Reagan's own edits, offering a unique window into his thought processes.
These writings show that Reagan had carefully considered nearly every issue he would face as president. When he fired the striking air-traffic controllers, many thought that he was simply seizing an unexpected opportunity to strike a blow at organized labor. In fact, as he wrote in the '70s, he was opposed to public-sector unions using strikes. There has been much debate as to whether he deserves credit for the end of the cold war; here, in a 1980 campaign speech draft, he lays out a detailed vision of the grand strategy that he would pursue in order to encourage the Soviet system to collapse of its own weight, completely consistent with the policies of his presidency. Furthermore, in 1984, Reagan drafted comments he would make to Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko at a critical meeting that would eventually lead to history's greatest reductions in armaments.
Ronald Reagan's writings will change his reputation even among some of his closest allies and friends. Here, in his own hand, Reagan the thinker is finally fully revealed.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743214957
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 08/24/2001
Format: eBook
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 1,026,058
File size: 10 MB

About the Author

Kiron K. Skinner is an assistant professor of history and political science at Carnegie Mellon University and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Kiron K. Skinner is the Taube Professor for International Relations and Politics Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Politics and Strategy. Formerly a faculty member in the Department of History and the Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Professor Skinner also oversaw the creation and development of Carnegie Melon’s newest academic unit while the director of the Institute of Politics and Strategy.
Martin Anderson was the Keith and Jan Hurlbut Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He served two tours of duty in the White House, first as a special assistant under Richard Nixon and then as chief domestic and economic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan. He was also a top advisor in Nixon and Reagan's presidential campaigns and is the author of seven previous books, including Revolution, the first comprehensive history of the Reagan administration. Anderson passed away in January of 2015.
Annelise Anderson is an economist who has been a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution since 1983. From 1981 to 1983 she worked in the Reagan administration as associate director of the Office of Management and Budget and was a senior policy advisor to Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign.
George P. Shultz was an economist, diplomat, and businessman. Shultz held various positions in the U.S. Government, working under the Nixon, Reagan, and Eisenhower administrations. He studied at Princeton University and MIT, where he earned his Ph.D., and served in the United States Marine Corp during World War II. Shultz passed away in February of 2021 at the age of 100.

Read an Excerpt


He wasn't a complicated man. He was a private man, but he was not a complicated one. But he was a very sentimental one. And he was a very, very good writer. All of his ideas and thoughts were formulated well before he became governor or certainly president.

Nancy Reagan, in an interview with the editors

Ronald Reagan wrote, in his own hand, from his high school years right through his presidency and on into retirement -- until Alzheimer's disease wreaked its gradual destruction. He wrote not only letters, short fiction, poetry, and sports stories, but speeches, newspaper articles, instructions to his cabinet and staff, and radio commentary on public policy issues, both foreign and domestic.

Nevertheless, many of the writings under his name -- including the two books, Where's the Rest of Me? and An American Life -- were partially written by ghostwriters. A few of his presidential speeches were drafted personally, but most were written in interaction with White House speechwriters. Most of his original writings -- those we are absolutely sure are his -- were pre-presidential. As Nancy Reagan recalls, "He continued to write in the White House. He wrote speeches in the Oval Office, and he had his own desk in the living quarters of the White House. He was always sitting at his desk in the White House, writing. He was so used to writing his own speeches that it took him a while to realize that, as president, he just wasn't going to have the time to write, though he could go over a speech draft and edit and correct. But to take the time to write a whole speech? He soon realized he wasn't going to have that time."

From his high school and college years, seventeen handwritten manuscripts (and a French quiz) written between 1925 and 1931 have been preserved, mostly short stories. The high school yearbook (on which he worked) has a story and a poem he wrote. In college, he wrote for the weekly newspaper. Reagan wrote a weekly sports column for the Des Moines Dispatch while he worked as a radio announcer at WHO. When he went to Hollywood, he wrote, with the cooperation of Warner Bros. but not, according to Reagan himself, with their help, a series of seventeen articles about his experiences for the Des Moines Sunday Register.

Nothing has thus far been found in his own hand of the speeches he gave to employees at General Electric's 135 plants between September 1954 and 1962 (although he often used a question-and-answer format on these occasions) or the many other speeches he gave during this time. It is quite possible that they were his own creations, but we cannot be sure. A number of these speeches appeared in print in various publications with titles such as A Time for Choosing, Encroaching Control, and Losing Freedom by Installments. We have excluded them from this book in order to focus on the substantive writings from the immediate pre-presidential years that exist in his own handwritten drafts.

We know that Reagan wrote extensively during 1975-79, between his years as governor of California and his inauguration as president. He spent these years giving speeches, writing a newspaper column, and giving over a thousand radio addresses. The idea of the radio broadcasts and newspaper columns was developed in 1974 during Reagan's final months as governor of California. Peter Hannaford, assistant to the governor and director of public affairs during Reagan's final year, conferred with Ed Meese, then Reagan's chief of staff, and Michael Deaver, and suggested that the governor consider the offer of Harry O'Connor, the head of O'Connor Creative Services in Hollywood, to produce "a five-day-a-week, five-minute RR [radio] commentary program, to be syndicated nationally."

One weekend in October 1974, Hannaford and Deaver presented a comprehensive plan to Reagan -- including newspaper columns, radio commentary, and several speeches a month. Reagan agreed to do it under the management of a new firm, Deaver & Hannaford, Inc.

On December 30, 1974, Governor Reagan announced his plans at the Los Angeles Press Club. The radio broadcasts were produced by Harry O'Connor and titled "Viewpoint." Though Reagan relied on Hannaford to draft most of the newspaper columns, he enjoyed writing the radio broadcasts himself, and eventually wrote most of those essays.

In a letter dated September 19, 1978, Reagan explained to a private citizen how his radio broadcasts were written: "I write many of my commentaries while I'm traveling and this [the one requested by the citizen] was done on a cross country plane trip." Reagan taped the broadcasts in batches of fifteen at a recording studio. O'Connor Services would distribute them with suggested airing dates, but radio stations would broadcast them according to their schedules. The dates used here are taping dates, except as noted.

In a memo to Reagan on May 23, 1975, five months after the commentaries and columns began, Peter Hannaford reported that the broadcasts were being heard on 286 radio stations, and the columns were being printed in 226 newspapers. Similar numbers were reported by Hannaford two years later. In correspondence on October 30, 1978, Reagan estimated that through his daily radio broadcasts and biweekly newspaper columns he was in touch with "20 million Americans each week."

The radio broadcasts began in January 1975. Reagan suspended the broadcasts when he ran for the presidency in the late fall of 1975. The broadcasts were resumed by Reagan after he lost the Republican Party's nomination to President Gerald Ford in the summer of 1976. He ended his broadcasts in October 1979 as he was preparing to announce his 1980 presidential aspirations.

Only a few people who worked with or were close to Reagan, like Nancy Reagan, knew that the governor wrote most of the radio broadcasts. "He worked a lot at home," Nancy recalled in an interview. "I can see him sitting at his desk writing, which he seemed to do all the time. Often he'd take a long shower because he said that was where he got a lot of his thoughts. He'd stand in the shower and think about what he wanted to write. And then, when he got out, he'd sit down and write....Nobody thought that he ever read anything either -- but he was a voracious reader. I don't ever remember Ronnie sitting and watching television. I really don't. I just don't. When I picture those days, it's him sitting behind that desk in the bedroom, working."

Martin Anderson recalls traveling with Reagan in 1976. On airplanes, Reagan always sat by the window, and whoever was traveling with him took the aisle seat next to him as a "blocker." As soon as the airplane lifted off the runway, he would reach for his briefcase. The briefcase contained articles to read, stacks of 4- by 6-inch cards that contained speech drafts written in his shorthand, pens and pencils, and a supply of writing paper, which was almost always lined, yellow, legal-size paper.

When Reagan wrote, he didn't scribble or scrawl, he wrote in a clear script. He rarely stopped to cross things out or edit. When he reached the bottom of the legal pad, he carefully flipped the page over, tucked it in on the back side of the pad, and proceeded on to the second page. The desired length of one of his radio essays was two full legal pages, and his words almost always just filled that second page -- rarely shorter or longer.

Dennis LeBlanc, a young member of the California State Police, was assigned to the security detail of Governor Reagan in 1971. After Reagan left office, LeBlanc stayed on with Reagan to do all his scheduling and advance work, and became the only man to travel continually with Reagan for the next three years, often traveling alone with him.

"He was constantly writing," declared LeBlanc; "a lot of the time it was on a legal pad, where he'd write things out longhand. Other times it would be taking speeches that he wrote out longhand, and then putting it on 4 by 6 cards in an abbreviated way, using the special shorthand he had developed.

"But all the time he was writing. He would always fly first class. He'd sit by the window, and I'd sit in the aisle seat next to him. It didn't matter whether or not there was a movie being shown and all the lights were out -- he'd turn on his reading lamp and would constantly be writing."

Beginning in early 1975, Reagan, with the help of LeBlanc and Barney Barnett, a retired California highway patrolman who had been Reagan's driver when he was governor, spent a lot of time rebuilding the ranch property he had recently bought.

"We drove up to the ranch from Los Angeles and back down the same day many, many times for the next two years," recalls LeBlanc. "Either Barney or I would drive, and Reagan would sit in the backseat with his legal pad, writing.

"The car we used was a red 1969 Ford station wagon, because Mrs. Reagan's favorite color was red. Barney and I and Reagan would leave Los Angeles at seven o'clock in the morning, and it would take us about two and a half hours to get to the ranch. All the way up Reagan would be writing.

"When we got to the ranch, we'd put in eight or nine hours of work. We ripped out walls and really gutted the place, so you couldn't stay overnight there. Then we'd drive back. He would be writing in the backseat when we drove back. There was some idle chitchat and stuff, but he never fell asleep and he never read -- he was just always writing.

"What was amazing to me," said LeBlanc, "was the fact that Ronald Reagan never slept on planes when he was traveling. It was the same way when I was with him in the station wagon. It was like -- you're wasting time if you are sleeping. You know, everyone's got things to do. And his thing to do when I was with him was his writing."

David Fischer, Reagan's executive assistant in 1978 and 1979, had similar memories. "The minute the meal service was done, he'd whip out the legal pad and start writing. He wrote to fit the exact time he needed to record. I was always amazed at how hard he worked. I'd be exhausted from traveling with him; I could start reading something and quickly fall asleep, and when I woke up he'd still be working, just writing away."

Michael Deaver and Ed Meese, his two top advisers since the mid-1960s, both confirm the same story. In addition to the broadcasts, Ed Meese remembers that he wrote many of his own speeches, at home on weekends. "He would come in on Monday morning with six, eight, or ten pages from his legal pad, all in his own handwriting. One day we found him in his office checking the typed copy of one of his speeches against his written copy to make sure it was accurate, and then he took the written pages, tore them up and put them in the wastebasket. I'm afraid a lot of his handwritten documents ended up that way."

It may partly be luck that so many handwritten drafts of the policy essays Reagan wrote for his radio broadcasts survived. William P. Clark, who served as chief of staff to Governor Reagan in California and later followed him to Washington and became his national security adviser, recalled the difficulty his staff had in preserving documents while he was governor.

"Yes, he was a writer," said Clark about Reagan, but "unfortunately, he maintained one habit we were unable to ever break other than by scouring his trash basket.

"He threw away his longhand notes. Insisting that the top of his desk must be clear at the end of each day, he would carefully place a paper or two in his top desk drawer to age for the morrow's review and action. Then, a few informational items would go into a folder or small leather briefcase for completion at the residence. But then his longhand notes would go into the wastebasket unless intercepted. With our admonition that these could be important to historians some day, he would respond, 'Well, OK, OK.' Helene or Kathy (his secretaries) would take possession of our catch as he moved toward the door, giving his own cheery admonition, 'All right, you good people, goodnight and get home to your families.'

"Nodding, we always remained."

As Hannaford recalls, Reagan would write large numbers of radio addresses at a time. "I can still see him coming into the office in Los Angeles after these trips, often with a sheaf of yellow pages in his hand and a big grin on his face. He would hand the handwritten pages triumphantly to Elaine Crispen [at the time our chief administrative assistant], saying: 'There you are, Elaine, three weeks' worth of radio scripts for typing.'"

Elaine Crispen (now Elaine Sawyer) was the person who took the handwritten drafts that Reagan produced and typed them for his recording sessions. She worked for Reagan during the five years he had his radio program. "As I remember it," recalled Elaine, "he would go to the recording studio on a Saturday. He had written a lot of the radio scripts while he was out on the road. When he came back to the Los Angeles office, he would give them to us. We had to have a hard copy that you could read from, because sometimes his handwriting was not that easy to read. We typed every one of his handwritten yellow sheets so that he could go to the studio and read them in clear print....We had devised a system so that his handwritten yellow sheets were never to be thrown out. We were supposed to save them and file them. Probably some of us knew that maybe someday they would be valuable historically."

We have included very few speeches in this book, because apparently few survive in his own hand. We do know that he wrote many of his pre-presidential speeches. His use of notecards for their delivery became famous, although the details of how he did it have not been widely shared.

Over the years Ronald Reagan wore either eyeglasses or contact lenses for reading, and felt that any serious policy speech -- with its myriad facts and numbers -- had to be written out in advance and read to avoid errors. But as he once explained, he didn't like to wear eyeglasses; when he wore contact lenses, he could see the audience but could not read his speech because the writing blurred, and finally, he felt the audience did not like anyone to read a speech.

Reagan's solution to this problem was twofold. First, he figured out how to read a speech draft without wearing his glasses. En route to his speech, he wore his long-distance contact lenses. They were the older, fairly small, hard plastic lenses. Just before he arrived at the speech site, while sitting in a car or in an airplane, he would lean forward, bring both hands to his face, and then with his forefinger and thumb pluck out the lens that was in his right eye. After popping the lens in his mouth for a quick wash, he carefully placed the lens into a small case and dropped it into his coat pocket.

Now Reagan had one long-vision eye and one near-vision eye, and he had learned how to use them separately. With his naked right eye, he could read. But when he looked out at the audience, he focused on them with his lens-clad left eye. Throughout his speech he would go back and forth, reading with one eye, watching the audience with the other.

As for the text, he disliked reading speeches typewritten on regular letter-sized paper. Carrying a speech when he walked up to the lectern was obvious, and on a windy day at an outside lectern it was difficult to hold and turn the pages -- and more than one presidential candidate has lost pages of a speech in this situation. What he settled on were index cards, medium size, 4- by 6-inch cards that would fit into the side pocket of his suit coat.

He would take the speech draft he had written out longhand, and transfer it directly to the cards for reading. The problem was that the speeches were written on yellow legal pads, 14 by 8 1Ž2 inches in size -- five times bigger than those 4- by 6-inch cards that fitted so nicely in his suit coat pocket.

So Reagan invented his own shorthand.

He would spend hours changing the penned words into this shorthand. Some words in the original draft were left out. Other words he shortened by dropping vowels or using special abbreviations. Every now and then he would make coded letters to represent words. All the shorthand writing was block printed on the cards, in capital letters -- usually in black ink. Once he had rewritten a sentence of his original writing into shorthand, he would draw a line above and below the new writing so it would stand out. To further pack even more text onto a card, he eliminated all indentations and paragraphs. One sentence followed another, separated only by the thick black lines.

Using this technique, Reagan could copy much of the writing that filled one page of a legal pad onto a 4-by-6 card. Each card was then numbered in the upper right-hand corner so he could keep track of them. Finally, the finished pack of cards was bound together with an elastic band. A major speech filled twenty-five to thirty cards.

Reagan's speech system gave the appearance of being casual and spontaneous, while in reality his speeches had the cold precision of any carefully researched and typed speech manuscript.

He would walk across the stage to the lectern to address his audience, both arms swinging back and forth, often waving to the audience, giving no sign whatsoever of a prepared text. After he reached the lectern, only those seated behind him could notice, if they watched very closely, his left hand drop into his jacket pocket and pull out a packet of those cards. Laying the cards on top of the lectern, he would glance down, read the top card, and begin to speak.

It helped a lot that he had a gift for remembering all that was on that card. As he spoke, his hands were sorting the cards, slipping the top card to the bottom of the deck, while his naked eye glanced down every now and then to read the next card. When his speech was over, he quickly scooped the cards together, and as one hand dropped them back in his coat pocket his other hand was waving to the audience.

The system also made it easy to edit and prepare new speeches. To cut part of a speech, he just removed some cards. To add something, he prepared new cards and slipped them in the deck. To prepare a new speech, Reagan often combined sections of two or more speech card decks, producing a brand-new speech from old material.

Later, when he became president, he did not have time to prepare speeches this way, and he relied on speechwriters to prepare drafts, which he edited, and TelePrompTers to read them. But while he was writing his own material, the cards served him well.

The manuscripts from which this book is drawn were discovered by accident. Kiron Skinner was the first scholar since Edmund Morris to be granted access to the private papers of President Ronald Reagan. She found several boxes of handwritten drafts of radio broadcasts, speeches, and correspondence by Reagan, and with Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson, undertook to prepare a selection of these documents for publication, with Skinner focusing on the foreign and defense policy essays and the Andersons on domestic and economic policy. Together, the editors realized that they had a treasure trove of documents that showed Reagan grappling with the major policy issues of the time.

Although the handwritten broadcasts and other pre-presidential papers are stored at the Reagan Library, the National Archives does not have authority over them because they are President Reagan's private papers and not those of the U.S. government. The president's personal papers have been kept in boxes for many decades. Some boxes contain archival folders that separate documents by subject or chronology; others contain hundreds of disorganized pieces of paper. The index to the collection is incomplete, but a database of the radio broadcasts developed by Annelise Anderson is produced here in the Appendix.

Reagan's work is presented as he wrote it. The book offers Reagan's own words in his own hand, including personal edits and even a few errors. Everything here, including the marginal comments, is Reagan's own. The Note on Editorial Methods (page xxv) explains the conventions used to display his handwritten drafts in type.

In reading these first rough drafts it should be kept in mind that they are first rough drafts. They were never intended to be published. They were written to be edited and typed, and Reagan took shortcuts while writing.

When Reagan wrote he often used abbreviations and some of the shorthand he used on his speech cards. This was especially true when he was writing something that would be typed before he recorded it as a radio broadcast or gave it as a speech. His secretaries knew his abbreviations and shorthand and turned them into clean English as they typed.

For example, he would write "nat." for nation, "ec. & pol." for economics and politics, "burocracy" for bureaucracy. He was often casual about where he placed apostrophes, if he used them at all, and they can be found hovering over a word that needed one. After writing the teaser with which he began all his radio essays, he usually wrote "I'll be right back." But sometimes he wrote "I'll be rite back."

If you look back at his speech card on page xix, you can see the full use of this technique: "Ending" becomes "Endng" -- and "fight" becomes "fite."

Reagan's essays and other writings constitute many hundreds of pages of original first drafts. We have tried to select documents so that they represent a fair sampling of Reagan's views on a wide variety of specific issues over the five-year period he was broadcasting the radio commentaries.

In writing these daily essays on almost every national policy issue during the 1970s, Reagan was acting as a one-man think tank. He drew upon hundreds of sources, and his drafts contain thousands of facts and figures. Sometimes he lists his sources in accompanying documents. In one case, for an essay on oil, he appended them. At times he cites his sources in the text. And in many cases he simply does not mention the specific sources.

Because he was writing on topical subjects in the 1970s, it is sometimes difficult, many years later, to determine sources. We have checked dozens of references in his writings and, in virtually all cases, Reagan correctly cited or quoted his sources.

In Martin Anderson's experience, while advising Reagan during his presidential campaigns and in the presidency, whenever aides challenged him on some fact he had used, Reagan produced a source for his statements. In rare cases the source itself might not have been entirely accurate.

As our memory of events in the 1970s recedes, some of the events that Reagan reports might seem questionable. For instance, in one of his radio commentaries he writes about the plan of the People's Republic of China to "liberate Taiwan," as presented in a private speech given by Foreign Minister Huang Hua on July 30, 1977. After considerable searching, we found a copy of Huang Hua's speech, "Report on the World Situation," in a Taiwanese journal, Issues and Studies: A Journal of China Studies and International Affairs.

We have not fact-checked everything that Reagan writes about in his radio commentaries, but we have checked numerous events he cites -- and they are discussed in our footnotes.

The bulk of the original handwritten documents reproduced in this volume are stored at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, in the "Pre-Presidential Papers, 1921-1980" (PPP) collection of papers. The original handwritten drafts of radio broadcasts are mainly found in boxes 12, 14, 15, and 21. Typescripts of the radio broadcasts are found in these boxes and others throughout the PPP collection. Typescripts are also found at the Hoover Institution Archives in the Citizens for Reagan (CFR) Collection, the Peter Hannaford (PH) Collection, and the Ronald Reagan Subject Collection (RRSC). The main boxes for locating typescripts of the radio broadcasts at Hoover are CFR 35, 39, 104, and 105; PH 2 and 3; and RRSC 8.

In addition to the radio scripts, we have included examples of the other kinds of documents that exist in his handwriting. Most of these documents are found in the President's private papers at the Ronald Reagan Library. A few of Reagan's other writings included in this book come from private collections.

The last document he wrote, a letter Edmund Morris calls "a masterly piece of writing" with "the simplicity of genius," is of course the 1994 letter to the nation about his Alzheimer's. Nancy recalls that she "had somebody ask me just the other day about the Alzheimer's letter. 'Did he just sit down and write it? Or did he do some drafts?' I said, 'No, he just sat down and wrote it.'"

Copyright © 2001 by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson

From Part One: Reagan's Philosophy

The eight radio addresses in this section express concepts and themes found in many of Reagan's handwritten manuscripts for radio commentaries and speeches given in his pre-presidential years. Taken together, the essays state the political and philosophical views on which his policies as president, both foreign and domestic, were based.

As we look back on what he wrote in the late 1970s from the perspective of the post-Communist era, in a time of economic vitality and with the United States as the world's only superpower, it is easy to forget how at odds his views were with the accepted wisdom of the day. The late 1970s was a period of high inflation, low economic growth, relatively high unemployment, and questions about the influence of the United States on the world scene. Many believed that the political systems of the United States and the Soviet Union were gradually converging. Some doubted that a political system based on individual freedom and free markets could compete effectively with a centrally controlled command economy that could override and repress political dissent.

Reagan had no such doubts. In spite of the economic and political problems, he found America's strength in its political system -- in liberty, in the system that freed, as he put it, the individual genius of man -- a system that, he said, has given the country political stability, the creativity of private enterprise, advanced technology, and a generosity of spirit. He also considered virtue fundamental to representative government and argued against expediency rather than principle in foreign policy.

His condemnation of communism, in words written in 1975, is powerful. Communism, he wrote, is neither an economic nor a political system, but a form of insanity, an aberration. He wonders "how much more misery it will cause before it disappears." In comparing the statements of past and present leaders of the two systems, he quotes, as he often did, John Winthrop's 1630 statement on the deck of the Arbella: "We shall be as a city upon a hill." But as the complete quotation Reagan uses makes clear, the significance of the city's location on a hill is not only that it is blessed, but that it is open to observation and judgment by the entire world.

The great challenge of the world situation was, Reagan says in 1975, maintaining peace and avoiding the catastrophe of nuclear war, and doing so not through surrender but through military strength backed by economic vitality and credibility. In a radio address that is an elaboration of his extemporaneous speech at the Republican National Convention in 1976 after losing the nomination to Gerald Ford, he tells of writing a letter for a time capsule to be opened one hundred years later. He turns again to the question of nuclear Armageddon, of the potential of the two superpowers to fire missiles at one another. The challenge is not only preserving the beauty he sees as he travels the Pacific Coast Highway, but of preserving a world of peace, prosperity, and freedom of choice.

Reagan reiterated the same themes and concepts of these eight essays in his farewell speech from the Oval Office on January 11, 1989. Not even he had known how far-reaching his philosophy and policies would be, for, he says, "We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world."


April 1975

How much is it worth to not have WWIII

I'll be right back.

While in London I had an opportunity to visit with various govt. officials including those concerned with foreign affairs. Inevitably the conversation turned to the world situation & how to maintain peace. in the world. And just as inevitably the Soviet U. was automatically accepted as the possible threat to peace just as 40 yrs. ago it was Nazi Germany that loomed as the storm cloud on the horizon. And of course that storm cloud did eventually fill the sky & raining rain fire & brimstone on all the world.

The leaders of that generation saw the growing menace & talked of it but reacted to the growing mil. might of Germany with anguished passiveness. Will it be said of todays world leaders th as it was of the pre W.W.II. leaders "they were better at surviving the catastrophe than they were at preventing it?

Several times in the discussions at Whitehall

W.W.II did not happen because the Nat's. of the free world engaged in a massive mil. buildup. The opposite is true. In most countries including our own, "too little too late" described our the reaction to the Nazi mil. colossus.

What does it take for us to learn? On every hand here & abroad when the suggestion is made that we strengthen the mil. capability of Nato the reply is that it's not politically expedient to incrs. spending for armaments because the people are against it. Our own Congress which is willing to run an $80 Bil. deficit for every kind of social experiment screams long & loud for reduction of the budget for defense. But have any of the pol. leaders laid the facts out for the people? Of course the overtaxed citizenry in Europe & America want govt. spending reduced. But if we are told the truth, namely that enough evidence of weakness or lack of willpower on our part could tempt the Soviet U. into as it once did tempted Hitler & the mil. rulers of Japan I believe our decision would be in favor of an ounce of prevention. Certainly we havent forgotten that after W.WII the Japanese told us they they were tempted decided on war when they saw our army staging war games with wooden guns. They also took note that One month before Pearl Harbor Congress came within one a single vote of abolishing the draft & sending the bulk of our army home.

It has recently been revealed that for 12 yrs. a behavioral scientist at the U. of Hawaii has headed up a team of distinguished colleagues in a Federally-Funded, computerized study of International behavior. Summed up in one sentence they have learned that "to abdicate power is to abdicate the right to maintain peace."

The study focused mainly upon Red China, Russia & the US. Every bit of data from trade to tourism -- from threats to treaties -- was fed into the computers. The findings prove conclusively that what Laurence Beilenson wrote in his book "The Treaty Trap" is true. "Nations that place their faith in treaties & fail to keep their hardware up don't hang around to stick around long enough to write many pages in history."

According to the report (quote) "It is not equality in power," "that reduces hostility & conflict. Rather it is power dominance or submission." -- Peace is purchased by making yourself stronger than your adversary -- or by dismantling power & submitting to ones enemies." (unquote).

Power is not only sufficient military strength but it's also a sound economy, a reliable energy supply and credibility -- the belief by any potential enemy that you will not choose surrender as the way to maintain peace. Thomas Jefferson said "The American people won't make a mistake if they are given all the facts."

It's time we were given the facts about

Perhaps Cong. should be given some facts about us, namely that we'd rather prevent a war by being well armed than by surrendering.

This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.

Shaping the World for 100 Years to Come

September 1, 1976

In this election year many of us talk about the world of tomorrow but do we really think about it? I'll be right back.

Sometimes it's very easy to get very glib about how the decisions we are making will shape the world for a hundred years to come. Then A few weeks ago I found myself faced with having to really think about it. what we are doing today & what people (not history) PEOPLE LIKE OURSELVES will say about us.

I'd been asked to write a letter for a "time capsule" which would be opened in Los Angeles 100 yrs. from now. It will be The occasion will be the Los Angeles Bicentennial & of course our countrys tri-centennial. It was suggested that I mention some of the problems confronting us in this election year. Since I've been talking about those problems for about some 9 months that didn't look like too much of a chore.

So riding down the coast highway from Santa Barbara -- a yellow tablet on my lap (someone else was driving) I started to write my letter to the future.

It was a beautiful summer afternoon. The Pacific stretched out to the horizon on one side of the highway and on the other the Santa Ynez mt's. were etched against a sky as blue as the Ocean.

I found myself wondering if it would look the same 100 yrs. from now. Will there still be a coast highway? Will people still be travelling in automobiles, or will they be looking down at the mountains from aircraft or moving so fast the beauty of all I saw this would be lost?

Suddenly the simple drafting of a letter became a rather complex chore. Think about it for a minute. What do you put in a letter that's going to be read 100 yrs. from now -- in the year 2076? What do you say about our problems when those who read the letter will alr know what we dont know -- namely how well we did with those problems? In short they will be living in the world we helped to shape.

Will they read the letter with gratitude in their hearts for what we did or will they be bitter because miserable the heritage we left them was one of human misery?

Oh I wrote of the problems we face here in 1976 -- The choice we face between continuing the policies of the last 40 yrs. that have led to bigger & bigger govt, less & less liberty, redistribution of earnings through confiscatory taxation or trying to get back on the original course set for us by the Founding Fathers. Will we choose fiscal responsibility, limited govt, and freedom of choice for all our people? Or will we let an irresponsible Congress take the final set us on the road our English cousins have already taken? The road to ec. ruin and state control of our very lives?

On the international scene two great superpowers face each other with nuclear missiles at the ready -- poised to bring Armageddon to the world.

Those who read my letter will know whether those missiles were fired or not. They Either they will be surrounded by the same beauty I knew as I wrote the letter we know or they will wonder sadly what it was like when the world was still beautiful. before that awful day when civilization broke down.

If we here in this election year of our Lord 1976 today meet the challenge confronting us, -- those who open that time capsule in 2076 100 yrs. from now will do so in a place of beauty knowing peace, prosperity and the ultimate in personal freedom. consistent with an orderly, civilized society.

If we dont meet keep our rendezvous with destiny, the letter probably will never be read -- because talk of individual freedom will not be permitted in that world 100 yrs. from now which we are shaping and they will live in the world which we had a hand in shaping and we left them, a world in which no one is allowed to read or hear such terms as of individual liberty or freedom of choice. & individual liberty.

Communism, the Disease

May 1975

Mankind has survived all maner manner of evil diseases & plagues -- let's hope he can [but, can it] survive Communism?

I'll be rite back.

When a disease like communism hangs on as it has for a half century or more it's good, now & then, to be reminded of just how vicious it really is. Of course those who have the disease use all kinds of misleading terms to describe it's symptoms and it's effects on the human system One We should remember one of the characteristics of the ailment is double talk beginning For example if you and I in America planted land mines on our borders, ringed the country with barb wire and machine gun toting guards to keep anyone from leaving the country we'd hardly describe that as "liberating" the people.

But we've grown so used to communist doubletalk I sometimes think we've lost some of our fear of the disease. We need a frequent vaccination to guard against being infected until one the day when this health threat will be eliminated as we eliminated the black plague.

How many of us are aware of some of the differences between those of us who have the sickness & we who are well [don't?] Right now there are a number of Russian women who fell in love & married Americans & other foreigners who happened to be stationed in the Soviet U. for a time.

Now falling in love isn't something you set out to do, and among well people it isn't considered a criminal act. But these Russian women are separated from their husbands, some of them for several years. When their Am. husbands for example finished whatever [their] assignments they were on in Russia and came home their wives had to get [Soviet government] permission to leave go with them. from the Soviet govt. And The Soviet govt. plays a heartless game of burocratic paper shuffling -- never coming right out & saying "no," but just keeping them filling out papers, renewing applications etc. -- sometimes for years.

There is the case of a young teacher who married an American. During the application process she was fired from her job. -- Reason? -- she fell in love with an American -- that's reason enough where the Soviet is concerned. Her students all loved her. They presented her with a farewell gift of flowers. A Soviet official visited dropped in on the class to tell them that for doing so they giving the teacher [that for giving the] flowers none of them would be permitted to go on to college. They were all would all be assigned to the a labor force upon graduation!

Now the Associated Press brings another story from Berlin illustrating how the communist sickness looks upon human life -- even the life of an innocent a child.

Berlin is divided, as we [you] know, between into the East or sick-with-communism Berlin side and the well or Free Berlin Western side. Between the two flows the Spree river. Around noon on the 11th of May 11, a 5-year-old boy fell into the river. at the point where the entire stream is in East Berlin. Firemen from W. Berlin started to go to his rescue. An East German patrol boat barred them from entering the water because at that point the stream flows wholly on East Berlin territory. The 5 yr. old boy drowned.

The Mayor of W. Berlin described the refusal of the E. German guards to either permit the Westerners to come to his rescue as "an incomprehensible and frightful act -- placing pol. considerations before the saving of a human life." Which is exactly what they did. Remember they were in a patrol boat -- they chose to prevent the W. Germans from setting foot [entering] in their Eastern water rather than go to the child's rescue themselves. But they did tidy things up -- 3 hrs. later E. German frog men recovered the body.

Communism is neither an ec. or a pol. system -- it is a form of insanity -- a temporary aberration which will one day disappear from the earth because it is contrary to human nature. I wonder how much more misery it will cause before it disappears.

Copyright © 2001 by The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation

Table of Contents


Foreword by George P. Shultz


A Note on Editorial Methods

Part One



Communism, Asia, Europe, and the Soviet Union

Defense and Intelligence Policy

Foreign Policy Double Standards, Human Rights, International Organizations, and Religion

The Third World

Part Three


Freedom and Government

The Economy

Energy, Land, and the Environment


Social Security and Health Care

Social Issues

Personal Stories

Part Four

OTHER WRITINGS NOV. 6, 1925-NOV. 5, 1994


Yale Comes Through



Return to the Primitive

Killed in Action

The Making of a Movie Star

Letter to the Editor of The Catholic Reporter

"Are Liberals Really Liberal?"


Letter to the Editor of the Pegasus

Speech on phone to YAF Convention in Houston, Texas

Letter to Dr. McDowell

On Portugal

Stump Speech Insert

Speech on Agriculture

"State of the Union" Speech


Economic Speech -- Address to the Nation

I.N.F. Negotiations

"Mr. Minister"

Reagan's Goodbye

Appendix: Ronald Reagan's Radio Addresses, 1975-79



Customer Reviews