Students have read about Ronald Reagan's presidency. In this activity students
will research data, speeches, and historic events to evaluate the Reagan legacy.
Students will use information from The Presidents Web site to learn about the
defining characteristics of the Reagan era. Students will read about Reagan's
economic policy, his foreign policy, his legacy, and his presidential record.
Students will also view photos and review two important speeches from his presidency.
Students will then answer four questions and apply this information by presenting
a brief speech summarizing the Reagan legacy.
- Students will describe the defining characteristics of the Reagan era.
- Students will be able to use this knowledge to present a brief speech that
summarizes the Reagan legacy.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Reagan's economic policy was based on supply-side economics—the theory
that tax reductions would stimulate economic recovery. The economic program
called for substantial reductions in government assistance programs and services.
Reagan's theory was that the wealth created by increased business activity
would "trickle down" to those in need. Eventually his program decreased
inflation, increased employment, and expanded the economy. During his administration,
118 million new jobs were created, and trade with foreign countries increased.
However, the gap between the rich and the poor widened as more people fell
below the poverty level, and many blue-collar workers saw their jobs go to
overseas workers. Some attributed the 1987 stock market crash to Reaganomics.
- Fueled by tax cuts and record defense spending, the deficit rose to nearly
- In the "Evil Empire" speech, Reagan set the tone of his foreign
policy and foreshadowed his strong stand against the Soviets. He charged that
the Soviet Union denied human freedoms, and he vowed to preserve democracy
as well as peace at home and abroad. Later he demonstrated this commitment
by intervening in Angola, Afghanistan, and Central America. The speech also
proposed that the United States fight for freedom by strengthening NATO and
building up its own military strength. In the end, Reagan's defense spending
was unprecedented in U.S. history.
- In both the Iran-contra scandal and Watergate, secret operations were being
run out of the White House without public knowledge or congressional approval.
Both involved illegal diversions of funds, and both resulted in congressional
hearings. Investigators in both cases asked, "What did the president
know, and when did he know it?" In the end, though, Nixon was forced
to resign from the presidency, while Reagan would not suffer permanent political
- Students' speeches will vary.
Go To Student Web Activity