The United States celebrates its bicentennial with pomp and circumstance
Ford survives a challenge for the Republican nomination by former actor and leading Republican conservative, Ronald Reagan
Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter is nominated by the Democrats and campaigns as an "outsider" favoring a foreign policy based upon the Helsinki Agreement on human rights
Carter wins in November
Carter concludes SALT II treaty with the USSR, but it fails to be ratified by the Senate. Carter withdraws the treaty, but it serves as "de facto" policy of the U.S.
Inflation begins to climb at a faster rate. Carter outlines his MEOW (moral equivalent of war) energy plan
Carter establishes formal diplomatic relations with the Peoples' Republic of China
Carter calls Israel's Menachim Begin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat to Camp David to establish a "framework for peace" in the Middle East known as the Camp David Accords
Bakke v. Regents of the University of California
U.S. intervention allowing medical treatment for the Shah of Iran precipitates an attack on the U.S. embassy in Teheran.
Fifty Americans are taken hostage. Eventually, all are released,
but not until most of them spend 444 days in captivity.
Ayatollah Khomeini the leader of the fundamentalist Islamic revolution in Iran cuts off exports to the U.S. producing a second oil crisis.
Carter Doctrine" makes the Persian Gulf a zone of "vital American interest" The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan prompts Carter to institute an American-led boycott of the summer Olympic Games to be held in Moscow
Reagan introduces hisNew Federalism to shrink the size of the federal government by transferring various government programs to the states. In so doing, he initiated cutbacks in domestic programs (except Social Security and Medicare) and increased spending for the military. This created huge budget deficits—the largest ever in peacetime.
Reagan expands U.S. support for Nicaraguan Contras becomes the basis for the 1985 "Reagan Doctrine" (similar to the John Foster Dulles view of “liberation”).
To combat the supposed US disadvantage in nuclear capability, Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative ( or the so-called Star Wars defense).
Reagan began to pursue a “privatization” policy where government assets, like CONRAIL were sold to private investors at favorable terms.
Additionally, Reagan pursued a deregulatory policy which, in particular, had impacts on the environmental and other resources.
Democrats nominate Carter VP Walter Mondale and Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (first woman so nominated) to face a Reagan-Bush landslide, creating what was termed “morning in America.”
Los Angeles hosts an extremely successful summer Olympic Games despite a small Soviet-led boycott
Despite earlier posturing which called the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire,” Reagan welcomed the initiatives of new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev who sought economic and civil reform called glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring).
The Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Vienna (the famous “walk in the woods”) leads to progress on an arms-limitations agreement (actually concluded in 1987). Afghanistan provides a new region for the testing of the Reagan Doctrine.
Human rights returned to center-stage in foreign policy as Reagan added a corollary to his doctrine by pledging opposition to “tyranny in whatever form…” This would mean withdrawal of support for Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Manuel Noriega in Panama, and Jean- Claude Duvalier in Haiti.
The Iran-Contra Affair dominated the news from November through much of 1987 and the joint congressional investigation in to the actions of Oliver North, John Poindexter, and CIA
Director William Casey. The investigation centered upon the famous “arms for hostages” charges (arms to Iran, assuring the release of hostages, with the funds diverted to further fund the Contras—freedom fighters—of Nicaragua.
The joint congressional committee investigation exposed weaknesses in the White House’s handling of foreign affairs.
An October crash in stock prices (losses of 22.6%) reminded people of the 1929 crash and pointed to a growing gap between rich and poor.
Reagan policies also brought about a “deregulation” of civil rights and heightening differences within black America.
With the Reagan terms winding down, Vice-President George Bush was nominated (and elected) for president
He was opposed by Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis (who oversaw the “Massachusetts miracle” of stimulating that state’s economic recovery).