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The Presidency of Ronald Reagan, 1981-89

5. The Presidency

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the extent to which Reagan revitalised the presidency and US politics in general, focusing in particular on: (i) the state of American politics in the 1970s, a decade that included the Watergate scandal, the final withdrawal from Vietnam, and the underwhelming presidencies of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter; (ii) Reagan’s high approval rating during his Presidency; (iii) the Republican Party’s gains in both the Senate (which they controlled for most of Reagan’s presidency) and the House of Representatives; (iv) the importance of Reagan’s close relationship with the Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill; (v) the ways in which historians have thought about Reagan’s impact on the Presidency, including H. W. Brands’ Reagan: The Life (2015).


In this course, Dr James Cooper (York St John University) explores the presidency of Ronald Reagan (1981-89). After a brief introduction in which we think about Reagan’s legacy today, the subsequent five modules explore five key questions relating to his presidency: (1) How successful were Reagan’s economic policies? To what extent were the benefits spread fairly across American society?; (2) To what extent did Reagan reduce ‘big government’?; (3) What was the nature and extent of social change during Reagan’s presidency?; (4) To what extent did Reagan ‘revitalise’ the presidency and US politics in general?; and (5) How successful was Reagan’s foreign policy?


James Cooper is Senior Lecturer at York St John University, specialising in American history and Anglo-American relations. His recent publications include Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: A Very Political Special Relationship (2012) and The Politics of Diplomacy: U.S. Presidents and the Northern Ireland Conflict, 1967-98 (2017).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cooper, J. (2019, November 17). The Presidency of Ronald Reagan, 1981-89 - The Presidency [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cooper, J. "The Presidency of Ronald Reagan, 1981-89 – The Presidency." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 17 Nov 2019,