American Politics

1980's

President Reagan

The election of Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1980 results in the release of Americans being held hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Iran. During his presidency, he was able to redefine the goals of government and impelled the Soviet Union to finally end the efforts of the Cold War. Reagan's policies reduced social programs and restrictions of business. He affirmed the conservative attitude of the United States for decades after his presidency.

Women Taking On More Power

As women are able to take more positions in government and the science and technology sector, younger girls were prompted into taking higher positions in their footsteps. During the presidential election of 1984, Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman to be appointed as the first female Supreme Court associate justice. Sally Ride, an astronaut at NASA, became the first American woman to be launched into space. To this day, Ride still remains the youngest woman to have ever entered into space. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro, a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, was the first female to run as a vice-presidential running mate and represent a major American political party.

Violence in the Middle East

Iran Contra Scandal

The United States government sold weapons to Iran in order to gain better relations, as well as use the money to fund the Nicaraguan contras in rebellion. However, this funding was prohibited by Congress. Because Reagan was a supporter of the Contra cause, much controversy ensued over whether or not the president authorized this trade of money. Later, in March of 1987, Reagan appeared on television, taking full responsibility over any actions that he was aware or unaware of. In the end, investigations resulted in 14 administration officials being indicted, but were pardoned at the end of President George H. W. Bush's term.

Operation Eagle Claw

An attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran on April 24, 1980 was ordered by President Jimmy Carter. Eight helicopters were sent to Desert one, however only five had arrived in acceptable condition. Because of this, the mission was aborted. The failure of this mission damaged American prestige worldwide and was said to have played a major role in Reagan's presidential victory.

US Embassy in Beirut

On October 23, 1983, a terrorist bomb in Lebanon at the Beirut International Airport kills 241 peacekeeping troops. Two miles away, a second bomb kills 43 additional people and destroys French barracks.

Iran Air Flight 655

At the end of the Iran-Iraq War, an American crew incorrectly identified a civilian jet airliner as an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter. As a result, United States missiles shot down the Iran Air Flight 655 on July 3, 1988. One of the deadliest disasters in aviation history, 290 passengers, including 66 children and 16 crew, were killed in the attack. This generated large amounts of publicity and criticism towards the United States, and there was much controversy over whether or not the airline was actually incorrectly identified. An agreement was reached 8 years later by both sides, resulting in the United States paying $61.8 million as compensation to families of the victims aboard the plane. However, the United States never admitted responsibility nor an apology to Iran.

Work Cited

Lad, Kashmira. "1980s Timeline: Important Events of the 1980s." Buzzle.com. Buzzle.com, 20 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 May 2013.


Jennifer, Rosenberg. "1980s Timeline." About.com 20th Century History. N.p., 2013. Web. 25 May 2013.


"Study & Research America 1980-1989: Government and Politics." BookRags. BookRags, 2013. Web. 25 May 2013.