Americans doubted that a former Hollywood "B" actor could manage the country.
Narrator: The Republicans did gain control of the Senate. Reagan beat Carter in a landslide, carrying 44 states. It was a great victory for Reagan and the conservative movement.
Reagan (archival): I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear. That I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States.
Narrator: When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 expectations were low. At a time when America faced an economic crisis and an escalating cold war, many wondered if anyone could manage the country. Least of all, a former Hollywood "B" actor. "Things could go very badly in the first year," Reagan's staff had warned, "resulting in an erosion of Republican momentum and public confidence." But Reagan projected great assurance. He believed, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt 50 years before him, that his mission was to restore America's trust in itself.
Reagan (archival): It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We're not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.
The African American jazz composer and bandleader performed regularly at Harlem's Cotton Club, leaving a legacy in music.
Brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright built a flying machine that made its first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.
The story of a Russian immigrant and anarchist who is said to have inspired the assassination of President William McKinley.
Eleanor Roosevelt supported the President's New Deal and advocated for civil rights, becoming one of the 20th century's most influential women.
Robert E. Lee, the leading Confederate general of the American Civil War, remains a source of fascination and, for some, veneration.
The U.S. government's response to the Holocaust was slow and fueled by complex social and political factors.
The remarkable and tragic life of the third Kennedy son, Robert F. Kennedy.
The bizarre saga of the Symbionese Liberation Army and Patty Hearst's kidnapping and conversion to her captors' cause.