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.
A president who rose from a broken childhood to become one of the most successful politicians in modern American history, and one of the most complex and conflicted characters to ever stride across the public stage.
American prisoners of war in North Vietnam tell of their experiences at the Hanoi Hilton and other notorious prisons.
The remarkable and tragic life of the third Kennedy son, Robert F. Kennedy.
Eleanor Roosevelt supported the President's New Deal and advocated for civil rights, becoming one of the 20th century's most influential women.
A writer's childhood and the development of her photography and writing about the American South.
A man who symbolized African American equality fought a proponent of Hitler's Aryan racial theories on the eve of World War II.
Their intense faith and strict adherence to 300-year-old traditions have by turn captivated and repelled, awed and irritated, inspired and confused America.
A saga of ambition, wealth, family loyalty and personal tragedy.