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 ultimate frontiersman, Carson inspired popular novels before being associated with the "Long Walk" of the Navajo people.
Before he became the first U.S. president, service to the colonies would profoundly change George Washington.
Head of the most powerful family in America, billionaire John D. Rockefeller's vast philanthropy changed his family's reputation.
The converging forces, circumstances, personalities and events that propelled a group of English men and women west across the Atlantic in 1620.
In September 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev made an unprecedented visit to America, creating a media circus as he traveled from coast to coast.
A man who symbolized African American equality fought a proponent of Hitler's Aryan racial theories on the eve of World War II.
Richard Nixon faced impeachment but also ended the Vietnam War. Part of the award-winning Presidents Collection.
The trial of Charles Julius Guiteau, who assassinated President James A. Garfield, turned into a public battle over the meaning of insanity.