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The Death of Ronald Reagan, 1981 (The Gipper Goes Down)

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On March 30, 1981, Ronald Wilson Reagan had been President of the United States for 70 days. Elected by a landslide over Jimmy Carter in 1980, the 70-year-old Reagan had already had a big success when the Americans held hostage in Iran were released minutes after his inauguration. Reagan, a former actor and Governor of California, was looking to become a much-loved American leader and to have a profound impact on America. He did have that impact, but probably not in the way he'd expected. On that day, Reagan left the Hilton Hotel after an appearance there, with his Press Secretary, James Brady, in tow. A young, Jodie Foster-obsessed man called John Hinckley Jr, fired six shots from a revolver at the President. Brady was critically wounded, a secret service man was killed, and Reagan was rushed to hospital unconscious. He was operated on upon arrival, but had lost too much blood internally. He was pronounced dead, assassinated by a disturbed young man. Tecumseh's Curse had struck again - every US President elected in a year ending in 0 had died in office, from Harrison to Reagan.

Vice President George Bush was summoned, informed what had happened and, after flying in from Texas (where he was at the time), promptly took the oath of office. His first action as President was to launch a full investigation into the Reagan assassination. No conspiracy was revealed and Bush attracted criticism for politicizing the death of his predecessor.

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