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Ronald Reagan

Presidency

Who were his U.S. attorneys general?

Reagan had three U.S. attorneys general: William French Smith, who served from 1981–85; Edwin Meese, who served from 1985 to 1988; and Richard Thornburgh, who served from 1988 to 1989. Smith opposed affirmative action and aggressively fought crime. Meese was the most controversial of the three attorneys general. A strong advocate for interpreting the Constitution pursuant to the Founders’ original intent, he was not bashful about criticizing Supreme Court justices when he thought they interpreted the Constitution according to their personal preferences. He resigned after a report cleared him of wrongdoing in the Iran-Contra affair—something for which he took much criticism. Richard Thornburgh, a former Pennsylvania governor, stayed on when George H. W. Bush became president.



First Lady Nancy Reagan was the president’s second wife. Instrumental in supporting her husband’s career, she was very active in the White House and especially in social campaigns such as the “War on Drugs.”

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