Rise of Conservatism in the 1980s

Primary Source Set

During the 1980s, the political center of the United States continued to shift toward conservatism. Under the Reagan administration, the nation remained committed to fighting the Cold War, through traditional methods of diplomacy and military intervention as well as the development of new technologies. On the domestic front, the Reagan administration struggled against the crises of HIV and AIDS, homelessness, and the epidemic use of crack cocaine, while also taking a hardline stance against powerful labor unions. This set of speeches, interviews, political cartoons, and artifacts allows you to explore the rise of conservatism in these areas, as well as the critiques that were posed by activists and politicians. How was conservatism redefined during the 1980s?

Additional resources for research

  1. Timeline of modern American conservatism, Wikipedia.
  2. Ronald Reagan’s Life, American Experience, PBS.
  3. The 1970s and the 1980s: The Decline of Liberalism and the Triumph of Conservatism, Humboldt State University.

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