The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Advanced Placement United States History Study Guide

Period 9: 1980-Present

Ronald Reagan on economics and political parties, 1962

Ronald Reagan to Harold Ward, May 26, 1962. (GLC00782.17)In May 1962, Ronald Reagan wrote this letter expressing his ideas about economic policy and the nation’s political parties. Reagan wrote as a supporter of the conservative Republican Senator Barry Goldwater. Reagan had spent much of his political career campaigning and voting for Democrats, but throughout the 1950s his increasingly conservative views turned him toward the Republican Party. In this letter, he writes, “I myself have been a life long Dem. but no longer.” Reagan had only recently switched parties—he refrained from officially becoming a Republican until after the 1960 presidential election so that he could campaign as a “Democrat for Nixon.” Reagan believed that the Democratic Party had become too liberal, especially concerning economic issues. Here, he writes of “turning to the Rep. party” and making it “the organ for Economic conservatism.”

A full transcript is available.




                                                                                May 26

Dear Mr. Ward

            Thanks very much for your kind letter.  You ask if there is anything more to be done than writing to Cong. & Senators. At the moment with regard to the Herlong–Baker bill (H.R. 3000–3001) this writing is very important. Sen. Barry Goldwater says “only a flood of mail” will get this bill out of committee. 

We should write the “House Ways & Means Committee” urging them to past the bill before Congress. We should also write our Rep. & Senators. Most important we should urge all our friends to do the same and if we belong to organizations get them to pass resolutions endorsing the bill and send these resolutions to Wash.

As for a 3rd party I think we could save effort by turning to the Rep. party (I myself have been a life long Dem. but no longer) and by our very numbers force that party to be the organ for Economic conservatism.

Again thanks –


                                    Ronald Reagan

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