Ronald Reagan: “Evil Empire” Speech


When President Ronald Reagan spoke to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in Orlando, Florida, on March 8, 1983, he used the term evil empire to describe the Soviet Union. Millions of Americans heard or read the phrase and remembered it for years; it was powerful language that in Reagan's view explained why the United States had been locked in a cold war with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics since the end of World War II. The speech, which came to be known as Reagan's “Evil Empire” Speech, was not mainly about the cold war, the Soviet Union, or international affairs, however. It was about moral values, particularly how they underlay American democracy and how political disagreements were often, at bottom, moral conflicts. Reagan delivered the speech at a time when his defense and foreign policies divided the American people. He was hoping to enlist the members of the NAE and other Christian conservatives to support his national security policies as they...

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Ronald Reagan (Library of Congress)

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