Historic Documents of 1980


Edited by: CQ Press

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    Publication of Historic Documents of 1980 carries through a ninth year the project launched by Congressional Quarterly with Historic Documents 1972. The purpose of this continuing series of volumes is to give students, scholars, librarians, journalists and citizens convenient access to documents of basic importance in the broad range of public affairs.

    To place the documents in perspective, each entry is preceded by a brief introduction containing background materials, in some cases a short summary of the document itself and, where necessary, relevant subsequent developments. We believe these introductions will prove increasingly useful in future years when the events and questions now covered are less fresh in one's memory and the documents may be difficult to find or unobtainable.

    When Americans look back on 1980, two events are likely to stand out: the continuing effort to free 52 hostages held in Iran and the election of a new president. As if to underscore how closely the hostage crisis and the election were intertwined, the hostages finally were freed the following year, minutes after President Reagan took office. But the groundwork for their release had been prepared during 1980, first with an unsuccessful rescue attempt and then with an on-again, off-again series of secret negotiations that ultimately brought success.

    Although President Carter may have been hurt by his inability to win an earlier release for the hostages, most observers felt that other factors — notably voter dissatisfaction with Carter's handling of the economy — probably accounted for his defeat. Whatever the cause, Reagan's landslide victory over an incumbent president capped the remarkable career of a movie actor turned politician.

    The natural world also made history in 1980, partly through mankind's efforts to learn more about it. The dazzling flight of Voyager I through the rings of Saturn provided an uplift to American morale. On the other hand, the spectacular and destructive eruption of Mount St. Helens was a somber reminder of the limits to technological achievements.

    These and other developments added substantially to the usual outpouring of presidential statements, court decisions, committee reports, special studies and speeches of national or international importance. We have selected for inclusion in this book as many as possible of the documents that in our judgment will be of more than transitory interest. Where space limitations prevented reproduction of the full texts, the excerpts used were chosen to set forth the essential and, at the same time, to preserve the flavor of the materials.

    John L.Moore Editor Washington, D.C. February 1981

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