Historic Documents of 1981


Edited by: CQ Press

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    Publication of Historic Documents of 1981 carries through a tenth 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.

    Among the events chronicled in 1981 were the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan and the simultaneous release of Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days. But the euphoria was dimmed by continuing economic problems, which the new administration promptly tackled with an unconventional program of budget and tax cuts coupled with increased defense spending. By August, against heavy odds, most of the president's program was in place and a new word, “Reaganomics,” had been added to the language.

    The year also saw a rash of violence directed against public figures, including Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, who was killed, and President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, who survived assassination attempts.

    For women the year was a mixed success, with Sandra Day O'Connor becoming the first female justice of the Supreme Court, but with setbacks experienced in the efforts to win more time for state approval of the Equal Rights Amendment and to eliminate all-male draft registration.

    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.

    CarolynGoldinger Editor Washington, D.C. March 1982

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