Lot 112

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Ronald Reagan
[Washington, D.C.], ca. April 24, 1981
Ronald Reagan "Sick Societies" & Economic Recovery Speech Draft, 450+ Words In His Hand
An assembled group of ten pages, together constituting an early draft of one of the most famous speeches delivered by 40th U.S. President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), his "Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the Program for Economic Recovery" presented on April 28, 1981 before members of the U.S. Congress. Ca. April 24, 1981. [Washington, D.C.] The speech was delivered nearly a month after the assassination attempt and was broadcast live on both television and radio. Featuring approximately 465 words in Reagan's hand, in addition to other presidential edits like cross-outs and arrows. Reagan incorporated his suggestions into the body of a speech draft outlined by White House Chief Speechwriter Ken Khachigian (born 1944). Expected light wear, else near fine. The average size of the pages is 8.5" x 11." This speech, made in the first and possibly most important year of Reagan's presidency, is one of nine that he delivered in 1981. A full transcript can be found listed on the Reagan Library's official website. With impeccable provenance.

The lot consists of one sheet of yellow blue-ruled paper inscribed overall by Reagan; a leaf of "White House / Washington" note paper inscribed overall by Reagan; and eight typed pages bearing more scattered Reagan annotations.

In more detail, this includes:

- A 1p autograph manuscript by Reagan comprised of approximately 273 words on a sheet of yellow blue-ruled paper, being Reagan's reflections of gratitude on the support he received from well-wishers during his recovery from the assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. on March 30, 1981. A true working document, with multiple contemporaneous cross-outs. Isolated minor loss to the lower left corner, and expected edge wear. A clean perforation at top. Else near fine. 8.5" x 11."

Much of Reagan's handwritten manuscript was incorporated word-for-word within Khachigian's second draft as well as into the final speech delivered before Congress.

In part, with original punctuation:

"First however and due to events of the past few weeks will you permit me to digress for a moment from the all important subject of why your taxes must be reduced. This is the only way I know to express to you on behalf of Nancy & myself our appreciation for your messages, your flowers and most of all your prayers not only for me but for those others who fell besides me.

The warmth of your words, the expression of friendship & yes love meant more to us than you can ever know. You have given us a memory we'll treasure forever. And you've provided the answer to those few voices that were raised saying that what had happened was evidence that ours is a sick society.

The society we heard from is made up of millions of compassionate Americans and their children from college age to kindergarten.

Sick societies don't produce men like the two who have just returned to us from outer space [referring to STS-1, orbiter "Columbia," crewed by Commander John W. Young and Pilot Robert L. Crippen, which had just returned on April 14, 1981 from a 2-day-long space mission]. Sick societies don't produce young men like Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy who placed his body between mine & the man with the gun simply because he felt that's what his job called for him to do [McCarthy was shot in the chest on March 30, 1981 but recovered]. Sick societies dont make people like us so proud to be Americans and so very proud of all of you. - Now lets talk about cutting your taxes…"

- A 1p autograph manuscript by Reagan, totaling approximately 57 words, which Reagan wanted to insert on page 5. On a sheet of "The White House / Washington" notepaper measuring 5" x 8."

In part:

"I know the tax portion of our package is of concern to some of you. Let me make a few points I feel have been overlooked. First of all it should be looked at as an integral part of the entire package not something separate and apart from the budget reductions, the regulatory relief and the monetary restraints.

But probably the most common misconception is that we are proposing to reduce govt. revenues to less than govt. has been receiving. This is not true. Actually we are discussing how much of a tax increase should be imposed on the taxpayer…"

- 8 typed pages originally submitted by Khachigian as "April 24, 1981 / Second Draft" with extensive revisions by Ronald Reagan scattered throughout, as well as edits in another hand, probably Khachigian's. In near fine condition, 8.5" x 11." Reagan has written 8 words on page 2; 60 words on page 5; 22 words on page 6; and 45 words on page 8.

Highlights from Reagan's manuscript annotations to the typed Second Draft include:

"Let us not overlook the fact that the small, independent business man or woman creates more than 80% of all the new jobs and employees more than half our work force. Our across the board tax cut for a 3 year period will give them much of the stability they need to [page break] go forward with expansion plans calling for additional employees" - p. 5-6

"When you allowed me to speak to you here in these chambers before I told you I wanted this program for ec. recovery to be ours - yours and mine. I think the Gramm-Latta bipartisan bill has achieved that purpose. Thank you and good night" - p. 8

The Gramm-Latta Budget and Omnibus Reconciliation Bills of 1981 were sponsored by then Democratic Congressman from Texas Phil Gramm and Republican Congressman from Ohio Delbert Latta. The bills realized many of Reagan's most ambitious economic reforms, including spending cuts. Reagan's conservative economic policies, sometimes termed Reaganomics, advocated for a balanced budget, increased defensive spending, reduced taxes, and deregulation.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


  • With impeccable provenance, coming from the files of Helene von Damm (b. 1938), Reagan's longtime personal secretary and later Ambassador to Austria, and gifted to our consignor, her White House assistant.
  • Dimensions:
  • average size 8.5" x 11"
  • Artist Name:
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Medium:
  • AM

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May 15, 2024 10:30 AM EDT
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