1/11/1989: Reagan's Farewell Address

President Reagan reflects on economic progress and the country's morale.
3:00 | 09/28/14

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Transcript for 1/11/1989: Reagan's Farewell Address
My fellow Americans. This is the 34 time speak to you in the Oval Office and the last. We've been together eight years now and soon it'll be time for me to go. But before I do I wanted to share some thoughts some of which I've been saving for a long time. It's been the honor of my life to be your president. So many -- you written the past few weeks to -- things but I could say as much TU. Nancy and I -- grateful for the opportunity you gave us this year. One of the things about the presidency is that you're always somewhat apart. He spent a lot of time going by too fast in -- car someone else is driving. And seeing the people through tinted glass the parents holding up a child and wave you sought to -- couldn't return. And so many times I wanted to stop and reach out from behind the glass and connect. Well maybe I can do a little of that tonight. People ask how I feel about leaving and the -- is parting is such sweet -- -- weak parties California. From the ranch in freedom. Sorrow the good -- of course and believe me this beautiful place. You know down the hall -- up the stairs from this office. Is the part of the White House where the president and his family. There are few favorite windows I have -- there that I like to stand and look out of early in the morning. The view was over the grounds here to the Washington monument and the mall and the Jefferson Memorial. And on mornings when the humidity is low you can see past the Jefferson to the river the Potomac and the Virginia sure. Someone said that's the view Lincoln him when he saw the smoke rising from the battle of bull run. And I seem more prosaic things progress on the banks the morning traffic as people make their way to work. Now an unassailable on the river. I've been thinking a -- at that windows. I've been reflecting on what the past eight years it meant and means. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one. A small story about a big ship and the refugees and -- It was back in the early eighties at the height of the boat people and the sailor was hard at work on the carrier midway which was patrolling the South China Sea. The failure like most American serviceman was young Smart and fiercely observed the -- spied on the horizon leak into the vote. And crammed inside were refugees from Indochina. Hoping to get to America. Manipulation of small -- to bring -- to the ship safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas ones I had the sailor on deck and stood up and called out to -- He. Hello American sailor hello freedom and a small moment with a big me. A moment the sailor who wrote in the letter couldn't get out of his mind and when I sought neither -- Because that's what it have to it was to be an American in the in 1980s. We stood again for -- I know we always have but in the past few years the world again and in -- way we ourselves. Rediscovered. It's been quite a journey this decade. And we held together through some stormy seas. And at the end together we're reaching our destination. The -- -- from grenade into the Washington and Moscow sounds. From the recession of 81 to 82. To the expansion that began in late 82 and continues to this day. We've made a difference. The way I see it there were two great triumphs two things that I'm proudest. One is the economic recovery in which the people of America created and failed nineteen million new jobs. The other is the recovery of -- out. America is respected again in the world and look to for leadership. Something that happened to me a few years ago reflection of this. It was back in 1981. And I was attending my first big economic summit which was held that -- in camp. The meeting place rotates among the member countries. The -- meeting -- a formal dinner for the heads of government of seven industrialized nations but I sit there like this new kid in school and listened. And it was old friends want this -- that. They dropped titles and spoke to not one and -- first name basis. -- at one point -- sort of leaned in and said. My name's -- That same year we began the actions we felt would ignite an economic -- Cut taxes and regulation. Started -- -- -- the recovery began. Two years later another economic summit with pretty much the same cast. But the big opening meeting we all got together and all of a sudden -- for a moment. I saw that everyone was just sitting there looking at me. And and one of the broke science. Tell us about the American there. He said. -- back in 1980 when I was running for president. It was -- so different. Some pundits that are programs would result in catastrophe. Our views on foreign affairs would cause war. Our plans for the economy would cause inflation to -- and bring about economic collapse. I even remember one highly respected economists saying back in 1982. That the engines. Of economic growth. Have shut down here. And there are likely to stay that way for years to come. Well he and the other opinion leaders were wrong. The fact is what they called radical was really right. What they called dangerous was just desperately need. And all of that time. I want to name me the great community. But I never thought it was my style -- the words I used that made a difference. It was the content. I wasn't a great communicated. But I communicated great things. And they didn't spring full bloom from my -- They came from the heart of a great nation. From our experience. Are with us and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called that the Reagan revolution. Except that but for me it always seemed more like the great -- discovery. A rediscovery of our values and our conscience. Common sense told us that when you -- -- -- tax -- something the people who produce less. So we cut the people's tax rates and the people produced more than ever before. The economy boomed like a plan that have been cut back and could now grow quickly and stronger. Our economic program brought about the longest peacetime expansion in our history. Real family income up the poverty rate down entrepreneurship booming and an explosion in research and new technology. We -- exporting more now than ever because American industry became more competitive. And at the same time. We summoned the national will to knock down protectionist walls abroad. Instead of erecting them at home. Common sense also told us that preserve the peace. We have to become strong again after years of weakness and confusion. So we rebuild our defenses. And this new year we -- the new piece of this around the globe. Not only at the super -- actually begun to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons and hope for even more progress is right. But the regional conflicts that wrecked the global are also beginning to seize the Persian gulf is no longer -- -- -- The Soviets are leaving Afghanistan. The Vietnamese are preparing to pull out of Cambodia. And an American mediated accord will soon send 50000 Cuban troops home from Angola. The lesson of all this was of course that because we're a great nation are challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves. The future we will always be hours. And something else -- Once -- Begin a great movement. There's no telling where Italy and we meant to change a nation. And instead. We change the world.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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