On this day in 1981, Republican Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th President of the United States. 20 minutes into his presidency, 52 American hostages held in Iran were freed. The Iran hostage crisis began in 1979 when 52 Americans were taken hostage by Iranian Islamists who took over the American Embassy in Tehran. Reagan’s predecessor Jimmy Carter tried to negotiate, then launched the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw to rescue them. They were finally released the day Carter left office.
Whilst the successful negotiations to release the hostages took place under the Carter administration, due to the timing of the release many associate Reagan with the achievement. His avid supporters saw the coincidence of his inauguration as President and the hostages coming home emblematic of his ability. Carter’s presidency is often ridiculed, and indeed the failed military rescue was a complete disaster, but it must be acknowledged that Carter did manage to get the hostages home.