Donald Regan

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Don Regan
Donald Thomas Regan.jpg
11th White House Chief of Staff
In office
February 4, 1985 – February 27, 1987
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by James Baker
Succeeded by Howard Baker
66th United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
January 22, 1981 – February 1, 1985
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by G. William Miller
Succeeded by James Baker
Chairman & CEO of Merrill Lynch
In office
Personal details
Born Donald Thomas Regan
(1918-12-21)December 21, 1918
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Died June 10, 2003(2003-06-10) (aged 84)
Williamsburg, Virginia
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann George Buchanan (m. 1942 - 2003, his death)
Children Donna Regan Lefeve
Donald Thomas Regan, Jr.
Richard William Regan
Diane Regan Doniger
Alma mater Harvard University
Profession Businessman
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/wars World War II

Donald Thomas "Don" Regan (December 21, 1918 – June 10, 2003) was the 66th United States Secretary of the Treasury, from 1981 to 1985, and Chief of Staff from 1985 to 1987 in the Ronald Reagan Administration, where he advocated "Reaganomics" and tax cuts to create jobs and stimulate production. Before serving in the Reagan administration, Regan served as Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch from 1971 to 1980. He had worked at Merrill Lynch since 1946 and before this he had studied at Harvard University and served in the United States Marine Corps, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Early life[edit]

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Kathleen (née Ahearn) and William Francis Regan, he was of Irish Catholic origins. Regan earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard College in 1940 and attended Harvard Law School before dropping out to join the United States Marine Corps at the outset of World War II. He reached the rank of lieutenant colonel while serving in the Pacific theater, and was involved in five major campaigns including Guadalcanal and Okinawa. In 1942, Regan married the former Ann George Buchanan (1921–2006), with whom he had four children: Donna Regan Lefeve, Donald T. Regan, Jr., Richard William Regan, and Diane Regan Doniger.

Wall Street[edit]

After the war, he joined Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. in 1946, as an account executive trainee, working up through the ranks, eventually taking over as Merrill Lynch's chairman and CEO in 1971, the year the company went public. He held those positions until 1980.

Regan was one of the original directors of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation and was vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange from 1973 to 1975. Regan was a major proponent of brokerage firms going public, which he viewed as an important step in the modernization of Wall Street; under his supervision, Merrill Lynch had its IPO on June 23, 1971, becoming only the second Wall Street firm to go public, after Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

During his tenure in these two positions, Regan also pushed hard for an end to minimum fixed commissions for brokers, which were fees that brokerage companies had to charge clients for every transaction they made on the clients' behalf; Regan saw them as a cartel-like restriction. In large part thanks to his lobbying, fixed commissions were abolished in 1975.

Reagan administration[edit]

President Ronald Reagan selected Donald Regan in 1981 to serve as Treasury Secretary, marking him as a spokesman for his economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics." He helped engineer changes in the tax code, reduce income tax rates and decrease taxes for corporations. Regan unexpectedly swapped jobs with then White House Chief of Staff James Baker in 1985. As Chief of Staff, Regan was closely involved in the day-to-day management of White House policy, which led Howard Baker, Regan's successor as Chief of Staff, to give a rebuke that Regan was becoming a "Prime Minister" inside an increasingly complex Imperial Presidency. Regan was eventually forced to resign because he was unable to contain the continuing political damage being done to President Reagan by public exposure of the Iran/Contra scandal.

Regan's memoir, For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington, exposes his disagreements with First Lady Nancy Reagan, including the claim that Nancy's personal astrologer, Joan Quigley, helped steer the President's decisions. Regan wrote:

Virtually every major move and decision the Reagans made during my time as White House Chief of Staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco [Quiqley] who drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise.[1][2]


"And the horse you rode in on" was a favorite of Regan's. He learned it from a poker buddy in Texas who said "expletive you and the horse you rode in on." Regan adopted the latter part of the phrase.[citation needed] In the portrait of Regan that hangs on the third floor of the treasury, the title of a book in the background reads And the Horse You Rode In On.[3]

"Speed it up" is a widely infamous phrase which Regan, somewhat indiscreetly, said to President Reagan during one of the latter's speeches. Michael Moore gives brief focus to this incident in his documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, who then proceeds to insinuate that Reagan was merely chosen as a frontman for the real power behind the throne, among them Regan, who at the time was the Chairman of Merrill Lynch and whom Reagan appointed as Treasury Secretary and then Chief of Staff. This quote has been used to show the power of Wall Street and its influence on Capitol Hill.

Retirement and death[edit]

Regan retired quietly in Virginia with Ann Regan, his wife of over sixty years. Late in life, he spent nearly ten hours a day in his art studio painting landscapes, some of which sold for thousands of dollars and still hang in museums. Regan had four children and nine grandchildren.

He died of cancer on June 10, 2003, at age 84, in a hospital near his home in Williamsburg, Virginia,[4] and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Donald Regan. For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington, (San Diego: Harcourt Trade Publishers, 1988), ISBN 0151639663
  2. ^ "The President's Astrologers", People (May 23, 1988)
  3. ^ Birnbaum, Jeffery H.; Murray, Alan S. (1987). Showdown at Gucci Gulch: Lawmakers, Lobbyists, and the Unlikely Triumph of Tax Reform. New York: Random House. p. 68. ISBN 0394560248. 
  4. ^ "Donald Regan, 84, Financier and Top Reagan Aide, Dies". The New York Times. June 11, 2003. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
G. William Miller
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: Ronald Reagan

Succeeded by
James Baker
Preceded by
James Baker
White House Chief of Staff
Served under: Ronald Reagan

Succeeded by
Howard Baker