4 November 1979

Iran hostage crisis: A group of Iranian college students overruns the U.S. embassy in Tehran and takes 90 hostages.

The Iran hostage crisis, also known as the American hostage crisis, was a diplomatic standoff between the United States and Iran that lasted for 444 days from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981. It began when a group of Iranian militants, primarily students, stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, and took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage.

The crisis had its roots in the complex and contentious history of U.S.-Iran relations. One major factor was the U.S. government’s support for Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the monarch of Iran, who was seen by many Iranians as a puppet of the United States and a symbol of oppression. The Shah’s regime was marked by widespread corruption, human rights abuses, and a lack of political freedoms, which fueled popular discontent in Iran.

Following the success of the Iranian Revolution in early 1979, which led to the overthrow of the Shah and the establishment of an Islamic Republic, anti-American sentiment in Iran intensified. The U.S. government granted asylum to the Shah for medical treatment, which further infuriated Iranians. The embassy takeover was framed as a protest against the United States’ interference in Iranian affairs and its perceived role in propping up the deposed Shah.

The 52 hostages were held in captivity for more than a year, and negotiations to secure their release were protracted and complicated. The crisis strained U.S.-Iran relations and had significant domestic and international ramifications. The United States imposed economic sanctions on Iran and attempted a military rescue mission in April 1980, which ended in failure and the loss of American lives.

The crisis finally ended on January 20, 1981, coinciding with the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan. The hostages were released as part of an agreement known as the Algiers Accords, which involved the unfreezing of Iranian assets and a commitment by the United States not to interfere in Iranian affairs. The timing of the hostages’ release led to allegations that the Reagan campaign had made a secret deal with Iran to delay their release until after the 1980 U.S. presidential election, though these allegations were never conclusively proven.

The Iran hostage crisis had a profound impact on U.S.-Iran relations, contributing to the deep-seated mistrust between the two nations that persists to this day. It remains a significant historical event in both American and Iranian history and is often cited in discussions of international diplomacy, hostage situations, and the consequences of foreign policy decisions

4 November 1980

Ronald Reagan is elected the 40th President of The United States.

The United States presidential election of 1980 was the 49th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 1980. Republican nominee Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter. Due to the rise of conservativism following Reagan’s victory, some historians consider the election to be a realigning election that marked the start of the “Reagan Era”.

Carter’s unpopularity and poor relations with Democratic leaders encouraged an intra-party challenge by Senator Ted Kennedy, a younger brother of former President John F. Kennedy. Carter defeated Kennedy in the majority of the Democratic primaries, but Kennedy remained in the race until Carter was officially nominated at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. The Republican primaries were contested between Reagan, who had previously served as the Governor of California, former Congressman George H. W. Bush of Texas, Congressman John B. Anderson of Illinois, and several other candidates. All of Reagan’s opponents had dropped out by the end of the primaries, and the 1980 Republican National Convention nominated a ticket consisting of Reagan and Bush. Anderson entered the race as an independent candidate, and convinced former Wisconsin Governor Patrick Lucey, a Democrat, to serve as his running mate.

Reagan campaigned for increased defense spending, implementation of supply-side economic policies, and a balanced budget. His campaign was aided by Democratic dissatisfaction with Carter, the Iran hostage crisis, and a worsening economy at home marked by high unemployment and inflation. Carter attacked Reagan as a dangerous right-wing extremist and warned that Reagan would cut Medicare and Social Security.

Reagan won the election by a landslide, taking a large majority of the electoral vote and 50.7% of the popular vote. Reagan received the highest number of electoral votes ever won by a non-incumbent presidential candidate. In the simultaneous Congressional elections, Republicans won control of the United States Senate for the first time since 1955. Carter won 41% of the vote but carried just six states and Washington, D.C. Anderson won 6.6% of the popular vote, and he performed best among liberal Republican voters dissatisfied with Reagan. Reagan, then 69, was at the time the oldest person to ever be inaugurated as president.

Throughout the 1970s, the United States underwent a wrenching period of low economic growth, high inflation and interest rates, and intermittent energy crises. By October 1978, Iran—a major oil supplier to the United States at the time—was experiencing a major uprising that severely damaged its oil infrastructure and greatly weakened its capability to produce oil. In January 1979, shortly after Iran’s leader Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country, Iranian opposition figure Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ended his 14-year exile in France and returned to Iran to establish an Islamic Republic, largely hostile to American interests and influence in the country. In the spring and summer of 1979 inflation was on the rise and various parts of the United States were experiencing energy shortages.

Carter was widely blamed for the return of the long gas lines in the summer of 1979 that were last seen just after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He planned on delivering his fifth major speech on energy, but he felt that the American people were no longer listening. Carter left for the presidential retreat of Camp David. “For more than a week, a veil of secrecy enveloped the proceedings. Dozens of prominent Democratic Party leaders—members of Congress, governors, labor leaders, academics and clergy—were summoned to the mountaintop retreat to confer with the beleaguered president.” His pollster, Pat Caddell, told him that the American people simply faced a crisis of confidence because of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Vietnam War; and Watergate. On July 15, 1979, Carter gave a nationally televised address in which he identified what he believed to be a “crisis of confidence” among the American people. This came to be known as his “malaise” speech, although Carter never used the word in the speech.

Many expected Senator Ted Kennedy to successfully challenge Carter in the upcoming Democratic Primary. Kennedy’s official announcement was scheduled for early November. A television interview with Roger Mudd of CBS a few days before the announcement went badly, however. Kennedy gave an “incoherent and repetitive” answer to the question of why he was running, and the polls, which showed him leading the President by 58-25 in August now had him ahead 49–39.

Meanwhile, Carter was given an opportunity for political redemption when the Khomeini regime again gained public attention and allowed the taking of 52 American hostages by a group of Islamist students and militants at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979. Carter’s calm approach towards the handling of this crisis resulted in his approval ratings jump in the 60-percent range in some polls, due to a “rally round the flag” effect.

By the beginning of the election campaign, the prolonged Iran hostage crisis had sharpened public perceptions of a national crisis. On April 25, 1980, Carter’s ability to use the hostage crisis to regain public acceptance eroded when his high risk attempt to rescue the hostages ended in disaster when eight servicemen were killed. The unsuccessful rescue attempt drew further skepticism towards his leadership skills.

Following the failed rescue attempt, Carter took overwhelming blame for the Iran hostage crisis, in which the followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini burned American flags and chanted anti-American slogans, paraded the captured American hostages in public, and burned Carter in effigy. Carter’s critics saw him as an inept leader who had failed to solve the worsening economic problems at home. His supporters defended the president as a decent, well-intentioned man being unfairly criticized for problems that had been escalating for years.

Another event that polarized the electorate was the U.S.-led 1980 Summer Olympics boycott. Shortly following the Soviet Union’s December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, Carter demanded that the USSR withdraw from Afghanistan or the U.S. would boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics, set to be staged in Moscow. The USSR did not withdraw . Carter’s stance was controversial—he was both praised for his moral stand and criticized for politicizing the Olympics. With many allied countries joining the U.S. in the boycott, the contrasting spirits of competitive goodwill and campaign animosity, a feature of most presidential campaign years, was absent and the press had additional time to devote to national and international strife.

4 November 1921

Japanese Prime Minister Hara Takashi is assassinated in Tokyo.


Hara Takashi, also called Hara Kei, politician who was prime minister of Japan from 1918 to 1921 and who established the political party as a fundamental institution of politics in Japan.

Hara was the son of a high-ranking samurai family of northern Japan. After graduating from Tokyo University he became a journalist. In 1882 he entered the foreign service, upon which he rose rapidly with the support of It? Hirobumi and other prominent figures in government. In 1900 Hara participated with It? in the founding of the Rikken Seiy?kai. Hara became the Seiy?kai’s secretary-general that year and was a principal leader of the party from then on, serving as its president after 1914.

Elected to the Diet parliament in 1900 and reelected eight times thereafter, he rose to become home minister in 1906–1908, 1911–12, and 1913–14. Hara built the Seiy?kai into a U.S.-style party whose popular support came from the patronage it dispensed and the regional economic development it sought to promote. On Sept. 29, 1918, Hara obtained the premiership, ushering in almost two decades in which the Seiy?kai machine and its business and agricultural allies dominated civilian politics.

Hara lowered the property qualifications for voting, thus enlarging the electorate to include the small landholders among whom Seiy?kai strength lay. He refused, however, to use the absolute majority the Seiy?kai commanded in the lower house of the Diet to institute universal male suffrage in Japan. Hara also attempted to reduce the power of the military, and he opposed the use of Japanese soldiers in Siberia. In 1921 he was assassinated by a young rightist fanatic.

4 November 1921

The Prime Minister of Japan, Hara Takashi is assassinated in Tokyo.


In the evening of 4 November 1921, Prime Minister HARA Takashi, who had led the Association of Friends of Constitutional Government with unparalleled political skill, in organizing Japan’s first “true party based cabinet” went to Tokyo Station, intending to board the 7:30 p.m. sleeper bound for Kyoto in order to attend the Seiyukai’s Kinki Conference. At the time he was fatally stabbed by a railway switchman named NAKAOKA Kon’ichi, who was infuriated by what he saw as the narrow partisan interests of the Seiyukai. The assassination of the incumbent Prime Minister sent shock waves through the political world, since it was the first such incident after Japan had become constitutional government.

The selection process of HARA’s successor as the leader of Seiyukai ran into problems, but ultimately TAKAHASHI Korekiyo was chosen as both Seiyukai President and Prime Minister, with the backing of Genro SAIONJI Kinmochi. In his policy address to the Imperial Diet, TAKAHASHI argued that he would continue the policies of the HARA Cabinet. Nonetheless, his Cabinet was destined for a short life, and the Seiyukai also fell apart.