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Nightmare For American Hostages Ended On This Date

(Flickr)

It was just a few minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president, succeeding Jimmy Carter, that the 52 U.S. hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, Iran, were released after 444 days being held captive.

The whole mess began in November 1979 when angry Iranian students broke into the embassy because they were upset that the U.S. government allowed the shah of Iran to be admitted to New York City for medical treatment. The Ayatollah Khomeini at first refused all appeals to release the hostages, but after two weeks, he allowed all females and minorities to be released, claiming they were among the people oppressed by the American government. The remaining 52 hostages were held for the next 14 months.

President Jimmy Carter tried diplomacy. He tried a daring rescue mission that ended in disaster with the deaths of eight American soldiers. Even after the shah died of cancer, the hostages continued to be held. But after Reagan was elected president in November of 1980, negotiations began to free $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets, and when Reagan was sworn in, the Americans were released.

It happened on this date in 1981.

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