Politicians from across the ideological spectrum heaped praise upon the lifetime and legacy of former South African president Nelson Mandela following his death on Wednesday. But back when Mandela was imprisoned for his anti-apartheid activism there was much more political division over the South African regime and how the United States should approach it.
Political leaders from President Ronald Reagan to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opposed efforts to force a change in South Africa through boycotts and sanctions, even if they privately opposed the white supremacist government.
In 1986, the United States Congress passed legislation imposing economic sanctions on the South African government. This legislation was vetoed by Reagan as he sought to protect an ally in the Cold War. When the House of Representatives debated and voted on overriding Reagan's veto on Sept. 29, 1986, the political divide over apartheid, one that seems foreign today, was on full display. The override ultimately passed the House by a 313-83 vote and the Senate by a 78-21 vote.
Watch the full debate in the House below: