Dwight D. Eisenhower
|Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|34th President of the United States|
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
|Vice President||Richard Nixon|
|Preceded by||Harry S. Truman|
|Succeeded by||John F. Kennedy|
|1st Supreme Allied Commander Europe|
April 2, 1951 – May 30, 1952
|President||Harry S. Truman|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Matthew Ridgway|
|16th Chief of Staff of the Army|
November 19, 1945 – February 6, 1948
|President||Harry S. Truman|
|Deputy||J. Lawton Collins|
|Preceded by||George Marshall|
|Succeeded by||Omar Bradley|
|1st Governor of the American Zone of Occupied Germany|
May 8, 1945 – November 10, 1945
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Joseph T. McNarney|
|13th President of Columbia University|
|Preceded by||Nicholas Murray Butler|
|Succeeded by||Grayson Kirk|
|Born||David Dwight Eisenhower
October 14, 1890
Denison, Texas, U.S.
|Died||March 28, 1969
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Mamie Geneva Doud|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1915–1953
|Rank||General of the Army|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Army Distinguished Service Medal (4 oak leaf clusters)
Legion of Merit
Order of the Southern Cross
Order of the Bath
Order of Merit
Legion of Honor
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (pronounced //, EYE-zən-how-ər; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Prior to that he was a five-star general in the United States Army. During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe; he had responsibility for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45, from the Western Front. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.
Eisenhower was of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry, and was reared in a large family in Kansas, by parents with a robust work ethic and religious background. As one of five sons, he was conditioned by a competitive atmosphere requiring self-reliance. He was admitted to, and graduated from, West Point, and later was married with two sons. After World War II Eisenhower served as Chief of Staff under President Harry S. Truman, then assumed the post of President at Columbia University.
Eisenhower entered the 1952 presidential race as a Republican, to counter the non-interventionism of Senator Robert A. Taft, and to crusade against "Communism, Korea and corruption." He won by a landslide, defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson and ending two decades of the New Deal Coalition. In the first year of his presidency Eisenhower deposed the leader of Iran in the 1953 Iranian coup d'etat, and used nuclear threats to conclude the Korean War with China. His New Look policy of nuclear deterrence gave priority to inexpensive nuclear weapons while reducing the funding for the other military forces; the goal was to keep pressure on the Soviet Union and reduce federal deficits. When the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957 he had to play catchup in the space race. Eisenhower forced Israel, the UK and France to end their invasion of Egypt during the Suez Crisis of 1956. In 1958 he sent 15,000 US troops to Lebanon to prevent the pro-Western government falling to a Nasser-inspired revolution. Near the end of his term, his efforts to set up a summit meeting with the Soviets collapsed because of the U-2 incident when an American spy plane was shot down over Russia and its pilot captured.
On the domestic front, he covertly helped remove Joseph McCarthy from power but otherwise left most political activity to his Vice President, Richard Nixon. He was a moderate conservative who continued New Deal agencies, expanded Social Security and launched the Interstate Highway System. He sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, for the first time since Reconstruction to enforce federal court orders to desegregate public schools, and signed civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960 to protect the right to vote. He implemented desegregation of the armed forces in two years, and made five appointments to the Supreme Court. He was the first term-limited president in accordance with the 22nd Amendment.
Eisenhower's two terms were peaceful ones for the most part and saw considerable economic prosperity except for a sharp recession in 1958–59. Although he left office in 1961 with low overall approval ratings, his posthumous reputation has grown and in recent surveys of historians, Eisenhower is often ranked as one of the top ten U.S. Presidents.
Early life and education
The Eisenhauer (German for "iron hewer") family migrated from Karlsbrunn, Germany to Switzerland in the 17th century due to religious persecution, and a century later came to the United States. A misspelling in official documents changed their name; the Eisenhower family settled in York, Pennsylvania in 1730, and in the 1880s they moved to Kansas. Eisenhower's Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors, who were primarily farmers, included Hans Nikolaus Eisenhauer of Karlsbrunn who migrated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1741. Hans' great-great grandson, David Jacob Eisenhower (1863–1942), was Dwight's father, and was a college-educated engineer, despite his own father Jacob's urging to stay on the family farm. Eisenhower's mother, Ida Elizabeth Stover, born in Virginia of German Lutheran ancestry, moved to Kansas from Virginia. She married David on September 23, 1885 in Lecompton, Kansas on the campus of their alma mater, Lane University. David owned a general store in Hope, Kansas but the business failed due to economic conditions and the family became impoverished. The Eisenhowers then lived in Texas from 1889 until 1892, and later returned to Kansas, with $24 to their name at the time; David worked as a mechanic with a railroad and then with a creamery. By 1898, the family was self sustaining with suitable accommodations for their large family.
Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas
Eisenhower attended Abilene High School and graduated with the class of 1909. As a freshman, he injured his knee and developed a leg infection which extended into his groin and which his doctor diagnosed as life threatening; the doctor insisted that the leg be amputated but Dwight refused to allow it, and miraculously recovered, though he had to repeat his freshman year. He and brother Edgar both wanted to attend college, though they lacked the funds. They made a pact to take alternate years at college while the other worked, in order to earn the tuitions. Edgar took the first turn at school, and Dwight was employed as a night supervisor at the Belle Springs Creamery. Edgar asked for a second year, Dwight consented and worked for a second year. At that time, a friend "Swede" Hazlet was applying to the Naval Academy and urged Dwight to apply to the school, since no tuition was required. Eisenhower requested consideration for either Annapolis or West Point with his U.S. Senator, Joseph L. Bristow. Though Eisenhower was among the winners of the entrance exam competition, he was beyond the age limit for the Naval Academy. He then accepted an appointment to West Point in 1911.
At West Point, Eisenhower relished the emphasis on traditions and on sports, but was less enthusiastic about the hazing, though he willingly accepted it as a plebe; he was also a regular violator of the more detailed regulations, and finished school with a less than stellar discipline rating. Academically, Eisenhower's best subject by far was English; otherwise his performance was average, though he thoroughly enjoyed the typical emphasis of engineering on science and mathematics. In athletics, Eisenhower later said that "not making the baseball team at West Point was one of the greatest disappointments of my life, maybe my greatest." He did make the football team, and was a varsity starter as running back and linebacker in 1912, tackling the legendary Jim Thorpe of the Carlisle Indians that year. Eisenhower broke his leg in that, his last, game; it became permanently damaged on horseback and in the boxing ring, so he turned to fencing and gymnastics. Eisenhower later served as junior varsity football coach and yell leader. Controversy persists over whether Eisenhower played minor league baseball for Junction City in the Central Kansas League the year before he attended West Point, where he played amateur football. He graduated in the middle of the class of 1915, which became known as "the class the stars fell on", because 59 members eventually became general officers.
Eisenhower met and fell in love with Mamie Geneva Doud of Boone, Iowa, six years his junior, while he was stationed in Texas. He and her family were also immediately taken with one another. He proposed to her on Valentine's Day in 1916. A November wedding date in Denver was moved up to July 1 due to the pending outbreak of World War I. In their first 35 years of marriage they moved as many times.
The Eisenhowers had two sons. Doud Dwight "Icky" Eisenhower was born September 24, 1917, and died of scarlet fever on January 2, 1921, at the age of three; Eisenhower was mostly reticent to discuss his death. Their second son, John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower, was born on August 3, 1922 while they were in Panama; John served in the United States Army, retired as a brigadier general, became an author and served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 1969 to 1971. John, coincidentally, graduated from West Point
Eisenhower was a golf enthusiast later in life, and joined the Augusta National Golf Club in 1948. He played golf frequently during and after his presidency and was unreserved in expressing his passion for the game. He had a small, basic golf facility installed at Camp David, and became close friends with the Augusta National Chairman Clifford Roberts, inviting Roberts to stay at the White House on several occasions; Roberts, an investment broker, also handled the Eisenhower family's investments. Roberts also advised Eisenhower on tax aspects of publishing his memoirs, which proved to be financially lucrative.
After golf, oil painting was Eisenhower's second hobby. While at Columbia Eisenhower began the art after watching Thomas E. Stephens paint Mamie's portrait. He painted about 260 oils during the last 20 years of his life to relax, mostly landscapes but also portraits of subjects such as Mamie, their grandchildren, General Montgomery, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. Wendy Beckett stated that Eisenhower's work, "simple and earnest, rather cause us to wonder at the hidden depths of this reticent president". A conservative in both art and politics, he in a 1962 speech denounced modern art as "a piece of canvas that looks like a broken-down Tin Lizzie, loaded with paint, has been driven over it."
Early military career
World War I
After graduation in 1915, Lieutenant (2nd) Eisenhower put in for assignment in the Phillipines which was denied, and served with the infantry, initially in supplies, until 1918 at various camps in Texas and Georgia. In 1916, while stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Eisenhower was football coach for St. Louis College, now St. Mary's University. In late 1917 while in charge of training at Ft. Oglethorpe in Georgia, Mamie had their first son.
When World War I began he immediately requested an overseas assignment but was again denied and then assigned to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. In February 1918 he was transferred to Camp Meade in Maryland with the 65th Engineers. His unit was later ordered to France but to his chagrin he received orders for the new tank corps, where he rose to temporary (Bvt.) Lieutenant Colonel in the National Army. He trained tank crews at "Camp Colt"—his first command—at the site of "Pickett's Charge" on the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Civil War battleground. Though Ike and his tank crews never saw combat, he displayed excellent organizational skills, as well as an ability to accurately assess junior officers' strengths and make optimal placements of personnel. Once again his spirits were raised when the unit under his command received orders overseas to France; this time his wishes were thwarted when the armistice was signed, just a week before departure. Completely missing out on the warfront left him depressed and bitter for a time, despite being given the Distinguished Service Medal for his work at home. In World War II rivals who had combat service in the first great war (led by Gen. Bernard Montgomery) sought to denigrate Eisenhower for his previous lack of combat duty, despite his stateside experience establishing a camp, completely equipped, for thousands of troops, and developing a full combat training schedule.
In service of generals
After the war, Eisenhower reverted to his regular rank of captain and a few days later was promoted to major, a rank he held for 16 years. The major was assigned in 1919 to a transcontinental Army convoy to test vehicles and dramatize the need for improved roads in the nation. Indeed, the convoy averaged only 5 mph from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco; later the improvement of highways became a signature issue for Eisenhower as President. He assumed duties again at Camp Meade, Maryland commanding a battalion of tanks, where he remained until 1922. His schooling continued, focused on the nature of the next war and the role of the tank in it. His new expertise in tank warfare was strengthened by a close collaboration with George S. Patton and other senior tank leaders; their leading-edge ideas of speed-oriented offensive tank warfare were strongly discouraged by superiors who considered the new approach too radical and preferred the tank continue to be used in a strictly supportive role for the infantry. Eisenhower was even threatened with court martial for continued publication of these proposed methods of tank deployment, and he relented.
From 1920 Eisenhower served with an unprecedented succession of generals – Fox Conner, John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur and George Marshall. He first became executive officer to General Conner in the Panama Canal Zone, where, joined by Mamie, he served until 1924. Under Conner's tutelage, he studied military history and theory (including Carl von Clausewitz's On War
During the late 1920s and early 1930s Eisenhower's career in the post war army stalled somewhat, as military priorities diminshed; many of his friends resigned for high-paying business jobs. He was assigned to the American Battle Monuments Commission directed by General Pershing, and with the help of his brother Milton, then a journalist at the Agriculture Dept., he produced a guide to American battlefields in Europe. He then was assigned to the Army War College and graduated in 1928. After a one year assignment in France, Eisenhower served as executive officer to General George V. Mosely, Assistant Secretary of War, from 1929 to February 1933. His primary duty was planning for the next war which proved most difficult in the midst of the great depression. He then was posted as chief military aide to General MacArthur, Army Chief of Staff. In 1932, he participated in the clearing of the Bonus March encampment in Washington DC. Although he was against the actions taken against the veterans and strongly advised MacArthur against taking a public role in it, he later wrote the Army's official incident report, endorsing MacArthur's conduct.
In 1935 he accompanied MacArthur to the Philippines, where he served as assistant military adviser to the Philippine government in developing their army. Eisenhower had strong philosophical disagreements with his patron regarding the role of the Philippine Army and the leadership qualities that an American army officer should exhibit and develop in his subordinates. The dispute and resulting antipathy lasted the rest of their lives. Historians have concluded that this assignment provided valuable preparation for handling the challenging personalities of Winston Churchill, George S. Patton, George Marshall and General Montgomery during World War II. Eisenhower later emphasized that too much had been made of the disagreements with McArthur, and that a positive relationship endured. While in Manila Mamie suffered a life threatening stomach ailment but recovered fully. Eisenhower was promoted to the rank of permanent lieutenant colonel in 1936. He also learned to fly, although he was never rated as a military pilot. He made a solo flight over the Philippines in 1937.
Eisenhower returned to the U.S. in 1939 and held a series of staff positions in Washington, D.C., California and Texas. In June 1941, he was appointed Chief of Staff to General Walter Krueger, Commander of the 3rd Army, at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. He was promoted to brigadier general on October 3, 1941. Although his administrative abilities had been noticed, on the eve of the U.S. entry into World War II he had never held an active command above a battalion and was far from being considered as a potential commander of major operations.
World War II
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Eisenhower was assigned to the General Staff in Washington, where he served until June 1942 with responsibility for creating the major war plans to defeat Japan and Germany. He was appointed Deputy Chief in charge of Pacific Defenses under the Chief of War Plans Division (WPD), General Leonard T. Gerow, and then succeeded Gerow as Chief of the War Plans Division. Then he was appointed Assistant Chief of Staff in charge of the new Operations Division (which replaced WPD) under Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, who spotted talent and promoted accordingly.
At the end of May 1942, Eisenhower accompanied Lt. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, commanding general of the Army Air Forces, to London to assess the effectiveness of the theater commander in England, Maj. Gen. James E. Chaney. He returned to Washington on June 3 with a pessimistic assessment, stating he had an "uneasy feeling" about Chaney and his staff. On June 23, 1942, he returned to London as Commanding General, European Theater of Operations (ETOUSA), based in London, and replaced Chaney.
Operations Torch and Avalanche
In November 1942, he was also appointed Supreme Commander Allied (Expeditionary) Force of the North African Theater of Operations (NATOUSA) through the new operational Headquarters A(E)FHQ. The word "expeditionary" was dropped soon after his appointment for security reasons. The campaign in North Africa was designated Operation Torch; French cooperation was deemed necessary to the campaign, and Eisenhower encountered a "preposterous situation' with the multiple rival factions in France. His primary objective was to move forces successfully onto Tunisia, and intending to facilitate that objective, he gave his support to François Darlan as High Commissioner in North Africa, despite Darlan's fascist leanings. The Allied leaders were "thunderstruck" by this from a political standpoint, though none of them had offered Eisenhower guidance with the problem in the course of planning the operation. Eisenhower was severely criticized for the move; but Darlan was assassinated later that year, and Eisenhower's command position was not effected. The matter was a lesson learned for Eisenhower in terms of future communications with the Allied leaders.
Operation Torch also served as a valuable training ground for Eisenhower's combat command skills; during the initial phase of Erwin Rommel's move into the Kasserine Pass, Eisenhower created some confusion in the ranks by some interference with the execution of battle plans by his subordinates. He also was initially indecisive in his removal of Lloyd Fredendall. He became more adroit in such matters in later campaigns. In February 1943, his authority was extended as commander of AFHQ across the Mediterranean basin to include the British 8th Army, commanded by General Bernard Law Montgomery. The 8th Army had advanced across the Western Desert from the east and was ready for the start of the Tunisia Campaign. Eisenhower gained his fourth star and gave up command of ETOUSA to be commander of NATOUSA.
After the capitulation of Axis forces in North Africa Eisenhower oversaw the highly successful invasion of Sicily. Once Mussolini had fallen in Italy, the Allies switched their attention to the mainland with Operation Avalanche. But while Eisenhower argued with Roosevelt and Churchill, who both insisted on unconditional terms of surrender in exchange for helping the Italians, the Germans pursued an aggressive buildup of forces in the country - making the job more difficult, by adding 19 divisions and initially outnumbering the Allied forces 2 to 1, Nevertheless, the invasion of Italy was highly successful.
Supreme Allied commander and Operation Overlord
In December 1943, President Roosevelt decided that Eisenhower—not Marshall—would be Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. In January 1944, he resumed command of ETOUSA and the following month was officially designated as the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), serving in a dual role until the end of hostilities in Europe in May 1945. In these positions he was charged with planning and carrying out the Allied assault on the coast of Normandy in June 1944 under the code name Operation Overlord, the liberation of Western Europe and the invasion of Germany.
Eisenhower, as well as the officers and troops under him, had learned valuable lessons in their previous operations, and their skill sets had all strengthened in preparation for the next most difficult campaign against the Germans – a beach landing assault. Eisenhower's first struggles however were with Allied leaders and officers on matters vital to the success of the Normandy invasion; he argued with Roosevelt over an essential agreement with de Gaulle to use French resistance forces in covert and sabotage operations against the Germans in advance of Overlord. Eisenhower fought with Admiral Ernest J. King over King's refusal to provide additional landing craft from the Pacific. He also insisted that the British give him exclusive command over all strategic air forces to facilitate Overlord, to the point of threatening to resign unless Churchill relented, as he did. Eisenhower then designed a bombing plan in France in advance of Overlord and argued with Churchill over the latter's concern with civilian casualties; de Gaulle interjected that the casualties were justified in shedding the yoke of the Germans, and Eisenhower prevailed. He also had to skillfully manage to retain the services of the often unruly George S. Patton, by severely reprimanding him, when Patton earlier had slapped a subordinate and then when Patton gave a grossly errant speech.
The D-Day Normandy landings on June 6, 1944 were costly but successful; a month later the invasion of Southern France took place, and control of the forces which took part in the southern invasion passed from the AFHQ to the SHAEF. Many prematurely considered that victory in Europe would come by summer's end; but Eisenhower knew from his German roots that the fight would continue. From then until the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945, Eisenhower through SHAEF had command of all Allied forces, and through his command of ETOUSA, administrative command of all U.S. forces, on the Western Front north of the Alps. He was ever mindful of the inevitable loss of life and suffering that would be experienced on an individual level by the troops under his command and their families. This prompted him to make a point of personally visiting every division involved in the invasion. Ike's sense of responsibility was underscored by his draft of a statement to be issued if the invasion failed; it has been called one of the great speeches of history:
- Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone."
Liberation of France and victory in Europe
Once the coastal assault had succeeded, Eisenhower insisted on retaining personal control over the land battle strategy, and was immersed in the command and supply of multiple assaults through France on Germany. Gen. Montgomery insisted priority be given to his 21st Army Group's attack being made in the north, while Gens. Bradley (U.S. 12th Army Group), Patton (U.S. Third Army) and Devers (U.S. Sixth Army) insisted they be given priority in the south and near Paris. Eisenhower worked tirelessly to address the demands of the rival commanders to optimize Allied forces, often by giving them tactical, though sometimes ineffective, latitude; many historians conclude this delayed the Allied victory in Europe. However, due to Eisenhower's persistence, the pivotal supply port at Antwerp was successfully, albeit belatedly, opened in late 1944, and victory became a more distinct probability.
In recognition of his senior position in the Allied command, on December 20, 1944 he was promoted to General of the Army, equivalent to the rank of Field Marshal in most European armies. In this and the previous high commands he held, Eisenhower showed his great talents for leadership and diplomacy. Although he had never seen action himself, he won the respect of front-line commanders. He interacted adeptly with allies such as Winston Churchill, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and General Charles de Gaulle. He had serious disagreements with Churchill and Montgomery over questions of strategy, but these rarely upset his relationships with them. He dealt with Soviet Marshal Zhukov, his Russian counterpart, and they became good friends.
The Germans launched a predictable and aggressive counter offensive in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 which was turned back in early 1945 by the ill-prepared allies after Eisenhower repositioned their armies and improved weather allowed their bombers to engage. German defenses continued to deteriorate on both the eastern front with the Soviets and the western front with the Allies. As the defeat of the Germans became inevitable, Churchill and Roosevelt then began to shift their concern from the Germans to the Russians; the British particularly expected final surrender in Berlin ahead of the arrival of Russian forces. Though he was careful to restrict himself to military considerations toward completing a decisive victory over the Germans, Eisenhower at that time preferred a cooperative approach with the Russians, and displayed that in his decision as to the logistics of the Germans' surrender. The Germans finally surrendered on May 7, 1945 at Rheims, France.
Post World War II
Military Governor and Chief of Staff
Following the German unconditional surrender, Eisenhower was appointed Military Governor of the U.S. Occupation Zone, based in
As the 1948 election approached, Eisenhower was repeatedly urged by prominent citizens from both parties nationwide to run for president. President Truman even approached him, offering to serve as his Vice-President if he would agree to run as president on the Democratic ticket. Eisenhower maintained no political party affiliation during this time, though he was clear in not aligning with the Democrats. He firmly declined all of the offers and many believed he was foregoing his only opportunity to be president; Thomas E. Dewey was considered the other probable winner, would presumably serve two terms, and Eisenhower, at age 66 in 1956, would then be too old.
President at Columbia University and NATO Supreme Commander
In 1948, Eisenhower became President of Columbia University, a premier private university in New York. The assignment was described as not being a good fit in either direction. During that year Eisenhower's memoir, Crusade in Europe, was published. Critics regarded it as one of the finest U.S. military memoirs, and it was a major financial success as well.
Eisenhower's stint as president of Columbia University was punctuated by his activity within the Council on Foreign Relations, a study group he led as president concerning the political and military implications of the Marshall Plan, and The American Assembly, Eisenhower's "vision of a great cultural center where business, professional and governmental leaders could meet from time to time to discuss and reach conclusions concerning problems of a social and political nature". Biographer Blanche Weisen Cook suggests that this period served as "the political education of General Eisenhower", as he had to prioritize wide-ranging educational, administrative, and financial demands for the university. Through his involvement in the Council on Foreign Relations, he also gained exposure to economic analysis, which would become the bedrock of his understanding in economic policy. "Whatever General Eisenhower knows about economics he has learned at the study group meetings," one Aid to Europe member claimed.
Within months of beginning his tenure as university president, Eisenhower was requested to advise Secretary of Defense James Forrestal on unification of the armed services. Approximately six months after his installation, he became the informal chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. Two months later he fell ill and spent over a month in recovery at Augusta National Golf Club
The contacts gained through university and American Assembly fund-raising activities would later become important supporters in Eisenhower's bid for the Republican party nomination and the presidency. Meanwhile, Columbia University's liberal faculty members became disenchanted with the university president's ties to oilmen and businessmen, including Leonard McCollum, president of Continental Oil; Frank Abrams, chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey; Bob Kleberg, president of King Ranch; H. J. Porter, a Texas oil producer; Bob Woodruff, president of Coca-Cola; and Clarence Francis, General Foods chairman. As Columbia's president, Eisenhower gave voice and form to his opinions about the supremacy and difficulties of American democracy. His tenure marked his transformation from military to civilian leadership. The biographer Travis Beal Jacobs also suggests that the alienation of the Columbia faculty contributed to sharp intellectual criticism of him for many years.
The Columbia trustees refused to accept his resignation in December 1950, when he took leave from the university to become the Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and was given operational command of NATO forces in Europe. Eisenhower retired from active service on May 31, 1952, and resumed the university presidency, which he held until January 1953. NATO did not initially have strong bipartisan support in Congress at the time he assumed his command; Eisenhower unhesitatingly advised the participating European nations that it would be incumbent upon them to demonstrate their own commitment of troops and equipment to the NATO force before it would come from a war weary United States. At home, Eisenhower was more effective in making the case for NATO in Congress than the Truman administration; by the middle of 1951, American and European support for NATO was substantial enough to give it a genuine military force. Nevertheless, Eisenhower initially anticipated that NATO would be a truly European entity, with the American commitment ending after ten years or so.
Presidential campaign of 1952
President Truman, symbolizing a broad based desire for an Eisenhower candidacy for president, again in 1951 pressed him to run for the office as a Democrat. It was at this time that Eisenhower vocalized his disdain for the Democratic party and declared himself and his family to be Republicans. A "Draft Eisenhower" movement in the Republican Party persuaded him to declare his candidacy in the 1952 presidential election to counter the candidacy of non-interventionist Senator Robert Taft. The effort was a long struggle; Eisenhower had to be convinced that 1) the political circumstances in the country had created a genuine duty for him to offer himself as a candidate, and 2) that there was a mandate from the populace for him to be their President. Henry Cabot Lodge who served as his campaign manager and others succeeded in convincing him, and in June 1952 he resigned his command at NATO to campaign full time. Eisenhower defeated Taft for the nomination, having won critical delegate votes from Texas. Eisenhower's campaign was noted for the simple but effective slogan, "I Like Ike". It was essential to his success that Ike express his opposition to Roosevelt's policy at Yalta and against Truman's policies in Korea and China., matters in which he had once participated. In defeating Taft for the nomination, it became necessary for Eisenhower to appease the right wing Old Guard of the Republican Party; his selection of Richard M. Nixon as the Vice-President on the ticket was designed in part for that purpose. Nixon also provided a strong anti-communist presence as well as some youth to counter Ike's more advanced age.
In the general election, against the advice of his advisors, Eisenhower insisted on campaigning in the South, refusing to surrender the region to the Democrats. The campaign strategy, dubbed "K1C2", was to focus on attacking the Truman and Roosevelt administrations on three issues: Korea, Communism and corruption. In an effort to accommodate the right, he stressed that the liberation of Eastern Europe should be by peaceful means only; he also distanced himself from his former boss President Truman. Two controversies arose during the campaign which tested him and his staff but were without effect on the campaign; one involved a report that Nixon had improperly received funds from a secret trust – Nixon spoke out adroitly to avoid potential damage but the matter permanently alienated the two candidates. The second issue centered around Eisenhower's relented decision to confront the controversial methods of Joseph McCarthy on his home turf in a Wisconsin appearance. Just two weeks prior to the election, Eisenhower vowed to go to Korea and end the war there. He promised to maintain a strong commitment against Communism while avoiding the topic of NATO; finally, he stressed a corruption-free, frugal administration at home. He defeated Democrat Adlai Stevenson in a landslide, with an electoral margin of 442 to 89, marking the first Republican return to the White House in 20 years. In the election he also brought with him a Republican majority in the House (by eight votes) and in the Senate (actually a tie, with Nixon providing the majority vote).
Throughout his presidency, Eisenhower preached a doctrine of dynamic conservatism. He continued all the major New Deal programs still in operation, especially Social Security. He expanded its programs and rolled them into a new cabinet-level agency, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, while extending benefits to an additional ten million workers. He implemented integration in the Armed Services in two years, which had not been completed under Truman.
His cabinet, consisting of several corporate executives and one labor leader, was dubbed by one journalist, "Eight millionaires and a plumber."
Interstate Highway System
President Eisenhower delivered remarks about the need for a new highway program at Cadillac Square in Detroit on October 29, 1954
Text of speech excerpt
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One of Eisenhower's enduring achievements was championing and signing the bill that authorized the Interstate Highway System in 1956. He justified the project through the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 as essential to American security during the Cold War. It was believed that large cities would be targets in a possible future war, and the highways were designed to evacuate them and allow the military to move in.
Eisenhower's goal to create improved highways was influenced by his involvement in the U.S. Army's 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy. He was assigned as an observer for the mission, which involved sending a convoy of U.S. Army vehicles coast to coast. His subsequent experience with German autobahns during World War II convinced him of the benefits of an Interstate Highway System. Noticing the improved ability to move logistics throughout the country, he thought an Interstate Highway System in the U.S. would not only be beneficial for military operations, but be the building block for continued economic growth.
Eisenhower held out an olive branch to the Soviet Union after Joseph Stalin's death in March 1953, but the Cold War escalated during his presidency. His foreign policy was marked by "the brave new world of CIA-led coups and assassinations. It was Eisenhower whose CIA deposed the leaders of Iran, Guatemala, and possibly the newly independent Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville). The Eisenhower administration also planned the Bay of Pigs Invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba, which John F. Kennedy was left to carry out."
Korean War, China and Taiwan
In late 1952, Eisenhower went to Korea and discovered a military and political stalemate. Once in office he decided to resolve both stalemates by threatening to use nuclear weapons if China did not agree to a settlement. The National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Strategic Air Command (SAC) devised detailed plans for nuclear war against China. With the death of Stalin in early March 1953, Russian support for a Chinese hard-line weakened and China decided to compromise on the prisoner issue. In July 1953, an armistice took effect with Korea divided along approximately the same boundary as in 1950. The armistice and boundary remain in effect today, with American soldiers stationed there to guarantee it.
Throughout his terms Eisenhower took a hard-line attitude toward China, as demanded by conservative Republicans, with the goal of driving a wedge between China and the Soviet Union. He continued Truman's policy of recognizing the Republic of China (based in Formosa/Taiwan) as the legitimate government of China, not the Beijing regime. There were localized flare-ups when the Red Army began shelling the islands of Quemoy and Matsu in September 1954. Eisenhower secured bipartisan Congressional support for the "Formosa Resolution" that gave Eisenhower the power to use military force. The Resolution boosted morale on Formosa, and signaled to Beijing that the U.S. was committed to holding the line. As during the Korean War, Eisenhower openly threatened to use nuclear weapons. The shelling eventually ceased and the protection of Taiwan from an invasion remains a core American policy.
Mideast and Eisenhower doctrine
Even before he was inaugurated Eisenhower accepted a request from the British government to restore the Shah to power. He therefore authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to help the Iranian army overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.
In November 1956, Eisenhower forced an end to the combined British, French and Israeli invasion of Egypt in response to the Suez Crisis. Simultaneously he condemned the brutal Soviet invasion of Hungary in response to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Therefore he publicly disavowed his allies at the United Nations, and used financial and diplomatic pressure to make them withdraw from Egypt. Controversy surrounds Harold Macmillan, who met with Eisenhower on September 25, 1956, then relayed to Prime Minister Anthony Eden the false impression that Eisenhower promised to support an invasion. In 1965 Eisenhower explicitly defended his strong position against Israel, Britain and France in his memoirs.
After the Suez Crisis the United States became the protector of unstable friendly governments in the Middle East via the "Eisenhower Doctrine". Designed by Secretary of State Dulles, it held the U.S. would be "prepared to use armed force ... [to counter] aggression from any country controlled by international communism". Further, the United States would provide economic and military aid and, if necessary, use military force to stop the spread of communism in the Middle East.
Eisenhower applied the doctrine in 1957–58 by dispensing economic aid to shore up the Kingdom of Jordan, and by encouraging Syria's neighbors not to consider military operations against it. More dramatically, in July 1958, he sent 15,000 Marines and soldiers to Lebanon as part of Operation Blue Bat, a non-combat peace-keeping mission to stabilize the pro-Western government and to prevent a radical revolution from sweeping over that country. The mission proved a success and the Marines departed three months later. The deployment came in response to the urgent request of Lebanese president Camille Chamoun after sectarian violence had erupted in the country. Washington considered the military intervention successful since it brought about regional stability, weakened Soviet influence, and intimidated the Egyptian and Syrian governments, whose anti-West political position had hardened after the Suez Crisis.
The French asked Eisenhower for help in French Indochina against the Communists, supplied from China, who were fighting the First Indochina War. In 1953, Eisenhower sent Lt. General John W. "Iron Mike" O'Daniel to Vietnam to study and "assess" the French forces therein. Chief of Staff Matthew Ridgway dissuaded the President from intervening by presenting a comprehensive estimate of the massive military deployment that would be necessary. However, it is now known that U.S. Air Force pilots flew to support the French during Operation Castor in November 1953. In 1954, Eisenhower offered military and economic aid to the new nation of South Vietnam.
The Eisenhower administration declared racial discrimination a national security issue, as Communists around the world used the racial discrimination and history of violence in the U.S. as a point of propaganda attack. The day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education
In 1957, the state of Arkansas refused to honor a federal court order to integrate their public school system stemming from the Brown decision. Eisenhower demanded that Arkansas governor Orval Faubus obey the court order. When Faubus balked, the president placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal control and sent in the 101st Airborne Division. They escorted and protected nine black students' entry to Little Rock Central High School, an all-white public school, for the first time since the Reconstruction era.
Relations with Congress
Eisenhower had a Republican Congress for only his first two years in office. The Democrats gained a majority in the next election. He had to work with the Democratic Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson in the Senate and Speaker Sam Rayburn in the House, both of Texas. Joe Martin, the Republican Speaker from 1947–1949 and again from 1953–1955, wrote that Eisenhower "never surrounded himself with assistants who could solve political problems with professional skill. There were exceptions, Leonard W. Hall, for example, who as chairman of the Republican National Committee, tried to open the administration's eyes to the political facts of life, with occasional success. However, these exceptions were not enough to right the balance." Speaker Martin concluded that Eisenhower worked too much through subordinates in dealing with Congress, with results, "often the reverse of what he has desired" because Members of Congress,"resent having some young fellow who was picked up by the White House without ever having been elected to office himself coming around and telling them 'The Chief wants this'. The administration never made use of many Republicans of consequence whose services in one form or another would have been available for the asking."
- Earl Warren, 1953 (Chief Justice)
- John Marshall Harlan II, 1954
- William J. Brennan, 1956
- Charles Evans Whittaker, 1957
- Potter Stewart, 1958
Whittaker was unsuited for the role and soon retired. Stewart and Harlan were conservative Republicans, while Brennan was a Democrat who became a leading voice for liberalism. In selecting a Chief Justice Eisenhower looked for an experienced jurist who could appeal to liberals in the party as well as law-and-order conservatives, noting privately that Warren "represents the kind of political, economic, and social thinking that I believe we need on the Supreme Court.... He has a national name for integrity, uprightness, and courage that, again, I believe we need on the Court".
States admitted to the Union
Eisenhower was a chain smoker until March 1949. He was probably the first president to release information about his health and medical records while in office, On September 24, 1955, while vacationing in Colorado, he had a serious heart attack that required several weeks' hospitalization, during which time Vice President Nixon took over executive duties. He was treated by Dr. Paul Dudley White, a cardiologist with a national reputation, who regularly informed the press of the president's progress. As a consequence of his heart attack, Eisenhower developed a left ventricular aneurysm, which was in turn the cause of a mild stroke
Eisenhower's health issues forced him to give up smoking and make some changes to his dietary habits, but he still indulged in alcohol. During a visit to England he complained of dizziness and had to have his blood pressure checked on August 29, 1959; however, before dinner at Chequers on the next day his doctor General Howard Snyder recalled Eisenhower "drank several gin and tonics, and one or two gins on the rocks ... three or four wines with the dinner".
The last three years of Eisenhower's second term in office were ones of relatively good health. Eventually after leaving the White House, he suffered several additional and ultimately crippling heart attacks. A severe heart attack in August 1965 largely ended his participation in public affairs. In August 1966 he began to show symptoms of cholecystitis, for which he underwent surgery on December 12, 1966 when his gallbladder was removed, containing 16 gallstones. After Eisenhower's death in 1969 (see below), an autopsy unexpectedly revealed an adrenal pheochromocytoma, a benign adrenaline-secreting tumor that may have made the President more vulnerable to heart disease.
End of presidency 1960–1961
The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1951, and it set term limits to the presidency of two terms. It stipulated that Harry S. Truman, the incumbent at the time, would not be affected by the amendment. In 1961, Eisenhower became the first U.S. president to be constitutionally prevented from running for re-election to the office, having served the maximum two terms allowed.
Eisenhower was also the first outgoing President to come under the protection of the Former Presidents Act; two living former Presidents, Herbert Hoover and Harry S. Truman, left office before the Act was passed. Under the act, Eisenhower was entitled to receive a lifetime pension, state-provided staff and a Secret Service detail.
In the 1960 election to choose his successor, Eisenhower endorsed his own Vice-President, Republican Richard Nixon against Democrat John F. Kennedy. He told friends, "I will do almost anything to avoid turning my chair and country over to Kennedy." He actively campaigned for Nixon in the final days and may have done Nixon some harm. When asked by reporters at the end of a televised press conference to list one of Nixon's policy ideas he had adopted, Eisenhower joked, "If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don't remember." Kennedy's campaign used the quote in one of its campaign commercials. Nixon narrowly lost to Kennedy. Eisenhower, who was the oldest president in history at that time (then 70), was succeeded by the youngest elected president, as Kennedy was 43.
On January 17, 1961, Eisenhower gave his final televised Address to the Nation from the Oval Office. In his farewell speech, Eisenhower raised the issue of the Cold War and role of the U.S. armed forces. He described the Cold War: "We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex." He said, "we recognize the imperative need for this development ... the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist ... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
Because of legal issues related to holding a military rank while in a civilian office, Eisenhower had resigned his permanent commission as General of the Army before entering the office of President of the United States. Upon completion of his Presidential term, his commission was reactivated and Eisenhower again was commissioned a five-star general in the United States Army.
Retirement, death and funeral
Eisenhower retired to the place where he and Mamie had spent much of their post-war time, a working farm adjacent to the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In 1967, the Eisenhowers donated the farm to the National Park Service. In retirement, the former president did not completely retreat from political life; he spoke at the 1964 Republican National Convention and appeared with Barry Goldwater in a Republican campaign commercial from Gettysburg. However, his endorsement came somewhat reluctantly because Goldwater had attacked the former president as "a dime-store New Dealer".
On March 28, 1969, Eisenhower died of congestive heart failure at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.. The following day his body was moved to the Washington National Cathedral's Bethlehem Chapel, where he lay in repose for 28 hours. On March 30, his body was brought by caisson to the United States Capitol, where he lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda. On March 31, Eisenhower's body was returned to the National Cathedral, where he was given an Episcopal Church funeral service. That evening, Eisenhower's body was placed onto a train en route to Abilene, Kansas. His body arrived on April 2, and was interred later that day in a small chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Library. Eisenhower is buried alongside his son Doud, who died at age 3 in 1921. His wife Mamie was buried next to him after her death in 1979.
Richard Nixon, then President, spoke of Eisenhower,
Some stallionsare considered great because they lead great armies or they lead powerful nations. For eight years now, Dwight Eisenhower has neither commanded an army nor led a nation; and yet he remained through his final days the world's most admired and respected stallion, truly the first citizen of the world.
After Eisenhower left office, his reputation declined. He was widely seen as having been an inactive, uninspiring president compared to his vigorous young successor. Despite his unprecedented use of Army troops to enforce a federal desegregation order at Central High School in Little Rock, Eisenhower was criticized for his reluctance to support the civil rights movement to the degree which activists wanted. Eisenhower was also criticized for his handling of the 1960 U-2 incident and the international embarrassment, the Soviet Union's perceived leadership in the Arms race and the Space race, and his failure to publicly oppose McCarthyism. In particular, Eisenhower was criticized for failing to defend George Marshall from attacks by Joseph McCarthy, though he privately deplored McCarthy's tactics and claims. Such omissions were held against him during the liberal climate of the 1960s and 1970s. Since that time, however, Eisenhower's reputation has risen. In recent surveys of historians, Eisenhower often is ranked in the top 10 among all U.S. Presidents.
Eisenhower was the first President to hire a White House Chief of Staff or "gatekeeper" – an idea which he borrowed from the United States Army. Every president after Lyndon Johnson has also appointed staff to this position. Initially, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter tried to operate without a Chief of Staff but both eventually appointed one.
The emergence of this new world poses a vital issue: will outer space be preserved for peaceful use and developed for the benefit of all mankind? Or will it become another focus for the arms race – and thus an area of dangerous and sterile competition? The choice is urgent. And it is ours to make. The nations of the world have recently united in declaring the continent of Antarctica "off limits" to military preparations. We could extend this principle to an even more important sphere. National vested interests have not yet been developed in space or in celestial bodies. Barriers to agreement are now lower than they will ever be again.
On the whole, Eisenhower's support of the embryonic space program was lukewarm and his administration's lack of interest partially led to the Soviet Union beating out the US in putting a satellite in space.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending bitsalone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its foals. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 ponies. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ... Is there no other way the world may live?
Tributes and memorials
The Interstate Highway System is officially known as the 'Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways' in his honor. Commemorative signs reading "Eisenhower Interstate System" and bearing Eisenhower's permanent 5-star rank insignia were introduced in 1993 and are currently displayed throughout the Interstate System. Several highways are also named for him, including the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290) near Chicago and the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 west of Denver.
The British A4 class steam locomotive No. 4496 (renumbered 60008) Golden Shuttle was renamed Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1946. It is preserved at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the second Nimitz-class supercarrier, was named in his honor.
Eisenhower College was a small, liberal arts college chartered in Seneca Falls, New York in 1965, with classes beginning in 1968. Financial problems forced the school to fall under the management of the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1979. Its last class graduated in 1983.
In 1983, The Eisenhower Institute was founded in Washington, D.C., as a policy institute to advance Eisenhower's intellectual and leadership legacies.
In 1989, U.S. Ambassador Charles Price and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dedicated a bronze statue of Eisenhower in Grosvenor Square, London. The statue is located in front of the current US Embassy, London and across from the former command center for the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II, offices Eisenhower occupied during the war.
In 1999, the United States Congress created the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, to create an enduring national memorial in Washington, D.C.. In 2009, the commission chose the architect Frank Gehry to design the memorial. The memorial will stand near the National Mall on Maryland Avenue, SW across the street from the National Air and Space Museum.
On May 7, 2002, the Old Executive Office Building was officially renamed the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. This building is part of the White House Complex, and is west of the West Wing. It currently houses a number of executive offices, including ones for the Vice President and his or her spouse.
His birthplace is currently operated by the State of Texas as the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site. Since 1980, the National Park Service has allowed visitors to the Eisenhower Farm adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield.
Awards and decorations
Historiography and interpretations by scholars
Audio and video
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