Dwight "Ike" David Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 - March 28, 1969) was the 34th (1953-1961) President of the United States, supreme commander of Allied Forces, during the latter part of World War II, and the General of the United States Army. He also served as president of Columbia University from June 7, 1948 - 1952.
His first distinctive work involved exploring the feasibility of crossing the North American continent with modern mechanised equipment, shortly after World War I.
After 1941, he was chosen, over thousands of potential officer candidates, to an assignment as Chief of the War Plans Division[?] (February 1942) and rose from that post to become the US commander of the European theater, by June 1942. He was overall commander for the North African landings in November of that year, and in February 1943, took command of Allied forces in North Africa.
He resisted entreaties to get involved in Vietnam on the advice of General Matthew Ridgeway[?] who gave him a comprehensive estimate of the massive commitment that would have been required. He signed defense treaties with Korea and the Republic of China (on Taiwan), and he severed diplomatic relations with Cuba. He forced desegregation in schools, and kept defense spending very low.
For the 1948 election, Harry S Truman secretly told Ike that if he ran for president as a Democrat, Truman would go as his running mate and Eisenhower would get a sure win. Ike refused because he didn't want to be president. For the 1952 election, he was approached again, this time by the Democrats and the Republicans. He still refused, because he did not consider himself a politician. But he changed his mind when "I Like Ike" clubs started popping up all over the country. Eisenhower had never even voted for president before, and had no political affiliation. He ran for the Republicans because he was a strong believer in the two-party system, and there hadn't been a Republican president in over twenty years.
During his campaign Eisenhower never mentioned his main competitor, Adlai Stevenson, by name. Instead he mostly criticized the ways of Truman, who had just been the Democratic president. This strategy worked, and he got 442 electoral votes, compared to Stevenson's 89. What makes this appear especially amazing is that he had never even held public office; however he had had links with the Washington system between the wars in his aide de camp capacity. But he was considered a war hero, and so he had a good image.
He got the votes of both Democrats and Republicans, because he had "middle way politics" meaning he was a moderate Republican, allowing Democrats to also agree with him. This method allowed him to get along well with the mostly Democratic senate, and it made him very popular during his presidency. On the other hand, when his terms were over he was greatly criticized for his politics.
When Arkansas governor Orval Faubus[?] wouldn't desegregate the schools, despite the ruling of the Supreme Court, Eisenhower, although he had no sympathy for African American civil rights efforts, brought in troops because the Supreme Court ruling was the law and it had to be followed.
Eisenhower is also strongly criticized for not taking a public stand against Senator Joseph McCarthy, although he privately hated him, particularly for McCarthy's attack on his friend and World War II colleague, Secretary of State General George Marshall. He did, in fact, also help fan the flames of the red scare (which was associated with McCarthyism) on April 7, 1954 when he gave his"domino theory[?]" speech during a news conference. That theory was that every nation that falls to communism could cause other nations to follow suit.
Eisenhower endorsed the United States Interstate highway Act, in 1956. It was the largest American public works[?] program in history, providing a 41,000-mile highway system. Eisenhower had been impressed during the war with the German Autobahns and also recalled his own involvement in a military convoy in 1919 that took 62 days to cross the United States.
Another achievement was a twenty percent increase in family income during his presidency, which he was very proud of. He added a tenth cabinet position -- the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare -- and he gave all of the cabinet members more responsibilities in their areas, letting them take a lot of praise and glory. And he achieved a balanced budget three of the years that he was president.
During his campaign he promised to stop the Korean War, and it was one of the first things he accomplished as president. He flew to Korea and implied in a show of brinkmanship that he would spread the war to mainland China, and bring in nuclear weapons. This was effective and a cease-fire was signed in 1953. He signed defense treaties with Korea and the Republic of China (on Taiwan), and entered SEATO[?], which was an alliance with Asian countries to try and stop Communist China. Eisenhower was very concerned about Communism, which may be the reason he did not speak out against McCarthy. He formulated the Eisenhower Doctrine, which helped justify US involvement in Lebanon during his second term. He was also concerned about too much war: in a speech at the end of his second term, he warned against the "military-industrial complex".
There were high tensions in the Middle East, particularly between Israel and Egypt. The British and French sided with Israel, and they attacked Egypt. Then Egypt tried to get the Soviet Union to help, and the Soviet Union threatened that they would. Eisenhower did not want the conflict to turn into the third World War, and he demanded that the United Nations replace the force of England and France. Britain agreed to withdraw, and the crisis was ended. The US did not become involved in any major military conflicts during his administration.
Eisenhower left an interesting legacy. He was very popular during his presidency, but soon after it ended historians rated him as one of the worst presidents in history. This was mainly because of his reluctance to help desegregation and to stop McCarthyism. Also, he made the nuclear arms race much worse, with continuous threats. But in a recent poll of historians, he was rated number eleven. This is because people understand his presidency differently now. They realize that he played up the cabinet's accomplishments and played down his own purposely. He wanted to spread the responsibility around, so that it was possible to get more done. They also remember that he accomplished the Interstate Highway Act and kept defense spending very low.
Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas, as the third of David Jacob and Ida Elizabeth Stover Eisenhower's seven sons. The family moved to Abilene, Kansas, in 1892. Eisenhower graduated from Abilene High School[?] in 1909 and he worked at Belle Springs Creamery from 1909-11.
The Eisenhower Presidential Library is located in Abilene, Kansas. Eisenhower and his wife are buried in a small chapel there (the Place of Meditation).
Supreme Court appointments
Harry S. Truman
|Presidents of the United States||Succeeded by:
John F. Kennedy