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President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David) 1890- 1969

Dwight D. Eisenhower was US President from 1953-1961 and earlier served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe during World War II.


President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Born October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas, Dwight David Eisenhower graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1915 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. During World War I, Eisenhower commanded a tank training center (1914-1918). After World War II began, his promotions followed rapidly. Roosevelt placed Eisenhower in charge of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944 -- later known as "D-Day." After the European surrender, Eisenhower was made a five-star general in December 1944. He replaced George Marshall as Army chief of staff in November 1945 and oversaw demobilization.

Two years after Eisenhower retired in 1948, President Truman asked him to be supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe. Eisenhower assumed his post in 1951 but decided to run for the presidency a year later and retired from the Army. He campaigned with Richard Nixon, his vice presidential running mate, and they won the election, carrying 39 states.

Domestically, Eisenhower's program, "modern Republicanism," included reduced taxes, balanced budgets and a return of certain federal responsibilities to the states. Eisenhower refused to publicly criticize Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose anti-communist campaign resulted in the firing of civilian employees and charges against Army and civilian officers.

In foreign affairs, Eisenhower went to Korea as promised during his campaign to try to bring about a truce, which was finally achieved in July 1953. Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, also developed the "New Look" in defense policy: reducing conventional forces and increasing U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons, using what Dulles called "massive retaliatory power." After the explosion of a hydrogen bomb by the Americans in the spring of 1954 and the Soviets that fall, both sides agreed to meet in Geneva in July 1955. There, Eisenhower's "Open Skies" proposal, which would have allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to continuously inspect each other's military installations by air, was rejected by the Soviets.

In Asia, the United States signed a defense treaty with Taiwan in which Washington pledged to defend the island while the Chinese nationalist leaders pledged not to attack China without consulting the United States. Eisenhower also worked for the creation of the South Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO, 1954), the inclusion of West Germany in NATO in 1955, and the end of four-power occupation and the restoration of Austrian sovereignty. Despite the administration's "liberation rhetoric" with regard to Eastern Europe, Eisenhower did little if anything to help the Hungarians during the 1956 uprising.

Eisenhower ran for re-election in 1956 and won, carrying 41 states. During his second term a major domestic issue was civil rights. In 1957, when the governor of Arkansas defied a court order to integrate the high school, Eisenhower dispatched the 101st Airborne Division to protect black students and see that the court order was carried out. The Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 were also passed.

Concerned about America's position in the Middle East, in part due to the Suez Crisis, Eisenhower proposed and Congress passed the Eisenhower Doctrine. It pledged U.S. financial and military aid to Middle Eastern countries to fight communist aggression. When the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite on October 4, 1957, Eisenhower approved increased funding for study in science, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created in July 1958. After Dulles died in April 1959, Eisenhower largely conducted his own foreign policy. In an effort to improve relations with the Soviets and resolve the Berlin crisis, Eisenhower invited Premier Nikita Khrushchev to visit the United States. Khrushchev did visit in September 1959, but the Camp David meeting did not resolve differences over Berlin. The later summit meeting in Paris in May 1960 effectively ended when Khrushchev walked out because Eisenhower would not apologize for the U-2 incident. Eisenhower also broke off all relations with Cuba on January 3, 1961 after Cuba, under communist leader Fidel Castro, seized all properties owned by U.S. companies.

Eisenhower left office and retired to his farm in Pennsylvania in January 1961. There he raised cattle and wrote books. He died after a series of heart attacks on March 28, 1969, at age 78.

Popular Documents

October 2, 1959

Discussion between N.S. Khrushchev and Mao Zedong

Khrushchev and Mao discuss current political situations in Tibet, India, Indochina and Taiwan.

January 20, 1953

Eisenhower's Inaugural Address

Eisenhower's presidential inaugural address after his election in 1952.

June 19, 1953

National Security Council Report, NSC 158, 'United States Objectives and Actions to Exploit the Unrest in the Satellite States'

Recommendations adopted by the National Security Council at the suggestion of the Psychological Strategy Board on covert actions to be undertaken in the Soviet Satellite States. Authorized by the National Security Council, NSC 158 envisaged aggressive psychological warfare to exploit and heighten the unrest behind the Iron Curtain. The policy was endorsed by President Eisenhower on June 26, 1953.

August 2, 1958

Third Conversation of N.S. Khrushchev with Mao Zedong, August 2, 1958, in Fengziyuan

Mao and Khrushchev have a conversation about about international affairs, including NATO, CENTO, and SEATO, relations with the USA and Japan, and the situation in the Near East. They also expressed their views on the situation in Latin America, and preparations for a third world war. According to the Soviet record of the conversation, they also discussed domestic problems in the two countries. Specifically, Mao spoke at length to Khrushchev about the successes of the Great Leap.

August 1, 1958

Second Conversation of N.S. Khrushchev with Mao Zedong, August 1, 1958, in Zhongnanhai

On this second day of the talks, international affairs were the main topic of conversation. From the Soviet record, which like those of the first and the next discussion, was made by Fedorenko and the third secretary of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs Anatolii I. Filyov, it is evident that the atmosphere was fully relaxed, anti-imperialism brought the communist leaders together. Both hated America, Great Britain, France, West Germany, Japan, and their leaders. They discussed the situation in the Near East in detail and were heartened by the victory of leftist forces in Iraq. They joked a lot. And only at the end did Mao lightly touch upon his claims to Khrushchev, who at once reminded the Chinese leader of the Soviet advisors. It was obvious that this question continued to bother him, and Khrushchev exacerbated his grievance.