Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower, official photo portrait, May 29, 1959.jpg
34th President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
Vice PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byHarry S. Truman
Succeeded byJohn F. Kennedy
1st Supreme Allied Commander Europe
In office
April 2, 1951 – May 30, 1952
PresidentHarry S. Truman
DeputyArthur Tedder
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byMatthew Ridgway
16th Chief of Staff of the Army
In office
November 19, 1945 – February 6, 1948
PresidentHarry S. Truman
DeputyJ. Lawton Collins
Preceded byGeorge Marshall
Succeeded byOmar Bradley
Military Governor of the U.S. Occupation Zone in Germany
In office
May 8, 1945 – November 10, 1945
PresidentHarry S. Truman
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byGeorge S. Patton (acting)
13th President of Columbia University
In office
June 7, 1948 – January 19, 1953
Preceded byFrank D. Fackenthal (acting)
Succeeded byGrayson L. Kirk
Personal details
Born
David Dwight Eisenhower

(1890-10-14)October 14, 1890
Denison, Texas, U.S.
DiedMarch 28, 1969(1969-03-28) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Resting placeDwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Mamie Doud (m. 1916)
ChildrenDoud
John
RelativesIda Stover (Mother)
EducationUnited States Military Academy (BS)
SignatureCursive signature in ink
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1915–1953
1961–1969[1]
RankUS Army O11 shoulderboard rotated.svg General of the Army
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal (5)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
See more

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (ər/ EYE-zən-how-ər; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he was a five-star general in the United States Army and served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was responsible 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.

Born David Dwight Eisenhower in Denison, Texas, he was raised in Kansas in a large family of mostly Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry. His family had a strong religious background. His mother was born a Lutheran, married as a River Brethren, and later became a Jehovah's Witness. Even so, Eisenhower did not belong to any organized church until 1952. He cited constant relocation during his military career as one reason.[2] He graduated from West Point in 1915 and later married Mamie Doud, with whom he had two sons. During World War I, he was denied a request to serve in Europe and instead commanded a unit that trained tank crews. Following the war, he served under various generals and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 1941. After the U.S. entered World War II, Eisenhower oversaw the invasions of North Africa and Sicily before supervising the invasions of France and Germany. After the war, Eisenhower served as Army Chief of Staff and then took on the role as president of Columbia University. In 1951–52, he served as the first Supreme Commander of NATO.

In 1952, Eisenhower entered the presidential race as a Republican to block the isolationist foreign policies of Senator Robert A. Taft, who opposed NATO and wanted no foreign entanglements. He won that election and the 1956 election in landslides, both times defeating Adlai Stevenson II. He became the first Republican to win since Herbert Hoover in 1928. Eisenhower's main goals in office were to contain the expansion of the Soviet Union and reduce federal deficits. In 1953, he threatened the use of nuclear weapons until China agreed to peace terms in the Korean War. China did agree and an armistice resulted that remains in effect. His New Look policy of nuclear deterrence prioritized inexpensive nuclear weapons while reducing funding for expensive Army divisions. He continued Harry S. Truman's policy of recognizing the Republic of China as the legitimate government of China, and he won congressional approval of the Formosa Resolution. His administration provided major aid to help the French fight off Vietnamese Communists in the First Indochina War. After the French left he gave strong financial support to the new state of South Vietnam. He supported local military coups against democratically-elected governments in Iran and Guatemala. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, Eisenhower condemned the Israeli, British and French invasion of Egypt, and he forced them to withdraw. He also condemned the Soviet invasion during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 but took no action. During the Syrian Crisis of 1957 he approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria's pro-Western neighbours.[3] After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, Eisenhower authorized the establishment of NASA, which led to the Space Race. He deployed 15,000 soldiers during the 1958 Lebanon crisis. Near the end of his term, his efforts to set up a summit meeting with the Soviets collapsed when a U.S. spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. He approved the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was left to his successor, John F. Kennedy, to carry out.[4]

On the domestic front, Eisenhower was a moderate conservative who continued New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security. He covertly opposed Joseph McCarthy and contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking executive privilege. Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and sent Army troops to enforce federal court orders that integrated schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. His largest program was the Interstate Highway System. He promoted the establishment of strong science education via the National Defense Education Act. Eisenhower's two terms saw widespread economic prosperity except for a minor recession in 1958. In his farewell address to the nation, Eisenhower expressed his concerns about the dangers of massive military spending, particularly deficit spending and government contracts to private military manufacturers. Historical evaluations of his presidency place him among the upper tier of U.S. presidents.

Early life and education

The Eisenhower family home, Abilene, Kansas

The Eisenhauer (German for "iron hewer/miner") family migrated from Karlsbrunn in Nassau-Saarbrücken, to North America, first settling in York, Pennsylvania, in 1741, and in the 1880s moving to Kansas.[5] Accounts vary as to how and when the German name Eisenhauer was anglicized to Eisenhower.[6] Eisenhower's Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors, who were primarily farmers, included Hans Nikolaus Eisenhauer of Karlsbrunn, who migrated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1741.[7]

Hans's great-great-grandson, David Jacob Eisenhower (1863–1942), was Eisenhower'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) Eisenhower, born in Virginia, of German Protestant 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.[8]

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 (equivalent to $669 in 2018) to their name at the time. David worked as a railroad mechanic and then at a creamery.[8] By 1898, the parents made a decent living and provided a suitable home for their large family.[9]

The future president was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas, the third of seven boys.[10] His mother originally named him David Dwight but reversed the two names after his birth to avoid the confusion of having two Davids in the family.[11] All of the boys were called "Ike", such as "Big Ike" (Edgar) and "Little Ike" (Dwight); the nickname was intended as an abbreviation of their last name.[12] By World War II, only Dwight was still called "Ike".[5]

In 1892, the family moved to Abilene, Kansas, which Eisenhower considered his hometown.[5] As a child, he was involved in an accident that cost his younger brother an eye; he later referred to this as an experience that taught him the need to be protective of those under him.[citation needed] Dwight developed a keen and enduring interest in exploring the outdoors. He learned about hunting and fishing, cooking, and card playing from an illiterate named Bob Davis who camped on the Smoky Hill River.[13][14][15]

While Eisenhower's mother was against war, it was her collection of history books that first sparked Eisenhower's early and lasting interest in military history. He persisted in reading the books in her collection and became a voracious reader on the subject. Other favorite subjects early in his education were arithmetic and spelling.[16]

His parents set aside specific times at breakfast and at dinner for daily family Bible reading. Chores were regularly assigned and rotated among all the children, and misbehavior was met with unequivocal discipline, usually from David.[17] His mother, previously a member (with David) of the River Brethren sect of the Mennonites, joined the International Bible Students Association, later known as Jehovah's Witnesses. The Eisenhower home served as the local meeting hall from 1896 to 1915, though Eisenhower never joined the International Bible Students.[18] His later decision to attend West Point saddened his mother, who felt that warfare was "rather wicked", but she did not overrule him.[19] While speaking of himself in 1948, Eisenhower said he was "one of the most deeply religious men I know" though unattached to any "sect or organization". He was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in 1953.[20]

Eisenhower attended Abilene High School and graduated with the class of 1909.[21] As a freshman, he injured his knee and developed a leg infection that 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 surprisingly recovered, though he had to repeat his freshman year.[22] 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 to earn the tuitions.[23]

Edgar took the first turn at school, and Dwight was employed as a night supervisor at the Belle Springs Creamery.[24] When Edgar asked for a second year, Dwight consented and worked for a second year. At that time, a friend "Swede" Hazlett 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.[25] He then accepted an appointment to West Point in 1911.[25]

Eisenhower (second from left) and Omar Bradley (second from right) were members of the 1912 West Point football team.

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.[26]

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".[27] He made the varsity football team[28][29] and was a starter as running back and linebacker in 1912, when he tackled the legendary Jim Thorpe of the Carlisle Indians.[30] Eisenhower suffered a torn knee while being tackled in the next game, which was the last he played; he re-injured his knee on horseback and in the boxing ring,[5][13][31] so he turned to fencing and gymnastics.[5]

Eisenhower later served as junior varsity football coach and cheerleader. He graduated in the middle of the class of 1915,[32] which became known as "the class the stars fell on", because 59 members eventually became general officers.

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: Duayt Eyzenhauer
Bân-lâm-gú: Dwight D. Eisenhower
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Дўайт Дэйвід Эйзэнгаўэр
Bikol Central: Dwight D. Eisenhower
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Bahasa Indonesia: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lëtzebuergesch: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lingua Franca Nova: Dwight David Eisenhower
مازِرونی: دوایت آیزنهاور
Bahasa Melayu: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Nordfriisk: Dwight Eisenhower
norsk nynorsk: Dwight D. Eisenhower
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Dwight Eisenhower
Plattdüütsch: Dwight David Eisenhower
Simple English: Dwight D. Eisenhower
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Dwight D. Eisenhower
татарча/tatarça: Dwayt Eyzenhauer
українська: Дуайт Ейзенхауер
Tiếng Việt: Dwight D. Eisenhower