Dwight D. Eisenhower
Ohio Governor C. William O'Neill with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, ca. 1957.
Dwight David Eisenhower was the thirty-fourth President of the United States.
Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas. When he was two years old, his family moved to Abilene, Kansas. He graduated from Abilene High School in 1909. Eisenhower worked two years at a creamery and assisted his parents in providing for his family. In 1911, Eisenhower enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He graduated in 1915 as a second lieutenant in the United States Army.
Following his graduation from West Point, Eisenhower spent the next forty-three years in the military. He became an expert in tank warfare and served as the commander of Camp Colt from 1917 to 1918. The camp was a tank training school in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. By the early 1930s, Eisenhower had become the senior aide to General Douglas MacArthur, the chief of staff of the United States Army.
Eisenhower worked closely with MacArthur throughout the 1930s and served as a military adviser to the Philippines government. By 1941, Eisenhower had become the chief of staff of the Third Army and had attained the rank of brigadier general. As the United States' entered World War II in 1941, Eisenhower was recognized as one of America's best military leaders.
In 1942, Eisenhower became the commanding general of U.S. forces in Europe, and in 1943, he served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe. Eisenhower directed the Allied invasions of North Africa (1942), Sicily (1943), Italy (1943), and France (1944). Under Eisenhower's direction, the United States military and its allies were victorious in Europe. At the end of World War II, Eisenhower became the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and held that position from 1945 to 1948.
In 1948, Eisenhower retired from the United States Army. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party recruited Eisenhower for the presidency, but he refused to run for office. Instead, he served as the president of Columbia University for three years (1948-1950). In 1950, Eisenhower agreed to become the supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's military forces in Europe.
In 1952, Eisenhower agreed to become the nominee of the Republican Party in the presidential election. Eisenhower received the nomination over two other Republicans, Thomas E. Dewey of New York and Robert A. Taft of Ohio. In the actual election, Eisenhower easily defeated Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Party's candidate. Ohioans overwhelmingly supported the Republican Party in this election and gave control of both houses of the Ohio legislature to the Republicans. As to major statewide offices in Ohio, the Democrats won the governor's seat. Eisenhower defeated Stevenson again in 1956 and won a second term as president.
As president, Eisenhower accomplished a great deal. Domestically, he supported the Civil Rights Movement. He enforced the Supreme Court's decision of Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas and helped desegregate schools across the United States. Eisenhower also authorized the construction of an interstate highway system and an increase of the minimum wage. While Eisenhower strongly opposed communism, he refused to engage in the hunt for communists in America led by Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin and others.
Eisenhower's foreign policy centered on the Cold War. The president tried to ease tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union and met with the premier of the Soviet Union on two separate occasions. At the same time, Eisenhower attempted to stop the spread of communism. He promised aid to any nation facing the threat of communism. As an example of this policy, Eisenhower sent American soldiers to South Vietnam to serve as military advisers.
In 1960, Eisenhower could not seek a third term as president. An amendment to the United States Constitution limited a president to two terms in office. Upon completing his term in 1961, Eisenhower retired to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He died on March 28, 1969.
- World War II
- Democratic Party
- Republican Party
- Cold War
- Robert A. Taft
- Civil Rights Movement
- Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954)
- Interstate Highway Act of 1956
- Second Red Scare
- Joseph R. McCarthy
- John F. Kennedy
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- Vietnam War
- United States Constitution