Eisenhower, Dwight David

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Eisenhower, Dwight David

Dwight David Eisenhower achieved prominence in military and political careers and was the thirty-fourth president of the United States.

Eisenhower was born October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas. A graduate of West Point Military Academy in 1915, he served during World War I as officer in charge of Camp Colt, which was located at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and which served as the center of training for the U.S. Army Tank Division.

From 1922 to 1924, Eisenhower was assigned to a post in the Panama Canal Zone. Five years later, he served as an administrator in the Assistant Secretary of War Office and acted in this capacity until 1933. In 1935, he was stationed in the Philippine Islands, and, for the next five years, he displayed his exceptional military expertise. As a result of his achievements, Eisenhower—promoted to general—became chief of operations in Washington, D.C., in 1942.

Throughout the years of World War II, Eisenhower continued to demonstrate his military proficiency. In 1942, he was in charge of the battle operations in Europe. He subsequently directed the U.S. maneuvers in North Africa and, in 1943, commanded the Allied armies there. Later that year, he supervised the victorious attacks on Sicily and the mainland of Italy. As a result of these successes, he was transferred to England to serve as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force. He was instrumental in coordinating the Armed Services of the Allies and in directing the use of land, sea, and air battle units in the war maneuvers in Europe.

In 1944, Eisenhower was awarded the prestigious rank of five-star general. He was assigned to Germany the following year, and, subsequently, became Army chief of staff.

Eisenhower resigned as chief of staff in 1948 and entered the education field, serving as president of Columbia University. Two years later, he returned to the military and established a defense corps as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was composed of countries determined to prevent Soviet aggression.

"You don't promote the cause of peace by talking only to people with whom you agree."
—Dwight Eisenhower

In 1952, Eisenhower officially ended his association with the military and began a brilliant political career. As a Republican, he campaigned for the office of U.S. president against Democrat adlai stevenson; he was victorious, primarily because of his impressive military achievements and his pledge to end the war in Korea. As president, Eisenhower was instrumental in the achievement of peace in Korea in 1953. His main concern was the growing threat of the spread of Communism, and he adopted a policy—similar to that of predecessor Harry S. Truman—to keep communism in check. As part of this program, the United States formed defense treaties with South Korea and Formosa, now Taiwan; South Vietnam received military assistance; and, in 1954, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was created to prevent the spread of communism in Far Eastern countries.

Despite Eisenhower's intent to stop the growth of communism, he sought to reach a harmonious relationship with the Soviets, as was evidenced by his speeches at the 1955 Geneva Summit Conference. Participants included Eisenhower, Nikolai Bulganin, and Chairman Nikita Krushchev from the Soviet Union, Anthony Eden from Great Britain, and Edgar Faure from France. No agreements were reached, but foreign relations were strengthened.

In 1956, Eisenhower again defeated Adlai Stevenson for the presidency. During this administration he became a proponent of the Civil Rights Movement and ordered the federal militia to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957 to ensure the enforcement of desegregation of schools; in addition, he was responsible for Civil Rights legislation.

Eisenhower's second administration was again hampered by global tensions, and he issued the Eisenhower Doctrine in response to these pressures. This program, drafted in 1957, provided that any country in the Middle East requiring military and economic assistance to counteract the threat of communism would receive it upon request. In 1958, the doctrine was put to its first test in Lebanon when the U.S. Marine Corps was dispatched to that country.

World tensions continued through the latter years of his second term, and in 1960, Eisenhower was criticized publicly by Soviet leader Krushchev for condoning Espionage flights over Soviet territory. A year later, Eisenhower severed relations with Cuba after Communist leader Fidel Castro assumed Cuban leadership.

In addition to his presidential and military achievements, Eisenhower wrote three noteworthy publications: Crusade in Europe (1948), a chronicle of the defeat of Germany in World War II by the Allies; Mandate for Change (1963), an account of his years as president; and Waging Peace (1965). Eisenhower died March 28, 1969, in Washington, D.C.

Further readings

Perret, Geoffrey. 1999. Eisenhower. New York: Random House.

Wicker, Tom. 2002. Dwight D. Eisenhower. New York: Times Books.

Cross-references

Dulles, John Foster; School Desegregation; Warren Court.

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