Dwight D. Eisenhower was born on October 14th, 1890 in Denison, Texas. He was the third of seven boys in his family. When he was two years old, his family moved to Abilene, Kansas, which he considers his hometown. As a child, he enjoyed exploring the outdoors, hunting, fishing, cooking, and card playing. He was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness but was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in 1953, when he was 63 years old. He considered himself "one of the most deeply religious men I know."
His interest in the military sparked at a young age due to his mother’s collection of history books. He became an avid reader on this subject, although his mother was against war, and would grow up to become a 5-star General in the US Army. He and his brother made a pact to go to college together, although their family did not have the funds. The brothers would alternate years of going to school and working to pay for their tuition, but Dwight ended up working for two years while his brother went to school. Dwight eventually applied to the Naval Academy since no tuition was required. He was one of the winners of the entrance-exam competition but was not eligible to join the academy because he was beyond the age requirement. He was accepted at West Point, where he graduated in 1915.
After graduation, he was stationed in Texas, where he met Mamie Doud. The two married in 1916 and had two sons together. During his 35 years in the Army, the family moved quite a bit and was stationed all over the United States. Eisenhower was appointed to a 5 star general during WWII and successfully helped invade North Africa and Sicily, and France and Germany on the Western front from 1944-45. After the war, he retired from the Army and held different jobs, but none seem to fit him.
After much pressure from those around him, Dwight D. Eisenhower agreed to run as the Republican candidate during the 1952 election. He considered himself a “progressive conservative.” His platform focused on being an anti-communist, and his commitment to foreign trade and the United Nations. He became the 34th president of the United States and served two terms from 1953-1961.
He was the first Republican to hold office since 1928. His main goals as president were to contain the expansion of the Soviet Union (Communist Russia) and reduce federal deficits.
During his presidency, he made great use of press conferences and saw the press as a valuable channel to communicate directly with the American people. Eisenhower accomplished many feats in his time in office. He created the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and established it as a cabinet-level department. He created the Eisenhower Doctrine, which gave aid to any middle eastern country in the form of economic funds and/or military troops if it was being threatened by communism, and stuck accomplishing one of his main goals.
Eisenhower was a tremendous influence in the Civil Rights movement during his time. He ended desegregation in the military and declared racial discrimination a national security issue. He signed the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 & 1960. When the Arkansas governor refused to follow the court order of ending desegregation, Eisenhower sent the Army National Guard to Little Rock, Arkansas to escort nine black students into an all-white public school. He stated, “There must be no second class citizens in this country.”
Eisenhower was in office during the Cold War which led to authorizing the establishment of NASA. This was in response to Russia launched the satellite, Sputnik. This ultimately created the Space Race between the Societ Union and the United States. In regards to the Cold War, he supported and authorized the continuing of creating the Interstate High System. He protested that an interstate highway would be beneficial in case there needed to be evacuations in case the Soviet Union tried to bomb the United States. He also explained that the highway could be used for the military as runways for their aircrafts. The Interstate Highway System is one of Dwight D. Eisenhower's most memorable legacies and is used by all who travel by vehicle to this day.
Fun and Interesting Facts
- Eisenhower was a golf enthusiast and spent some time during his presidency and after playing.
- He enjoyed oil painting and would often create landscapes or portraits of his wife.
- His favorite movie was “Angels in the Outfield.”
- He enjoyed reading and his favorite novels were westerns written by Zane Grey.
- He called poker his “favorite indoor sport.”