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Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. He had previously been a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II, and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe; he had responsibility 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. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.
Eisenhower was of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry, and was reared in a large family in Kansas, by parents with a robust work ethic and religious background. As one of five sons, he was conditioned by a competitive atmosphere which instilled self-reliance. He attended and graduated from West Point, and later was married with two sons. After World War II Eisenhower served as Chief of Staff under President Harry S. Truman, then assumed the post of President at Columbia University.
Eisenhower entered the 1952 presidential race as a Republican, to counter the non-interventionism of Senator Robert A. Taft, and to crusade against “Communism, Korea and corruption”. He won by a landslide, defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson and ending two decades of the New Deal Coalition. In the first year of his presidency Eisenhower deposed the leader of Iran in the 1953 Iranian coup d’etat, and used nuclear threats to conclude the Korean War with China. His New Look policy of nuclear deterrence gave priority to inexpensive nuclear weapons while reducing the funding for conventional military forces; the goal was to keep pressure on the Soviet Union and reduce federal deficits. In 1954 Eisenhower first articulated the Domino theory in his description of the threat presented by the spread of communism. The Congress agreed to his request in 1955 for the Formosa Resolution, which enabled him to prevent Chinese communist aggression against Chinese nationalists and established U.S. policy of defending Taiwan. When the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957 he had to play catchup in the space race. Eisenhower forced Israel, the UK and France to end their invasion of Egypt during the Suez Crisis of 1956. In 1958 he sent 15,000 US troops to Lebanon to prevent the pro-Western government from falling to a Nasser-inspired revolution. Near the end of his term, his efforts to set up a summit meeting with the Soviets collapsed because of the U-2 incident when an American spy plane was shot down over Russia and its pilot captured.
On the domestic front, he covertly opposed Joseph McCarthy but contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking the modern expanded version of executive privilege. He otherwise left most political activity to his Vice President, Richard Nixon. He was a moderate conservative who continued New Deal agencies, expanded Social Security and launched the Interstate Highway System. He sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, for the first time since Reconstruction to enforce federal court orders to desegregate public schools, and signed civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960 to protect the right to vote. He implemented desegregation of the armed forces in two years, and made five appointments to the Supreme Court. He was the first term-limited president in accordance with the 22nd Amendment.
Eisenhower’s two terms were peaceful ones for the most part and saw considerable economic prosperity except for a sharp recession in 1958–59. Eisenhower is now often ranked as one of the top ten U.S. Presidents.
The Eisenhauer (German for “iron hewer”) family migrated from Karlsbrunn, Germany, to Switzerland in the 17th century due to religious persecution, and a century later came to the United States. Read more . . .