Ten Things to Know About Dwight Eisenhower

Ten Things to Know About Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas. He served as Supreme Allied Commander during World War II. After the war, he was elected president in 1952 and took office on January 20, 1953. Following are ten key facts that are important to understand when studying the life and presidency of Dwight David Eisenhower.

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Attended West Point

Dwight D Eisenhower, Thirty-Fourth President of the United States. Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-117123 DLC

Dwight Eisenhower came from a poor family and decided to join the military to get a free college education. He attended West Point from 1911 to 1915. Eisenhower graduated from West Point as a Second Lieutenant and then continued his education at the Army War College.

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Army Wife and Popular First Lady: Mamie Geneva Doud

Mamie (Marie) Geneva Doud Eisenhower (1896 - 1979). Hulton Archive / Stringer / Getty Images

Mamie Doud came from a wealthy family in Iowa. She met Dwight Eisenhower while visiting Texas. As an army wife, she moved twenty times with her husband. They had one child live to maturity, David Eisenhower. He would follow in his father's footsteps at West Point and became an army officer. In later life, he was appointed as ambassador to Belgium by President Nixon.​

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Never Saw Active Combat

Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 - 1969) firing a German-made combination rifle-shotgun with telescopic sight. FPG / Getty Images

Dwight Eisenhower toiled in relative obscurity as a junior officer until General George C. Marshall recognized his skills and assisted him in moving through the ranks. Surprisingly, in his thirty-five years of duty, he never saw active combat.

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Supreme Allied Commander and Operation Overlord

Army Troops Wade Ashore on Omaha Beach - D-Day - June 6, 1944. US Coast Guard Photograph

Eisenhower became commander of all US forces in Europe in June 1942. In this role, he led the invasions of North Africa and Sicily along with taking back Italy from German control. For his efforts, he was awarded the post of Supreme Allied Commander in February​ 1944 and placed in charge of Operation Overlord. For his successful efforts against the Axis powers, he was made a five star general in December 1944. He led the allies throughout the retaking of Europe. Eisenhower accepted Germany's surrender in May 1945.

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Supreme Commander of NATO

Bess and Harry Truman. PhotoQuest / Getty Images

After a brief respite from the military as the President of Columbia University, Eisenhower was called back to active duty. President Harry S. Truman appointed him the Supreme Commander of NATO. He served in this position until 1952.

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Easily Won the Election of 1952

Dwight D. Eisenhower takes the Oath of Office as the President of the United States during his Inauguration January 20, 1953 in Washington D.C. Also pictured is former president Harry S. Truman and Richard M. Nixon. National Archive/Newsmakers. National Archive/Newsmakers

As the most popular military figure of his time, Eisenhower was courted by both political parties as a potential candidate for the presidential election of 1952. He ran as a Republican with Richard M. Nixon as his Vice Presidential running mate. He easily defeated Democrat Adlai Stevenson with a commanding 55% of the popular vote and 83% of the electoral vote.

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Brought an End to the Korean Conflict

11th August 1953: An exchange of prisoners between the United Nations and the Communists at Panmunjom, Korea. Central Press / Stringer / Getty Images

In the election of 1952, the Korean Conflict was a central issue. Dwight Eisenhower campaigned on bringing the Korean Conflict to an end. After the election but before taking office, he traveled to Korea and participated in the signing of the armistice. This treaty divided the country into North and South Korea with a demilitarized zone between the two.

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Eisenhower Doctrine

The Eisenhower Doctrine stated that the United States had the right to aid a country threatened by communism. Eisenhower believed in halting the advance of communism and took steps to this effect. He expanded the nuclear arsenal as a deterrent and was responsible for the embargo of Cuba because they were friendly with the Soviet Union. Eisenhower believed in the Domino Theory and sent military advisors to Vietnam to halt the advance of communism.

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Desegregation of Schools

Eisenhower was president when the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka Kansas. Even though the Supreme Court of the United States had ruled against segregation, the local officials refused to integrate the schools. President Eisenhower intervened by sending in federal troops to enforce the ruling.

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U-2 Spy Plane Incident

Gary Powers, the American spy pilot shot down over Russia, with a model of the U 2 spy plane at a Senate Armed Forces Committee in Washington. Keystone / Stringer / Getty Images

In May 1960, Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union in his U-2 Spy Plane. Powers was captured by the Soviet Union and held prisoner until his eventual release in a prisoner exchange. This event negatively impacted an already tense relationship with the Soviet Union.