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Dwight D. Eisenhower's Childhood and Education:
Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890 in Denison, Texas. However, he moved as an infant to Abilene, Kansas. He grew up in a very poor family and worked throughout his youth to earn money. He attended local public schools and graduated from high school in 1909. He joined the military in order to gain a free college education. He went to the West Point from 1911-1915. He was commissioned a second lieutenant but continued his education in the military eventually attending the Army War College.
Eisenhower's father was David Jacob Eisenhower, a mechanic and manager. His mother was Ida Elizabeth Stover who happened to be a deeply religious pacifist. He had five brothers. He married Marie "Mamie" Geneva Doud on July 1, 1916. She moved many times with her husband throughout his military career. Together they had one son, John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower.
Dwight D. Eisenhower's Military Service:
Upon graduation, Eisenhower was assigned to be a second lieutenant in the infantry. During World War I, he was a training instructor and commander of a training center. He attended the Army War College and then joined General MacArthur's staff. In 1935 he went to the Philippines. He served in various executive positions before the start of World War II. After the war, he resigned and became the president of Columbia University. He was appointed by Harry S Truman to be the Supreme Commander of NATO.
World War II:
At the start of World War II, Eisenhower was chief of staff to Commander General Walter Krueger. He was then promoted to brigadier general in 1941. In March 1942 he became a major general. In June, he was appointed commander of all U.S. forces in Europe. He was the commander of allied forces during the invasion of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He was then named Supreme Allied Commander in charge of the D-Day invasion. In December 1944 he was made a five-star general.
Becoming the President:
Eisenhower was chosen to run on the Republican ticket with Richard Nixon as his Vice President against Adlai Stevenson. Both candidates campaigned vigorously. The campaign dealt with Communism and governmental waste. However, more people voted for "Ike" leading to his victory with 55% of the popular vote and 442 electoral votes. He ran again in 1956 against Stevenson. One of the main issues was Eisenhower's health due to a recent heart attack. In the end he won with 57% of the vote.
Events and Accomplishments of Dwight D. Eisenhower's Presidency:
Eisenhower traveled to Korea before he took office to help conclude the peace talks. By July 1953, an Armistice was signed that separated Korea into two with a demilitarized zone at the 38th parallel.
The Cold War was raging while Eisenhower was in office. He began building up nuclear weapons to protect America and to warn the Soviet Union that the U.S. would retaliate if fired upon. When Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and then began relations with the Soviet Union, Eisenhower placed an embargo on the country. He was concerned about the Soviet involvement in Vietnam. He came up with the Domino Theory where he said that if the Soviet Union could topple one regime (like Vietnam), it would find it easier and easier to topple further regimes. Therefore, he was the first to send advisors to the region. He also created the Eisenhower Doctrine where he asserted that America had the right to aid any country threatened by Communist aggression.
In 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy who had been trying to reveal Communists in government fell from power when the Army-McCarthy hearings were televised. Joseph N. Welch who represented the Army was able to show how out of control McCarthy had become.
In 1954, the Supreme Court decided in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954 that schools should be desegregated. In 1957, Eisenhower had to send federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to safeguard black students enrolling for the first time in a previously all-white school. In 1960, a Civil Rights Act was passed to include sanctions against any local officials who blocked blacks from voting.
The U-2 Spy Plane Incident occurred in 1960. On May 1, 1960, a U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was brought down near Svedlovsk, Soviet Union. This event had a lasting negative impact on U.S. - U.S.S.R. relations. The details surrounding this event are to this day still shrouded in mystery. Eisenhower, however, defended the need for reconnaissance flights as necessary for national security.
Eisenhower retired after his second term on January 20, 1961. He moved to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and wrote his autobiography and memoirs. He died on March 28, 1969 of congestive heart failure.
Eisenhower was president during the 50's, a time of relative peace (despite the Korean Conflict) and prosperity. Eisenhower's willingness to sent federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to ensure that local schools were desegregated was an important step in the Civil Rights movement.