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Dwight D. Eisenhower Biography

34th President of the United States

Years Served as President: 1953-1961

Vice President: Richard M. Nixon

Party: Republican

Age at Inauguration: 62

Eisenhower official portrait

Home State: Texas

Date of Birth: October 14, 1890

Died: March 28, 1969

Married: Mary “Mamie” Geneva Doud

Children: Doud, John

Nickname: Ike

Mamie Eisenhower
Mamie Eisenhower

What is Dwight D. Eisenhower known for?

Dwight D. Eisenhower is best known for his military career. He was the supreme commander of the Allied forces during World War II.

He planned the famous D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. The invasion helped push the Nazis out of France and was one of the deciding victories of the war.

europe-for-kids

Early Life

Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in 1890 in Denison, Texas. However, he spent most of his childhood in Abilene, Kansas, a small farming community.

His parents were David and Ida Eisenhower. Dwight’s father worked as a mechanic. His mother was a Mennonite who was against war or violence of any kind.

Naval battle in the Spanish-American War

Growing up, Dwight enjoyed fishing, hunting, and football. He also liked to read books about military history. In 1911, he was accepted to West Point.

After graduating, Eisenhower began his military career. He started as a second lieutenant in San Antonio, Texas.

texas-seal

Family Life

While in San Antonio, Eisenhower met and married Mary “Mamie” Geneva Doud.

The couple had two sons, Doud and John. Doud died of scarlet fever as a young boy. John graduated from West Point like his father, eventually serving in the military and becoming a military historian.

war ambulance
Ford Model T Military Field Ambulance

Military Career

Eisenhower was a talented leader who quickly rose through the military ranks. He soon became a brigadier general.

After leading several successful operations during World War II, Eisenhower became a five-star general.

He was named the supreme commander of the Allied forces and led the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

More than 150,000 Allied forces stormed Nazi-occupied France and liberated Paris from the Nazis. This turned the tide of the war decisively in favor of the Allies.

france-map

World War II ended not long after the successful invasion. Eisenhower returned home to a hero’s welcome. In 1945, he was appointed chief of staff of the U.S. Army.

In 1948, Eisenhower briefly returned to civilian life when he became the president of Columbia University in New York City.

But just two years later, President Harry Truman asked Eisenhower to command the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops in Europe.

Harry S. Truman picture
Harry S. Truman

Presidential Campaign

Soon, Republicans began encouraging Eisenhower to run for president. He was uncertain at first, but he finally agreed to run in 1952.

Eisenhower’s nickname was “Ike,” and he ran under the catchy campaign slogan, “I Like Ike.” His running mate was Richard Nixon, then a senator from California.

california-state-seal

Since Eisenhower was so popular with the American people, he won the election easily. He defeated Adlai Stevenson, the governor of Illinois.

Presidency

As president, Eisenhower continued most of the New Deal and Fair Deal programs of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

Franklin D Roosevelt painting
Franklin D. Roosevelt

He also strengthened the Social Security program, raised the minimum wage, and created the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Eisenhower also created the Interstate Highway System. This involved the construction of 41,000 miles of roads stretching across the United States. Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union.

alaska-map

Other accomplishments during Eisenhower’s presidency included:

  • Signing the Eisenhower Doctrine, which stated that any country could request help from the United States if it was being threatened by another country. This was designed to stop the spread of communism. He also authorized secret operations against communism by the CIA.
  • Signing the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960. He created a civil rights office in the Department of Justice and supported the integration of schools.
  • Helping negotiate an end to the Korean War.

After having a heart attack in 1955, Eisenhower’s health started to decline. Still, he won another landslide victory against Adlai Stevenson and served a second term.

His two terms were fairly prosperous and peaceful.

korean and vietnam wars

After the Presidency

After leaving office, Eisenhower retired with Mamie to his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He raised cattle and painted.

He and his wife traveled and spent time with a close group of friends they called “the gang.”

Eisenhower occasionally consulted with current presidents and provided military advice. He worked on his memoirs and wrote several books during his retirement.

heart and love

In 1965, Eisenhower suffered a second heart attack. His health grew much worse in 1968, and he spent nine months in the hospital before passing away on March 28, 1969 at the age of 78.

Fun Facts About Dwight D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower’s given name was David Dwight Eisenhower. However, he went by his middle name and eventually switched the two names permanently. His grandson was also named David.

Eisenhower and his wife moved 30 times during their first 35 years of marriage due to his military life. They never purchased a permanent home until after he became president.

atomic bomb

At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, Eisenhower spoke out against using the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System was the largest public works project in U.S. history.

democrats-republicans

In recent polls of the greatest U.S. presidents, historians have ranked him among the Top Ten.

US Presidents