Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Prior to that he was a five-star general in the United States Army. During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.
At a time when tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union were rising, the steady-handed Ike kept the Cold War from becoming hot. The hostility between the two superpowers belied the halcyon facade of America in the 1950s, as the threat of the hydrogen bomb loomed. According to opinion polls at the time, the majority of Americans thought there would be a nuclear exchange in the near future, and a fear of Communism and Russian aggression pervaded the nation and defined the Eisenhower era.
In the United States itself, Eisenhower believed the preceding Roosevelt and Truman administrations had produced "numerous instances of malfeasance in office, disregard for fiscal responsibility, apparent governmental ignorance or apathy about the penetration of Communists in government, and a willingness to divide industrial America against itself." In his view, all this "had reduced the prestige of the United States and caused the disillusionment and cynicism among our people. These I felt must be erased."
Eisenhower continued to emphasize the importance of making the people of Southeast Asia feel the United States was coming to their aid. He had in mind the British in Greece. A few months earlier, when the German threatened that country, the British felt it was important to send a division there---even though they feared it would do no good---in order to protect their postwar political position in the Mediterranean. Eisenhower felt the Americans had to do at least as much in the Philippines.
When the meteorologists predicted a break in the weather just sufficient to mount the invasion, Eisenhower made a historic decision that set into motion the most vital Allied operation of World War II---the operation that would decide the victor and the vanquished. To go or not to go based on this small window of acceptable weather became the basis for a decision only Eisenhower himself could make. And make it he did, deciding that the invasion must be launched on June 6.
Eisenhower became a temporary lieutenant colonel during the First World War. He was appointed commander of a heavy tank brigade in Pennsylvania but was not sent to Europe during the conflict. After the war Eisenhower served under George Patton at Fort Meade, Maryland. These two pioneers of tank warfare became close friends.
Although Eisenhower had no preliminary ambitions to become a soldier, he entered West Point -- attracted by a free higher education -- and passed the entrance exams in 1911. Eisenhower was an average student at the academy, but would later surprise the military community with exceptional ability...Ranking 61st out of 164 in his class, Eisenhower graduated in 1915.
The Supreme Allied Command in Europe would never have worked without Eisenhower, for he virtually invented the concept of Allied unity of command and persuaded the British to accept it in lieu of the committee system to which they were accustomed. His personal qualities played a large part in gaining acceptance of a much more centralized and powerful Allied command than had existed in World War 1. Men instinctively trusted him, and his measured approach to command reinforced a conviction that he was an honest broker whose central purpose was the defeat of the enemy, rather than the pursuit of any national agenda.
Domestically, he championed moderate policies and adopted a defense strategy that emphasized the deterrent power of strategic nuclear weapons. In January 1961 President Eisenhower retired from public life and thereafter resided at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He died at Walter Reed Army Hospital, in Washington, D.C., on 28 March 1969.
Only six months into his presidency--eight years often referred to as Cold War years because of frigid international relationships between democratic nations, primarily the U.S., and socialist nations such as the Soviet Union--President Eisenhower helped negotiate a truce to end the Korean War. Other milestones during his presidency included signing the first U. S. civil rights legislation since the conclusion of the Civil War nearly 100 years earlier, signing the bill that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and sending federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce court-ordered integration.
Just before Dwight D. Eisenhower began his campaign for the presidency of the United States, a March 1952 newspaper poll found him to be the most admired living American. Eisenhower was a World War II hero, a five-star general, the former president of a prestigious American university, and the supreme commander of a fourteen-country defense alliance. He loomed large in the public's imagination as the "man who won the war."