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34th President

Terms: 1953-1961
Political Party: Republican
First Lady: Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower
Vice President: Richard M. Nixon

Overview

Born: October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas... Eisenhower was the first president to work with three sessions of Congress controlled by an opposing political party...Dwight Eisenhower entered the White House intending to preside over a period of national recovery from the tumult of the Roosevelt/Truman administrations. His "hidden-hand" style of governing indicated to some an air of conformity and aloofness, yet the general public held him in high esteem. Confounding caricature, the military legend cut defense spending and warned against the unchecked growth of a military-industrial complex...Died: March 28, 1969.

Did you know? - Read some fun facts about Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Era

  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed for espionage (1953)
  • Racial segregation of schools ruled unconstitutional (1954)
  • First McDonald's restaurant opens (1955)
  • Peron deposed as dictator in Argentina (1955)
  • Soviet Union forms Warsaw pact (1955)
  • First commercial nuclear power plant opens in Pennsylvania (1957)
  • Soviets launch Sputnik (1957)
  • First domestic jetliner service begins between New York and Miami (1958)
  • First televised presidential debates (1960)

World Timeline - See a timeline of world events during Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration.

Domestic Politics

The post-war years of 1950s America are typically described as being a period of economic prosperity and technological advances. Indeed, the nation's Gross National Product (GNP) more than doubled, jumping from $212 billion in 1945 to $504 billion in 1960. Likewise, increases in per capita income and real purchasing power were enjoyed by most Americans. The United States had become the richest nation in the world. Many of her citizens, weary from the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II, eagerly embraced the seemingly endless bounty. But all was not well for African Americans in the 1950s. Millions had returned home from World War II to find themselves excluded from the American dream. In an age of rising expectations, African Americans voiced their demands for a fair share of the prosperity and promise that seemed to envelope much of the nation. Calling attention to the inferior quality of their children's education, they challenged the notion of a "separate but equal" educational system. Equality of education, most African Americans concluded, could only be assured through integration.

Read the page on Eisenhower's Domestic Politics to learn more about the battle for Equality.

Foreign Affairs

As the dust settled after the second World War, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as competing superpowers. The former wartime allies found themselves locked in a struggle that came to be known as the Cold War. Eisenhower saw the Cold War in stark moral terms: "This is a war of light against darkness, freedom against slavery, Godliness against atheism." But the President refused to undertake an effort to "roll back" Soviet gains in the years after WW II. Early in his administration he embraced a policy of containment as the cornerstone of his administration's Soviet policy.

Read the Foreign Affairs page to learn more about the start of the Cold War.

Presidential Politics

The end of World War II saw the United States defeating two enemies -- Germany and Japan -- and gaining a new one, the Soviet Union. The wartime alliance between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had proven to be a marriage of convenience. With the ink barely dry on the treaties ending the war, the two new dominant world powers found themselves locked in a battle over the course of postwar events. The Cold War had begun. As the relationship between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. deteriorated, the fear of a Red Menace gripped America. 

Read the page on Eisenhower's Presidential Politics.

Extended Biography
Access in-depth biographical materials for Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Additional Resources
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transcripts, and in-depth teacher's guides.

My American Experience

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  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH