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Dwight David Eisenhower

war allied united commander

Eisenhower, Dwight David (1890–1969), 34th president of the United States, nicknamed “Ike”. Eisenhower's two terms in office are remembered as peaceful years, because one of his first official acts was to move for an end to the unpopular Korean War. They were also, however, tense years of Cold War with the communist bloc.

Early life

A year after graduating from high school in 1909, Eisenhower won admission to the U.S. military academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1915. In 1916 he met and married Mary “Mamie” Geneva Doud. They had two sons, one of whom died in infancy.

Military commander

During World War I, Eisenhower remained in the United States as an instructor. He became an aide to General Douglas MacArthur in 1933 and, in 1935, accompanied MacArthur on a mission to reorganize defenses in the Philippines. In 1939 World War II began in Europe, but the United States did not become involved until Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Dec. 1941. The following year, Eisenhower became commander of an Allied attack in North Africa. By 1943 he was a full general and, later that year, was made supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe. He planned and oversaw the Allied attack that began June 6, 1944 (D-Day); its success aided an Allied push that led to Germany's surrender. In 1948 Eisenhower retired from active duty with the rank of five-star general to become president of Columbia University. In 1950 he was appointed supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

President

In 1952 Eisenhower resigned from the army and was nominated as the Republican candidate for president. He and his running mate, Richard M. Nixon, won by a landslide, defeating the Democratic ticket of Adlai E. Stevenson and John J. Sparkman. Eisenhower had pledged to bring the Korean War to “an early and honorable end” and, six months after he took office, a truce was signed. However, other objectives of his administration were hampered by conflicts between moderate and conservative Republicans and by a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress after 1954. Despite Eisenhower's health problems (a heart attack in 1955 and emergency surgery in 1956), his popularity with voters remained high. In 1956 he was reelected by an overwhelming margin. In foreign affairs, the Eisenhower administration's policies were devoted to “containing” communism and building a strong defense. In 1958 Eisenhower sent U.S. troops to the Middle East to restore peace in Lebanon and to protect U.S. oil interests. On the domestic front, he ordered federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., in 1957 to safeguard the attempt of nine black children to integrate all-white schools. He also signed the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960—the first such bills passed by Congress since Reconstruction.

Retirement

Eisenhower left office at age 70 and retired to his farm at Gettysburg, Pa. Succeeding presidents consulted him until he died of heart failure in Washington, D.C., in 1969.

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