Dwight D. Eisenhower: Biography, Facts & Quotes

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over the early life of Dwight D. Eisenhower. You'll also learn about his military service, his political career, and get to read some of his famous quotes.

I Like Ike

'Yes we can' is perhaps one of the most famous modern campaign slogans in American history. Barack Obama made it famous in 2008. Yet before Obama, an equally famous campaign phrase was used by another man campaigning for the presidency. The phrase was 'I like Ike' and it was the campaign slogan of Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose nickname was Ike. He was the 34th president of the United States, from 1953-1961 and a military hero.

Let's learn more about the man in this lesson.

Early Life & Career

Eisenhower, the third of seven sons, was born on October 14th, 1890 in Denison, Texas. His parents were Ida and David. The latter worked as a mechanic.

As a young boy, Eisenhower helped around the home with chores, loved to play sports at Abilene High School, hunt, and fish. He was a dutiful brother as well, helping to pay for one of his brother's tuition with his wages from working as a fireman.

Eisenhower was a big fan of military history and must have been extremely excited when he was accepted into the country's premier military academy, West Point, in 1911. Here, he played football for some time and was known for not much else other than being an average student and playing pranks. No one expected him to be a military hero, let alone president.

After graduating 61st out of 164, Eisenhower was eventually stationed in Fort Sam Houston (San Antonio, Texas) where he met his future wife, Mamie Geneva Doud. Thereafter, he was stationed at Camp Meade, Maryland, with none other than (later) famous General George S. Patton Jr. The two became friends.

Later on, Eisenhower was transferred to the Panama Canal Zone and, through a series of events, managed to end up serving General John J. Pershing and General Douglas MacArthur.

War & Politics

Eventually, Eisenhower came back to the U.S. He managed to impress senior military members with his military skills and this earned him numerous promotions. He was the right man that had come around at the right time, just as Europe was in the midst of World War II.

He was tasked with leading Allied troops in an invasion of North Africa and, the next year, an invasion of Italy. By 1944, Eisenhower had become the leader of Allied forces fighting in Western Europe against the Nazis. After helping to win the war, Eisenhower was welcomed as a hero around the world, from Washington, to Paris, to Moscow and beyond. Not bad for a prank playing student!

General Eisenhower

After the war, Eisenhower served as chief of staff of the Army, president of Columbia University, and the first Supreme Commander of NATO. This turned out to be an important position for reasons other than military ones for it was in Paris, while with NATO, that Eisenhower was encouraged by some Republicans to consider running for the presidency.

And so, in 1952, Eisenhower retired from active duty and announced that he was going to run for the presidency under the Republican banner. Running alongside Richard Nixon, Eisenhower won all but the Deep South states and crushed his Democratic opponent, Adlai Stevenson to become the 34th president of the United States of America in the process. He also won re-election against Stevenson once more by an even bigger margin in 1956.

As president, Eisenhower was well aware of the threat the Soviet Union posed, especially since it possessed atomic weapons. Actually, Eisenhower advocated against the dropping of the atomic bombs during World War II for numerous reasons and he advocated 'Atoms for Peace' instead of atoms for war. In other words, he pushed hard for atomic powers to use atoms for things like energy instead of weapons manufacture.

President Eisenhower

Additionally, under Eisenhower:

  • The Korean War was brought to a de facto end
  • Alaska and Hawaii became states
  • The 1957 Civil Rights Act came to fruition
  • NASA was formed

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