Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower Headshot

Politician • Military Officer • General

Birth Date: October 14, 1890

Death Date: March 28, 1969

Birth Place: Denison, Texas

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas, on Oct. 14, 1890, but his family moved to Abilene, Texas, when he was young. He played baseball and football at Abilene High School and joined the workforce after graduating in 1909. Eisenhower worked with his father and uncle at the Belle Springs Creamery, in addition to moonlighting as a fireman. He used the money he made to help pay for younger brother Edgar's tuition at the University of Michigan.

Eisenhower enrolled at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., in 1911 and played on the school's football team until knee injuries ended his playing career. He graduated from West Point in 1915 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. While stationed in Texas, he met 18-year-old Denver native Mamie; they married on July 1, 1916, the same day he was promoted to first lieutenant. Mamie gave birth to the couple's first child, Doud Dwight, in 1917.

Eisenhower continued to rise through the military ranks while stationed stateside during World War I, receiving a promotion to major in 1920. Doud died of scarlet fever in 1921, a year before Mamie gave birth to John Sheldon Doud. Eisenhower was accepted to the Command and General Staff School in Kansas in 1924 and graduated first in his class from the Army's prestigious graduate school in 1926. He toured and reported for the War Department from 1927 to 1929 and was appointed chief military aide under Gen. Douglas MacArthur after finishing his tour.

He served under MacArthur as the assistant military adviser to the Philippines from 1935 to 1939, returning to the U.S. in early 1940. Eisenhower became chief of staff for the Third Army in 1941 and was soon promoted to brigadier general. He was transferred to Washington, D.C., later that year and was promoted to major general in 1942, leading the Allied invasion of North Africa. He commanded the Allied forces in the Normandy invasion on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and was promoted to five-star rank that December.

He became military governor of the U.S. Occupied Zone after Germany's 1945 surrender and was appointed U.S. Army chief of staff a few months later. He was elected president of Columbia University in 1948 and held that position until December 1950, when he accepted an appointment as first supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). While in Paris with NATO, Republican emissaries encouraged Eisenhower to run for U.S. president.

He retired from active service in 1952 and announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination, ultimately earning the nod and winning the Nov. 4, 1952, election by a landslide - boosted by the simple-but-effective slogan "I Like Ike" -- making him the country's 34th president. While in the White House, he focused his foreign policy on reducing Cold War tensions through military negotiation. In 1953 he made a famous "Atoms for Peace" speech that promoted applying atomic energy to peaceful uses. Eisenhower won his 1956 re-election bid by an even larger margin than four years earlier despite having recently recovered from a heart attack.

Upon leaving office in January 1961, Eisenhower gave a televised farewell address in which he warned Americans about the dangers of the Cold War. Accomplishments during his two terms as president included establishing Alaska and Hawaii as states, signing the 1957 Civil Rights Act and signing the bill that formed NASA. He moved to a Gettysburg, Pa., farm after leaving office and died at Walter Reed Army Hospital on March 28, 1969.

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