Today in History: President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Birthday

by Alex Caldwell

On Oct. 14, 1890, the 34th President Dwight David Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas.

Before being elected president, Eisenhower grew up in Abilene, Kansas as the third of seven sons. He excelled in baseball in high school, and received an appointment to West Point. He graduated the academy in 1915 and married Mamie Doud.

Eisenhower graduated from West Point in 1915 and met his wife, Mamie, at Fort Sam Houston. They were married in 1916.

Eisenhower continued in his Army career, serving under General Douglas MacArthur for seven years in the Philippines. Eisenhower headed Operation Torch, the successful invasion of North Africa during World War II. He was promoted as a full general in 1943, and became the Supreme Commander of allied troops invading France on D-Day. Eisenhower returned to the United States in 1945 and served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army.

In 1948, Eisenhower left active duty and became president of Columbia University. In 1950, President Harry S. Truman asked him to take command of the recently formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Europe. Eisenhower worked to create a united military against communist aggression around the world.

Republicans Gen. Eisenhower and Sen. Nixon won the 1952 presidential election after months of campaigning across the United States. Eisenhower and Nixon were soon sworn in as the 34th President and 36th Vice President of the United States on January 20, 1953.

Republicans approached and convinced Eisenhower to run for president in 1952. Eisenhower won his party’s nomination and chose then Senator Richard Nixon of California as his running mate. Eisenhower won a landslide victory over his opponent, Democrat Gov. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois.

President Eisenhower accomplished various achievements while serving in office. He notably kept the United States at peace during a series of crisis throughout both of his terms. Despite the United States appearing to be on the brink of war with Vietnam, Korea, Berlin, and the Soviet Union, Eisenhower dealt with each situation calmly and rationally, finding solutions that avoided war while maintaining the country’s image of strength.

President Eisenhower had a putting green installed on the White House lawn where he played more than 800 rounds of golf.

Eisenhower was also an avid golfer and had a putting green installed at the White House. It is estimated that the president played more than 800 rounds of golf. He banished squirrels from the White House, however, because they continually ruined his putting green. The late Eisenhower was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2009.

Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in September 1955 while vacationing in Colorado. While he spent nearly seven weeks in the hospital, Vice President Nixon temporarily helped run the country. Eisenhower recovered and ran for re-election one year later and won a second landslide victory over Adlai Stevenson in 1956.

Eisenhower negotiated an end to the Korean War, balanced the budget three times and cut government spending, and sponsored and signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, giving birth to America’s interstate highway system.

He also sponsored and signed the Civil Rights Bill of 1957, the first civil rights bill since Reconstruction. He worked to desegregate America’s schools, sending in troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to assure compliance with the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling outlawing de jure segregation.

President John F. Kennedy met with former President Dwight Eisenhower in the Oval Office in 1962.

President Eisenhower left office in January 1961 after John F. Kennedy was sworn into office. He enjoyed writing memoirs, and even published several books during his post-presidency years.

On March 28, 1969, the 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower died of congestive heart failure at Walter Reed Army Hospital at the age of 78. He and his wife are buried in Abilene, Kansas.

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