Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Posts tagged "President Eisenhower"
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Is it true that we didn't lose a soldier during the Eisenhower administration? I'm thinking particularly of the end of the Korean War (July 26,1953) and start of U.S. involvement in Vietnam (1956) taking place during his tenure.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

No, not technically. I doubt that we’ve ever had a President, with the possible exception of William Henry Harrison (because of his brief term), who didn’t have at least one American soldier die for one reason or another during their Administration. Eisenhower was trying to get across the point that the United States didn’t get involved in any major conflicts while he was in office because he hoped a big part of his legacy would be that the U.S. was focused on “waging peace” during his Presidency. Of course, in hindsight, that claim doesn’t hold much water because while there may not have been any full-scale wars involving American troops during the Eisenhower Administration, we know what U.S. involvement in Vietnam eventually turned into.


34th President of the United States (1953-1961)

Full Name: Dwight David Eisenhower (Born: David Dwight Eisenhower)
Full Name: October 14, 1890, Denison, Texas
Political Party: Republican
State Represented: New York (1st term: When running for President in 1952, Eisenhower was stationed in Paris as NATO Secretary-General and New York was his official residence) and Kansas (2nd term: During his Presidency, Eisenhower switched his official residency back to Kansas)
Term: January 20, 1953-January 20, 1961
Age at Inauguration: 62 years, 98 days
Administration: 42nd and 43rd
Congresses: 83rd, 84th, 85th, and 86th
Vice President: Richard Milhous Nixon (1953-1961)
Died: March 28, 1969, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
Age at Death: 78 years, 165 days
Buried: Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, Kansas

2012 Dead Presidents Ranking: 9 of 43 [↑1]

Ulysses S. Grant is on American currency because of his successes as a Union General during the Civil War, not because of anything he did as President of the United States.  For decades, the first thing that Dwight D. Eisenhower has been remembered for is his leadership as the Supreme Allied Commander during World War II.  Perhaps that will never change, and maybe it shouldn’t since he was the successful commander of the largest, the most intricate, and possibly even the most important amphibious invasion in the history of the world. But as the years pass and the Eisenhower and we are able to compare him to others, it is clear that Eisenhower was a great President as well as a great soldier.  Eisenhower was an incredibly clever and able politician, and he modernized the way the Executive Branch works and is organized.  Eisenhower brought the military-type of chief of staff position to the White House and it changed the way that Presidential power was used and protected.  The eight years of the Eisenhower Administration were prosperous and peaceful, and despite his age and his supposed “inexperience” with politics, Eisenhower was hands-on and directed every aspect of his Presidency.  That made for a strong Presidency and a country that was steered into the 1960’s by President, not General, Eisenhower. Dwight D. Eisenhower was a career soldier who spent decades training to be a warrior and preparing to wage war, but after World War II, few citizens worked harder at “waging peace”. As Ike said while reflecting on his Presidency, “The United States never lost a soldier or a foot of ground during my Administration. We kept the peace. People ask how it happened — by God, it didn’t just happen!”

1948: Schlesinger Sr./Life Magazine:  Not Ranked
1962: Schlesinger Sr./New York Times Magazine:  22 of 31
1982: Neal/Chicago Tribune Magazine:  9 of 38
1990: Siena Institute:  12 of 40
1996: Schlesinger Jr./New York Times Magazine:  10 of 39
2000: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  9 of 41
2000: C-SPAN Public Opinion Poll:  8 of 41
2005: Wall Street Journal/Presidential Leadership:  8 of 40
2009: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  8 of 42
2010: Siena Institute:  10 of 43
2011: University of London’s U.S. Presidency Centre:  10 of 40

Asker Anonymous Asks:
How did the Truman-Eisenhower hatred towards each other start?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I’ve answered a similar question about their relationship before, so I’m just going to cut and paste my previous answer:

Truman and Eisenhower had a very complicated relationship.  It started out well enough and in 1948, Truman even privately suggested to Eisenhower that Ike run for President and Truman would serve as his Vice President.  Part of that was probably Truman trying to draw Eisenhower out to see whether Ike was a Democrat or a Republican (he hadn’t come clean on his party affiliation yet) and whether Ike had any designs on the Presidency (he did but not as a Democrat and not in 1948).

When Eisenhower did decide to run for President in 1952, Truman, while campaigning for Adlai E. Stevenson, was vicious and unrelenting on the campaign trail when talking about Eisenhower.  Eisenhower, in turn, was critical towards Truman about Korea, among other things.  Truman was most vicious when it came to what he saw as Ike’s failure to defend his friend General George C. Marshall, who Truman felt was one of the country’s greatest patriots and had been slandered by Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy.  Eisenhower, in reality, was angry about McCarthy’s attacks towards General Marshall, but McCarthy was popular within the GOP in 1952 as Eisenhower was seeking the Presidency and he allowed himself to be photographed with McCarthy at a rally in Wisconsin.  This really set Truman off and resulted in harsh words.  During the 1952 campaign, Truman said of Eisenhower, “This much is clear to me:  A man who betrays his friends in such a fashion is not to be trusted with the great Office of President of the United States.”   

Then, there was a misunderstanding involving Eisenhower’s son who had been fighting in Korea but was back in the United States for Eisenhower’s inauguration.  Truman had ordered Eisenhower’s son, John, home so that he could attend his father’s inauguration, but Eisenhower thought that Truman was trying to embarrass him and make it appear as if John Eisenhower was receiving preferential treatment. 

Everything boiled over on Inauguration Day 1953 as Truman handed the Presidency over to Eisenhower.  At one point, Eisenhower had threatened to break tradition and not even ride to the Capitol with Truman.  He didn’t follow through on that threat, but he did arrive at the White House too late to share a small lunch that the outgoing First Couple had prepared for the incoming First Couple.  Truman and Eisenhower did end up sharing a car, as by tradition, from the White House to the Capitol, but the conversation was anything but light.  They were still sniping at each other by the time they arrived at the Capitol.

Still fuming about his son’s surprise appearance at the inauguration (which Truman actually meant as a nice gesture), Eisenhower asked Truman just minutes before Ike took the oath of office, “I wonder who is responsible for my son John being ordered to Washington from Korea?  I wonder who is trying to embarrass me?”

Truman, still Commander-in-Chief for a few more minutes at least, responded in the third person, “The President of the United States ordered your son to attend your inauguration.  The President thought it was right and proper for your son to witness the swearing-in of his father to the Presidency.  If you think somebody was trying to embarrass you by this order, then the President assumes full responsibility.”

A few minutes later, Eisenhower was officially sworn in as President.  Ike did eventually thank Truman for the gesture in a letter, but the relationship between the two Presidents remained very, very frosty.  During Eisenhower’s two terms in office, Truman was not hesitant to take shots at Ike and continued even as late as 1961 as Eisenhower was leaving office, saying, “All I’ll say now is that when the people elect a man to the Presidency who doesn’t take care of the job, they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves.  The trouble with Eisenhower is he’s just a coward.  He hasn’t got any backbone at all…Ike didn’t know anything, and all the time he was in office he didn’t learn a thing.”  Eisenhower was quieter than Truman, but snubbed him in different ways such as skipping the opening of the Truman Presidential Library - — and asking the only other living President, Herbert Hoover, to skip it, too (Hoover, who was close with Truman, said “I wouldn’t miss it” and was front-and-center).

Truman and Eisenhower saw each other briefly every once in a while — mostly at funerals — but it was at JFK’s funeral that they finally put everything behind them.  They shared a limousine the funeral service, sat in the same pew, and chatted with each other to-and-from the Cathedral.  When the Eisenhowers dropped Truman off after the funeral, Truman invited them inside and over drinks, in the wake of a young President’s tragic assassination, the two old Presidents squashed the longtime bitterness that they had towards each other.

Eisenhower, as you know, thought highly of Bush. He was very impressed by business types — most military men are — and with the class thing. Bush was old money, and Eisenhower related to that.
Richard Nixon, on what Dwight D. Eisenhower thought of George H.W. Bush and the Bush Family, to Monica Crowley, July 7, 1992
For quite a while I have been reading all I can find about Mr. Reagan. Mostly I see him in TV scenes that are purely entertainment but he does seem to have a very pleasant and appealing personality. The only thing I know about his politics was that he earnestly supported the Republican ticket in 1964.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, giving his thoughts on Ronald Reagan as Reagan prepared to run for Governor of California, letter to Jim Murphy, September 1965
I suppose this means I’ll be Martin Van Buren — one term, no war, no greatness.
Dwight Eisenhower, on worries that his ill health would limit him to one term in the Presidency like Martin Van Buren, 1955
Asker chrisdelberk Asks:
Why was Eisenhower called Ike?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Eisenhower and all five of his brothers were nicknamed “Ike” at one point.  Eisenhower himself was never really sure where the nickname came from, but some suggested that it was a shortened version of his nickname, although it seems like it would be much easier for his parents to just call the sons by their first names instead of shortening the last name that they all shared.  Then again, the parents gave all of the boys the same nickname, so who knows?  They also called the future President by his middle name of “Dwight” rather than his given first name of “David” since that was his dad’s name instead of just naming him “Dwight David Eisenhower” in the first place.

Dwight Eisenhower was the only one of his brothers who continued being called “Ike” past his childhood.  By the way, when Eisenhower’s first son, Dwight Doud, was born (he tragically died at the age of three), he was nicknamed “Icky”.

I tend to pair up Benjamin Harrison and Dwight Eisenhower because they’re the two Presidents I can think of who most preferred laziness to labor…There’s not much else you can say about Harrison except that he was President of the United States.
Harry Truman
It’s interesting that a single thing — that great smile of Eisenhower’s — gave him the worldwide and lifelong reputation of being a sunny and amiable man, when those of us who knew him well were all too well aware that he was essentially a surly, angry, and disagreeable man.
Harry Truman, contrasting Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous smile with the personality that Truman experienced.
Eisenhower is the best politician among the military men. He is a natural leader who can convince other men to follow him, and that is what we need in his position more than any other quality.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, explaining to his son, James Roosevelt, why he chose Dwight D. Eisenhower to be the Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and lead the Normandy Invasion, 1944.

At one point he [Eisenhower] says to me, ‘Who’s your chief of staff?’ I held my temper. I said to him, ‘The President of the United States is his own chief of staff.’ But he just could not understand that. In all the years he was in the White House he never did understand that the President has to act. That’s why the people of the United States elect you They don’t elect you to sit around waiting for other people to tell you what to do.

Now when Castro came into power, if I’d have been President, I’d have picked up the phone and called him direct in Havana. I wouldn’t have gone through protocol or anything like that. I’d have called him up, and I’d have said, ‘Fidel, this is Harry Truman in Washington, and I’d like to have you come up here and have a little talk.’

He’d have come, of course, and he’d have come to the White House, and I’d have said, ‘Fidel, it looks to me like you’ve had a pretty good revolution down there, and it’s been a long time coming. Now you’re going to need help, and there’s only two places you can go to get it. One’s right here, and the other’s — well, we both know where the other place is. Now you just tell me what you need, and I’ll see to it that you get it.’

Well, he’d have thanked me, and we’d have talked awhile, and then as he got up to go, I’d have said to him, ‘Now, Fidel, I’ve told you what we’ll do for you. There’s one thing you can do for me. Would you get a shave and a haircut and take a bath?’

Of course, that son of a bitch Eisenhower was too damn dumb to do anything like that. When Castro decided to go in the other direction for support, Eisenhower was probably still waiting for a goddamn staff report on what to think.

Harry Truman, on the differences between his style of leadership and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s style, to Merle Miller, as recounted in Miller’s Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman

Some of you may be nearing Graduation Day. Some of you may be older folks like me and have children approaching Graduation Day. Either way, one thing is certain — if you miss your child’s graduation, you better have a damn good reason.

John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower was the only surviving son of Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower. Their first son, Doud Dwight (nicknamed “Icky” to go along with his father, “Ike”), had died of scarlet fever at the age of three — a devastating blow that Ike could, understandably, never fully come to terms with. John, who passed away in December 2013, was born in 1922, less than two years after Icky’s death, and he followed in his father’s footsteps in many ways. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, had a respectable career in the military, retired as a general (albeit with four less stars than his father had on his shoulder), and later served as a diplomat and highly-respect military historian. John S.D. Eisenhower was also not only the son of a President, but the father-in-law of a President’s daughter — John’s son, David (the namesake of Camp David), married Julie Nixon in 1968. In old age, John Eisenhower even looked almost exactly like Dwight D. Eisenhower.

But when John Eisenhower graduated from West Point, as his father had done in 1915, Dwight D. Eisenhower missed the solemn and important ceremony. Mamie was there, but Ike was not — he wasn’t even on the same continent.

Fortunately, Ike was forgiven. He had a good reason for missing John’s graduation from the United States Military Academy.

For John S.D Eisenhower, June 6, 1944 was Graduation Day; for Dwight D. Eisenhower and 160,000 Allied soldiers, it was D-Day. John tossed his hat in the air with his fellow West Point cadets on the very same day that his father was commanding the Allied landings on Normandy, the largest amphibious invasion in the history of the world.

While the matchmaking attempts of George H. W. Bush in 1970 failed to unite the Nixon and Bush families, the Nixons had already been connected by marriage to another Presidential family.

During the 1957 Inaugural Parade following the swearing-in of Dwight D. Eisenhower to a second term as President, cameras captured a young boy and young girl smiling at each other in the Presidential viewing grandstand. The girl was named Julie and she was the youngest daughter of the Vice President, Richard Nixon. The boy was President Eisenhower’s grandson, David (the namesake of the Presidential retreat, Camp David).

While attending colleges near each other after Eisenhower left the Presidency and Nixon narrowly lost the 1960 election to succeed Ike, Julie and David reconnected and began spending time together. Although General Eisenhower worried that David and Julie were rushing into a relationship, it continued moving quickly. In 1967, David and Julie were engaged to be married.

On December 22, 1968, less than two months after Richard Nixon was elected President, David and Julie were married. By the time of the wedding, General Eisenhower was in Walter Reed Hospital, where he would remain until his death in March 1969. Since Ike couldn’t attend his grandson’s wedding in person, a closed-circuit television link was set up so he and his wife, Mamie, could watch the nuptials from the General’s hospital room. The video feed failed, but the Eisenhowers were able to listen to the ceremony which linked the two families. David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower remain married to this day.