Dwight David Eisenhower was born October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas, as David Dwight Eisenhower. His family moved to Abilene, Kansas, where he worked for a time in a creamery until he took and passed exams for the Military Academy and was appointed to West Point. There, he picked up the nickname “Ike” and changed his first and middle names. An average student, he ranked 61st in his class of 168 and graduated in 1919 to become a career soldier.
He met Mamie Geneva Doud at his first duty station, and they married on July 1, 1916, on the day he received his promotion to First Lieutenant. They had two sons. One died as a baby, and the other, John Eisenhower followed his father’s footsteps as a career officer in the U. S. Army.
After several routine assignments, he graduated at the top of his class at the Army General Staff School in Leavenworth, Kansas, and was sent to Army War College in Washington D.C. From there, in 1932, he was appointed aide to General Douglas Macarthur and spent four years with him training and building the Philippine army. There, he learned to fly while training the Philippine Air Force.
During World War II, President Roosevelt appointed Eisenhower as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, totalling three million men. Eisenhower approved the D-Day Invasion and led Allied troops to victory. With that victory, Eisenhower was America’s number one hero, and on his return, President Truman appointed him Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. He held this post for two years and retired from the Army in May 1948 to become the president of Columbia University. Both Democrats and Republican pursued him to run for President of the U.S., but he would not disclose his political preference.
In 1950, Truman called him back to duty as Supreme Commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the alliance created by the western allies in part to contain the expansion of the Soviet Union. At the time, Soviet-backed troops from North Korea has invaded South Korea. When the 1952 elections approached, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, the Republican nominee in l944 and l948, threw his support to Eisenhower, and Eisenhower was nominated on the first ballot as a Republican. His Vice President was California Senator Richard M. Nixon. They won the election easily over Democratic candidate Adlai E. Stevenson, and Eisenhower made good on his promise to go to Korea and negotiate a truce there on July 27, 1953.
Eisenhower was the second graduate of West Point to be President, after Ulysses S. Grant, and the the sixth general elected President.
When Eisenhower went to the moved into the White House he brought two dogs, a Weimeraner named Heidi and a Scottie named Spunky. Heidi did not stay long as she soiled the rug in the Diplomatic room and was sent to the farm. Eisenhower was an avid golf player and even had a putting green built on the White House lawn.
Although his campaign slogan was “I Like Ike,” voters elected Democratic majorities in Congress in 1954, 1956, and 1958, so Eisenhower had to work with opposition in Congress through six of his eight years in office. Much of his foreign policy was devoted to containment of communism and the Soviet Union. During his administration, Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union as the 49th and 50th states.
In the l956 election, Eisenhower again faced Adlai E. Stevenson as his Democratic opponent, and won by an even larger majority than in l952.
When Eisenhower left office in 1961, he was 77 years old, one of the oldest men ever to serve as President. He and his wife retired to their farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Eisenhower died March 28, 1969, and was buried next to his wife at his boyhood home in Abilene, Kansas.