Ranked #7: Eisenhower was the last case where the office seeked the president as opposed to the candidate seeking the office. This made him in some ways a non-partison president. This was a boost for all Americans across all political leanings. He was respected because he was the greatest army general in the 20th century. During his time in office, Americans had economical prosperity and a strong international leader.
Summary: Eisenhower was approachable and fun. He was a decent, principled man who commanded respect and encouraged people to be their best. He was the type of guy that never talked negatively about others. He wanted to like people and in return, he wanted people to like him. He typically had a cheerful outlook on life, although there were times he grew depressed and exploded in anger. But these episodes never lasted very long. Eisenhower carried lucky coins in his pocket at all times. He was not a good public speaker and would refer on this shortcoming when avoiding direct, extemporaneous answers to difficult questions.
Bio: Eisenhower was 5’ 10” and weighed 178 pounds as President. He has blue eyes and light brown hair although he was completely bald by the time he became President. One of his most noticeable features was his wide grin. He wore reading glasses for most of his adult life. He had a trick knee from an old football injury. He caught cold easily and suffered from bursitis and ileitis. He smoked four packs of cigarettes a day until 1949 when his doctor urged him to reduce his habit to one pack a day. Eisenhower found it to be easier to quit altogether as opposed to counting cigarettes during the course of the day. During his time as President, in 1955 he suffered a heat attack, he had an intestinal bypass operation in 1956 and had a stroke in 1957 that left him almost completely unable to speak for a full day.
Eisenhower loved to play golf-so much so that the US Golf Association installed a putting green on the south lawn of the White House. He typically scored in the 80s. He enjoyed hunting and fishing as well, particularly dry-fly fishing. He was a very good card player. His favorite game in his youth was poker. He played so well that he supplemented his army salary by winning at poker. It got to the point where he politely quit playing because his fellow officers were finding themselves falling into some heavy debt. It was at this point that he started to play bridge and canasta. He was such a dedicated card player that he would at times fly buddies in to play bridge at the White House. He was a gifted chef and a better than average oil painter. His favorite subjects were landscapes. He also enjoyed stories about the west. He read many books and viewed many movies with western themes while he was President.
Eisenhower attended West Point as a young man and had every intention of being a football player but was cut down by a serious injury. Outside of that, he was a fair-to-average student who was more noted for being a prankster. As a result, not much was expected of him after his graduation. He entered the army at this point as a second lieutenant and had some pretty unremarkable assignments until he found himself under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. He continued serving under MacArthur for roughly seven years despite the fact that he and his commander often disagreed. After the breakout of World War II, Eisenhower’s talent for strategic planning was recognized as he helped train about 400,000 solders. Due to this ability, he was promoted to Brigadier General. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Eisenhower went to Washington DC to work on war plans. It was at this point that he impressed (the often unimpressed) Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall. In a matter of years, Eisenhower became a Four-Star General in charge of the great US military forces.
After the war, he was sought after to run for President. The idea did not interest him at the time. President Harry Truman even offered to be his running mate in the 1948 election. This was an extraordinary offer-a testimony to the fact that he was recognized as the greatest war hero of the 20th century. Despite that, Eisenhower declined. It took an “Eisenhower for President” drive by Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge to get Eisenhower to slowly change his mind and agree to run in 1952.
I think he was the last of the nonpartisan Presidents. After all, the office came to him, he did not have to seek the office. From outside Washington DC, his years in office did not seem all that complicated. The Depression and the war were now relegated to history, and it seemed that Americans were prospering in a growing economy. Eisenhower was never too quick to adopt an extreme ideology for the sake of the Republican Party. For example, he was in favor of rolling back government regulation on the economy, yet he also wanted to be able to provide assistance to Americans who were in retirement or sick. Although he was urged to cut taxes, he felt it more important to balance the budget. Eisenhower did much to improve America’s infrastructure. One of his most noted decisions was to help create the Interstate Highway system.
Eisenhower strengthened the military, used nuclear weapons as a bargaining chip against Communist governments, used the CIA to to carry out secret missions and won over many governments that were not already aligned with the US. His reputation has gained a lot of ground since he left office. At the time, he seemed more like a President who played golf a great deal. However, as more information was released throughout the years, historians better understood what he had actually accomplished. He often worked behind the scenes to handle controversial issues. Eisenhower died on March 28, 1969.
Pros: Signed the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960. Started the interstate highway system. Ended the Korean War. Formed NATO. Took a tough stance against the Soviet Union and the spread of communism.
Cons: Blurred the lines between church and state. Hardley enforced desegregation of schools. McCarthyism grew during his tenure. Did little to fight poverty in urban areas.
Born: October 14, 1890, Denison, Texas/li>
Died: March 28, 1969 (aged 78) Washington, D.C.
Term: January 20, 1953 to January 20, 1961 (2 terms)
Political Party: Republican
Education: U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York (graduated 1915)