"I Like Ike"

President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Time in Office

Election of Eisenhower

Election of 1952:


  • Democratic Party candidate: Adlai E. Stevenson, governor of Illinois
  • Republican Party candidate: General Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Richard M. Nixon runs alongside Eisenhower to please anti-communists in the government
  • "I Like Ike" buttons pop up everywhere - Eisenhower becomes most popular American of his time
  • Eisenhower sported authentic hero credentials: 1) wartime supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, 2) first supreme commander of NATO 1950-52
  • Nixon campaigned for the two with almost exaggerated statements: they had put an end to corruption, fought hard with Korea, and flabbergasted communists
  • Nixon almost booted off running alongside Eisenhower when a scandalous event is revealed, but redeems himself with his "Checkers Speech"
  • With Eisenhower's last-minute promise to travel to Korea himself to end the war, wins by large margin: 33,936,234 votes versus 27,314992 for Stevenson; 442 electoral votes versus 89 for Stevenson


Election of 1956:


  • Democratic Party candidate: Adlai Stevenson
  • Republican Party candidate: Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Democrats attempted to find some issue with Eisenhower, but failed as the voters still proved to like Ike
  • Eisenhower won by large margin again: 35,590,472 popular votes to 26,022,752 popular votes for Stevenson; 457 electoral votes versus 73 for Stevenson

The Cold War

Definition: long-term, non-violent conflict between the United States and the USSR following the year 1945


Events during Eisenhower's time as president:

  • 3-Day visit to Korea following entrance into office
  • 7 months later - armistice with Korea signed
  • 1950 - Korea remains divided at 38th parallel
  • Beginnings of Vietnam War
  • Space Rate with Soviets

Joseph McCarthy

  • Staggering power and popularity: one of Eisenhower's first problems
  • Determined many communists worked in State Department
  • February 1950: attacked Secretary of State Acheson of employing 205 communists
  • Neither first nor most effective red-hunter, but most ruthless
  • Eisenhower privately loathed him
  • Eisenhower gave him control of personnel policy in State Department
  • Deprived many Asian specialists from government
  • 1954: attacked members of the U.S. Army
  • Few months later: condemned
  • McCarthyism coined after him: dangerous forces of unfairness and fear that democratic society can unleash only at its peril

Desegregation in the South

Brown v. Board of Education:

  • May 1954
  • Learned justices ruled segregation "inherently" unequal and unconstitutional
  • Decision startled conservatives
  • Reversed decision of 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson
  • Border states attempted to comply with decision
  • Deep South signed "Declaration of Constitutional Principles" in 1956 to pledge unyielding resistance to desegregation


Little Rock Crisis:
  • September 1957
  • Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faublus, deployed National Guard
  • Prevented 9 black students from enrolling in Central High School
  • Eisenhower sent troops to escort students to classes


Montgomery Bus Boycott:

  • December 1, 1955-December 20, 1956
  • Protest against racial segregation on public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama
  • Notable figure: 27 year old Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Began with Rosa Parks refusing to give her seat to a white man
  • Browder v. Gayle determined Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring desegregated buses unconstitutional - marked end of protest


Civil Rights Act of 1957:

  • Enacted September 9, 1957
  • First civil rights legislation passed since 1866 and 1875 Acts
  • Primarily a voting rights bill
  • Also show of Congress support for decision in Brown v. Board of Education
  • Ensured all Americans right to vote

Republicanism Policies

  • Strove to balance federal budget and guard Republic from "creeping socialism"
  • Supported transfer of control over offshore oil fields from government to states
  • Tried to restrain TVA by encouraging private power company to build generating plant
  • Determined illegal Mexican immigration would cut bracero program
  • Sought to cancel tribal preservation policies
  • Proposed terminating tribes as legal entities
  • Wanted to resort to assimilation goals of Dawes Severalty Act of 1887
  • Supported Interstate Highway Act of 1956
  • Sought to build 42,000 miles of highways with $27 billion

Beginning of Vietnam War

  • 1954: American taxpayers financed nearly 80% of endless French colonial war in Indochina
  • March 1954: French militia trapped in fortress of Dienbienphu
  • Secretary Dulles, Vice President Nixon, and chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staffs wanted to help French
  • Eisenhower wary going into war after only ending Korean War few months back
  • Dienbienphu fell to nationalists -> multinational conference held at Geneva
  • Conference halted Vietnam at 7th parallel
  • Ho Chi Minh determined Vietnam-wide elections be held in 2 years
  • Pro-Western government in south under Ngo Dinh Diem ingrained in Salgon
  • Elections never held - communists seemed obvious to win
  • Vietnam became dangerously divided country
  • Eisenhower promised economic and military aid to Diem regime as long as certain social reforms occur
  • Communist campaigns grew against Diem; America had no way to stop providing aid

Space Race with the Soviets

  • October 4, 1957: Sputnik I goes into orbit by Soviet Union
  • Month later: Sputnik II goes into orbit
  • Sputniks gave Soviet Union evidence to claim superior industrial production comes through communism
  • "Backward" nations found humor in America's under achievement in science
  • Eisenhower claimed Soviet's success should not garner fright
  • Experts determined efforts needed to close the missile gap and not widen it
  • "Rocket fever" swept nation as Eisenhower established National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • NASA received billions of dollars for missile development
  • Several failures, notably Vanguard missile that blew up on television in 1957
  • 1958: small satellite put into orbit
  • End of decade: several satellites launched, America's own ICBMs created
  • Led to National Defense and Education Act (NDEA) authorizing $887 million for improvement of science and language education in 1958