Eisenhower was the supreme Allied commander in Europe in World War Two and later 34th president of the United States.
Dwight David Eisenhower, nicknamed 'Ike', was born in Denison, Texas on 14 October 1890 and brought up in Kansas.
Eisenhower graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1915. He served in the army through the 1920s and 1930s, including a posting to the Philippines in the late 1930s.
Shortly after the United States entered World War Two, Eisenhower went to work in Washington, where he impressed the chief of staff General George C Marshall. In June 1942, he was appointed commanding general in the European theatre. This was later extended to include the Mediterranean and North Africa. In February 1944, he was named the supreme commander of the Allied expeditionary forces in Western Europe. He oversaw the successful Allied assault on the coast of Normandy in June 1944 and the Allied liberation of western Europe. On 7 May 1945 he accepted Germany's surrender and then commanded the US occupation zone in Germany.
In November 1945, Eisenhower returned to the US as army chief of staff. He was made president of Columbia University in 1948, but in December 1950 left to become supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe.
In 1952, the popularity which Eisenhower had gained during the war helped him win the Republican nomination for presidency and then the presidency itself. His time in office was dominated by the Cold War. In July 1953, he agreed to an armistice to end the fighting in Korea. He also guaranteed US protection for South Vietnam. In 1956, Eisenhower surprised Britain and France by refusing to back them in the Suez crisis.
At home, Eisenhower expanded social security provision and instigated the interstate highway system, the largest construction project in history. He was criticised for failing to publicly condemn Senator Joseph McCarthy for his anti-communist 'witchhunt'. However, he worked behind the scenes to erode McCarthy's influence. He signed significant civil rights legislation, but appeared to dislike confronting racial issues.
Eisenhower was re-elected in November 1956. During his last years in office, he hoped to improve US-Soviet relations and negotiate a nuclear test ban treaty. But in May 1960 the Soviets shot down an American U2 spy plane over their territory, which ended any hope of better relations before Eisenhower left office. He retired at the end of his second term in January 1961. He died in Washington DC on 28 March 1969.
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