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US History: President Dwight D. Eisenhower, WWII General

Updated on March 17, 2015

General Eisenhower in 1943

Cold War Unrest, Paranoia, and Prejudice


The Presidency of our 34th President of the United States comprised 8 years of turmoil immediately after WWII. The WWII ally Russia became a Cold War enemy in the race for Communist control of the world and in the Space Race with the USA. Prejudice against Blacks, homosexuals, and women in America came to a head as well. Eisenhower insisted on desegregating the US military in all branches. Further, he continued many of the New Deal and Fair Deal programs of his predecessors.

In addition to all of this, tales of the gremlins that were sited by American WWII pilots and blamed for numerous aircraft problems translated into Space Aliens with the help of the rise of futurist and pop sci-fi releases in the media.

Americans were afraid of the Communists, homosexuals, gremlins & the Japanese, and Martians - known in the pop media as the Red Menace, the Pink Menace, the Yellow Menace, and Little Green Men.

Potsdam conference, 1945.
Potsdam conference, 1945.

"General Ike: The Man of the Hour" (public domain)

The Eisenhower Years


The Cold War Begins In Ernest

  • Eisenhower had been a US Army General and a hero in WWII. Near the end of the that war, US General George S. Patton stated that the US should immediately war against the USSR, because he believed that nation to be the next great threat to freedom and the US. The Cold War had already begun.
  • Jan. 20 - General Dwight David Eisenhower was inaugurated the 34th President of the United States.
  • March 5 - Stalin died and March 6, Malenkov became Soviet premier.
  • April & May -- James Watson and Francis Crick published the molecular model of DNA. Rosalind Franklin helped discover the structure of DNA itself, but received little credit for her work.
  • June - East Berlin patriots rose up against Communists and were repelled by tanks; Egypt became a republic under a military junta.
  • June - Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for war crimes and spy activities during WWII, in Sing Sing prison.
  • June 27 - END OF THE KOREAN WAR -- The Korean armistice was signed this day.
  • August - Moscow, USSR, broadcast that the nation had exploded a hydrogen bomb, fueling Cold War fears.
  • US Women In Space, Almost - Jerrie Cobb was the first woman in the US to undergo astronaut testing, in this year. However, NASA did not send a woman up until 1983, 30 years later.

  • Read about President and Mrs. Eisenhower's executive chef in the White House and the recipes he wrote: Long-Time Executive Chef.
  • Eugene Allen, honored by the film The Butler, starring Forrest Whitaker, served eight US President, beginning with the end of the outgoing Truman Administration and the Eisenhower through Ronald Reagan Administrations.

Giving D-Day orders, 1944.
Giving D-Day orders, 1944.


  • January 21 - The first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus, was launched.
  • March - The USSR/Soviet Union declared East Germany a sovereign nation. East German athletes would win many Olympic medals until the Berlin Wall came down, some 40 years later.
  • (April - June) - The Communist Witch Hunts. US Army vs. Joe McCarthy Senate subcommittee reports. See a related historical fiction: Fellow Travelers.
  • May - VIET NAM: Dien Bien Phu, the French outpost, was captured by the Vietminh. The Viet Nam Conflict and undeclared war lasted from 1953 - 1977, 24 years.
  • May - SEGREGATION: US Supreme Court (Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka Kansas) banned racial segregation in US public schools.
  • September - President Eisenhower formed a world atomic pool of partners, leaving out the USSR.
  • September - SEATO -- 8 nations of Southeast Asia signed this peace treaty at Manila, Philippines.


  • February - Nikolai Bulganin was chosen Soviet premier, replacing Premier Malenkov.
  • May - West Germany was declared a sovereign nation. The Warsaw Pact was signed to protect East European nations from Communism.
  • December 1 - Rosa Parks, tired after a long day's work, refused to get up and sit at the back of a city bus. Martin Luther King, Jr., took up the cause and led a Black boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama bus system, winning desegregated service begins Dec. 21, 1956. King's predecessor, Pastor Clifford Johns, had fought segregation for many years previously in Montglomery.
  • 1955 - Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was formed as a social group for lesbians in the US, but later became a political advocate.


  • Cold War Heats Up - February -- Nikita Khrushchev, the first Secretary of the USSR Communist Party, took an official stand against Stalin's murderous regime.
  • May - The US launched its first H-bomb form the air Bikini Atoll.
  • Conflict in Eastern Europe - Workers' protested Communism in Poland; Hungarian students protested; Hungarian - Soviet war actions ensued and Hungary withdrew from the Warsaw Pact.
  • July - November -- Egypt took command of the Suez Canal; Israel attacked Egypt; British & French forces invaded the Suez Canal region. Cease-fire was demanded by the US and enacted November 6.

President Dwight Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev with their wives at an American state dinner in 1959.
President Dwight Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev with their wives at an American state dinner in 1959.

Historical Novels and Film Documentaries


Year of the Space Race

  • January - The Eisenhower Doctrine enabled American financial aid to Mideast countries that resisted Communist aggression.
  • September 24 - SCHOOL INTEGRATION: The "Little Rock Nine" students entered Central High School and Eisenhower sent troops to protect this move of integration when the Arkansas governor balked.
  • October 4 - DAY 1, SPACE RACE - The USSR sent Sputnik I into orbit around Earth. It was the first satellite to go up, much ahead of the USA, which was unhappy about being left behind. Many Americans actually spoke of fearing the satellite as a weapon.


  • January 1 - COMMON MARKET: The European Economic Community, or Common Market, began business on New Years Day.
  • January 31 - The US Army used a Jupiter-C rocket to launch the Explorer I satellite into Earth-orbit, nearly 4 months after the Soviet success with Sputnik 1.
  • Feb. 1 - Egypt & Syria joined to become the United Arab Republic or UAR.
  • March 14 - A US arms embargo was activated against Cuba during the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.
  • March 27 - Nikita Khrushchev was announced Soviet premier in the resignation of former officeholder Bulganin.


  • New Year's Day - Current Cuban President Batista resigned office and left the country. Fidel Castro took command, consistently wearing an olive drab military uniform throughout his career into the late 2000s. His brother took over the position thereafter.
  • March 31 - Under persecution and attack from China, the Tibetan Dalai Lama fled to India over the Himalayan Mountains.
  • April - The St. Lawrence Seaway opened for business. Formerly thought by early explorers to be the mythical Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean, the improved waterway did allow ships to reach at least the Midwestern USA. My 2008, much of the ice beyond it in Canada melted to reveal a waterway all the way through the upper North American continent.
  • Both Alaska and Hawaii were officially recognized as US States, totaling 50.

The Miltary Industrial Complex Warning


  • May 1 - A US U-2 spy plane was flown by Francis Gary Powers into the USSR, where it was shot down on May Day. May Day is a long-held tradition and holiday in Communist Russia. Krushchev canceled a summit meeting in Paris in retaliation. Mr. Powers spent about a year and a half in Soviet prison.
  • May - Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was captured by Israel forces in Argentina, taken to Israel, and executed in 1962 for the murder of Jews during WWII in the Holocaust.
  • Communist China and the USSR severed political relations over their differences in Communist ideology.
  • August - Cuba confiscated almost $800,000 of US property.
  • The population of the USA in the 1960 Census was 179,323,175.


January 3 - In his last days of the Presidency, Eisenhower ensured that the US cut off all diplomatic relations with Cuba. Trade embargo was activated and US citizens were forbidden from traveling to Cuba, a former vacation site for Ernest Hemingway and reporting venue for Jack Paar. The embargo would not be lifted until President Barack Obama made overtures of such action in early 2015, 54 years later.

A Cuban cigar factory. This is one of the products Americans would likely purchases of the trade embargo were lifted.
A Cuban cigar factory. This is one of the products Americans would likely purchases of the trade embargo were lifted. | Source

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


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