Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

Eisenhower Administration

Eisenhower Administration

In 1952, popular World War II hero General Dwight Eisenhower became the Republican President of the United States. With running mate Richard Nixon, they had a landslide victory that ended 20 years of Democratic Party rule. How did the United States change during the administration? Seeds were planted that are still felt today, from the interstate highway system to the founding of DARPA, that would eventually create the internet from which you are reading this article right now.

Eisenhower Administration Dwight Eisenhower StudySmarterDwight Eisenhower/Wikimedia Commons

Relationship with Richard Nixon

Before Nixon was selected by the Republican Party as Eisenhower's running mate, Eisenhower did not know personally Nixon. While in office, Eisenhower had a unique relationship with Nixon. Eisenhower focused primarily on policy, which allowed Nixon to campaign as the face of the Republican Party. That is not to say Nixon was hands-off though, after Truman's unpreparedness to take on the presidency after FDR's death, Eisenhower made sure to include Nixon in decision-making meetings and gave him a variety of assignments.

Eisenhower Administration Photograph of Eisenhower and Nixon StudySmarterPhotograph of Eisenhower and Nixon/ Wikimedia Commons

Despite Nixon's increased involvement compared to previous administrations, at the end of the first term, Eisenhower was not confident that Nixon would perform well in the job of President. Eisenhower attempted to transfer Nixon to a different role in the administration for the 1956 election, but Nixon would not agree, and Eisenhower relented for fear of tearing the party apart.

Eisenhower Administration: Timeline

Below is a brief timeline of the key events of the Eisenhower Administration.

DateEvent
1952Eisenhower was elected to first term
1953Korean Armistice TreatyIranian coup
1954Guatemalan coupBrown v Board of EducationMcCarthy censure
1956Suez crisisFederal Highway Aid ActEisenhower was elected to second term
1957Eisenhower DoctrineSputnik launchedDefend Little Rock Desegregation
1958ARPA (later DARPA) foundedNASA foundedNational Defense Education ActAlaska became a state
1959Hawaii became a state
1961Eisenhower's tenure as president ended, and he was succeeded by John F Kennedy

Eisenhower Administration: Accomplishments

Eisenhower had a variety of accomplishments during his popular administration. To many Americans, the Eisenhower years were a time of prosperity and some small progress in the area of Civil Rights. After his 1952 election, Eisenhower was elected to a second term by an even greater margin, and even enjoyed considerable popularity after leaving office.

Eisenhower Administration Dwight Eisenhower Interstate Highway System StudySmarterDwight Eisenhower/Wikimedia Commons

Eisenhower Administration: Economy

Eisenhower was extremely successful in areas related to the economy. While many Republicans pushed him to cut taxes, he created the highest upper end tax rates in American history to not just eliminate the deficit, but to create a budget surplus. The economy grew steadily, for an end result of 45% personal income increase with no inflation. Although federal spending decreased during Eisenhower, he maintained the New Deal programs and even expanded Social Security.

Eisenhower Administration: Civil Rights

Eisenhower had a mixed record on the subject of Civil Rights. Segregation in the South was an international embarrassment after fighting Nazi Germany in WWII, and often fodder for Soviet propaganda. This led Eisenhower to demand desegregation of the military, which had begun under Truman, and more equitable federal hiring practices.

Eisenhower Administration Operation Arkansas Little Rock Desegregation StudySmarterAfrican American students were given military protection in 1957 to attend a recently desegregated school in Little Rock, Arkansas/ Wikimedia Commons

When the US Supreme Court decided that segregated schools were unconstitutional in 1954, Eisenhower did not give the issue much public comment and privately sympathized with Southern opposition to school segregation. He did, however, enforce school desegregation in Arkansas in 1957. Although Eisenhower proposed Civil Rights bills in 1957 and 1960, both were heavily watered down by pro-segregation Southern Democrats before being passed and signed.

When the governor of Arkansas attempted to use the National Guard to halt school segregation in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, Eisenhower defended federal authority by nationalizing the Arkansas National Guard. He sent the Army in to ensure that the Black children were allowed to attend a desegregated school.

Eisenhower Administration: Infrastructure

One of Eisenhower's greatest long-term impacts was the creation of the interstate highway system, passed by Congress with the Federal Aid Highway System Act of 1956. Since 1954, Eisenhower had a committee working on a system to connect the nation through interstate highways. The program served a variety of needs including interstate commerce, meeting the needs of expanding automobile ownership, and defense maneuvers in the event that the United States ever had a domestic military conflict.

While there were many winners from the popular highway system, there was also criticism of displaced residents as predominately poor neighborhoods were demolished to make way for the new road construction.

Eisenhower Administration: Cold War

Foreign policy in the Eisenhower administration was entirely built around the Cold War. His "New Look" national security policy focused on the Communist threat with its four points: balancing the domestic economy with defense spending, nuclear weapons as a deterrent, CIA covert actions, and aligning foreign countries with the US.

Korean War

Eisenhower had been elected with a mandate to end the Korean War, which the Truman Administration had ineptly handled according to many Americans. Amid threats of nuclear force from Eisenhower, China and North Korea finally agreed to end hostilities with the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953. Soon, the US would enter into an agreement with South Korea for a continual US troop presence in the country.

A major issue of the treaty was that many North Korean and Chinese Prisoners of War did not want to return to their home countries, China and North Korea finally agreed to let them stay in the South.

Senator Joe McCarthy

During the 1952 presidential election, Eisenhower had not confronted McCarthy and his methods, despite his own strong disapproval. Instead, Eisenhower worked quietly behind the scenes to undermine McCarthy from within the Republican Party.

Eisenhower Administration Senator McCarthy StudySmarterJoe McCarthy/Wikimedia Commons

McCarthy's attacks had finally gone too far for even many ardent Anti-Communists to stomach when he accused the US Army of being full of Communists, leading to the Congressional Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. Eisenhower allowed members of his administration to testify against McCarthy as having asked for improper special favors, resulting in his censure and political decline.

McCarthy died not long after, in 1957.

Space, Technology, and Education

The USSR beat the US into space with the launch of its Sputnik satellite in 1957, and the US was further embarrassed by the failure of a televised missile launch that occurred months later. After what would much later turn out to be false claims of a massive Soviet nuclear missile capability made by Soviet leaders, US citizens began to fear that the Soviet Union was overtaking the United States in technology.

Eisenhower answered this with many investments such as the creation of what would become the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DAPRA). The Agency funded science education under the National Defense Education Act, and led to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958.

Covert Action

Under the Eisenhower administration, covert actions involving the CIA abroad increased. CIA backed coups resulted in regime change in Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954.

Eisenhower Doctrine

When the Soviet Union threatened to get involved in a conflict between Egypt, Britain, France, and Israel over the Suez Canal, Eisenhower became very concerned with Middle Eastern Affairs. This led to his "Eisenhower Doctrine", approved by congress in 1957, that stated that the US should economically support Middle Eastern countries and come to the aid of any country that asks for help fighting Communism. This led to the US intervention in Lebanon in 1958.

Eisenhower Administration Vietnam

The conflict in Vietnam was where the old imperialist order met the new realities of the Cold War. Vietnam had long been a French colony, but Viet Minh Communists had been fighting to take the country from the French backed semi-autonomous State of Vietnam government. France was now at a stalemate and asking for US help when Eisenhower entered the Presidency.

Eisenhower Administration French in Vietnam StudySmarterFrench Officer and Vietnamese Soldiers/Wikimedia Commons

Eisenhower's Domino Theory argument did not convince Congress to intervene on France's behalf, and the French were expelled after the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. After China and the USSR decided to support a divided Vietnam, the US began supporting the weak but anti-Communist South Vietnamese government. US support of South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem, who refused to hold reunification elections and brutally repressed the Buddhist population, would eventually bring the US into the spiraling Vietnam War.

Domino Theory

The idea that if one country converts to Communism, its neighbors will quickly follow suit like dominos falling.

End of the Eisenhower Administration

After Eisenhower's tenure as president ended in 1961, Democrat John F Kennedy took office after a hotly competed Presidential election against Eisenhower's Vice President Richard Nixon.

Eisenhower Administration - Key Takeaways

  • Entered office in 1952 and was reelected in 1956
  • Involved the United States heavily in the Middle East with the Eisenhower Doctrine
  • Encouraged nuclear deterrence and CIA covert action
  • Ended the Korean War
  • Oversaw wage increases and economic growth
  • Enforced school desegregation

Frequently Asked Questions about Eisenhower Administration

The Eisenhower administration increased technology and education spending, expanded social security, ended the Korean War, oversaw a rising US economy.

The Eisenhower administration kept New Deal programs and expanded Social Security.

Eisenhower doctrine was that the US should help develop Arab economies and come to the aid of countries fighting Communism. It was passed over fears of Communist expansion globally. 

Eisenhower felt it was important to support Vietnam to stop the spread of Communism. 

President Eisenhower wanted US forces to be involved in Vietnam which Congress did not support. 

Final Eisenhower Administration Quiz

Question

How many terms did Dwight Eisenhower serve as president?

Show answer

Answer

2

Show question

Question

Dwight Eisenhower always had complete faith in the abilities of Richard Nixon 

Show answer

Answer

False 

Show question

Question

What did Preident Eisenhower do to link the United States more closely together?


Show answer

Answer

Created the Interstate Highway System

Show question

Question

President Eisenhower's foreign policy was dominated by what?

Show answer

Answer

The Cold War

Show question

Question

How did President Eisenhower repond to Sputnik?


Show answer

Answer

He invested in technology and science education 

Show question

Question

What did the CIA engage in more of during the Eisenhower adminstration?

Show answer

Answer

Covert action 

Show question

Question

What US war did Dwight Eisenhower end as president?

Show answer

Answer

Korean War 

Show question

Question

What country did Dwight Eisenhower begin US involvement that would turn into a war for later US presidents?


Show answer

Answer

Vietnam

Show question

Question

Where did President Eisenhower work to stop Senator McCarthy?

Show answer

Answer

Behind the scenes 

Show question

Question

Eisenhower chose not to enforce desegregation when the issue came up


Show answer

Answer

False 

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Eisenhower Administration quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz