Knowing the Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower  

Dwight D. Eisenhower  

Thirty-Fourth President, 1953-1961


Dwight D. Eisenhower ran on the campaign of active Cold War containment, pledging “I shall go to Korea” to secure “an early and honorable” peace.


In 1957, the Soviet Sputnik—the world’s first man-made satellite—launched the space race in which the U.S. attempted to catch up with the U.S.S.R.

Major Acts:

Dwight D. Eisenhower created major infrastructure, including the Interstate Highway program, established in 1956, which created a 41,000-mile road system.

Eisenhower dispatched federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to protect African-American students after Central High School was desegregated. He explained that he had a solemn obligation to enforce the law. This was the first time since Reconstruction that a president had sent military forces into the South to enforce federal law.

In 1957, Eisenhower signed the first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. The law provided new federal protection for voting rights.

Eisenhower helped create the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, under which the United States assumed responsibility for the defense of South Vietnam.


Among presidents who held office in the last 75 years, Dwight D. Eisenhower often ranks third in importance, behind only Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

Eisenhower negotiated an armistice in the Korean War only six months after taking office. For the rest of his presidency, peace prevailed, even if Cold War tensions were high at times.

Eisenhower’s decisions, such as supporting the construction of the Interstate Highway System, stimulated the economy.