Presidency and Policies of Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight David Eisenhower, also known as “Ike” or “Duckpin,” served as the United States’ thirty-fourth President from 1953 to 1961. His administration spanned the Cold War Period events, as well as Space and Cold War Arms Races. He was a member of the Republican political party, which influenced his presidency’s domestic and foreign policies. You’ll learn more about Dwight Eisenhower’s accomplishments as well as some of his shortcomings in this article.

Foreign Affairs

Eisenhower at Geneva Summit

Soviet Relations

Weeks after he was inaugurated as the President, he attempted to alleviate the Cold War tensions by negotiating from a position of military power. The declaration of a ceasefire in 1953 brought an armed truce to South Korea’s border. In the same year, Stalin died, causing a change in ties with Russia.

The new Russian leaders agreed to a peace settlement that made Austria obsolete. Both Russia and the United States had produced hydrogen bombs in the meantime. With the prospect of such disruptive power looming over the world, Eisenhower convened a meeting in Geneva in July 1955 with the British, French, and Russian governments’ representatives and known as “peaceful coexistence” Eisenhower remained skeptical.

The President proposed that the US and Russia exchange blueprints for each other’s military installations and “provide within our countries aerial photography facilities to the other country.” The Russians were silent in response to the suggestion but were so pleasant during the meetings that tensions dissipated.

Secret Action during the Cold War

He thought the Central Intelligence Agency, established in 1947, was an essential vehicle for combating Communist expansion and assisting friendly governments. Bribes, subversion, and even assassination attempts were among the CIA’s less than savory methods. On the other hand, Eisenhower approved such acts while maintaining plausible deniability, that is, carefully concealing any signs of US conspiracy so that he could disclaim any blame for what had occurred.

He also gave the CIA permission to conduct undercover operations against communism worldwide, two of which overthrew Iran and Guatemala’s regimes in 1953 and 1954, respectively. Eisenhower opted against allowing an air attack to save French soldiers from defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, preventing a war in Indochina. However, his support for South Vietnam’s anti-communist government would plant the seeds of potential American intervention in the Vietnam War.

Space War

Russia launched Sputnik 1, exceeding the United States’ target of putting a spacecraft in orbit by 1958 on October 4, 1957. This Soviet victory over the United States not only showed Soviet dominance, but it also acted as a warning to Eisenhower and all Americans that the Soviets could fire nuclear weapons at the United States from within the Soviet Union. In reaction to the Soviet space program’s success, Eisenhower launched many programs, including Project Vanguard and Project Orbiter, to compete with it.

Many of the United States’ satellite systems were eventually merged to form NASA, or the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. Despite starting behind the Soviet Union in the space race, Eisenhower was able to advance the US space program to the point that the presidents who came after him could win the race on July 20, 1969, when the US successfully landed two astronauts on the moon. Through his sponsorship of the US space program at the outset of the space race, Eisenhower proved to be pivotal in the United States’ victory over the Soviets.

Fiscal Policy

Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of the Treasury, George M. Humphrey, shared Eisenhower’s most conservative domestic issues. Reduced taxes, balanced budgets, a reduction in government power of the economy, and the redistribution of some federal duties to the states were all part of the administration’s domestic agenda, nicknamed “new Republicanism.” Leasing, pay, and price caps were permitted to lapse, and there was a minor tax revision in 1954.

Congress, at Eisenhower’s request, granted the states title to lucrative tideland oil deposits. However, there was no significant departure from policies implemented by previous Democratic administrations. During his rule, the country’s budget deficits were exacerbated by the demands of an expanding populace, which rose from 155 million to 179 million inhabitants and the country’s overseas obligations. The minimum wage was raised to $1 per hour, the Social Insurance Scheme was extended, and the Department of Health, Welfare, and Education was established in the spring of 1953.

Domestic Policies

Portrait of Dwight Eisenhower group

Sponsored and Signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956

The construction of an interstate highway system was authorized by the Federal-Aid Road Act of 1944. Because of the cost, only a tiny portion of the roads was completed more than a decade later. The convergence of a growing population and increased mobility and President Dwight Eisenhower’s appreciation of the significance of a highway network to mobility and safety during World War II persuaded Congress to provide funds for the construction of an interstate highway system in 1956.

Civil Rights Bill of 1957

Similar to other presidents at the time, Eisenhower faced bigotry within the United States and within the administration. Eisenhower was confronted with a world whose people were divided and whose tensions were growing. This made running the country more complex because it added another thing for Eisenhower to think about and contend with in addition to the Soviets and other pressing issues at the moment. Inside the administration, Eisenhower, and other presidents, had to contend with racist southern lawmakers who found it more challenging to implement such domestic policies.

Fortunately for Eisenhower, most racial leaders came from the Democratic Party, but he and the Republican Party were less affected than any of the Democratic presidents of the 1900s.

President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 on September 9, 1957. The subsequent legislation founded the United States Commission on Civil Rights for two years, established a civil rights division within the United States Justice Department, and allowed the United States Attorney General to obtain federal court injunctions to secure African Americans’ voting rights—the first substantive measure to resolve African-American civil rights since 1875. It was the first federal legislation aimed at safeguarding African Americans after Reconstruction ended. The act founded the United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Justice Department’s civil rights division. Still, it also mandated that defendants in voting rights cases face a jury trial. Since white jurors in the South did not vote to punish suspects for intervening with African Americans’ civil rights because of the last clause, the act was considered obsolete.