Photo courtesy of the National Archives

Why Dwight Eisenhower remains so popular

11/12/2014


Dwight Eisenhower enjoyed one of the most popular presidencies of any president in history and that popularity has continued to this day. After leading the U.S. to victory in WWII as a general, Eisenhower was able to successfully transition into politics. Unlike other politicians, Eisenhower did not like politics, he liked to lead. It was the leadership skills that he showcased in WWII that resonated with the hard working American people of the 1950’s. It is also why he is still admired more than 50 years after he left office.

Leadership during WWII

By the time the U.S. entered WWII Eisenhower had been serving his country for over 20 years. Early in the war he gained the respect of president Franklin Roosevelt by leading successful operations on the African and European front. In 1943 Eisenhower was chosen to lead the allied forces as Supreme Allied Commander, it was under his command that the allied forces launched the D-Day invasion at Normandy and the later invasion of France. Both considered to be the beginning of the end of the war in Europe, which led to the defeat of the Nazi's in Germany.

The president

After years of being courted by both parties, Eisenhower ran as the Republican candidate for president in 1952. By running on a platform of anti-communism and a promise to end the war in Korea, he defeated Adlai Stevenson in a landslide (and would beat him again in 1956). The main focus of his presidency was foreign affairs, something he had a great deal of knowledge about from his position in WWII. On the domestic side he, signed historic legislation like the Federal Aid Highway Act that created the interstate highway system. The country had steady growth during his time in office and his solid leadership kept the respect of the American people for the rest of his life after left office.

Legacy

Recent polls have shown that Eisenhower ranks in the top 10 for most popular president. Though he was overshadowed by John Kennedy when leaving office, time has been very good to his presidency. He has been given credit for early civil rights victories, his role in the race to space and his ending of the Korean War. Eisenhower also avoided major scandals, something many of his successors could not avoid.

Looking back at the time when Eisenhower was president, it is easy to see why it is referred to as a golden era. Coming out of the victory in WWII, the country was looking to move forward and enjoy a period of peace. Under Eisenhower the country experienced just that. Eisenhower may have been the most honorable man to serve as president, he did so out of love for country and with disdain for politics. And that is the reason why he is respected and so highly rated after all of these years.









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