Dwight Eisenhower on Principles & Values



1950: Recruited for President while head of Columbia Univ.

Gov. Dewey declared that he, personally, was through running for president. When a questioner asked, "Governor, if you are not going to run, do you have any candidates in mind? Dewey replied, "Well, we have in New York a very great world figure, the president of Columbia University, one of the greatest soldiers of our history, a fine educator, a man who really understands the problems of the world, and if I should be re-elected governor, I would recommend to the New York delegation that they support Gen. Eisenhower for president." Dewey's statement was not only an endorsement but a warning to the old guard that the Eastern branch of the Republican Party was still around, and that its internationalist principles still remained unshaken.

At the end of 1950, Eisenhower, at President Truman's request, took a leave of absence from Columbia to return to active duty, becoming the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). Like background noise, the chatter about Eisenhower as a president got louder

Source: Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank, p. 20-21 , Nov 5, 2013

Born Mennonite; raised Jehovah's Witness

Eisenhower was the third of seven brothers, one of whom died in infancy. His parents were members of the River Brethren, a sect closely related to the Mennonites who had emigrated from the south of German; Ida was a regular participant in the International Bible students association, which became Jehovah's Witnesses. The pacifistic impulses in Eisenhower's speeches and writings were very likely influenced by his upbringing, in much the way Nixon brothers were influenced by Quaker beliefs.
Source: Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank, p. 14 , Nov 5, 2013

1960: Give me a week to think of one Nixon idea

President Eisenhower sometimes acted as if politics was something distinct and separate from the business of governing, and when it came to the 1960 election, he could even sound as if he didn't care much who won. Eisenhower said on August 24, in response to a question from Charles Mohr of Time:

Q: We understand that the power of decision is entirely yours, Mr. President. I just wondered if you could give us an example of a major idea of his that you had adopted in that role, as the decider and final--

A: If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don't remember.

If a single Eisenhower comment is remembered from the 1960 presidential campaign, it's that: "If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don't remember." That remark at the end of a desultory press conference and accompanied by laughter from reporters was a particularly unfortunate moment for Nixon.

Source: Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank, p.204-205 , Nov 5, 2013

1964: Did not endorse GOP nominee Barry Goldwater

About the 1964 field, Eisenhower did not actually endorse anyone in his call for a candidate who represented "the responsible, forward-looking Republicanism I tried to espouse as President," but it was hard to miss the point as he came out in favor of just about everything that Goldwater was against, such as the Interstate Highway program, increased Social Security coverage, "loyal support for the U.N. in its peace-keeping efforts," & the "obligation to be vigorous in the furtherance of civil rights."
Source: Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank, p.342-3 , Nov 5, 2013

1955: Preferred to dump Nixon as V.P.

The day after Christmas, Dick Nixon sat in the Oval Office listening in disbelief as Eisenhower suggested to him that he think about another line of work. Ike even asked his vice president if he would like a cabinet post, couching the proposal as a useful career move, a chance to bolster his management credentials. Running a government department would leave him far better placed for a presidential run come 1960, Ike told him.

In March, the people of NH presented the vice president with a write- in vote in the state's Republican primary. Eisenhower still refused to commit to a 2nd Nixon term. "The only thing I have asked him to do is to chart his own course and tell me what he would like to do," he told the press. Privately he turned the screws tighter, deputizing Republican chairman Leonard Hall to ask Nixon if he would step aside for Frank Lausche," "I'd love to run with a Catholic," he confided to friends, "if only to test it out." Nixon's liberalism on civil rights was another factor.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p.104-105 , Jun 3, 1996

Suffered heart attack prior to 1956 re-election campaign

Ike's heart attack, combined with his enormous popularity, exaggerated the intensity with which partisan Democrats hated Richard Nixon. If the president were to die during the next 4 years, Nixon would be president.

Stevenson moved to exploit the anxiety about the nation's #2 slot: he went before the convention to say that he would not pick a running mate. Rather, he wanted the convention to do it. "The nation's attention has become focused as never before on the vice presidency," he explained, making pointed reference to Eisenhower's medical crisis of the year before, [hoping to] shift the focus of the fall campaign itself to the vice presidency, from "Ike" to "Dick".

The Republican convention opened in San Francisco the following week with the vice-presidential nomination still in doubt. Ike was allowing his veep to sweat. "I can't understand how a man can come so far in his profession," Ike wondered aloud about his loner vice president, "and not have any friends."

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p.109-112 , Jun 3, 1996

Principal political disappointment was Nixon's 1960 loss

My principal political disappointment was the defeat of Dick Nixon in 1960. I cannot ascribe any rational cause for the outcome, for I still believe, as I did then, that any objective comparison of the relative capacities and qualifications of the two opposing candidates would have resulted in an overwhelming judgment in Nixon's favor.

But Senator Kennedy won by a paper-thin margin, and one of the questions that still haunts me is what more I personally might have done to achieve the right verdict. As of that time, I did what I thought best, and even more than the Vice President planned for. But I participated, on an intensively partisan basis, only in the final week of the campaign. I shall never cease to wonder whether a more extensive program of political speaking on my part might have had a favorable effect on the outcome.

Source: Waging Peace, by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, p.652-653 , Jan 1, 1965

US became great by principles in our religious philosophy

America did not become great through softness and self-indulgence. Her miraculous progress and achievements flow from other qualities far more worthy and substantial:To us and to every nation of the Free World, rich or poor, these qualities are necessary today as never before if we are to march together to greater security, prosperity and peace. I believe the industrial countries are ready to participate actively in supplementing the efforts of the developing countries to achieve progress.
Source: Pres. Eisenhower's 1960 State of the Union message , Jan 7, 1960

America is best described by one word: freedom

America is best described by one word: freedom. If we hope to strengthen freedom in the world we must be ever mindful of how our own conduct reacts elsewhere. No nation has ever been so floodlighted by world opinion as the United States is today. Everything we do is carefully scrutinized by other peoples throughout the world. The bad is seen along with the good.

Because we are human we err. But as free men we are also responsible for correcting the errors and imperfections of our ways.

Source: Pres. Eisenhower's 1959 State of the Union message , Jan 7, 1959

To grow and flourish people must be free

I believe it would be well to remind ourselves of this great fundamental in our national life: our common belief that every human being is divinely endowed with dignity and worth and inalienable rights. This faith, with its corollary--that to grow and flourish people must be free--shapes the interests and aspirations of every American. From this deep faith have evolved three main purposes of our Federal Government:
  1. To maintain justice and freedom among ourselves and to champion them for others so that we may work effectively for enduring peace;
  2. To help keep our economy vigorous and expanding, thus sustaining our international strength and assuring better jobs, better living, better opportunities for every citizen;
  3. And to concern ourselves with the human problems of our people so that every American may have the opportunity to lead a healthy, productive and rewarding life.
Foremost among these broad purposes of government is our support of freedom, justice and peace.
Source: Pres. Eisenhower's 1955 State of the Union message , Jan 6, 1955

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Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022