When he left the presidency on January 20, 1961, critics viewed Dwight Eisenhower as little more than a benign do-nothing president who, in the words of one observer, was armed with a putter, a winning smile, and little else. Now, more than 60 years later, Dwight Eisenhower is ranked as one of our greatest presidents.
By every measure, President Eisenhower’s accomplishments are formidable: He peacefully ended the Korean War, defused Cold War tensions with diplomacy, refused to use the atomic bomb, stimulated the economy, built the interstate highway system, balanced the federal budget, deployed the military to enforce desegregation, and saved the two-party system by purging isolationists and extremists from the Republican Party. But behind the famous smile and grandfatherly image was a complex man: A sentimentalist who often used a volcanic temper, a cunning and shrewd politician, a meticulous and demanding manager, and a superb general who offered a prophetic warning on the power of the military-industrial complex.
This course will use lecture, video, and class discussion to reveal Dwight Eisenhower as a man, a leader, and – in many ways – a most quintessential American figure.