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Dwight Eisenhower: Quotations

Dwight Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. - Eisenhower's Farewell Address, Radio and TV January 17, 1961

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends. - Eisenhower in a speech, June 1945] [◦More]

Taking first things first . . . often reduces the most complex human problem to a manageable proportion. - Eisenhower

Things are more like they are now than they ever were before. - Eisenhower

Censorship, in my opinion, is a stupid and shallow way . . . we should be very careful in the way we apply it. - Eisenhower


A golfer's discovery

Some months after the end of his term as president, Eisenhower was asked if leaving the White House had affected his golf game.

"Yes," he replied, "a lot more people beat me now." (in Fadiman 1985)

Ike as a boy

When Ike was about six, he was at a family reunion at one of his relative's prairie farms. He started exploring the barnyard there and met a male turkey who puffed out his feathers and chased the boy. The boy fled to the house, crying and telling his tale many times. In the end Ike's uncle got tired of it and took the little boy outside, gave him a broomstick, and told him that if the turkey came after him, he was allowed to whack the bird.

There came the turkey, bustling over. Ike raised the broomstick, closed his eyes, and brought the broomstick down with a thwack. The turkey was started and turned to run, and lttle Ike pursued the turkey.

Years later, Ike was a US general.

(From Eisenhower 1967)


Five days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the United States declared war on the Axis Powers. Dwight Eisenhower was informed that General George C. Marshall wanted him in Washington at once. Marshall knew Eisenhower by reputation as a man who would assume responsibility, but he put that reputation to a test right there.

When Eisenhower reported for duty, Marshall posed a problem he already knew the answer to. He asked for a recommendation on how the entire Pacific strategy should be handled. Eisenhower returned to the Chief of Staff's office a few hours later and briefed a strategic concept which Marshall agreed with.

The Chief of Staff ended the interview thus:

"Eisenhower," he said, "the Department is filled with able men who analyse their problems well but feel compelled always to bring them to me for final solution. I must have assistants who will solve their own problems and tell me later what they have done."


A Very Brief Eisenhower Biography

Dwight David Eisenhower (Oct. 14, 1890, Denison, Texas - March 28, 1969, Washington, D.C).

During World War 1, Eisenhower commanded a tank training centre and was promoted to captain.

In World War 2 he prepared the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe, and headed the Allied invasion of French North Africa. Eisenhower then directed the amphibious assault of Sicily and the Italian mainland, which resulted in the fall of Rome. Then, as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (1943-45), he gave the order to launch the Normandy Invasion on D-Day, ie, June 6, 1944.

In December 1944, Eisenhower had been made a five-star general, and he was given a hero's welcome on returning to the United States for a visit in June 1945.

In May 1948 he left active duty as the most popular and respected soldier in the United States and became president of Columbia University in New York City. He was poorly prepared for the post; thus his brief career as an academic administrator was not particularly successful.

After a short time President Harry S. Truman named him military commander of NATO. And then he was persuaded by several political leaders to seek the Republican presidential nomination and decided to run for Presidency in 1952. He became the 34th President of the United States. As such, he urged economy and honesty in government, established the departments of Health, Education, and Welfare, and served for two periods: 1953-61.

In his second term he urged the Concress to accept a pledge to send US armed forces to any Middle Eastern country requesting assistance against communist aggression - the Eisenhower doctrine.

When the US Supreme Court, on May 17, 1954, declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, controversy and violence broke out, especially in the South. In September 1957 Eisenhower dispatched 1,000 federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to halt an attempt by the state governor to obstruct a federal court order integrating a high school.

During the two last years of his office, Eisenhower assumed a more vigorous and personal role in directing American foreign policy and excelled in using the new medium: television.

Eisenhower remained unusually popular although his administrations had very many critics. And his farewell address on January 17, 1961, contained pertinent warnings. While taking pride in the prosperity he had helped foster, he made an appeal to reject the lure of materialism and "the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow."

Then, finally, he retired to a small farm of his outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He raised cattle and spent the winters in Palm Springs, California, where he played golf and continued to exude simplicity, despite wide and sophisticated knowledge and deep study.

Minor Chronology

  • 1890 October 14, born in Denison, Texas.
  • 1892 Moved with family to Abilene, Kansas.
  • 1909 Graduated from Abilene High School.
  • 1911-15 Attended U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating with commission as Second lieutenant.
  • 1916 July 1, married Mamie Geneva Doud; promoted to first lieutenant.
  • 1917-18 Commander of tank training school at Camp Colt, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, advanced to lieutenant colonel (temporary rank).
  • 1932-35 Senior aide to General Douglas MacArthur, chief of staff of the US Army.
  • 1935-39 Senior military assistant to General MacArthur as military adviser to the Philippine Government.
  • 1941 Chief of staff of the Third Army, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas; advanced to brigadier general.
  • 1942 Appointed commanding general of US forces in Europe.
  • 1943-45 Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe.
  • 1945-48 Chief of staff of the US Army.
  • 1948-50 President of Columbia University.
  • 1951-52 Supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe.
  • 1953-61 Thirty-fourth President of the United States.
  • 1969 March 28, died in Washington, D.C.


Dwight Ike Eisenhower Quotations and Anecdotes, Literature  

Eisenhower, Dwight D. 1948. Crusade in Europe. London: William Heinemann. -- His wartime memoirs.

Eisenhower, Dwight D. 1967. At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends. New York: Doubleday. -- Memoirs by Eisenhower.

Fadiman, Clifton, main ed. 1985. The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.

Hitchcock, William I. 2008. The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe. London: The Free Press.

Snoke, Elizabeth. 1990. Dwight D. Eisenhower: A Centennial Bibliography. Fort Leavenworth,, KA: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Welch, Robert. 2002. The Politician. Appleton, WI: Robert Welch University Press. -- A much suppressed book by someone who saw the US President as an agent of a Communist conspiracy "beyond any reasonable doubt" - and "opportunistic and unprincipled" too (p. 3, 7). Oh well . . . It is included here because of the references, and because "the other party is to be heard too." From the foreword to the 2002 edition:

For years preceding March 10, 1963, there were at least a hundred newspapers in the United States misquoting The Politician every week, or taking some short passage from it out of context and holding that passage up to their readers as a "wild statement." But on the date of publication a blanket of silence descended and not a single one of those papers ever carried a review of the book, or let the public know that it was available in print. (p. 4)

Others rather fawn on Ike. Between outright detractors and fawners there ought to be ample room for wise and nuanced thinking and on-going proof-giving, for many formerly secret documents are declassified by now.

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