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10 Interesting Facts About Dwight D. Eisenhower

General of the Army Dwight David Eisenhower when a 4-star General
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1943
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States and is considered one of the most successful military leaders in American history. He served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II and was responsible for planning and executing the Normandy Invasion – also known as D-Day. Dwight Eisenhower was a fascinating man with an exciting life. This article will look at 10 interesting facts about Dwight Eisenhower that you may not have known.

1. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Early Life

Dwight David Eisenhower (born David Dwight Eisenhower) was born in Denison, Texas, on October 14, 1890. In 1892, his family moved to Abilene, Kansas, where he grew up. As a young man, Eisenhower attended the military academy of West Point, which deeply upset his pacifist mother. He was a fairly average student but excelled in American Football, where he was a starter for the varsity team until he got injured and had to stop playing. When he graduated from the academy in 1915, he ranked 61st academically and 125th in discipline out of the 164 graduates.

2. Dwight Eisenhower shared the “Ike” nickname with all his brothers

1902 - Eisenhower family photo. - Front Row Left to Right: David, Milton, Ida - Back Row Left to Right: Dwight, Edgar, Earl, Arthur, Roy.
The Eisenhower Family Portrait, 1902
Front Row Left to Right: David (Father), Milton, Ida (Mother) – Back Row Left to Right: Dwight, Edgar, Earl, Arthur, Roy. Paul is the 7th brother who died at just 10 months old in 1895.
Credit: Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library // Public Domain

One of seven brothers, Dwight Eisenhower, and all his siblings would at one point be nicknamed “Ike” as it was an abbreviation of their surname Eisenhower. In school, Dwight was known as “Little Ike,” and his older brother Edgar was “Big Ike.” When Eisenhower graduated from West Point, he dropped the “Little” and was the only brother still using the “Ike” nickname.

3. Eisenhower was the first President born in Texas

President Dwight D. Eisenhower standing with Lyndon B. Johnson (center),John Foster Dulles (right) and other guests, during a bipartisan luncheon at the White House, Washington, D.C.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower with Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House, March 1955.
Credit: Library of Congress // Public Domain

Despite growing up in Kansas, Dwight D. Eisenhower was actually born in Denison, Texas. This makes him the first of only 2 people born in Texas to hold the position of US President. The other President born in Texas was Lyndon B. Johnson, who was a US Senator during Eisenhower’s Presidency, became the Vice President in the next Administration, and then President following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush represented Texas, but neither was born there. The former was born in Massachusetts, and the latter in Connecticut.

4. Dwight Eisenhower loved golf and was the first to bring it to the White House

President Dwight Eisenhower Swings a Golf Club on the South Lawn of the White House, 12/2/1959
President Eisenhower playing golf at the White House,1959.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dwight D. Eisenhower was an avid golfer, and it is believed that he played as many as 800 rounds of golf during his 8 years as President. He loved golf so much that he installed a golf course at the official residence of the US President, the White House, in 1954! As well as this, he had holes installed at Camp David, the President’s country retreat. Eisenhower was also a member of the Augusta National Golf Club for 21 years between 1948 and when he died in 1969.

5. Dwight Eisenhower was the first President to appear on color television

On May 22nd, 1958, Dwight Eisenhower appeared on WRC-TV and gave a speech about the benefits of new communication technology. This made history as being the first time a President appeared on television in color, and the NBC team knew that this was a significant event. NBC President Robert W. Sarnoff ordered two videotapes of the program to be produced, one for President Eisenhower and the other to be donated to the Library of Congress. Doing this resulted in the speech by Eisenhower being the oldest known color videotape in existence, as no tapings of color television from before 1958 have been found.

6. Camp David is named after Eisenhower’s grandson

David Eisenhower (age 12), grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, poses with Camp David sign
David Eisenhower posing with the Camp David sign, October 1960.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Initially built in 1938 as a camp for government employees, Camp David first became a presidential retreat during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. He named the camp “Shangri-La” after the mountain kingdom from the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon. In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower renamed Shangri-La to “Camp David” in honor of his only grandson David Eisenhower, who was 5 years old at the time.

7. Eisenhower was the first President that could constitutionally not run for a third term

Before the 22nd Amendment of the US Constitution, a President could serve as many terms as they wanted to as long as they won the elections. It was a tradition (but not a rule) dating back to George Washington to serve only two terms until Franklin D. Roosevelt won four elections: 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944. As a result of this, an amendment was brought forward to bring the tradition into law and limit the maximum time that a President can serve to two terms.

This amendment to the US constitution was ratified in 1951 during Harry S. Truman’s presidency, but due to section 1 of the article, he could have held office for more than two terms; it stated, “this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by the Congress.” As Dwight D. Eisenhower became President after Harry S. Truman, the Amendment first became enforceable under his presidency, and he went on to serve a maximum of two full terms.

8. Dwight D. Eisenhower had a pet parakeet while he was President

Dwight Eisenhower had only two pets during his time in the White House. One was a Weimaraner dog named Heidi, given to Eisenhower by politician Arthur Summerfield, and the other was a parakeet named Gabby. Not much is known about the parakeet other than that it joined the Eisenhower family in 1954 and died in 1957.

9. Eisenhower defeated the same Democratic presidential nomination at both elections

A presidential election rematch has only happened seven times in the history of the United States. The most recent time was in 1956 when incumbent President and Republican nomination Dwight D. Eisenhower rematched against the Democratic nomination Adlai Stevenson II. In 1952, Eisenhower won with 83% of the electoral college vote and 55% of the popular vote. In 1956, he actually improved on the margin of victory, winning 86% of the electoral college vote and 57% of the popular vote. This was just the second time in US history that the winner of the rematch was the same as the first election.

The other rematches that have taken place in presidential elections are John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (1796 and 1800), John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson (1824 and 1828), Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay (1824 and 1832), Martin Van Buren and William Henry Harrison (1836 and 1840), Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland (1888 and 1892), William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan (1896 and 1900).

10. Dwight Eisenhower loved to paint

Dwight D. Eisenhower painting in Fraser, Colorado.
Credit: Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Libary // Public Domain

Most take up the hobby of painting for the joy of being able to be creative, but the love of painting for Dwight Eisenhower came from a desire to copy and imitate what was in front of him. He claimed that he lacked the “ability” to become a painter. Still, he clearly enjoyed the process, writing to fellow statesman and painter Winston Churchill, “I have a lot of fun since I took it up, in my somewhat miserable way, your hobby of painting. I have had no instruction, have no talent, and certainly no justification for covering nice, white canvas with the kind of daubs that seem constantly to spring from my brushes. Nevertheless, I like it tremendously, and in fact, have produced two or three things that I like enough to keep.”

Article is co-written with Elmedin Salihagic

RELATED ARTICLE: Four Presidents photographed at Eleanor Roosevelts Funeral, 10th November 1962


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