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Biographical Timeline

1890, October 14: Dwight Eisenhower (Ike) is born in Denison, Texas.  He is the third of seven sons.

1892: The Eisenhowers return to Abilene, Kansas.

1909: Ike graduates from Abilene High School.  His yearbook predicted he would become a history professor at Yale.  He works in Belle Spring Creamery until 1911 to help pay for his brother, Edgar’s, college education.

1911-1915: Ike attends United States Military Academy at West Point.  He graduates in the middle of his class.

1915, October: Ike meets Mamie Doud while stationed in San Antonio, Texas.



February 14: Ike proposes to Mamie. 

July 1: Ike and Mamie wed at her home in Colorado.



April 6: The United States declares war on Germany, entering WWI.

September 24: Mamie gives birth to Doud Dwight Eisenhower, commonly known as “Icky.”

November: The Bolsheviks assume power in Russia, leading to the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1921.



Ike spends WWI training tank units in Camp Meade, Maryland.  He does not fight overseas.  Ike believes he missed out on the chance of a lifetime and vows to make up for it. 



July-September: Ike participates in an armored convoy across the country.  It takes two months.  This becomes the inspiration for Ike to build the Interstate Highway as president.

Ike and Patton spend the autumn testing tank tactics.



Ike describes this year as a golden age in his life.  He is reunited with Mamie and Icky.



January 2: Icky dies of Scarlet Fever.  Ike described this as “the greatest disaster and disappointment of my life.”



Ike is stationed in the Panama Canal Zone under General Fox Conner.  Conner mentors Ike in philosophy, literature, and military strategy. This is when Ike formulates his strategic ideas on overwhelming force.

August 3, 1922: Mamie gives birth to John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower.



Conner arranges Ike’s appointment to the Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  Ike graduates first in his class.



In France, Ike writes the official American history of WWI for the American Battle Monuments Commission under General John Pershing.

October 1929: The Great Depression begins.



Ike serves under Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur in Washington, DC.

January 30, 1933: Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.

March 4, 1933: Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) is inaugurated as President of the United States.



FDR transfers MacArthur to the Philippines.  He is tasked with building the Filipino army.  MacArthur takes Ike with him.



November 9: The Nazi government orders an anti-Semitic pogrom, called Kristallnacht.  Kristallnacht means the “Night of Broken Glass.”  Ike becomes fiercely anti-Nazi.



September 1: Germany invades Poland, beginning WWII. 

September 3: Britain and France declare war on Germany.  Ike decides to return to the US.



May-June: Hitler conquers Western Europe.

July-October: The German Luftwaffe tries to destroy the British Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain.  The British withstand the Nazi attacks under the leadership of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.



March: President Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease Act, allowing the US to send weapons to the Allies.

June 22: Hitler invades the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.

Autumn: Army Chief of Staff George Marshall orders a large war exercise in Louisiana.  Ike is a standout officer.

December 7: The Japanese Empire attacks the US at Pearl Harbor. 

December 11: Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declare war on America.

December 12: George Marshall orders Ike to Washington.  Ike soon becomes the head of the War Plans Division. 



January: David, Ike’s father, dies.

Spring: Ike writes several documents for Marshall, defining America’s strategic approach to WWII. 

Ike becomes the leading advocate for invading Western Europe. Ike formulated this idea in September 1941.

May: Ike visits the American headquarters in London.  He meets Churchill, Montgomery, and other British leaders.

November 8: Ike leads Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa.



January: Roosevelt and Churchill meet in Casablanca.  They declare they will only accept Unconditional Surrender from the Axis Powers.

February: German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel defeats the Americans in the Battle of Kassarine Pass.

May: The Allies capture 270,000 Axis troops in Tunisia, ending the North African campaign.

July: Ike leads Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily.

August: Ike leads the invasion of Italy. 

November: Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin meet in Tehran.  FDR names Ike the commander of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Western Europe.



January: Ike and his team arrive in London to plan Operation Overlord.

March 6: The American Eighth Air Force attacks Berlin for the first time in a strategy to destroy the Luftwaffe before Overlord.

June 4: Ike gives the order to invade Normandy.  It is the most consequential decision of his life.

June 6: Ike’s invasion of Normandy is a success. This is the defining moment of Ike’s career.

June-July: The Allies and Germans are locked in a stalemate in Normandy. 

July 25: The Allies initiate Operation Cobra, the plan to break out of Normandy.

August 15: The Allies initiate Operation Anvil, an invasion of Southern France.

August 25: The Allies liberate Paris.

September 17: Montgomery’s Operation Market Garden results in disaster.

Autumn: The Allies push the Germans back across Western Europe in a broad-front strategy.  The Allied forces’ advance slows as their supply lines stretch and winter weather sets in.

December 16: Hitler launches a counterattack in the Ardennes Forest.  The Battle of the Bulge begins.  The Allies thwart a Nazi attempt on Ike’s life.



January 15: The Battle of the Bulge ends in an American victory.

March: The Allies cross the Rhine River.

April 12: Ike visits a Nazi concentration camp near Gotha, Germany.  FDR dies.

April 30: Hitler commits suicide.

May 7: Eisenhower accepts Germany’s surrender.  He becomes governor of the US-occupied zone.

September 2: Japan surrenders following America dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Ike opposed using the bomb.

November 19: George Marshall retires and Ike is appointed Army Chief of Staff.



Ike acknowledges the Cold War, long after most other American leaders.

June 10: John, Ike’s son, marries Barbara Thompson.



Ike publishes Crusade in Europe, his memoir of WWII. 

June 7: Ike is inaugurated as President of Columbia University.



August 29: The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb.

September 21: Mao Zedong establishes the People’s Republic of China.



June 25: The Korean War begins.

December: President Truman asks Ike to become NATO’s first Supreme Commander. Ike accepts the position.



May 31: Ike retires from active service.

June 4: Ike announces his candidacy for the Republican Nomination for President.

July: Ike defeats Senator Robert Taft for the Republican Nomination.  Ike names Senator Richard Nixon as his running mate.

November: Ike wins the 1952 Presidential Election against Adlai Stevenson.



January 20: Ike is inaugurated as the 34th President of the United States.

March 6: Joseph Stalin dies.

April 16: Ike gives the “Chance for Peace” Speech, offering conciliation to the Soviet Union.  Ike says, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

June 19: The Rosenbergs, who gave the Soviets US nuclear secrets, are executed.  Ike refused to pardon them because he did not want to interfere in the judicial system.

July 27: An armistice ends the Korean War after Ike threatens to use nuclear weapons.

Ike creates the New Look, a strategy that contains communism by threatening to use nuclear weapons.  It is cheaper than Truman’s strategy and allows Ike to reduce the national debt.

August: The CIA and MI6 attempt to remove Prime Minister Mossadegh in Iran.  The Shia clergy remove him.

October 9: Earl Warren is sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Pact of Madrid: The US restores relations with Franco’s Spain.

December: Ike gives the Atoms for Peace speech, proposing to eliminate nuclear weapons and allow for the distribution of peaceful nuclear energy.  The Soviets reject the proposal.



May 7: Ho Chi Mihn’s forces defeat the French at Diem Bien Phu.  Ike decides not to intervene.

May 17: The Supreme Court unanimously rules state laws designating separate schools for black and white children to be unconstitutional in Brown v Board of Education.

April-June: The Army-McCarthy Hearings.

June: The CIA helps the Guatemalan military overthrow leftist leader Jacobo Arbenz.

September: The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization is formed. 

November: The Democrats take the House and Senate after winning the midterm election.  The Democrats control the House until 1995.

December: The Senate censures Joe McCarthy.  His defeat is the result of Ike’s Hidden-Hand strategy.



September-May: First Taiwan Crisis

January: France ratifies West Germany’s rearmament, leading to West Germany entering NATO.  This was a major goal for Ike.

July: Ike meets British Prime Minister Eden, French Prime Minister Edgar Faure, and Soviet Premier Bulganin in Geneva.  Ike proposes Open Skies, which would allow the US and USSR to fly spy planes over one another’s territory.  The Soviets reject this idea.

Ike approves of the U2 Program.

September 19: Ike has his first heart attack.  He spends the next few months in the hospital.



March: Ike decides to run for reelection despite his heart attack.  He fears Nikita Khrushchev’s rising prominence in the Kremlin.

June: Ike signs the Interstate Highway Act.  It is his signature domestic achievement.

July 26: Egyptian leader Gamal Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal. 

October-November: Hungarian rebels overthrow the communist government.  The Soviets crush the rebellion, killing 30,000 people.

Britain, France, and Israel attack Egypt in an attempt to topple Nasser and take back the Suez Canal.  The Soviets threaten to intervene.  Ike threatens nuclear war against the Soviets and sanctions the allies, forcing their withdrawal.

November 6: Ike wins the 1956 election against Adlai Stevenson.



January 5: Ike announces the Eisenhower Doctrine, which says the US will protect the Middle East from communism.

September 9: The Civil Rights Act of 1957 is enacted.  Ike wanted it to protect African-American voting rights, but the Senate removed this power.

The Little Rock Crisis: Ike sends the 101st Airborne Division to escort nine African-American students into an Arkansas elementary school.

October 4: The Soviets launch Sputnik, causing a panic in the US.  The Gaither Report recommends increasing military spending and building fallout shelters across the country.  Ike rejects the report, causing a public backlash.



July: Ike creates NASA.

Operation Blue Bat: Ike invades Lebanon to stabilize the country.  The American forces do not see action.

August-September: Second Taiwan Crisis

October 7: White House Chief of Staff Sherman Adams resigns after a bribery scandal.

November: The Democrats make large gains in both houses of Congress in the midterm elections. 

November 10: Khrushchev puts an ultimatum on West Berlin, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. 

Ike described 1958 as the worst year of his life.



January: Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba.

Alaska becomes a state.

July-November: Ike uses the Taft-Hartley Act to ends a steel worker strike.  He sides with business.

August 21: Hawaii becomes a state.

September 25: Ike and Khrushchev meet at Camp David following the end of the Berlin Crisis.  They decide to meet in Paris the following May.



May 1: A U2 spy plane is shot down over the Soviet Union.  Khrushchev uses this incident to embarrass the US, hurting the Paris Summit.  Ike’s hopes for a nuclear disarmament agreement are dashed.

Ike becomes ineffective following the U2 Incident.  He is unsuccessful at dealing with Castro, the Congo’s Lumumba, or promoting Nixon during the 1960 Election.

November 8: JFK, an Eisenhower critic, defeats Vice President Richard Nixon, Ike’s protégé and heir apparent.  Ike suspects the Democrats stole the election.



January 17: Ike delivers his Farewell Address, warning Americans of the Military-Industrial Complex.

January 20: JFK is sworn in as president.  Ike and Mamie retire to Gettysburg, PA.

April 17: JFK launches the Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro.  It fails.  Ike and JFK meet at Camp David to discuss what went wrong.



October: Ike advises JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis.



November 1: Ike disapproves of JFK’s role in the assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

November 22: JFK is assassinated. 



July 2: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is enacted.  Ike supports the legislation.

November: Lyndon Johnson defeats Barry Goldwater in a presidential election.  Ike disapproved of Goldwater’s extreme positions.



Ike mentors Ronald Reagan in foreign policy, predicting the rising Republican star will one day become president.



Ike spends most of the year in Walter Reed Hospital.

November: Richard Nixon wins the presidential election.

December: Ike’s grandson, David Eisenhower, marries Julie Nixon.



January 20: Richard Nixon is inaugurated as president.

March 28: Ike dies.


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