Draft Eisenhower movement

The Draft Eisenhower movement was a widespread political movement that eventually persuaded Dwight D. Eisenhower, former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, to contest the presidency.

A 1945 black and white photographic military portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower
A 1945 military portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower

During the 1948 presidential election, despite being asked repeatedly by various organizations and politicians including James Roosevelt, Eisenhower rejected all requests to enter politics. Even after his refusal, Democratic state organizations in Georgia and Virginia openly endorsed him. A week before the Democratic National Convention, Roosevelt sent telegrams to all 1,592 delegates voting for the party nomination, asking them to arrive in Philadelphia two days early for a special "Draft Eisenhower" caucus attempting to make a strong joint appeal to Eisenhower. Despite attempts by several prominent Democratic politicians, Eisenhower refused to accept the nomination.

Amid President Truman's low popularity, the Draft Eisenhower movement re-emerged in 1951 in both the Republican and Democratic parties, as Eisenhower had not yet announced any political party affiliation. Several Republican politicians began endorsing him, while Democrats continued to assure him that he could win the presidency only as a Democrat. Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. became the campaign manager for the Draft Eisenhower movement, and placed Eisenhower's name in the New Hampshire Republican primary ballot without Eisenhower's permission. Eisenhower agreed to contest the presidency, and subsequently won the New Hampshire primary. He was nominated by the Republican Party and defeated Democrat Adlai Stevenson to become the 34th president of the United States.

BackgroundEdit

 
Eisenhower addresses American paratroopers prior to D-Day

Dwight D. Eisenhower graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, with the Class of 1915.[1] During World War I, he was denied a request to serve in Europe and instead commanded a unit that trained tank crews. After the war, he served under General Douglas MacArthur in Washington, DC, and the Philippines. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1941.[2] Eisenhower was responsible for overseeing several key operations during World War II.[3][4] He served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe,[5] planning and directing the 1944 Normandy invasion and the subsequent Western Allied invasion of Germany, and rose to five-star general in the United States Army.[6]

Eisenhower was hailed a war hero; he led the list of "America's Most Admired Men" in the 1940s.[7] Field Marshal Lord Montgomery referred to him as a "military statesman".[8] He served as the Chief of Staff of the Army from 1945 to 1948.[9] In this role, he made several public appearances to maintain support for the army.[10] He also served as the president of Columbia University from 1948 until 1953.[9] In December 1950, he was named supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and given operational command of NATO forces in Europe.[11]

"Eisenhower Boom" (1948)Edit

 
James Roosevelt (pictured in 1937) campaigned for Eisenhower to take Truman's place on the Democratic ticket.

Due to his popularity, Eisenhower was widely expected to run for the presidency.[12] As he had not announced any political party affiliation, a "Draft Eisenhower" movement was formed in both the Democratic and Republican Parties.[6] In July 1947, President Harry S. Truman considered him an ideal candidate for the Democratic Party, but Eisenhower declined all requests to enter politics.[13] Momentum among Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) members and politicians grew for the Draft Eisenhower movement—to the extent that some Democratic politicians began organizing a "Dump Truman" effort to persuade Eisenhower to run as a Democrat.[13] Several politicians, including New York Representative W. Sterling Cole, voiced their opposition to the nomination of Eisenhower or any other military leader for the presidency.[14] On April 3, 1948, ADA declared its decision to support a Democratic Party ticket of Eisenhower and Supreme Court Judge William O. Douglas owing to Truman's lack of popular support. Adolf A. Berle Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. expressed their belief that Eisenhower would accept the nomination.[15] Although Truman ran mostly unopposed in the primaries with very little opposition, the "Eisenhower craze" was in full swing among some Democrats a few weeks before the Democratic National Convention.[16] James Roosevelt campaigned for Eisenhower to contest the nomination and take Truman's place on the Democratic ticket.[17]

Despite his refusals, Eisenhower was still being pursued by political leaders.[16] Several polling agencies polls suggested Eisenhower was likely to defeat the Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey in the presidential election if he ran in place of Truman.[16] On April 5, 1948, Eisenhower stated again that he would not accept the nomination.[18] In early July, Democratic state organizations in Georgia and Virginia and former New York Supreme Court Justice Jeremiah T. Mahoney openly endorsed Eisenhower.[19][20] On July 5, 1948, a survey conducted by The New York Times revealed that support for Eisenhower as Democratic nominee for president was "increasing among delegates", fueled by an "anti–Truman Group" led by James Roosevelt, Jacob Arvey, and William O'Dwyer.[21][22][23] Democratic Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi declared his support for Eisenhower.[24] At 10:30 p.m. that night, Eisenhower issued an internal memo at Columbia for release, which read: "I will not, at this time, identify myself with any political party, and could not accept nomination for public office or participate in a partisan political contest."[25]

Despite his statement, several organizations continued to ask Eisenhower to run for the presidency.[26] He refused requests to endorse Dewey, although he told a few of his close friends that he would vote for him, and expected Dewey to win the election.[27] On July 6, 1948, a local Philadelphia group seized on Eisenhower's phrases about "political party" and "partisan political contest", and declared their continued support for him.[28] The same day, Truman supporters expressed their satisfaction with the Eisenhower memo and their confidence in Truman's nomination.[29]

A week before the convention, James Roosevelt sent telegrams to all 1,592 delegates voting for the party nomination, asking them to arrive in Philadelphia two days early for a special "Draft Eisenhower" caucus attempting to make a strong joint appeal to Eisenhower.[30] Columnist Drew Pearson wrote that, "If the Democrats failed to get Ike [Eisenhower] to run, every seasoned political leader in the Democratic Party is convinced Harry Truman will suffer one of the worst election defeats in history."[31] Around five thousand supporters gathered in front of Eisenhower's Columbia residence to ask him to run.[32] Senator Claude Pepper of Florida said that he would place Eisenhower's name before the convention, "with or without general's permission".[27] Eisenhower replied "No matter under what terms, conditions, or premises a proposal might be couched, I would refuse to accept the nomination."[27] On the evening of July 9, 1948, James Roosevelt conceded that Eisenhower would not accept the nomination, subsequently ending the draft.[33] Later, in an upset victory, Truman defeated Dewey in the 1948 presidential election.[34]

"I like Ike" (1952)Edit

 
Eisenhower's 1952 campaign button, with "I Like Ike" written

Amid President Truman's low popularity, with his approval ratings dropping to 22%,[35] the Draft Eisenhower movement re-emerged in 1951 in both the Republican and Democratic parties, as Eisenhower had not yet announced any political party affiliation and believed that he needed to remain nonpartisan.[36] Hoping that Eisenhower would run on behalf of the Democratic Party, Truman wrote to him in December 1951, saying: "I wish you would let me know what you intend to do." Eisenhower responded: "I do not feel that I have any duty to seek a political nomination."[36] Meanwhile, Dewey and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. began encouraging him to run more than two years before the 1952 Republican National Convention.[37] Dewey asked Lucius D. Clay—Eisenhower's former deputy—about his opinion on Eisenhower's potential presidential run, to which Clay replied "I don't know. But I am sure that he will not run unless he is sure that there is a strong demand for him to run, an effective organization, and, I would add, although I'm not sure that he would, that there be every chance for it to be reasonably financed."[38] Soon, various organization and committees were set up to co-ordinate the Draft movement. The "Eisenhower for President" financial campaign was headed by Harold E. Talbott',[39] and the "Citizens for Eisenhower" movement by Paul Hoffman.[40]

Republican admirers coined the phrase "I Like Ike" (referring to "Ike", Eisenhower's nickname).[41] Irving Berlin included a song titled "They Like Ike" in his Broadway musical Call Me Madam.[42][43] Although Eisenhower believed that he would win the presidency more easily and with a larger congressional majority as a Democrat, he considered that the Truman administration had become corrupt and that the next president would have to reform the government without having to defend past policies.[44] The internationalist wing of the Republican party in turn saw Eisenhower as an alternative to the more isolationist candidate—Senator Robert A. Taft—who, before the primaries was widely considered by insiders to be the front-runner for the nomination.[45]

In 1951, more Republican politicians announced their support for Eisenhower, while Democrats continued to assure him that he could win the presidency only as a Democrat. Taft announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination on October 16. On November 17, Lodge became the campaign manager for the Draft Eisenhower movement.[46] By December, the movement had grown to the point that Eisenhower had his friend Clifford Roberts secretly organize a political advisory group of close, trusted advisors to watch the movement.[36] Clay wrote a memorandum to Eisenhower, detailing the state of the campaign and noted the dates of the upcoming state conventions.[47] As the momentum behind Taft's candidacy grew, Eisenhower's reluctance to run declined.[48] He told Lodge that he was a Republican, which Lodge revealed during a January 6, 1952 press conference.[49][50] On January 6, 1952, authorized by Clay, Lodge placed Eisenhower's name into the New Hampshire primary ballot without Eisenhower's permission.[51] Soon, 24 newspapers including The New York Times endorsed Eisenhower, and Senator Paul Douglas even suggested that both parties nominate Eisenhower with different vice-presidential running mates.[52]

 
Eisenhower campaigning in Baltimore, September 1952

On February 8, 1952, a Draft Eisenhower rally was scheduled to be held in Madison Square Garden.[53] The event planners expected no more than the arena's 16,000 person capacity, but over 25,000 showed up, and the New York City police and fire marshals could get very few people to leave.[41] On February 16, 1952, shortly after the state funeral of George VI, Eisenhower told Clay of his "irrevocable" decision to contest the presidency if nominated by the Republicans.[51] On March 11, he won the New Hampshire primary against Taft by 50% to 38%.[54] Eisenhower announced that he was "astounded" and "moved" by the results, and told a reporter: "Any American who would have that many other Americans pay him that compliment would be proud or he would not be an American."[36] On March 18, more than 106,000 voted for "Eisenhower", "Isenhowr", or "Ike" as a write-in candidate in the Minnesota presidential primary, only 20,000 votes behind Harold Stassen.[55] Eisenhower asked to be relieved of his NATO assignment and retired from active service on May 31, 1952.[56] On June 4, he made his first political speech in his hometown of Abilene, Kansas.[57] He was nominated by the Republican National Convention on the first ballot, with Senator Richard Nixon as his running mate.[58] They won the 1952 presidential election in a landslide, defeating Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson by a margin of 353 electoral votes.[59]

Aftermath and legacyEdit

Eisenhower's inauguration on January 20, 1953, made him the first Republican president in 20 years.[60] During his presidency, he supported "Modern Republicanism" that occupied a middle ground between the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and the conservative wing of the Republican Party.[61] He negotiated an end to the Korean War, resulting in the partition of Korea.[62] In September 1955, he suffered a heart attack,[63] and was hospitalized for 6 weeks.[64] His prospects of running for a re-election soon became the country's major talking point.[65] Initially pessimistic about undertaking a second term, after being persuaded by various Republican leaders through another Draft movement, he agreed to run for the re-election.[66][67] He was re-elected in 1956, again defeating Stevenson in a landslide victory.[68] In 1967 and 1968, years after leaving the presidency, Eisenhower was still named the "most admired man" by the Gallup Poll.[69] The Draft Eisenhower movement has been referenced in later draft movements, including the 2008 Draft Condi movement.[70][71]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Ambrose 1983, pp. 39–47.
  2. ^ Beschloss & Virga 1990, p. 34.
  3. ^ "Army Years". Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home. April 15, 2020. Archived from the original on July 16, 2021. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  4. ^ Pach, Chester J. "Dwight D. Eisenhower – Life Before the Presidency". Miller Center. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  5. ^ Ambrose 1983, pp. 275–276.
  6. ^ a b Busch 2012, p. 55.
  7. ^ Morris & Schwartz 1993, p. 140.
  8. ^ Smith 2012, pp. 291–292.
  9. ^ a b Ambrose 1983, p. 14.
  10. ^ Smith 2012, pp. 461–462.
  11. ^ Ambrose 1983, pp. 495–496.
  12. ^ Metz 1993, p. 50.
  13. ^ a b Busch 2012, p. 79.
  14. ^ "Cole of House Hits Eisenhower Boom". The New York Times. September 14, 1947. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  15. ^ "Democrats Urged to Run Eisenhower". The New York Times. April 4, 1948. p. 45. Archived from the original on December 29, 2018. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  16. ^ a b c Busch 2012, p. 104.
  17. ^ Busch 2012, p. 138.
  18. ^ "Eisenhower Says Position Is 'Absolutely Unchanged'". The New York Times. April 6, 1948. Archived from the original on December 29, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  19. ^ "Georgia, Virginia Back Eisenhower, Denounce Truman". The New York Times. July 3, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  20. ^ "Eisenhower Draft Urged by Mahoney: 'Strongest' Candidate, Ex-Justice Says". The New York Times. July 3, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  21. ^ "Eisenhower Boom Gaining Headway in Fight on Truman: Survey of 48 States Reveals Battle Faced by President in Swings of Delegates". The New York Times. July 5, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  22. ^ "50 Top Democrats Back Rights Plank: They Meet in Minneapolis and Issue Statement". The New York Times. July 5, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  23. ^ "Illinois May Nominate: Arvey Predicts Convention Stampede for Eisenhower". The New York Times. July 5, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  24. ^ "Stennis for Eisenhower". The New York Times. July 6, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  25. ^ "Eisenhower Says He Couldn't Accept Nomination for Any Public Office". The New York Times. July 6, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  26. ^ Moscow, Warren (July 7, 1948). "Eisenhower Boom Rolls on into Party Despite His Stand". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 29, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  27. ^ a b c Ambrose 1983, p. 478.
  28. ^ "Committee Presses Eisenhower Draft". The New York Times. July 6, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  29. ^ "Eisenhower Stand Buoys Truman Men". The New York Times. July 6, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  30. ^ Baime 2020, pp. 151–152.
  31. ^ Baime 2020, p. 151.
  32. ^ "5,000 Admirers Call at Eisenhower Home". The New York Times. July 8, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  33. ^ "James Roosevelt Bows to General: Prime Mover in Eisenhower Boom Accepts 'No'". The New York Times. July 10, 1948. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  34. ^ Karabell 2001, p. 7.
  35. ^ "Presidential Approval Ratings – Gallup Historical Statistics and Trends". Gallup Polls. March 12, 2008. Archived from the original on September 14, 2017. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  36. ^ a b c d Dykman, J. T. "Winter 1952". Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. Archived from the original on August 7, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2008.
  37. ^ Pusey 1956, p. 6.
  38. ^ Smith 1990, p. 584.
  39. ^ Smith 1990, p. 586.
  40. ^ Smith 1990, p. 587.
  41. ^ a b Ambrose 1983, p. 523.
  42. ^ "Top 10 Campaign Ads". Time. September 22, 2008. Archived from the original on March 12, 2021. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  43. ^ Bramston, Troy (May 9, 2020). "A model of leadership: 75 years later, we still like Dwight D. Eisenhower". The Australian. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  44. ^ Pusey 1956, p. 6-14.
  45. ^ "Ike Offers Not to Run for President". Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. 2004. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006. Retrieved June 15, 2006.
  46. ^ Pusey 1956, pp. 6–20.
  47. ^ Smith 1990, p. 588.
  48. ^ Immerman 1999, pp. 38–46.
  49. ^ Pusey 1956, p. 10.
  50. ^ Dishman 1953, p. 5.
  51. ^ a b Smith 1990, p. 590.
  52. ^ Pusey 1956, p. 11.
  53. ^ Beschloss & Virga 1990, p. 110.
  54. ^ Pusey 1956, p. 8.
  55. ^ Pusey 1956, pp. 14–15.
  56. ^ "Dwight David Eisenhower Chronology". Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home. Archived from the original on August 15, 2021. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  57. ^ Pusey 1956, p. 17.
  58. ^ Lawrence, W. H. (June 12, 1952). "Eisenhower Nominated on the First Ballot; Senator Nixon Chosen as His Running Mate; General Pledges 'Total Victory' Crusade". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  59. ^ "1952: Landslide victory for Eisenhower". BBC. Archived from the original on July 20, 2021. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  60. ^ Griffith 1970, p. 23.
  61. ^ Pach & Richardson 1991, pp. 50–51.
  62. ^ Keefer 1986, p. 267.
  63. ^ Pearson, Richard (February 15, 1999). "T. W. Mattingly, Eisenhower's Cardiologist, Dies". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 28, 2017. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  64. ^ Ambrose 1983, p. 272.
  65. ^ Eisenhower & Ferrell 1981, p. 260.
  66. ^ Lawrence, W. H. (February 18, 1955). "GOP Chief Pushes Eisenhower Draft". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 22, 2021. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  67. ^ Scheele 1987, p. 463.
  68. ^ Baker, Russell (November 7, 1956). "Eisenhower Vows To Toil For Peace; Hails Landslide Re-election as Proof Nation Wants 'Modern Republicanism' 'Looks to the Future'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 22, 2021. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  69. ^ "Most Admired Man and Woman". Gallup Poll. December 28, 2006. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  70. ^ Palazzolo, Rose (November 12, 2005). "It's Condi Time". ABC News. Archived from the original on September 22, 2021. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  71. ^ Morris, Dick (February 9, 2005). "To Stop Hillary, Draft Condi". The Hill. Archived from the original on September 22, 2021. Retrieved September 22, 2021.

Works citedEdit

Further readingEdit