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"I Like Ike" Decal dated 1952

Inv# AM1629
"I Like Ike" Decal dated 1952
State(s): District Of Columbia
Years: 1952

Eisenhower Decal and envelope with instructions on how to use.

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.

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.

Dwight D. Eisenhower graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, with the Class of 1915. 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. Eisenhower was responsible for overseeing several key operations during World War II. He served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe, 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.

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

Due to his popularity, Eisenhower was widely expected to run for the presidency. As he had not announced any political party affiliation, a "Draft Eisenhower" movement was formed in both the Democratic and Republican Parties In July 1947, President Harry S. Truman considered him an ideal candidate for the Democratic Party, but Eisenhower declined all requests to enter politics. 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. 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. 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. 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. James Roosevelt campaigned for Eisenhower to contest the nomination and take Truman's place on the Democratic ticket.

Despite his refusals, Eisenhower was still being pursued by political leaders. 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. On April 5, 1948, Eisenhower stated again that he would not accept the nomination. In early July, Democratic state organizations in Georgia and Virginia and former New York Supreme Court Justice Jeremiah T. Mahoney openly endorsed Eisenhower. 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. Democratic Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi declared his support for Eisenhower. 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."

Despite his statement, several organizations continued to ask Eisenhower to run for the presidency. 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. 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. The same day, Truman supporters expressed their satisfaction with the Eisenhower memo and their confidence in Truman's nomination.

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. 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." Around five thousand supporters gathered in front of Eisenhower's Columbia residence to ask him to run. Senator Claude Pepper of Florida said that he would place Eisenhower's name before the convention, "with or without general's permission". Eisenhower replied "No matter under what terms, conditions, or premises a proposal might be couched, I would refuse to accept the nomination." On the evening of July 9, 1948, James Roosevelt conceded that Eisenhower would not accept the nomination, subsequently ending the draft. Later, in an upset victory, Truman defeated Dewey in the 1948 presidential election.

Amid President Truman's low popularity, with his approval ratings dropping to 22%, 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. 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." Meanwhile, Dewey and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. began encouraging him to run more than two years before the 1952 Republican National Convention. 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." 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', and the "Citizens for Eisenhower" movement by Paul Hoffman.

Republican admirers coined the phrase "I Like Ike" (referring to "Ike", Eisenhower's nickname). Irving Berlin included a song titled "They Like Ike" in his Broadway musical Call Me Madam. 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. 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.

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. 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. Clay wrote a memorandum to Eisenhower, detailing the state of the campaign and noted the dates of the upcoming state conventions. As the momentum behind Taft's candidacy grew, Eisenhower's reluctance to run declined. He told Lodge that he was a Republican, which Lodge revealed during a January 6, 1952 press conference. On January 6, 1952, authorized by Clay, Lodge placed Eisenhower's name into the New Hampshire primary ballot without Eisenhower's permission. 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.

On February 8, 1952, a Draft Eisenhower rally was scheduled to be held in Madison Square Garden. 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. 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. On March 11, he won the New Hampshire primary against Taft by 50% to 38%. 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." 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. Eisenhower asked to be relieved of his NATO assignment and retired from active service on May 31, 1952. On June 4, he made his first political speech in his hometown of Abilene, Kansas. He was nominated by the Republican National Convention on the first ballot, with Senator Richard Nixon as his running mate. They won the 1952 presidential election in a landslide, defeating Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson by a margin of 353 electoral votes.

Eisenhower's inauguration on January 20, 1953, made him the first Republican president in 20 years. 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. He negotiated an end to the Korean War, resulting in the partition of Korea. In September 1955, he suffered a heart attack, and was hospitalized for 6 weeks. His prospects of running for a re-election soon became the country's major talking point. 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. He was re-elected in 1956, again defeating Stevenson in a landslide victory. In 1967 and 1968, years after leaving the presidency, Eisenhower was still named the "most admired man" by the Gallup Poll. The Draft Eisenhower movement has been referenced in later draft movements, including the 2008 Draft Condi movement.

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower GCB, OM, RE, GCS, CCLH, KC, NPk (/ˈzənh.ər/; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, and achieved the rare five-star rank of General of the Army. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–1943 and the successful invasion of Normandy in 1944–1945 from the Western Front.

Eisenhower, born David Dwight Eisenhower, was raised in Abilene, Kansas, in a large family of mostly Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry. His family had a strong religious background. His mother became a Jehovah's Witness. Eisenhower, however, did not belong to any organized church until 1952. He graduated from West Point in 1915 and later married Mamie Doud, with whom he had two sons. During World War I, he was denied a request to serve in Europe and instead commanded a unit that trained tank crews. Following the war, he served under various generals and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 1941. After the United States entered World War II, Eisenhower oversaw the invasions of North Africa and Sicily before supervising the invasions of France and Germany. After the war, he served as Army Chief of Staff (1945–1948), as president of Columbia University (1948–1953) and as the first Supreme Commander of NATO (1951–1952).

In 1952, Eisenhower entered the presidential race as a Republican to block the isolationist foreign policies of Senator Robert A. Taft; Taft opposed NATO and wanted no foreign entanglements. Eisenhower won that election and the 1956 election in landslides, both times defeating Adlai Stevenson II. Eisenhower's main goals in office were to contain the spread of communism and reduce federal deficits. In 1953, he considered using nuclear weapons to end the Korean War, and may have threatened China with nuclear attack if an armistice was not reached quickly. China did agree and an armistice resulted which remains in effect. His New Look policy of nuclear deterrence prioritized inexpensive nuclear weapons while reducing funding for expensive Army divisions. He continued Harry S. Truman's policy of recognizing Taiwan as the legitimate government of China, and he won congressional approval of the Formosa Resolution. His administration provided major aid to help the French fight off Vietnamese Communists in the First Indochina War. After the French left, he gave strong financial support to the new state of South Vietnam. He supported regime-changing military coups in Iran and Guatemala orchestrated by his own administration. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, he condemned the Israeli, British, and French invasion of Egypt, and he forced them to withdraw. He also condemned the Soviet invasion during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 but took no action. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, Eisenhower authorized the establishment of NASA, which led to the Space Race. He deployed 15,000 soldiers during the 1958 Lebanon crisis. Near the end of his term, he failed to set up a summit meeting with the Soviets when a U.S. spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. He approved the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was left to John F. Kennedy to carry out.

On the domestic front, Eisenhower was a moderate conservative who continued New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security. He covertly opposed Joseph McCarthy and contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking executive privilege. He signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and sent Army troops to enforce federal court orders which integrated schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. His largest program was the Interstate Highway System. He promoted the establishment of strong science education via the National Defense Education Act. His two terms saw unprecedented economic prosperity except for a minor recession in 1958. In his farewell address to the nation, he expressed his concerns about the dangers of massive military spending, particularly deficit spending and government contracts to private military manufacturers, which he dubbed "the military–industrial complex". Historical evaluations of his presidency place him among the upper tier of American presidents.

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