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Eisenhower Foundation's Blog

Aug 28

Martin Luther King's Dream

Posted on August 28, 2017 at 4:15 PM by Emily Miller

On August 28th, 1963, over 250,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. for a political rally known as the March on Washington. It was an important moment in the civil rights movement that characterized the 1950’s and 1960’s, and culminated in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech that would put the struggle of African Americans into perspective for so many.

Eisenhower took office one year prior to the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Three years later, he continued the progress made by the courts decision by using military force to counter segregationists in the 1957 Little Rock school desegregation crisis, in which the Governor of Arkansas refused to enforce the Brown decision by blocking nine African American students from attending Little Rock, Arkansas’ Central High School. Later that year, Dr. King would write Eisenhower a letter extending his “warmest commendation for the positive and forthright stand that you have taken in the Little Rock school situation.”

Six years later, Martin Luther King and millions more African Americans were still fighting for their right to be treated as equal in our nation’s capital. Dr. King’s dream would resonate throughout the country, as his message of racial equality and acceptance made its biggest mark yet on our country. As Eisenhower once said, “there is nothing wrong with America that faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens cannot cure.” It was these principles that Martin Luther King stuck to in spreading his message of racial equality, and it is these principles that we must continue to adhere to as we try to make our country more fair, just, and equal for all.
Aug 28

A Cattle Trail and a Future President

Posted on August 28, 2017 at 4:14 PM by Emily Miller

In 1867, 150 years ago, a young entrepreneur named Joseph McCoy started a business that would become the heart of American myth and lore: the long-distance cattle drive. The Chisholm Trail was the route of McCoy’s venture, and began as a solution to an economic problem but ended as the romanticized subject of poems, songs, novels, and movies. This exhibit, The Chisholm Trail and the Cowtown that Raised a President, examines the rise of the cattle drive, its impact on the small frontier town of Abilene, Kansas, and its transformation into an enduring symbol of the open range era. It also examines the influence of the cattle trail in life and the life of a future president.

It is perhaps strange to imagine, a young boy born in 1890, the year the frontier closed, and brought to Abilene a few years later would be influenced by the Chisholm Trail. The last large herd of cattle had arrived in Abilene 16 years before Dwight D. Eisenhower was born. Yet, the history of the Chisholm Trail, Abilene, and Ike are intertwined.

The very land the Eisenhower family purchased, farmed, and lived on was at one time a cattle pen for longhorns arriving from Texas. During construction of the parking lot for the Visitor Center, an old blacksmith shop, dating back to the cattle drives was the subject of an archeological dig. Fragments of history from the past 100 years were discovered.

Along with the physical history surrounding Ike, the verbal stories of “Old Abilene” were passed on to the young boy as well. In his autobiography At Ease, Ike recounts the days of living across the street from Dudley, a onetime town deputy under Wild Bill Hickok. From an early age, Ike was surrounded by a romantic remembrance of the wild days of Texas Street and the cowboys fresh off the trail.

Cowboys who had ridden the Trail as teenagers were now middle-aged and passed their stories of “far horizons, winding rivers, faithful mounts, and thundering stampedes . . . “ on to the younger generations, like Dwight David Eisenhower. Soon, cowboys who rode the Trail would have their stories published. These stories turned into dime store novels that romanticized the cattle drive and the life of the cowboy.

When Ike decided to run for president in 1952, a combination of the pop culture cowboy, Ike’s hometown, and his even-handed “Middle Path” blended together and produced the unique title “The Man From Abilene.” First used in a campaign ad, the title would continue to be used to describe the President for the next eight years.

Jul 28

A Day to Remember

Posted on July 28, 2017 at 10:04 AM by Emily Miller

August 6, 1945 is a day that will live on in the memories of millions. It is a day that changed the world forever. It was the day that the United States dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and the day that 90 percent of the city was immediately wiped out, along with 80,000 people, and tens of thousands of others in the days that followed due to radiation exposure. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing another 40,000 people.

People are mixed in their opinions of the United States’ decision to use this new and extremely powerful weapon. While there is no doubt that it played a key role in pushing Japan to surrender — and ending World War II — the sheer destruction it caused is difficult to swallow and even to comprehend for many.

Eisenhower shared his own opinions in 1945 before the bomb was dropped, recalling a conversation with then Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson: “During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives…” Eisenhower would later confirm these opinions in a 1963 interview, stating that “…it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

Regardless of your opinion, August 6,1945 was a day that would drastically change military and international relations forever. Not only did it set up the foundation for the arms race of the Cold War, which Eisenhower would lead the nation through from 1953-1961, but its effects can still be seen today through the growing nuclear threat in North Korea, as well as conflicts in the Middle East. It is important to reflect on the impact of past events like this one, and to be thankful that the world had great leaders like Eisenhower to lead us through them.