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The Presidential Election of 1956

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican, was the incumbent candidate for this election. After
winning the 1952 election by attacking the Democrats over the war in Korea and a soft attack on
communism, he was well liked in office (1952 and 1956). Eisenhower ended the Korean War in
1953 and the result was a strong economic growth (American President). These successes in his
first term brought great popularity and made it likely he would win again. However, it was not
certain Eisenhower would run again due to various health issues. In 1955, he suffered a heart
attack that rendered him temporarily incapable of his duties (American President). Several
months after the heart attack, Eisenhower had fully recovered and was capable of serving another
term, and announced his campaign for reelection (American President). During his recovery he
was able to observe his vice president Richard Nixon, and after some hesitation, he selected him
again for the next election (1952 and 1956).
Adlai Stevenson, Democratic, was nominated in the previous election. 1956 would prove
to be a repeat of the previous battle, but this time Stevenson had a greater struggle for the
nomination (American President). Harry Truman, the previous president before 1952, endorsed
W. Averell Harriman, a set back to Stevenson (American President). Stevenson was able to make
it through and the Democratic convention selected Estes Kefauver as his vice president
(American President)
Eisenhower ushered in a change to Republican ideology; he was neither an opponent of
the New Deal nor an isolationist (1952 and 1956). Multiple events demonstrated his avoidance
of conflict. In his first term, Eisenhower ended the Korean War (American President). Near the
end of his campaign for reelection, Eisenhower also made a point of staying away from the
Soviet invasion of Hungary and the attack on Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel (1956

Presidential Campaign). Family would be a key issue along with an opposition towards
communism (1956: We Still Like Ike). The Republican slogan Peace, Prosperity, and Progress
was a dominating ideal sought out by Eisenhower (1956: We Still Like Ike). Peace was
accomplished by ending and avoiding international conflict. Prosperity was brought on by the
economic growth following the end of the Korean War. Progress was made in his first term and
would continue to be made. Eisenhower strengthened programs like Social Security and initiated
the Interstate Highway System (American President). He continued to avoid sending troops to
intervene in world conflicts, except one incident in 1958 (American President). Through massive
retaliation, the idea of having military power so strong and threatening that the enemy will not be
willing to engage in war, Eisenhower was able to begin the easing of tensions in the Cold War
(American President). At home, the economy was booming and many Americans were enjoying
their lives (American President). Eisenhower pushed for a course he called Modern
Republicanism, which preserved individual freedom and the market economy yet insured that
government would provide necessary assistance to workers who had lost their jobs or to senior
citizens (American President). Along with expanding Social Security, he also created the
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (American President). Eisenhower increased the
minimum wage and focused on balancing the budget; unemployment was low as well as inflation
(American President). Though he did set troops to Little Rock, Eisenhower generally avoided
civil rights issues (American President).
Adlai Stevenson attributed his views on the world to his religious beliefs (Adlai
Stevenson). One of these views is an appreciation for compromise and the value of differences
(Adlai Stevenson). He was opened minded and believed in a common good and reasonable
behavior (Adlai Stevenson). Stevenson believed the United Nations to be an ultimate peace

keeper, describing it as our only ultimate shield against disastrous war (Adlai Stevenson). He
believed in the United Nations as a larger representation of the lawful systems that govern and
protect the individuals in society, and compared the individuals to nations (Adlai Stevenson).
Stevenson was a liberal and was seen to symbolize conscience in politics to many Americans
(Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)). He pushed to continue the New Deal and the Fair Deal in both
the 1952 and 1956 elections (Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)). Eleanor Roosevelt was confident in
Stevensons comprehension of foreign affairs, and Stevenson criticized Eisenhowers foreign
policy in both campaigns as well (Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)).
One of the main issues in this election was the economy. In Eisenhowers first term, the
economy was going quite well, but he would have to keep it that way for reelection, and
Stevenson would have to provide his own plans that would secure economic growth (American
President). Civil rights was a rising issue; however both candidates were not willing to engage
the topic fully and address it as a national crisis (American President). McCarthy was spreading
communist accusations through the homeland and became quite the nuisance and distraction
(American President). However, communism and the Cold War were both major issues to be
considered by the public (American President). Despite the excellent economy, poverty was still
an issue as one in five Americans lived in poverty at the end of the decade (American President).
How to handle poverty and government spending were still large issues (American President).
An anomaly in this election occurred with the one electoral vote attributed to Walter
Burgwyn Jones, whose running mate was Herman Eugene Tamadge. This singular vote pledged
to Stevenson was retracted and given to Jones as a protest against anti-segregation laws (1956:
Overview). Other candidates from parties including socialist labor and prohibition received no
electoral votes, and collectively less than one percent of the popular vote (1956: Overview).

Dwight Eisenhower won the 1956 presidential election with 457 electoral votes, needing
a majority of 266 to win (1956: Overview). Stevenson lost again, with only 73 of the electoral
votes (1956: Overview). At the time, there were only 48 states, and the total electoral votes was
531. This margin of success was huge, the biggest victory since FDR (1956: We Still Like Ike).
Stevenson still earned a large portion of the popular vote and retained popularity with the
American people even after the election. Eisenhower had over 35 million popular votes, 57.4%,
while Stevenson had over 26 million, 42.0% (1956: Overview). The percentage of the voting
eligible population that actually voted in the election was 59.3% (1956: Overview). With this
election, Eisenhower secured his second term time to finish and continue his work.
Eisenhower changed the nation forever. His election in 1952 and 1956 was also a great
landmark for the Republican party, being the only two times Republicans held the white house
between 1932 and 1968 (1952 and 1956). He believed the government should provide more
benefits to its people, and did much to follow through with this idea (American President). As
previously stated he passed legislation to expand Social security. He increased the minimum
wage [] [and] supported government construction of low-income housing (American
President). Among other things, he created the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
(American President). One of his most famous achievements was the Interstate Highway system,
which boosted the economy and the automobile industry and ease and safety of driving
(American President). He was able to keep unemployment and inflation fairly low, and increase
personal income by 45 percent (American President). Though tensions were sometimes high
during the Cold War in his time, Eisenhower did avoid engaging in war and was able to retain
peace and prosperity for the nation (American President). His policies kept a peace and
prosperity throughout both his terms. The American people enjoyed a booming economy most of

the time, which combined with the raise in personal income increased consumerism in the nation.
The 1950s with President Eisenhower were a time of economic prosperity combined with
international peace, something Americans had not seen in twenty years. Throughout the 1930s,
the United States was suffering through the Great Depression, which would be partly aided by
World War II but it is that which ended the peace. Eisenhower brought about an age of peace and
economic success and security. His actions did not jeopardize economic growth, and certain
policies even stimulated it (American President). Through ending the Korean War and avoiding
interventions in other international conflicts, peace was kept throughout his years as president.
These actions taken to keep the peace were easy to support and the American people strongly did
so, putting some weight to the popular slogan We Like Ike (American President). Eisenhower
was well liked and did much to benefit the nation as a whole and the American people. His
actions and effectiveness would be debated by historians for years, but modern opinions place
him high on the list of Americas greatest presidents (American President). Dwight Eisenhower
probably most well remembered for the nations highway system, but he accomplished many
other great tasks while he was in office. His terms had there weak points, but his approval and
performance was generally high throughout. The 1952 election got him started, but it was his
reelection in 1956 that allowed him to finish the job.

Works Cited
1952 and 1956: ADLAI E. STEVENSON (D) vs. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (R). The
Times Looks Back: Presidential Elections 1896-1996. The New York Times, 2000. Web.
November 22, 2013.
1956 Presidential Campaign. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home.
Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home, n.d. Web. November 22, 2013.
1956: We Still Like Ike. N.d. Web. November 22, 2013.
1956: Overview. Dwight Eisenhower 1956. President Elect, n.d. Web. November 22, 2013.
Henry, Richard. Adlai Stevenson. Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography, January 11,
2001. Web. November 23, 2013.
Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965). Teaching Eleanor Roosevelt Glossary. The Eleanor Roosevelt
Papers Project, n.d. Web. November 23, 2013.
Pach, Chester J. American President: Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969). Miller Center, University
of Virginia, 1991. Web. November 22, 2013.