At the 1952 presidential election, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower won a clear victory over Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Eisenhower was a general and war hero from the war in Europe in 1944–1945. His vice president was Richard M. Nixon, who had support from the right wing among Republicans. Especially in his first presidential term, Eisenhower, through his Foreign Minister John Foster Dulles, led a strong anti-communist policy. Nevertheless, Eisenhower came to represent a return to more normal international conditions. He attended the promising 1955 Geneva Summit with Nikita S. Khrushchev and Nikolaj A. Bulganin; the first summit between East and West since Potsdam in 1945.
As a country located in North America listed on dentistrymyth, the United States used harsh words about communism in the 1950s. But the vocabulary was disproportionate to the United States’ actual commitment. The US remained passive during the uprising in East Germany in 1953 and Hungary in 1956, and the United States did not interfere in the Suez crisis. The United States refused to recognize the People’s Republic of China and blocked its participation in the UN while increasing its support for Taiwan. But the 1955 US-Taiwan Mutual Security Pact also stated that Chiang Kai-sheks forces could only be used for defense. It was important, however, that in 1957 the president be authorized to provide military support to the countries that asked for assistance against communist aggression (the Eisenhower doctrine). He also received support for extended technical and financial assistance to the countries of the Middle East.
One of the reasons for the Eisenhower administration’s apparent discrepancy between word usage and action was undoubtedly the conviction that the US economy had to be “healthy”, that is, in balance. According to this view, the Eastern powers could never force the United States and its allies on the defensive military; only by undermining the country’s economy through excessive public consumption could world communism overturn the American capitalist system. Built into this view lay criticism of Democrats who, after the 1920s, had proved far less anxious about federal spending.
Eisenhower broadly accepted the reforms implemented during the Roosevelt-Truman period, but nonetheless sought to narrow the federal government’s scope somewhat. But prices rose, and budgets were made up for deficits, and the government faced signs of a beginning depression in 1957–1958 by pumping public funds into business. Eisenhower opposed public support for further development of social security, schooling, power supply and housing, but accepted federal support for agriculture as before.
Removal of racial differences
In one area, developments in the 1950s were striking: in African-American citizens’ relations with the authorities and the majority population. It received for the first time usable treatment of the Roosevelt administration and some strengthening of its civil rights under Truman. But it was not until 1954 that major changes brought about the roughly ten percent of the country’s population who counted themselves as blacks through censuses. In March 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to grant black and white separate schooling. This gradually led to desegregation (lifting the racial divide) not only in school but also in society at large.
Many activist groups became involved in the work, including Martin Luther King in 1955 launched his non-violence campaign against the racial divide in buses, businesses and more.
In 1957, a Civil Rights Commission was also established by law to intervene if an American citizen was discriminated against on the grounds of race or religion. That same year, Eisenhower had to intervene in the state of Arkansas, where the governor had denied nine African-American youth access to a Little Rock high school. The situation was finally put in such a head that Eisenhower ordered soldiers from the Army to Little Rock next to leaving the Arkansas National Guard under the federal authorities. Despite this and the Supreme Court decision, progress in the civil rights movement was slow in the 1950s.
Eisenhower was re-elected in 1956 by a large majority, and his personal popularity made him likely to have won the election in 1960. But a constitutional amendment passed shortly after the war said that an elected president could only sit for two terms. Republicans therefore nominated Vice President Nixon as presidential candidate in 1960. At the same time, Senator John F. Kennedy became the candidate of the Democrats. In the November election, Kennedy won a scarce victory with only 100,000 votes overweight. The fact that Kennedy was Catholic had weakened his electoral appeal somewhat in the southern states, but strengthened it all the more in the populous northern states.