NAME: David Dwight Eisenhower. He was named after his father but from childhood was called by his middle name to avoid confusion between the two. By the time he entered West Point, he was signing his name Dwight David Eisenhower. All six Eisenhower boys were at one time or another nicknamed Ike.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Eisenhower stood 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 178 pounds on becoming president. He had a fiar complexion, blue eyes, light brown hair, although he was almost completely bald as president, square shoulders and large hands. His most distinctive feature was his broad grin. He wore reading glasses. He had a trick knee, the result of a football injury. He caught cold easily and suffered from bursitis and ileitis from time to time. While president, he in 1955 suffered a heart attack, described by doctors as “moderate,” underwent an intestinal bypass operation in 1956, and had a slight stroke in 1957 that impaired his speech for 24 hours.
PERSONALITY: By all accounts Eisenhower was affable, gregarious, and a decent, honorable man who quietly inspired confidence and commanded respect. “Eisenhower wanted to like people,” biographer Peter Lyon has written, “he wanted people to like him; he was distressed when it failed to happen so. His need for a friendly rapport was one reason for his reluctance, so often marked by journalists, to speak ill of anyone.” Another reason was a lesson learned in childhood: Angry because he was not allowed to go out on Halloween with the older boys, young Ike beat his knuckles bloody against a tree trunk. That night his mother nursed his hands and, in what he called one of the most valuable moments in his life, explained how futile was the emotion of hatred. Thereafter he sought to avoid hating or publicly bad-mouthing anyone. The famous Eisenhower smile reflected his generally sunny, optimistic disposition. At times he grew depressed or exploded in anger, but never for extended periods. A bit superstitious, he carried in his pocket three lucky coins, a silver dollar, a five guinea gold piece, and a French franc. Eisenhower was a rather poor speaker, notorious for his fractured syntax. Sometimes, however, he hid behind this reputation when he wanted to avoid responding directly to a question.
PRIMARY SOURCE: DeGregorio, William A. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. 7th ed. Fort Lee: Barricade Books, 2009.
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