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Dwight D. Eisenhower and the American way of life: Good citizenship, moral politics, and public leadership in the 1950

Posted on:2003-08-16Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:Temple UniversityCandidate:Davis, Todd JosephFull Text:PDF
GTID:1466390011483954Subject:American history
In 1965, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower clarified his opinion about African-American civil rights. Good Americans, he claimed, had a moral and legal obligation to support integration. As president, however, Eisenhower forswore such forthright proclamations, refusing to endorse Brown v. Board of Education and repeatedly denouncing extremism of any kind. He believed that taking a neutral position on civil rights would stem the acceleration of radical politics and allow him to generate moderate reforms based on procedural remedies. Still, growing sectors of the public demanded stronger presidential leadership. This dissertation argues that Eisenhower's failure to meet this demand undercut political moderation and encouraged the very radicalism that he abhorred.;This dissertation traces the development of Eisenhower's moderate political vision. During his long pre-presidential career, Eisenhower came to believe that political moderation and good citizenship went hand in hand. Good citizens understood the importance of values like hard work, perseverance, and mutual self-help. Good citizens recognized that reform had to be gradual. Good citizens appreciated leaders who could wring progress from bureaucratic networks. These ideas yielded dividends and costs in the 1950s. Eisenhower won two presidential elections, contained the Soviet Union, and sponsored economic growth. But, to his chagrin, African-Americans, southern whites, and right-wing Republicans rejected his political philosophy and the good citizenship concept that it entailed. In the end, this dissertation concludes, the president's hesitant command of the public sphere changed the contours of American political culture, influencing everything from the nature of political debate to the content of American television programs. After he left office, the country was never the same.
Keywords/Search Tags:American, Eisenhower, Good citizenship, Political, Public
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