Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Key Events in the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower


January 20, 1953

Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated as the thirty-fourth President of the United States.

January 27, 1953

Ralph Ellison wins a National Book Award for Invisible Man.

March 5, 1953

The Soviet Union announces the death of Josef Stalin.

March 17, 1953

All price controls officially ended by the Office of Price Stabilization.

April 1, 1953

The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is created by joint congressional action.

April 16, 1953

Eisenhower delivers his "Chance for Peace" speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

May 22, 1953

Eisenhower signs the Submerged Lands Act.

June 19, 1953

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed.

July 26, 1953

Eisenhower addresses the American public and announces an armistice in Korea.

August 1, 1953

Eisenhower proposes broadening the provisions of the Social Security Act to cover more than 10 million additional Americans.

August 7, 1953

Eisenhower signs the Refugee Relief Act of 1953, admitting 214,000 more immigrants than permitted under existing immigration quotas.

August 19, 1953

Iranians, with the backing of the CIA, overthrow the government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, ensuring Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi's hold on power.

September 10, 1953

Secretary of Labor Martin Durkin resigns, in large part to protest the failure of the Eisenhower Administration to propose amendments to the Taft-Hartley Act.

September 30, 1953

Eisenhower appoints Earl Warren chief justice of the Supreme Court.

October 8, 1953

Eisenhower announces that the Soviet Union has tested a hydrogen bomb.

December 8, 1953

Eisenhower gives his "Atoms for Peace" speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.


January 11, 1954

Eisenhower sends a special message to Congress asking for changes in the Taft-Hartley labor law.

March 8, 1954

The United States and Japan sign a mutual defense agreement that provides for the gradual and partial rearmament of Japan.

April 23-June 17, 1954

The Army-McCarthy hearings begin and continue for two months.

May 7, 1954

France surrenders its garrison at Dien Bien Phu to the Vietminh.

May 13, 1954

Eisenhower signs the St. Lawrence Seaway Bill.

May 17, 1954

The Supreme Court announces a decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, ruling that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

June 18, 1954

A CIA-sponsored coup in Guatemala overthrows the government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman.

July 11, 1954

The first "White Citizens Council" is organized in Indianola, Mississippi.

July 21, 1954

The Geneva Accords are signed, establishing a cease-fire and partition of Vietnam. The United States refuses to sign.

September 8, 1954

The United States signs the SEATO (South East Asian Treaty Organization) Pact.

November 2, 1954

The Democratic Party narrowly regains control of both houses of Congress.

December 2, 1954

The United States signs a mutual defense pact with Taiwan.

December 2, 1954

The Senate votes to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI).


January 10, 1955

Chinese Communist Air Force raid the nationalist-controlled Tachen Islands and seize Ichiang Island.

January 19, 1955

The first filming of a presidential press conference.

January 21, 1955

Eisenhower meets with Secretary of State Dulles and Secretary of Defense Wilson to discuss a resolution that would authorize the U.S. defense of Taiwan and the Pescadores. Congress approves the resolution on January 28.

March 16, 1955

Eisenhower announces that the United States would use atomic weapons in the event of war with Communist China.

April 11, 1955

Roy Wilkins becomes Executive Secretary of the NAACP, succeeding Walter White.

May 31, 1955

In Brown II, the Supreme Court orders schools integrated "with all deliberate speed."

July 12, 1955

Eisenhower tells congressional leaders that the Geneva Conference will not be another Yalta.

July 18, 1955

The Geneva Conference opens, attended by the heads of state of Britain, France, the U.S.S.R, and the United States.

July 21, 1955

Eisenhower makes his "open skies" proposal at Geneva.

July 29, 1955

Plans for the first artificial satellites, scheduled to be launched in 1957, are announced by the United States.

August 28, 1955

Fourteen-year old Emmett Till is kidnapped and murdered in Money, Mississippi.

September 24, 1955

Eisenhower suffers a "moderate" heart attack in Denver, Colorado.

October 10, 1955

The Supreme Court orders Autherine Lucy admitted to the University of Alabama.

November 15, 1955

Adlai Stevenson announces that he will run for President in 1956.

November 25, 1955

The Interstate Commerce Commission bans racial segregation on interstate trains and buses.

December 1, 1955

Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. During the following week, the Montgomery African American community, led by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., organizes a boycott of the city's buses that lasts for more than a year.

December 5, 1955

The merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) is ratified.

December 26, 1955

Eisenhower tries to persuade Richard Nixon to take a cabinet post and not stand for re-election in 1956 as vice president.


January 30, 1956

African American student Autherine Lucy is admitted to the University of Alabama following a court order.

February 22, 1956

Eisenhower releases $1 billion worth of Uranium-235 for peaceful atomic purposes.

February 29, 1956

Eisenhower announces that he will run for a second term as President.

March 12, 1956

Nineteen senators and eighty-one representatives sign the "Southern Manifesto," promising to use "all lawful means" to reverse the Brown decisions.

April 9, 1956

Eisenhower again urges Nixon to take a cabinet post.

April 25, 1956

Eisenhower announces that Nixon will be his running mate in 1956.

May 31, 1956

Eisenhower approves U-2 spy flights over the Soviet Union.

June 4, 1956

In Browder v. Gayle, a three-judge district court rules that bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, is unconstitutional.

June 29, 1956

Eisenhower signs the Federal Aid Highway Act, providing federal funding for the construction of a system of interstate highways for transportation and national defense.

July 26, 1956

Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal.

August 1, 1956

Eisenhower signs the Social Security Act, permitting women to retire at age sixty-two and disabled workers at age fifty.

August 1, 1956

The recently discovered Salk Polio Vaccine is sold on the open market.

August 13-August 17, 1956

The Democratic National Convention nominates Adlai Stevenson for President.

August 21, 1956

Eisenhower attends the Republican National Convention and accepts nomination as the party's candidate for President.

September 29, 1956

Eisenhower appoints William J. Brennan to the Supreme Court.

October 22, 1956

The Hungarian Revolution begins.

October 29-October 31, 1956

Israel, Britain, and France attack Egypt; Eisenhower condemns the attack.

November 4, 1956

The Soviet Union crushes the Hungarian Revolution via armed intervention.

November 5, 1956

A cease-fire is established in Egypt.

November 6, 1956

Eisenhower defeats Stevenson by nine million votes to win a second term. Congress remains in the hands of the Democratic Party.

November 13, 1956

Browder v. Gayle is upheld by the Supreme Court.

December 20, 1956

The Montgomery Bus Boycott comes to an end.


January 5, 1957

Eisenhower proposes the "Eisenhower Doctrine" regarding defense of the Middle East.

January 6, 1957

Elvis Presley makes his third appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show; and concern that his gyrating dance style is too lewd lead network executives to show him only from the waist up.

January 20, 1957

Eisenhower is inaugurated for a second term as President.

February 14, 1957

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is organized in New Orleans. Martin Luther King, Jr., is elected president of the organization.

March 5-March 7, 1957

Congress sanctions the "Eisenhower Doctrine."

May 6, 1957

John F. Kennedy wins a Pulitzer Prize for his book Profiles in Courage.

May 29, 1957

Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey resigns; Eisenhower selects Robert B. Anderson as his replacement.

July 12, 1957

The Surgeon General reports that scientific research has established a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

August 30, 1957

Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC) filibusters against pending civil rights legislation for a record twenty-four hours, twenty-seven minutes.

September 9, 1957

Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first civil rights bill since Reconstruction.

September 24, 1957

Eisenhower orders federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to end the school desegregation crisis.

October 4, 1957

The Soviet Union launches Sputnik.

November 25, 1957

Eisenhower suffers a vascular spasm.


January 27, 1958

Eisenhower asks Congress for federal aid for education.

April 1, 1958

Eisenhower signs legislation he hopes will stimulate housing construction and help combat a developing economic recession.

April 2, 1958

Eisenhower recommends the formation of a civilian agency to direct space exploration.

April 27, 1958

Vice President Nixon embarks on an eighteen-day tour of Latin America.

May 13, 1958

Eisenhower orders 1,000 troops from Caribbean bases to rescue Nixon, if necessary, after the Vice President was threatened on his tour of Latin America.

May 14, 1958

Eisenhower doubles the strength of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

June 23, 1958

Eisenhower meets with African American leaders Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Lester Granger.

July 7, 1958

Eisenhower signs a bill making Alaska the forty-ninth state.

July 15, 1958

Eisenhower orders the U.S. Marines into Lebanon.

August 23, 1958

The People's Republic of China resumes the shelling of Nationalist Chinese islands Quemoy and Matsu.

September 22, 1958

Eisenhower accepts the resignation of Sherman Adams, his chief of staff, after Adams is found to have accepted improper gifts from businessmen.

October 25, 1958

Eisenhower orders the withdrawal of the last U.S. Marines from Lebanon.

September 2, 1958

Eisenhower signs the National Defense Education Act.


January 1, 1959

Fidel Castro's revolutionaries overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

March 18, 1959

Eisenhower signs a bill admitting Hawaii as the fiftieth state.

April 13, 1959

Eisenhower asks Nikita Khrushchev for a partial test-ban agreement.

April 15, 1959

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles resigns because of illness; he dies on May 24.

April 18, 1959

Eisenhower names Christian Herter secretary of state.

April 25, 1959

Eisenhower, with Queen Elizabeth, dedicates the St. Lawrence Seaway.

July 15, 1959

Eisenhower refuses to seek a Taft-Hartley injunction to end the steelworkers strike.

July 24, 1959

Nixon and Khrushchev have their "kitchen debate" in Moscow.

September 14, 1959

Eisenhower signs the Landrum-Griffin Act, legislation meant to combat growing corruption in labor organizations.

September 15-September 27, 1959

Khrushchev visits the United States and meets with Eisenhower at Camp David on September 25 and 26.

October 6, 1959

Eisenhower invokes a Taft-Hartley injunction in the dockworkers strike.

October 19, 1959

Eisenhower invokes a Taft-Hartley injunction in the steelworkers strike.


January 2, 1960

Senator John F. Kennedy announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.

January 4, 1960

The Steelworkers strike ends with a settlement.

January 9, 1960

Vice President Nixon announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

January 13, 1960

Eisenhower declares his support for Nixon.

February 1, 1960

Civil rights sit-ins begin in Greensboro, North Carolina.

March 17, 1960

Eisenhower authorizes the CIA to begin training exiles to invade Cuba.

April 15-April 17, 1960

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a civil rights group born out of the sit-in demonstrations, organizes in Raleigh, North Carolina.

May 5, 1960

The Soviet Union announces that is has shot down an American U-2 spy plane.

May 6, 1960

Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1960.

May 7, 1960

Eisenhower acknowledges that the United States has been conducting U-2 spy flights over the Soviet Union. Khrushchev announces that Francis Gary Powers, a downed U-2 pilot, has admitted to spying on the Soviet Union.

May 16, 1960

The Paris Summit between the Soviet Union and the United States ends when Eisenhower refuses to apologize for the U-2 flights and Khrushchev refuses to meet with the President.

July 13, 1960

Kennedy receives the Democratic presidential nomination.

July 27, 1960

Nixon receives the Republican presidential nomination.

September 7, 1960

Eisenhower asks the Soviet Union to stop supporting Patrice Lumumba in the Congo.

September 26, 1960

John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon hold the first televised presidential debate.

November 8, 1960

Kennedy defeats Nixon in the presidential election.


January 3, 1961

Eisenhower severs diplomatic relations with Cuba.

January 17, 1961

Eisenhower's farewell address warns the nation of the growing power of the American "military industrial complex."

January 20, 1961

Eisenhower leaves Washington for his Gettysburg farm.