Miller Center

Presidential Key Events

Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

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Dwight D. Eisenhower - 04/15/1959: Secretary of State John Foster Dulles resigns beca…
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles resigns because of illness; he dies on May 24. April 15, 1959

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 04/18/1959: Eisenhower names Christian Herter secretary of sta…
Eisenhower names Christian Herter secretary of state. April 18, 1959

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 04/25/1959: Eisenhower, with Queen Elizabeth, dedicates the St…
Eisenhower, with Queen Elizabeth, dedicates the St. Lawrence Seaway. April 25, 1959

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 07/15/1959: Eisenhower refuses to seek a Taft-Hartley injuncti…
Eisenhower refuses to seek a Taft-Hartley injunction to end the steelworkers strike. July 15, 1959

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 07/24/1959: Nixon and Khrushchev have their “kitchen debate” i…
Nixon and Khrushchev have their “kitchen debate” in Moscow. July 24, 1959

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 09/14/1959: Eisenhower signs the Landrum-Griffin Act, legislat…
Eisenhower signs the Landrum-Griffin Act, legislation meant to combat growing corruption in labor organizations. September 14, 1959

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 09/27/1959: Khrushchev visits the United States and meets with…
Khrushchev visits the United States and meets with Eisenhower at Camp David on September 25 and 26. September 27, 1959

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 10/06/1959: Eisenhower invokes a Taft-Hartley injunction in th…
Eisenhower invokes a Taft-Hartley injunction in the dockworkers strike. October 06, 1959

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 10/19/1959: Eisenhower invokes a Taft-Hartley injunction in th…
Eisenhower invokes a Taft-Hartley injunction in the steelworkers strike. October 19, 1959

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 01/02/1960: Senator John F. Kennedy announces his candidacy fo…
Senator John F. Kennedy announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. January 02, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 01/04/1960: The Steelworkers strike ends with a sett…
The Steelworkers strike ends with a settlement. January 04, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 01/09/1960: Vice President Nixon announces his candidacy for t…
Vice President Nixon announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. January 09, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 01/13/1960: Eisenhower declares his support for Nixo…
Eisenhower declares his support for Nixon. January 13, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 02/01/1960: Civil rights sit-ins begin in Greensboro, North Ca…
Civil rights sit-ins begin in Greensboro, North Carolina. February 01, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 03/17/1960: Eisenhower authorizes the CIA to begin training ex…
Eisenhower authorizes the CIA to begin training exiles to invade Cuba. March 17, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 04/17/1960: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Comm…
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a civil rights group born out of the sit-in demonstrations, organizes in Raleigh, North Carolina. April 17, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - U-2 Plane Shot Down

On May 1, 1960, the Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance plane. The pilot Francis Gary Powers ejected from the plane and survived. The Soviets quickly took Powers prisoner and recovered the remains of the U-2 plane. Hoping to embarrass the United States, the Soviets kept the capture of Powers secret only announcing that an American plane had been shot down.

The administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower hoped to avoid a conflict with the Soviet Union over the U-2 incident because the long-anticipated Paris conference between the United States, France, Britain, and the Soviet Union to discuss possible arms control agreements was scheduled to begin in mid-May. Rather than revealing that the United States had been flying U-2s over the Soviet Union since 1956 when Eisenhower had authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to being top-secret intelligence flights over the Soviet Union, the State Department and the White House issued a series of cover stories, including one that a weather plane had been lost. The Kremlin exposed these cover stories as lies. On May 7, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev scored a diplomatic victory when he revealed that the Soviets had the plane, its pilot, and proof that the United States had been spying on the Soviet Union. This announcement seriously challenged the credibility of the administration with both its allies and the American public.

Eisenhower now had to make a choice. He could refrain from commenting on the incident, but this would encourage rumors that he had not authorized the mission thereby weakening his political position. His other option was to take responsibility for the flights and attempt to defend his actions. On May 11, only days before the summit meetings in Paris, Eisenhower took this latter route. He announced that he had approved the flights, and he emphasized their importance to avoid “another Pearl Harbor.” These U-2 flights were, the President concluded, “a distasteful but vital necessity.”

Despite the U.S. admission, the President still hoped that the summit could lead to some agreement between the Soviets and the Western powers. Khrushchev, however, remained angry about the U-2 incident. Under pressure from hard-liners in Moscow, the Soviet Premier insisted that Eisenhower end the program of U-2 flights, apologize for previous flights, and punish those responsible for the espionage. Eisenhower stated that he would halt future flights, but refused to bend to any other demands. Khrushchev stormed out of the conference, effectively ending it. The U-2 incident ended the détente in the Cold War that Eisenhower had cultivated during much of his administration.

May 01, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 05/05/1960: The Soviet Union announces that is has shot down a…
The Soviet Union announces that is has shot down an American U-2 spy plane. May 05, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 05/06/1960: Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of…
Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1960. May 06, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 05/07/1960: Eisenhower acknowledges that the United States has…
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 07, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 05/16/1960: The Paris Summit between the Soviet Union and the …
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. May 16, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 07/13/1960: Kennedy receives the Democratic presidential nomin…
Kennedy receives the Democratic presidential nomination. July 13, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 07/27/1960: Nixon receives the Republican presidential nominat…
Nixon receives the Republican presidential nomination. July 27, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 09/07/1960: Eisenhower asks the Soviet Union to stop supportin…
Eisenhower asks the Soviet Union to stop supporting Patrice Lumumba in the Congo. September 07, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 09/26/1960: John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon hold the first t…
John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon hold the first televised presidential debate. September 26, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 11/08/1960: Kennedy defeats Nixon in the presidential election…
Kennedy defeats Nixon in the presidential election. November 08, 1960

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 01/03/1961: Eisenhower severs diplomatic relations with Cuba. …
Eisenhower severs diplomatic relations with Cuba. January 03, 1961

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 01/17/1961: Eisenhower’s farewell address warns the nation of …
Eisenhower's farewell address warns the nation of the growing power of the American “military industrial complex.” January 17, 1961

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 01/20/1961: Eisenhower leaves Washington for his Gettysburg fa…
Eisenhower leaves Washington for his Gettysburg farm. January 20, 1961

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