Mamie Eisenhower

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Mamie Eisenhower
Mamie Eisenhower color photo portrait, White House, May 1954.jpg
Mamie Eisenhower in 1954
First Lady of the United States
In office
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
Preceded by Bess Truman
Succeeded by Jackie Kennedy
Personal details
Born Mamie Geneva Doud
(1896-11-14)November 14, 1896
Boone, Iowa, U.S.
Died November 1, 1979(1979-11-01) (aged 82)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dwight D. Eisenhower
Children Doud "Icky" and John
Parents John Sheldon Doud and Elivera Carlson
Occupation First Lady of the United States
Religion Presbyterian
Signature

Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower (November 14, 1896 – November 1, 1979) was the wife of United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and First Lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

Mamie married Dwight Eisenhower at age 19 in 1916. The young couple moved frequently between military quarters in many postings, from Panama to the Philippines. As First Lady, she entertained a wide range of foreign dignitaries, who reacted well to her confident style and splendid costumes. On leaving the White House, she made clear her disapproval of the incoming Kennedys.

Mamie Eisenhower spent her retirement and widowhood at the family farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Hollywood star Mamie Van Doren was so named by Universal Studios in her honor.

Early life[edit]

Birthplace of First Lady Mamie Doud Eisenhower, 709 (formerly 718) Carroll Street, Boone, Iowa
Mamie at 17

Born in Boone, Iowa and named, in part, after the popular song Lovely Lake Geneva, Mamie Geneva Doud was the second child born to John Sheldon Doud, a meatpacking executive, and his wife, the former Elivera Mathilde Carlson.[1] She grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Denver, Colorado, and the Doud winter home in San Antonio, Texas.[2] Her father, who retired at age 36, ran a meatpacking company founded by his father, Doud & Montgomery ("Buyers of Live Hogs"), and had investments in Illinois and Iowa stockyards.[1] Her mother was a daughter of Swedish immigrants.[1] She had three sisters: Eleanor Carlson Doud, Eda Mae Doud, and Mabel Frances "Mike" Doud.[1][3]

Marriage and family[edit]

Soon after completing her education at Miss Wolcott's finishing school, she met Dwight Eisenhower at San Antonio in October 1915. Introduced by Mrs. Lulu Harris, wife of a fellow officer at Fort Sam Houston, the two hit it off at once, as Eisenhower, officer of the day, invited Miss Doud to accompany him on his rounds. On St. Valentine's Day in 1916, he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement.

The Doud House at 750 Lafayette Street in Denver, Colorado

Lieutenant Dwight D. Eisenhower, aged 25, married Mamie Doud, aged 19, on July 1, 1916, at the home of the bride's parents in Denver, Colorado. Following the wedding, performed by Reverend Williamson of the Central Presbyterian Church in Denver, the newlyweds honeymooned a few days at Eldorado Springs, Colorado, a resort near Denver, and then visited the groom's parents in Abilene before settling into the lieutenant's living quarters at Fort Sam Houston.

The Eisenhowers had two children (only one lived to adulthood):

  • Doud Dwight "Icky" (September 24, 1917 – January 2, 1921) died of scarlet fever.
  • John Sheldon Doud (August 3, 1922 – December 21, 2013) – soldier, diplomat, author – was born in Denver, Colorado; he graduated from West Point in 1944 and earned a master's degree in English literature from Columbia University in 1950. After retiring from a military career (1944–1963), he was appointed ambassador to Belgium (1969–1971) by Richard Nixon. He authored three books: an account of the Battle of the Bulge: The Bitter Woods (1969); Strictly Personal (1974); and Allies: Pearl Harbor to D-Day (1982).

For years, Mamie Eisenhower's life followed the pattern of other Army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, in the Panama Canal Zone; duty in France, and in the Philippine Islands. Although accustomed to more creature comforts than those afforded at military posts, Mamie adjusted readily and joined her husband in moving 28 times before their retirement at the end of his term as president.[citation needed]

Mamie Eisenhower, with her husband, Dwight, on the steps of St. Mary's College, San Antonio, Texas, in 1916

During the Second World War, while promotion and fame came to "Ike", his wife lived in Washington, D.C. After he became president of Columbia University in 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm (now the Eisenhower National Historic Site) at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. His duties as commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces—and hers as his hostess at a villa near Paris—delayed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955.[4]

First Lady of the United States[edit]

Mamie Eisenhower in her inaugural gown, painted in 1953 by Thomas Stevens

They celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last temporary quarters: the White House. Diplomacy—and air travel—in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments. As First Lady, she was noted for her outgoing manner, her love of pretty clothes, some of them designed by Scaasi,[5] jewelry, and her obvious pride in husband and home. The gown she wore to her husband's inauguration is one of the most popular in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's collection of inaugural gowns.[6]

As First Lady, she was a gracious hostess but carefully guarded her privacy. A victim of Ménière's disease, an inner-ear disorder that affects equilibrium, Eisenhower was uneasy on her feet, which fed rumors that she had a drinking problem.[7]

Eisenhower was known as a penny pincher who clipped coupons for the White House staff. Her recipe for "Mamie's million dollar fudge" was reproduced by housewives all over the country after it was printed in many publications.[8]

As described in multiple biographies, including Upstairs at the White House by J. B. West, Eisenhower was reportedly unhappy[why?] with the idea of John F. Kennedy coming into office following her husband's term. Despite new First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy having given birth to her son John Jr. via caesarean section two weeks prior, Eisenhower did not inform Kennedy that there was a wheelchair available for her to use while showing her the various sections of the White House. Seeing Eisenhower's displeasure during the tour, Kennedy kept her composure while in Eisenhower's presence, finally collapsing in private once the new First Lady returned home. When Mamie Eisenhower was later questioned as to why she would do such a thing, the former First Lady simply stated, "Because she never asked."[9][10]

Later life[edit]

Mamie Eisenhower portrait, 04/27/1971

In 1961, Eisenhower retired with the former president to Gettysburg, their first permanent home. After her husband's death in 1969, she continued to live full-time on the farm until she took an apartment in Washington, D.C., in the late 1970s.[11] She appeared in a campaign commercial for her husband's former Vice President Richard Nixon in 1972.[12]

Eisenhower suffered a stroke on September 25, 1979. She was rushed to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Ike had died a decade before. Eisenhower remained in the hospital, and on October 31, announced to her granddaughter Mary Jean that she would die the next day. She died in her sleep very early the morning of November 1,[13] less than two weeks shy of her 83rd birthday. She was buried next to the president and her first son at Place of Meditation on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.[14] In 1980, her birthplace in Boone, Iowa, was dedicated as a historic site; Abigail Adams is the only other First Lady to be so honored. One of the east-west streets in Boone (Fourth Street) is now called Mamie Eisenhower Avenue.

Because of her connection with the city of Denver and the area surrounding, a park in southeast Denver was given Mamie's name, as well as a public library in Broomfield, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.

Family tree[edit]

Dwight D. Eisenhower
(1890–1969)
Mamie Doud
(1896–1979)
Richard Nixon
(1913–1994)
Pat Ryan
(1912–1993)
Doud Eisenhower
(1917–1921)
John Eisenhower
(1922–2013)
Barbara Thompson
(1926–present)
Edward Cox
(1946–present)
Tricia Nixon
(1946–present)
Julie Nixon
(1948–present)
David Eisenhower
(1948–present)
Anne Eisenhower
(1949–present)
Susan Eisenhower
(1951–present)
Mary Eisenhower
(1955–present)
Christopher Cox
(1979–present)
Andrea Catsimatidis
(1989–present)
Anthony Cheslock
(1977–present)
Jennie Eisenhower
(1978–present)
Alexander Eisenhower
(1980–present)
Melanie Eisenhower
(1984–present)
Chloe Cheslock
(2013–present)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Susan Eisenhower, "Mrs. Ike: Memories and Reflections on the Life of Mamie Eisenhower" (Capitol Books, 2002)
  2. ^ "Mamie Eisenhower Biography". National First Ladies Library. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ Tatanka Historical Associates (February 25, 2005). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form". www.coloradohistory-oahp.org. Colorado Historical Society Office of Archeology & Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  4. ^ Original text from White House biography
  5. ^ Anne Bissonnette, Curator for The Kent State University Museum Scaasi An American Icon retrieved June 29, 2006
  6. ^ "Mamie Eisenhower". National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  7. ^ Gould, Louis L. (2001). American First Ladies: Their Lives and Their Legacy. Taylor & Francis. p. 315. ISBN 978-0-415-93021-5. 
  8. ^ Kantrowitz, Barbara (June 13, 2007). "State of their unions: Candidates' marriages". msnbc.msn.com. Microsoft. Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  9. ^ West, J. B. (1973). Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan. p. 192. ISBN 0-698-10546-X. 
  10. ^ Haymann, C. David (1989). A Woman Named Jackie: An Intimate Biography of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Carol Communications. p. 251. ISBN 0-8184-0472-8. 
  11. ^ "Mamie Doud Eisenhower chronology". Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ Nixon campaign ad
  13. ^ "Biography: Mamie Doud Eisenhower". dwightdeisenhower.com. Dwight D. Eisenhower Foundation. Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  14. ^ David Greyfield (Aug 17, 1998). "Mamie Doud Eisenhower". Presidential First Lady. Find a Grave. Retrieved Aug 18, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Bess Truman
First Lady of the United States
1953–1961
Succeeded by
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy