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The revolt of the generals: President Eisenhower and the United States Army, 1953- 1958

Letcher, Ken (2021) The revolt of the generals: President Eisenhower and the United States Army, 1953- 1958. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004387


United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower served in office during a period of profound importance to the United States, its rise to military pre-eminence in the world, the reorganisation of the Department of Defence, the shift towards the Eisenhower administration’s “New Look” national security strategy, and the maturation of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Through unequalled strategic leadership, Eisenhower avoided a revolt by Army leadership from 1953 to 1958. The discord exhibited by the Army’s uniformed military leadership during this period represented a material breach of professional decorum between the senior uniformed military leadership of the Army and the elected and duly appointed civilian leadership of the Army and the United States. In avoiding this revolt, President Eisenhower side-stepped a crisis in civil-military relations, kept the United States at r0elative peace during his eight years in office, and buttressed the re-organisation of the Department of Defence, stemming from the National Security Act of 1947. However, the ramifications of this discontent spilled over into the political elections of 1956 and 1958, ending with the defeat of Vice President Richard Nixon to Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960. This thesis will examine the relationship of President Eisenhower, his “New Look” national strategy, and the uniformed military leadership of the United States Army as personified by Generals Matthew Ridgway, James Gavin, and Maxwell Taylor between 1953 and 1958. This thesis will emphasize three lines of inquiry: (1) the emergent disagreements between President Eisenhower and the U.S. Army, (2) how this dissonance developed, and (3) how the revolt was quelled by President Eisenhower. This thesis is important because it will correct the historical record regarding the departure of Gavin, Ridgway, and Taylor from military service and explain how these three generals, plus Eisenhower, developed differently throughout their military career to the point of revolt in 1953.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Ken Letcher
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
E History America > E151 United States (General)
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Sets: Departments > International History

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