As the general who directed the Allied victory in Europe during World War II, Dwight Eisenhower enjoyed a popularity that made him a natural choice as a presidential candidate. In 1952 he finally succumbed to Republicans' urgings to seek the nation's highest office.
After Eisenhower left the White House in 1961, many experts thought he had been slow to use his influence in gaining compliance with court-ordered racial integration of public schools, and claimed that his confrontational strategies in blocking the spread of Communism sometimes added unnecessarily to Cold War tensions. Such criticism became more muted, however, in the face of a growing appreciation for his administration's sound fiscal policies and its efforts to promote peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union while maintaining a strong posture against its aggressive promotion of Communism in the world.
,p>While posing for this portrait by Thomas Stephens, Eisenhower expressed an interest in trying his own hand at painting. At a rest break, Stephens handed him a brush. Within a month, painting had become one of Eisenhower's hobbies.