The Historical Journal

Articles

CITIZENS FOR EISENHOWER AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, 1951–1965  *

ROBERT MASON 

University of Edinburgh

ABSTRACT

Founded in support of Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1952 presidential candidacy, Citizens for Eisenhower took on an ambitious mission to revitalize the Republican party by expanding its activist ranks and by supporting the moderation of its conservative policy agenda. The organization proved unable to sustain the impressive momentum that it achieved during the 1952 campaign, however, instead helping to fuel factional opposition that informed the intraparty upsurge of conservatism during the 1950s and afterwards. The Eisenhower administration's efforts to encourage Citizens activists to join the party were flawed, and existing Republican activists often viewed such newcomers with hostility. More significantly, despite recruitment initiatives, in most cases activism in support of Eisenhower did not translate into enthusiasm for the party cause. The history of Citizens for Eisenhower therefore demonstrates the seriousness of Eisenhower's interests as president in boosting the Republican party's fortunes, but also the shortcomings of ‘amateur’ political activity in support of the party cause. It also sheds light on goals and activities of this era's moderate Republicans, together with their role in fostering the conservative resurgence that characterized the post-Eisenhower Republican party.

Correspondence

School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG robert.mason@ed.ac.uk

Footnotes

*  For helpful advice in response to earlier versions of this article, I am grateful to Jonathan Bell, Iwan Morgan, Byron Shafer, Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, David Stebenne, the anonymous reviewers for the journal, the journal's editors, and the participants in an Institute of Historical Research seminar of February 2011. The article draws on research conducted with support from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland and the Eisenhower Foundation, for which I am also grateful.