“Together, the united forces of our communication and transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very name we bear… United States. Without them, we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, February 22, 1955
Dwight David Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas. He and his family moved to Abilene, Kansas, when he was two years old where he shared a small wood clapboard house with his parents and six brothers. Eisenhower’s hunger for a college education led him to an appointment at West Point in 1911. After graduation, he began his military career with the infantry at Fort Sam Houston, near San Antonio, Texas.
Transcontinental Motor Convoy
The Army's use of roads and trucks in Europe aided in the victory of World War I. Only eight months after the war, the Army campaigned to build a national highway system and launched the Transcontinental Motor Convoy in 1919. As a young Army officer, Eisenhower joined the expedition to observe and chronicle the need for an improved highway system. The 3,200-mile trip from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco took 62 days to complete, convincing the future president that good highways are needed for defense and commerce.
National System of Interstate and Defense Highways
Roads played a vital role in the victory of the European front in World War II as Eisenhower strategically used the road system when he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. As President, Eisenhower was able to advance the idea of a national highway system because he positioned it as an issue of national importance rather than an individual state concern. On June 29, he signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which paved the way for the 46,508-mile Interstate system we have today. It is now known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
Eisenhower served two terms as President from January 20, 1953 to January 20, 1961. He died on March 28, 1969 and is buried at the Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas. .
Learn More about Eisenhower
To learn more about the 34th President of the United States, we invite you to visit the President Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, or visit the web site at: http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/.