At sword's point : Charles E. Wilson and the Senate, 1953-1957

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dc.contributor.advisor Vander Hill, C. Warren, 1937- en_US Geelhoed, E. Bruce, 1948- en_US
dc.coverage.spatial n-us--- en_US 2011-06-03T19:25:55Z 2011-06-03T19:25:55Z 1975 en_US 1975
dc.identifier LD2489.Z68 1975 .G4 en_US
dc.description.abstract The Pentagon career of Charles E. Wilson, President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense from 1953-1957, is a neglected, yet important, field of study for studentsof the Eisenhower Presidency. Therefore, a study of Wilson's controversial tenure as Secretary of Defense is necessary for at least three reasons. First, Wilson served as Secretary of Defense for four and a half years, more than twice as long as any of his predecessors. Only Robert McNamara, who administered the Defense Department from 1961-1967, served longer than Wilson as the chief Pentagon official. Furthermore, Wilson became the Defense Department's civilian leader at a time when the agency was in its infancy.. His longevity as Secretary of Defense enabled him to make a significant impact upon the government's largest operation.Second, Wilson left a considerable store of personal papers, which are conveniently arranged at Anderson College in Anderson, Indiana. A serious examination of those materials gives one an additional measure of insight into the workings and concern of the Eisenhower Administration.Third, Wilson deserves study because he was a major figure in an important Administration. He has, however, been overlooked by virtually every chronicler of the Eisenhower Presidency. The prevailing view of Wilson maintains that he was an able administrator in the automobile industry, but woefully miscast as a political figure. That interpretation may not be totally wrong, but it is incomplete.More significantly, a study of Wilson enables the historian to challenge two views of the orthodox interpretation of the Eisenhower years. The first view maintains that the figures in the Eisenhower Cabinet were dull, unimaginative representatives of the business community. Indeed, one writer characterized the President and his advisers as "the bland leading the bland." That statement is misleading, at least in reference to Wilson.Charles E. Wilson was a wealthy industrialist, but he was hardly bland. He was many things; robust, blunt, energetic, sometimes simplistic, sometimes politically unskillful, but never bland. Furthermore, he possessed a down-to-earth intelligence which enabled him to direct the government's largest agency for almost a half-decade.A second view of the orthodox interpretation contends that the Eisenhower years were largely devoid of partisanship and a sense of political purpose. That, too, is misleading, especially regarding the issue of national defense. An examination of the debates over defense policy during those years reveals a high degree of partisanship with Wilson Persistently defending the Administration programs while the political opposition consistently sought to alter them. Furthermore, Wilson and his Democratic critics in the Senate were hardy rivals, with influential Democrats calling for Wilson's resignation at regular intervals. Wilson's encounters with Richard Russell, Lyndon B. Johnson, Stuart Symington and others may have lacked the drama of Harry Truman's lambasting of the "do-nothing, good-for-nothing" 80th congress during the 1948 presidential campaign. Yet the encounter between Wilson and his Senate critics were genuinely partisan and both Administration and Congress fought tooth-and-nail for political victory.I should like to state the purpose of this study. It is not an attempt at a biography of Wilson or even a summary of his career at the Pentagon. Instead, I have tried to examine the theme of conflict between Wilson and his Senate critics. The emphasis, and hopefully not the bias, is on Wilson's role as the Secretary of Defense in advocating his policies before skeptical groups of Senators. Hopefully, the study will succeed in a larger objective of shedding additional light on the inner workings of the Eisenhower Administration. en_US
dc.format.extent ix, 249 leaves ; 28 cm. en_US
dc.source Virtual Press en_US
dc.subject.other Wilson, Charles Erwin, 1890-1961. en_US
dc.subject.other United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Armed Services. en_US
dc.subject.other United States -- Defenses. en_US
dc.title At sword's point : Charles E. Wilson and the Senate, 1953-1957 en_US Thesis (Ph. D.) en_US
dc.identifier.cardcat-url en_US

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  • Doctoral Dissertations [3121]
    Doctoral dissertations submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University doctoral candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

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