President Eisenhower: Farmer and Angus Cattle Breeder

President Eisenhower's Farm
President Dwight Eisenhower standing with a herd of Angus cattle on his farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. ( National Park Service )

Since the start of the United States a number of presidents have traced their roots back to farming and ranching. Many presidents maintained farms and ranches during their terms in office. Those agriculture operations also served as retreats from the day-to-day grind of serving in the White House.

Founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had their respectively famed plantations Mount Vernon and Monticello in Virginia. Modern day presidents Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush had ranches in central Texas where they raised cattle.

President Dwight Eisenhower is one of a few presidents to have their farm turned into a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service.

Raised on a farm near Abilene, Kan., Eisenhower went from being a farm boy to leading the Allied forces during World War II. After his military career, Eisenhower planned to retire to on a farm he purchased just outside of the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. However, he would again serve his country as president from 1953 to 1961.

Eisenhower bought his 189 acre farm that was formerly a dairy and he would continue having few milking cows along with a herd of Angus show cattle. The farm served a presidential retreat for Eisenhower where he hosted such foreign dignitaries as Prime Minister Winston Churchill from Great Britain and Premier Nikita Khrushchev from the Soviet Union.

On the topic of farming during an address to Congress in 1956, Eisenhower said, "The proper role of government, however, is that of partner with the farmer - never his master. By every possible means we must develop and promote that partnership - to the end that agriculture may continue to be a sound, enduring foundation for our economy and that farm living may be a profitable and satisfying experience."

He also said during a speech at Bradley University in Illinois the same year, "You know, farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field."

The farm and house were donated by Eisenhower to the National Park Service in 1967, he would pass away two years later at age 78. It was eventually opened to the public in 1980 after Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie, passed away the year prior.

For more information about the Eisenhower National Historic Site listen and watch the video above featuring park ranger Alyce Evans.