PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
REARED AS JEHOVAH'S WITNESS
TITLE: EISENHOWER: A SOLDIER'S LIFE
AUTHOR: CARLO D'ESTE
PAGES: 849 Pages.
EDITION: 1st edition. 2002.
CONDITION: New copy that has remainder mark on bookend and some some minor exterior S/H blemishes.
The vast majority of Jehovah's Witnesses have no idea that the two-term 34th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES was reared in their own WatchTower religion. WHY?
Because, the WatchTower Society teaches Jehovah's Witnesses that the Government of the United States is governing ILLEGITIMATELY. The WatchTower Society teaches that the Government of the United States is under the control of Satan the Devil as his partner in Satan's universal rebellion against GOD. The WatchTower Society teaches that GOD granted humans the authority to rule the earth only for a period of 2520 years -- starting in 607 B.C. and ending in October, 1914 A.D. The WatchTower Society teaches that in October, 1914, the authority to rule the earth reverted back to GOD, and that He then formed a heavenly government to rule the earth -- with Jesus Christ as King. The WatchTower Society teaches that in 1919 that Jesus Christ selected the WatchTower Society as his sole earthly representative of that heavenly government. The WatchTower Society teaches that the Government of the United States (as well as all other governments), is its' enemy, because it has failed to surrender governmental power that rightfully belongs to the WatchTower Society.
These are the real reasons that the WatchTower Society forbids its Jehovah's Witness members to participate in the U.S. governmental system (no voting, no holding political office, no professing loyalty via the Pledge of Allegiance, no joining the military to protect the United States, etc.). Jehovah's Witnesses do not profess to be "pacifists". They claim to be "neutrals". JWs consider themselves to be "citizens" of the government supposedly formed in heaven in 1919, and that they are only "resident aliens" of the United States. The WatchTower Society teaches that Armageddon will soon occur, and that at Armageddon the heavenly armies will destroy the armies and governments of the United States, and of all other countries, including all people did not convert to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses look forward to the day when they will rule the planet. Currently, the WatchTower Society tells JWs not to forcefully oppose the United States, or other governments. Given their fanatical beliefs as to what they have to gain, one can only speculate what would happen if the WatchTower Society ever told JWs otherwise.
Because of the overwhelming negatives associated with having been reared as a JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, Dwight Eisenhower and his brothers downplayed the WatchTower Society's role in their lives during their formative years. For decades, nearly all Eisenhower biographers and presidential historians cooperated. Even the WatchTower Society has been cooperative. Because Eisenhower's JW mother received so much press coverage during WW2, the WatchTower Society did on a few occasions acknowledge her active membership, but it distorted Dwight Eisenhower's, his father's, and the siblings' prior membership.
Some Eisenhower biographers have fraudulently written that Ike was reared as a "River Brethren". Some biographers mention some "influence" of a "fundamental religion". Some biographers mention "Bible Students" or "Russellites", without informing their readers that such religious group took the name "Jehovah's Witnesses" in 1931. Some biographers who have mentioned the JW connection have said that Ike's mother, Ida, merely sold WatchTower tracts at one time or another. Some have written that Ida was the only JW in the family, and that she became such only after Ike left home for West Point in 1911. Even the biographers who have gotten close to the truth have tried to place most of the JW connection onto Ida, saying that David only showed slight interest for a short time to appease Ida.
A timely example of continuing Eisenhower "revisionism" could be viewed on C-Span in 2005. C-Span televised a national conference hosted by The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University on the topic: "Religion and the Presidency". Jack Holl, Chair of the History Department at Kansas State University, was the supposed "expert" chosen to present the "Eisenhower" portion of the program, and do a Q/A. When addressing how Eisenhower's religious upbringing affected his career, Holl referred to the "River Brethren" connection. I only recall one vague reference to "his mother's religion", which Holl did not even detail.
Because of such, there is no single one of the more than 100 Eisenhower biographies that is 100% accurate regarding Ike's relationship to the WatchTower Society. EISENHOWER: A SOLDIER'S LIFE , although not including all the info presented in this listing, is one of the most informative and accurate of all the biographies available.
The Eisenhower clan originated in Germany, and in the 1500s/1600s became part of the Mennonite religious community. Along with other Mennonites, the Eisenhowers were forced to emigrate to Switzerland and other European countries due to religious persecution. The first Eisenhower to settle in America did so in Pennsylvania in the 1740s. There, the Eisenhowers became part of a Mennonite sect commonly known as "River Brethren". In 1878, several hundred "River Brethren", including Dwight Eisenhower's grandfather, moved to the Abilene, Kansas area. Ike's grandfather was a River Brethren Pastor, and two of his three sons also became RB Pastors. Ike's father, David, although heavily influenced by his Mennonite rearing and continued association, was the lone holdout who did not enter the River Brethren ministry.
Dwight Eisenhower was born to David and Ida Eisenhower in 1890. Ike was the third of seven children --- all males. Much is made of the fact that Ike's parents were very poor. David worked as a low-wage employee, while Ida and the children raised and sold vegetables and other items to supplement the family income. However, their economic circumstance does not accurately reflect that Ike's parents were both highly intelligent, and both were highly educated for the time period. David and Ida met while they both were attending a United Brethren college. They both completed a two year course, with Ida being class valedictorian. Ida had even taught school in Virginia for at least one year prior to moving to Kansas. After marrying, David entered into a merchantile business, but such eventually failed, leaving him in dire financial straits. David did not seem to recover psychologically from this early setback in life, and thereafter he settled for working at various low paying jobs.
David Eisenhower was, for all intents and purposes, the typical Mennonite: stern, strict, humorless, hardworking, etc. He did not smoke, drink, swear, or engage in inappropriate entertainment. David and Ida rarely if ever displayed their emotions toward each other in front of the children, be it affection or argument. The book at auction describes David as "scholarly, comtemplative, and possessed of an inquiring and restless mind." David had studied some Greek in college, and his sons report that he liked to read New Testament Greek. (They failed to note that he was likely reading from the WatchTower's Greek-English interlinear -- the Emphatic Diaglott.)
Up until 1896, David and Ida were part of the Abilene "River Brethren" community David's father (again, a Mennonite River Brethren Pastor), lived with them from around the time of Ike's birth (1890) until his death in 1896. There are records that show that Ike and some of his siblings attended RB Sunday School as late as 1896, but it appears that Ike's family stopped attending RB Church after his Grandfather died.
David and Ida Eisenhower's first contact with the WatchTower Society was in early 1895; just after their 8 month old son, Paul, had died from diphtheria. Three local Abilene neighbors, who were Watch Tower Society "Bible Students" (Clara Wiit, Emma Holland, and Mary Thayer), introduced the Eisenhowers to the Watch Tower belief that their deceased son was merely "sleeping", and that he would be resurrected soon after the "new system" arrived in 1914. After David's father died in 1896, the small spartan Eisenhower home became the meeting place for the local "company" of "Abilene Bible Students". David Eisenhower became the leader of the Abilene Company of Bible Students, along with one other Elder. His sons have noted that David was particularly consumed with the WatchTower Society's Pyramidology teachings, which used various aspects of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh to interpret Bible end-times prophecy.
David Eisenhower continued as a Watch Tower Society Elder until 1915, when the "Abilene Company" moved out of the Eisenhower home to rented premises. The WatchTower Society says that the move was prompted by the need for more space, but this excuse doesn't fit with the fact that in 1915 the WatchTower Society lost a large percentage of its followers, and nearly went out of business, due to the WatchTower's failed predictions that Armageddon would occur in October 1914. In all likelihood, David Eisenhower saw the light and rejected the WatchTower's teachings in 1915, thus forcing the Abilene Bible Students to find a new meeting place.
There is no indication of further formal affiliation with the WatchTower Society by David Eisenhower or his sons after 1915. However, David continued as a Christian with a deep faith in God, and he continued studying his "Greek Bible" (again, probably the Emphatic Diaglott) until he died. Some of the WatchTower "Bible Student" offshoots claim that he became or at least sympathized with them. However, when David died in March 1942, his funeral was conducted by the leader of the Abilene Jehovah's Witnesses, James L. Thayer, and another local JW Elder named Fred Southworth. Both Thayer and Southworth had been friends of David Eisenhower since the early 1900s. Ida Eisenhower remained a loyal JW until her death in 1946.
Thus, Ike's parents started associating with the WatchTower Society when he was only five, and Ike's home functioned as the "Abilene Kingdom Hall" from the time Ike was six years old until he left home at the age of 20+. The April 1899 issue of Zion's Watch Tower reports that 10 persons "partook" at the 1899 Memorial held at the Eisenhower home. Twice a year, traveling "Pilgrims" (Circuit Overseers) visited and often stayed at the Eisenhower home. There is no indication that Ike nor his siblings were any different than any other children of the period who were reared in the home of WatchTower "Bible Students", particularly the home of an Elder. The children mention participating in the meetings, as well as nightly family Bible study. The fact that Ike continued living with his family for two years after graduating from High School would seem to indicate that he had no major issues with the family religion. Ike even bragged that he had read through the entire Bible by age 12, and twice prior to leaving for West Point. While at West Point, Ike even taught a Sunday School class composed of WP personnel's children. Ike often credited the Bible with having the greatest influence on both his military and political careers. Throughout his lifetime, Ike often quoted Bible verses in conversation, speeches, and in his many letters.
In the past, the WatchTower Society has been quick to point out that Ida Eisenhower did not want Ike to attend West Point, or pursue a military career. The WatchTower Society has tried to imply that Ida was reflecting the WatchTower Society's doctrine of that time period. Such is a gross distortion. In fact, Ida was reflecting her own pacificist background. Ida was born during the Civil War on her parent's Virginia farm which was located in the Shenandoah Valley. Confederate troops often pillaged their farm, and Ida's pacifist father was twice "drafted" by the Confederacy. He bought his way out the first time, but was forced to flee "north" the second time. Although a baby at the time, Ida was still impacted by such events, as well as later when such events were retold. Ida's pacificism was complemented by David's Mennonite family who were also all pacifists.
With regard to the WatchTower Society's doctrine prior to 1917, the WatchTower Society did present some "pacifist leanings", but they were not strict pacifists, nor even "neutrals". In fact, at the time that Ike applied to and was granted admission to West Point in 1911, one of the WatchTower Society elite, named WILLIAM PREBLE HALL, was the Assistant Adjutant General at military headquarters in Washington D. C. This influential General was himself a West Point alumnus, who was distinguished as a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. This "WatchTower Pilgrim" is even buried in Arlington National Cemetery. As an active U.S. Army General, Hall was one of the WatchTower leaders who accompanied Charles Taze Russell on his famous "World Tour" during Winter 1911/2. After returning from this trip, Hall was even promoted to THE Adjutant General of the U.S. Army.
Interestingly, General William P. Hall had been the opening speaker at the annual WatchTower Convention in 1911, and interestingly, the next annual WatchTower Convention in 1912 was held in Washington D.C., where Hall gave the keynote address which presented the famous Hellfire Resolution. David and Ida Eisenhower, along with fellow Abilene Bible Students James L. and Lotta Thayer, attended this 8-day National Convention. After the convention, both couples then visited Ike at West Point. It doesn't appear that these two JW Elder families had issues with "Corporal Eisenhower", or with West Point. When Ike received his first furlough during the summer of 1913, Ida washed and meticulously ironed his West Point dress uniform whenever he decided to "show off" to the locals. Sometime in the 1920s, when Ida once visited with Ike when he was stationed in Washington D.C., Ike arranged for her to take her first airplane flight over Washington D.C. in an open 2-seater Army airplane. Given General Hall's position, it is conceivable that his fellow JWs would have contacted him to help IKE get into West Point. Especially so, given that General Hall's own son ended up in IKE's class. Interestingly, the last info I have on Hall's son is when he was given command of the Army Air Force unit stationed outside Washington D.C. in the 1920s. That may have been how IKE managed to get his elderly JW mother an airplane ride over D.C.
How much contact or influence the WatchTower Society had on Ike after 1911 is more speculative. Ike had a very close relationship with his mother (she had taught Ike to cook and sew, and Ike used those skills throughout his lifetime), and they stayed in touch and communicated regularly over the years. When Ike graduated from West Point in 1915, Ida had given him a copy of the WatchTower Society's ASV Bible. Ike used that Bible to swear the Presidential Oath of Office at his second term ceremony. Ike also publicly read Psalms 33:12 at that inaugeration: "Blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah". It is also known that later in life that Ike referred to his birthdays as "anniversaries" rather than "birthdays". Such might indicate WatchTower influence in later years, since the JWs did not stop celebrating birthdays until the latter 1920s. It is also interesting that Ike did not cast his first vote until 1948, at the age of 58. "Not voting" is one of the WatchTower teachings that goes back to the early days of Charles Taze Russell, who taught that Jesus Christ had been enthroned as earth's King in 1874 (later changed to 1914), thus making "voting" for a human ruler an act of disloyalty. Ike considered himself a "Christian" all his life, yet after leaving Abilene he joined no church until he joined the Presbyterian Church during his first Presidential term. (For political expediency, and to deflect criticism of his WatchTower upbringing, he started attending the Presbyterian Church during the first campaign.)
Readers should note that some JWs make the claim that IKE was never baptized as a JW -- thus cannot be considered a JW. Like most current JWs, such JWs do not understand that in the concerned time period, if a person had previously been baptized by immersion, then they were not re-baptized when joining the Watch Tower Society. IKE and his siblings were likely immersed as River Brethren, or even possibly by their own Elder-Father when they were older. Given the efforts by the various parties over the years to hide any connection between IKE and Jehovah's Witnesses, it has been difficult for historians to establish even that connection, much less locate "paper evidence" of an event (Ike's baptism) which can likely be assumed given all the circumstantial evidence listed above. While there is no indication that IKE continued "meeting attendance" after his father and brothers broke from the WatchTower Society in 1915, there is evidence listed above which indicates that IKE retained and acted on WatchTower doctrine well into his later years, even after joining the Presbyterian Church.
With regard to the Watch Tower's stance on the military pre-1917, it also should be noted that Charles Taze Russell even presided over the military funeral of General A. P. Stewart in 1908. Russell's second-in-command and successor, attorney Joseph F. Rutherford, was the featured speaker at a convocation at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. On at least two occasions prior to 1917, Rutherford officially introduced at one of his traveling Watch Tower lectures by a local high-ranked politician - once by a United States Senator, and once by a United States Congressman.
This book would be a great book to recommend to high school or even junior high school students who are JWs to use for book reports or similar research papers.