United States and American History: 1953

About the history of the United States in 1953, Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense is president of GM, Stalin dies, Korean war ends, CIA starts a coup in Iran.


--Charles E. Wilson, president of General Motors, was appointed Secretary of Defense by President Eisenhower. Wilson did not want to sell his GM stock, which he was required by law to do if he was to assume the high government post. "I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors, and vice versa," he said.

Mar. 9 Stalin's funeral.

May 22 President Eisenhower signed a bill surrendering Federal ownership of $80 billion of offshore oil and gas reserves to the oil corporations. The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that this oil was the property of the whole nation. A former U.S. Solicitor General called the episode "the largest wholesale looting of national assets in history."

June 19 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg died in the electric chair. The Rosenbergs' petition to the White House for executive clemency said: "We are innocent. This is the whole truth. To forsake this truth is to pay too high a price even for the priceless gift of life--for life thus purchased we could not live out in dignity and self-respect."

Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in an open letter to Americans:

The atomic secret is the fruit of your sick imaginations: Science develops every-where at the same rhythm, and the manufacture of bombs is a mere matter of industrial capacities. You have quite simply tried to halt the progress of science by human sacrifice--we are here getting to the point: Your country is sick with fear...If we can have some hope, it is because your country gave birth to this man and this woman whom you have killed.

July 26 Fidel Castro led an attack on the Moncada barracks in Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the Batista dictatorship. Castro was jailed but he proclaimed at his trial: "History will absolve me!"

July 27 An armistice ending the Korean War was signed. U.S. casualties in the war totaled 165,485: 54,246 were killed, 103,284 were wounded, and 7,955 were reported missing in action.

Aug. 19 The popularly elected Prime Minister of Iran, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, whose Government had nationalized the country's oil, was overthrown in a coup initiated by the CIA. The chief CIA man in the operation, Kermit Roosevelt, later become a vice-president of Gulf Oil, which had greatly profited from the changed Iranian political situation.

Oct. 6 Casey Stengel's New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 4 games to 2 to win their 5th straight world series championship.

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