Lesson Plan

Conflict! The Eisenhower Years: Site Visit

Eisenhower and Prime Minister Nehru at the President's Gettysburg farm, December, 1956.
Eisenhower and Prime Minister Nehru at the President's Gettysburg farm, December, 1956.


Eisenhower invited many world leaders to his farm at Gettysburg. Eisenhower said these visits allowed him to “take the measure of the man.”

In December, 1956, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the farm for an overnight stay.  At the time, world issues included the invasion of Hungary by the Soviet Union, the expansion of Communism, the Suez Canal, and India’s problems with Pakistan.  Planning the visit was an important part of the U. S. foreign policy that year.


In this lesson, students will use primary source documents-the actual briefing papers and schedules –to develop their own planned visit for this world leader.



Handouts for site visit:
Scheduling sheet
Excerpt on Nehru Visit from Waging Peace
Summary of Nehru visit from World News Digest
State Department press program and confidential objectives and suggestions for Nehru visit
Excerpts from Dr. Howard Snyder's medical diary 
Map of President's farm and floor plan of house


1. Explain to students that Eisenhower's style of conflict resolution involved face-to-face meetings, open discussion, and development of a personal relationship with world leaders.
2.  Say, "We will use primary sources-many White House documents-to talk about the issues that the two world leaders discussed and to do the work Presidential aides did in preparing for the visit." 

3. Included with this package is an excerpt from Eisenhower's Waging Peace that describes his recollections of Nehru's visit. Assign it for homework. Key points:          

  • In a time when the world seemed to be dividing into two spheres of influence, Nehru and the Indian government had expressed their neutrality. Eisenhower wanted to make sure that India was more closely allied with the United States.          
  • Nehru believed that peace could be achieved by voluntary disarmament by the West. Eisenhower did not trust the Soviet Union enough to consider that as a realistic option.  
  • The Soviet Union had just sent troops into Hungary. The United States viewed this invasion as aggression and wanted other world nations to condemn it. Nehru wanted to remain neutral on this issue. 
  • In July, 1956, President Gamal Nasser took over the Suez Canal. Israel invaded Egypt. Great Britain and France attacked in an effort to restore international control to the waterway. United Nations action ended the fighting. Nehru supported Nasser. 32 ·       
  • The United States had supported Pakistan, a Moslem country that was created when India became independent and Hindus and Moslems could not live together peacefully. Nehru was unhappy that the United States support to Pakistan included military aid. 
  • Other differences between the two countries existed over Kashmir and Goa.  

4. Ask students to imagine that they worked for the State Department. Assign them to develop proposed objectives for the Nehru visit based on Waging Peace. Objectives might include: ·       

  • To increase India's understanding of the rationale for United States foreign policy positions-even those with which it disagrees. 
  • To establish a closer personal relationship between the President and the Prime Minister.  
  • To listen to the Prime Minister's views on world issues. 

After students have created their own list of objectives, hand out "Objectives of the Nehru Visit." Explain to students that this is a real White House document declassified in 1978. This primary source gives an excellent feel for the thinking that preceded the Nehru visit. (Point out that the White House staff even tried to think about what the Indian objectives for the visit might be.) Have the students read this document and summarize the U.S goals for this state visit. 

5. Hand out "Personal Requirements Suggestions," a map of the farm, a map of the house, and the schedule developed for the press. Say to students, "White House aides have many responsibilities in planning a visit like Nehru's. They must try to meet policy objectives, while considering the protocol and needs and wishes of the other head of state. At the same time, they must make information available to the press. When we visit the Eisenhower farm, we will be acting as a White House advance team. We will be planning scheduling and security, as well as press and protocol. Recommendations that each group will need to make will include: ·       

  • A schedule.
  • A tour of the farm, making choices about which things to emphasize.       
  • Decision about where to hold the press conference. ·       
  • Decisions about meals.      
  • Recommendations about whether the meetings should be between the two principals, or whether others should be invited. 

Tell students that Mrs. Eisenhower did not make the trip; she stayed in Washington with Mrs. Ghandi, Prime Minister Nehru's daughter who later became the Prime Minister of India.

6. Divide the students into groups. Each group will be responsible for developing its plan for the Nehru visit. As students visit the farm, they will be gathering the information they need to make these decisions. The forms included with this site visit will help them. The maps will help them identify the specific locations on the farm that President Eisenhower may want to show Prime Minister Nehru. They will also help students decide how much time is needed to move from one event to another. Using the map of the house, students can decide where they think the two leaders should meet, where they should eat, and the sleeping arrangements. 

7. When students visit the Eisenhower Farm, have the groups assemble at a site designated by NPS. Review the objectives of the visit. Have students tour the house and grounds in their small groups. As they tour, they should finalize their plans for the Nehru visit. 

8. When students return from their site visit, have them present their recommendations to the class. Then hand out "Prime Minister Nehru's Visit" and "The President's Appointments" (records kept by Eisenhower's doctor) to show students what was actually done. You may also pass out Facts on File World News Digest to give Prime Minister Nehru's perspective of the talks.  


Additional Activities for Follow-up:

1. Based on what students have learned, ask them to imagine that they were a member of the Indian group that visited the Gettysburg farm. Ask them to write a letter home describing the visit of Prime Minister Nehru.

2. Have students write the article that might have appeared in a newspaper on the day following the Nehru visit.

3. One of the things Eisenhower liked to do for relaxation was to paint. Ask students to complete a sketch that Eisenhower might have made of one of the locations used during this diplomatic visit. Make sure students see Eisenhower's easel as they tour the house.

Check out the other lessons:

Lesson 1: Conflict and Its Resolution

Lesson 2: Causes of International Conflict

Lesson 3: Eisenhower and his Times

Lesson 4: Conflicts Eisenhower Faced

Lesson 5: How Would Eisenhower Have Handled It?

Site Visit: A Visit by World Leader