- Robert E. Petersen Collection
- Ancient Firearms - 1350 to 1700
- Road to American Liberty - 1700 to 1780
- A Prospering New Republic - 1780 to 1860
- The American West - 1850 to 1900
- Innovation, Oddities and Competition
- Theodore Roosevelt and Elegant Arms - 1880s to 1920s
- World War I and Firearms Innovation
- WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Beyond - 1940 to Present
- For the Fun of It
- Modern Firearms - 1950 to Present
- Hollywood Guns
- A Nation Asunder - 1861 to 1865
President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Winchester Model 21 Shotgun
This firearm is on exhibit at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum in Springfield, MO.
This gun was presented "To a straight shooter (General Dwight D. Eisenhower) from a friend (Robert Woodruff, President of Coca-Cola)." SN 25923
Dwight David Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas on October 14, 1890, the third of seven sons born to David and Ida Stover Eisenhower, a devoutly religious German-Swiss family that had roots in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kansas. In 1891, the Eisenhowers relocated to Abilene, Kansas, where the future president excelled in history, mathematics, and athletics before entering the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1911.
As a member of the Long Gray Line, Eisenhower starred on the Academy's football team before graduating 61st in the 164-member Class of 1915. A year later, he married Mamie Doud of Denver, Colorado. The couple had two sons, Dwight Doud, who died at age three, and John Sheldon Doud. During Eisenhower's Army career, he served in the fledgling Tank Corps as commanding officer of Camp Colt, which was located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He was ordered to France during the First World War, but these orders were rescinded when the war ended on November 11, 1918.
He later graduated first in his class at the Army's Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. During a post-war assignment to Europe, Eisenhower studied the battlefields of the war and gained a thorough knowledge of the terrain and road networks of France. This knowledge served him well in planning the 1944 invasion of Adolf Hitler's "Fortress Europe," and the subsequent Allied drive to the Rhine. Between 1929 and 1935, Lieutenant Colonel Eisenhower gained additional experience when he was assigned to the office of the Undersecretary of War before serving on the personal staff of General Douglas MacArthur, who was then Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
In the fall of 1935, he accompanied MacArthur to his new assignment in the Philippines, where the two men set out to create an army from scratch under difficult conditions. Upon his return to the United States in 1940, Eisenhower served as Chief of Staff of the 3rd Infantry Division. He participated in the largest peacetime maneuvers in Army history, and his contribution to the Third Army's strategic plans was a key factor in the unit's overwhelming victory during these exercises. By September 1941, he was promoted to Brigadier General and re-assigned to Washington, where he served as Chief of the War Plans and Operations Divisions.
After the Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Eisenhower was assigned by Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall to strengthen U.S. defenses in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean, and to plan the recovery of territory captured by the Japanese. In June 1942, he was given command of all American troops in Europe and charged with planning Operation Torch, the U.S. invasion of North Africa in November of that year. By May 1943, American and British forces had pushed the Germans from their last stronghold in Tunisia. U.S. and Commonwealth troops next invaded Sicily, then Italy.
In December 1943, Eisenhower was promoted to Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces and given the responsibility of planning and directing the invasion of occupied France and the eventual destruction of the Nazi war machine. Beginning with the combined airborne and amphibious assault on the Normandy beaches, Allied forces mounted against Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, and SS troops in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. By September, the Allies had reached the frontier of the Reich, and all German resistance collapsed in early May 1945 with the fall of Berlin and the death of Hitler. After the end of the war, Eisenhower served as commander of U.S. forces in occupied Germany before becoming the Army's Chief of Staff in November 1945.
In 1948, he became President of Columbia University while continuing to serve as a senior military advisor in the Truman Administration. President Truman appointed General Eisenhower as Supreme Commander of NATO military forces, a position that he held for fifteen months in the face of increasing Cold War tensions in Europe between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union. Friends and admirers had encouraged Eisenhower to seek the Presidency of the United States, and in 1952, he answered the call. In his first address since leaving NATO command, he defined what he believed were four major threats to the American way of life.
These were the substitution of punitive laws in place of a cooperative spirit among citizens, excessive taxation that destroyed individual incentive, currency inflation that undermined financial security, and a growing centralized burearcracy that absorbed and replaced the functions of local community and the individual. These issues formed the backbone of his campaign, and, after winning the Republican Party's nomination, he went on to defeat Democratic challenger Adlai Stevenson by a wide margin. The new president had proven in various command positions that he was an able administrator, and, although lacking in formal political experience, he had also proven himself able to organize diverse groups and set them to work for a common goal. Eisenhower established a good relationship with Congress, and he was able to maintain this relationship even after the Democrats captured both houses in 1954.
Despite questions about his health which arose from coronary problems and emergency intestinal surgery in late 1955 and early 1956, he again defeated Adlai Stevenson to win a second term. The nation prospered economically during Eisenhower's administration, and important civil rights and defense-related legislation was passed, but the President was faced with a number of international crises. The truce ending the fighting in Korea was signed shortly after his first inauguration. NATO was strengthened by the addition of West Germany, and SEATO was organized to defend the Far East against Communism.
During 1956, the Soviet invasion of Hungary brought U.S. and U.N. condemnation, and Eisenhower also condemned both Egypt's seizure of the Suez Canal and the resulting invasion of that country by England, France, and Israel. The Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in 1957 spurred the country to increased educational and scientific efforts. By the end of Eisenhower's second term, the nation had made significant progress in a number of areas, but in his final State of the Union Address, he stressed that this process must never end. After leaving office, the Eisenhowers retired to their farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This property is maintained by the National Park Service, and has become a popular tourist destination for visitors to that historic area.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was well-known for his love of golf, but he also enjoyed quail hunting and skeet shooting. Featured in the National Firearms Museum's collection is a Winchester Model 21 side-by-side 20 gauge shotgun bearing the President's initials, the five stars symbolic of his military rank, and the inscription, "To a straight shooter from a friend." This shotgun was given to Eisenhower by Robert Woodruff, president of Coca Cola, and was donated to the Museum by President Eisenhower's son, General John S. D. Eisenhower. Also displayed in the Museum is then-General Eisenhower's personal sidearm, a Colt M1911A1 pistol.
Prior to the 1942 Allied invasion of North Africa under the code name Operation Torch, General Eisenhower gave this pistol to Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham of the Royal Navy. President Eisenhower died in Washington, DC on March 28, 1969. He was buried at his family home in Abeline, Kansas. - - Oliver Fisher Winchester was born on November 30, 1810 in Boston, Massachusetts. Although raised on a farm, Winchester eventually became a carpenter, and by 1830, he was a construction supervisor in Baltimore, Maryland. While in Baltimore, he entered the dry goods business, and after several years, Winchester became a manufacturer of men's shirts in New Haven, Connecticut. This venture proved to be sufficiently profitable that he began to extend his business interests.
In 1855, Winchester became a stockholder and director of the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company, a firearms manufacturing firm that brought together the talents of Winchester with those of Horace Smith, Daniel B. Wesson, and B. Tyler Henry. Volcanic produced lever-action repeating pistols and carbines based on the patents of Smith & Wesson. These two, who would later become famous for their revolvers, had followed up on the earlier repeating rifle designs of Walter Hunt and Lewis Jennings. Smith and Wesson sold their patents and other assets to the newly-organized Volcanic Company, and after a short time, both left Volcanic and began work on the first of many revolvers to bear their names.
The Volcanic's operating mechanism was very similar to that still used today in lever-action repeaters, but the guns were plagued by problems with their self-contained cartridges. These consisted of a hollow-based, powder-filled conical bullet backed by a fulminate primer plate. In addition to problems with velocity due to the limited amount of propellant available, these rounds also had the unfortunate tendency to go off prematurely, sometimes while still in the magazine. A further complication was the Volcanic's lack of an extractor or ejection system. These were not necessary when the ammunition functioned properly, but their lack created additional problems in case of misfires. Consequently, marketing and sales efforts were hampered.
In 1857, financial problems forced Volcanic into insolvency. The company's assets were purchased by Oliver Winchester, who by this time had become Volcanic's president. Winchester reorganized the firm and resumed operations under the name of New Haven Arms Company. Unlike others in the field of firearms manufacture during this period, Winchester's talents lay not as an inventor but as a successful businessman. This success would continue with New Haven, and it extended beyond financial matters to the staffing of the new company. Among those hired by Oliver Winchester was B. Tyler Henry, who became plant manager. Henry had a great deal of experience with repeating firearms, having worked previously for various arms makers, including Smith & Wesson.
One of his tasks was to develop a metallic cartridge to replace the inferior self-contained bullets chambered by the Volcanic. Others, including Daniel Wesson, were also working on this problem, and Wesson's .22 rimfire cartridge may have influenced Henry's efforts. By 1860, Henry had developed a .44 rimfire, and he then turned his efforts to modifying the Volcanic to load, fire, and extract his new cartridge. His subsequent patent for these improvements was assigned to the New Haven Arms Co. The firm abandoned its pistol line and concentrated its efforts on the manufacture of lever-action rifles of Henry's design which also bore his name. The coming of the Civil War brought with it a great demand for firearms.
Although the Henry, with its sixteen-shot tubular magazine and impressive rate of fire was a truly revolutionary rifle, conservative elements within the U.S. Army favored the tried-and-true single-shot muzzle loading rifle-muskets as a standard infantry arm. The government did place orders for a total of over 1,700 Henry rifles, and many of these were issued to troopers of the 1st Maine and 1st District of Columbia Cavalry regiments. Many more found their way into the ranks through private purchase. These rifles provided Union troops with a formidable advantage over their enemies. At least one awed Confederate referred to the Henry as "that damned Yankee rifle that can be loaded on Sunday and fired all week!"
In 1867, the New Haven Arms Company was re-organized and became known as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, with Oliver Winchester serving as president, treasurer, and board member. The new company also introduced a new firearm, the Winchester Model 1866. These .44 rimfire caliber brass-framed arms were available in musket, rifle, and carbine configurations. Winchester still hoped to crack the military market, but despite the Henry's success and its popularity during the Civil War, the Army remained wedded to the single-shot rifle. Nonetheless, Henry and Winchester Model 1866 "Yellow Boy" rifles found a ready market on the western frontier. The Indians referred to these arms as "many shots," and "spirit gun," which showed a measure of awe and respect for the products of the New Haven-based company.
Many warriors were able to obtain these arms for themselves, and more than twenty of them were used against George A. Custer's 7th Cavalry and their single-shot Springfield carbines at the Little Bighorn in June, 1876. Winchester repeaters also found favor with miners, homesteaders, ranchers, lawmen, and highwaymen. Winchester's success continued with the centerfire Model 1873 and 1876 lever-action repeaters, both of which were available in a range of calibers and optional features. The Model 1886 was a milestone for the company in two respects: it marked the first association between Winchester and designer John Browning, and it was also the first lever-action rifle capable of chambering big-game calibers, including the .50-110 Express cartridge.
Other Browning-designed Winchesters include the Model 1885 single-shot rifle, Model 1887 lever-action shotgun, Model 1890 slide-action rifle, Model 1893, Model 1894, and Model 1895 lever-action rifles. The Model 1894 alone accounted for over five million sales and is still in production. Winchester was able to enter the military market in later years, with sales both to foreign governments and to the U.S. Army. During both World Wars, Winchester-manufactured rifles and shotguns served U.S. and Allied troops in various parts of the globe. In addition to contract production of the U.S. Model 1917 bolt-action and the famous M1 Garand semi-automatic rifles, Winchester also produced the Model 1897 and Model 12 slide-action shotguns, as well as the M1 Carbine.
In the civilian market, the bolt-action Model 70 rifle is still popular with big game hunters, and Winchester lever-action rifles continue to meet with sales success. Under his leadership Oliver Winchester saw his company rise from near-bankruptcy to become one of the most successful firearms manufacturing firms in the world. He was a gifted businessman who was able to foresee opportunities and to make the most of them, and a skilled judge of people and their abilities, as evidenced both by the success of his company and by his association with men such as Horace Smith, Daniel B. Wesson, B. Tyler Henry, and John Browning.
Declining health forced him to take a less active role in the affairs of his firm, but the company's continued success was all but assured by his vision and leadership. Oliver Winchester died in December, 1880 at the age of 70, but both his name and his company survive. The Winchester Repeating Arms Company was acquired by Olin Corporation, which created U.S. Repeating Arms as the manufacturer of Winchester rifles and shotguns. In addition, Winchester arms were produced by Miroku of Japan. In 1992, U.S. Repeating Arms was purchased by Giat of France.