George Stanley McGovern (1922-) served as Senator
from South Dakota
for many years, and was the Democratic Party
's candidate for President
in 1972. He was also considered for the presidency in 1968, but didn't receive his party's nomination
. McGovern devoted much time and energy to eliminating hunger and providing basic needs for the American people.
McGovern was born in Avon, South Dakota, on July 19, 1922. His father was a Methodist minister. McGovern was a talented scholar, and in 1940 he began attending Dakota Wesleyan University on a scholarship. In 1943, he became part of the United States Army Air Force, which was still a part of the Army at the time, and became a decorated B-24 pilot in World War II. When he returned from the war, McGovern considered following in his father's footsteps and becoming a minister. He decided, however, to enter Northwestern University. There he was awarded a Ph. D. in history. Later, in 1952, he went back to Dakota Wesleyan to teach.
McGovern started his political career as the executive secretary of South Dakota's Democratic Party, a position he accepted in 1953. He ran a successful campaign for the United States House of Representatives in 1956, but was defeated four years later when he attempted to become a Senator. For two years, he headed up John F. Kennedy's Food for Peace Program. In 1962, he ran again and this time became a Senator. He would be re-elected twice, for a total of eighteen years of service in the Senate. During this time, he was a member of committees such as the Select Committee on Unmet Basic Needs and the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. McGovern was also against the United States's involvement in the Vietnam conflict.
In the 1968 presidential race, McGovern was an early contender. He eventually lost the Democratic Party's nomination to the Vice President, Hubert Humphrey. Four years later, he would get his party's nod. The Party originally put a lot of support under his Vice Presidential candidate, the young Senator Thomas Eagleton. Eagleton then admitted to having been treated and hospitalized for depression. They quickly ditched Eagleton and replaced him with Sargent Shriver. This shakeup completely destroyed any chance the Democrats had at winning that year. McGovern's opponent, Richard Nixon, won easily. McGovern won only the electoral votes of Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Two years later, McGovern was re-elected to the Senate for one more term. In 1980, McGovern was defeated in his bid for a fourth term. He announced his candidacy for the 1984 presidency, but quickly dropped out due to lack of support.
Editors note: George McGovern died on October 21, 2012 at the ripe old age of 90.