141 Facts About George McGovern


George Stanley McGovern was an American historian and South Dakota politician who was a US representative and three-term US senator, and the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1972 presidential election.


George McGovern staged a brief nomination run in the 1968 presidential election as a stand-in for the assassinated Robert F Kennedy.


George McGovern's long-shot, grassroots-based 1972 presidential campaign found triumph in gaining the Democratic nomination but left the party split ideologically, and the failed vice-presidential pick of Thomas Eagleton undermined George McGovern's credibility.


George McGovern later served as US ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture from 1998 to 2001 and was appointed the first UN global ambassador on world hunger by the World Food Programme in 2001.


George McGovern's father, the Rev Joseph C McGovern, born in 1868, was pastor of the local Wesleyan Methodist Church there.


George McGovern had been a professional baseball player in the minor leagues, but had given it up due to his teammates' heavy drinking, gambling, and womanizing, and entered the seminary instead.


Joseph and Frances George McGovern were both firm Republicans, but were not politically active or doctrinaire.


When George McGovern was about three years old, the family moved to Calgary for a while to be near Frances's ailing mother, and he formed memories of events such as the Calgary Stampede.


When George McGovern was six, the family returned to the United States and moved to Mitchell, South Dakota, a community of 12,000.


George McGovern attended public schools there and was an average student.


George McGovern was painfully shy as a child and was afraid to speak in class during first grade.


The George McGovern family lived on the edge of the poverty line for much of the 1920s and 1930s.


George McGovern was influenced by the currents of populism and agrarian unrest, as well as the "practical divinity" teachings of cleric John Wesley that sought to fight poverty, injustice, and ignorance.


George McGovern attended Mitchell High School, where he was a solid but unspectacular member of the track team.


Debate changed George McGovern's life, giving him a chance to explore ideas to their logical end, broadening his perspective, and instilling a sense of personal and social confidence.


George McGovern graduated in 1940 in the top ten percent of his class.


George McGovern enrolled at small Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell and became a star student there.


George McGovern supplemented a forensic scholarship by working a variety of odd jobs.


George McGovern was listening to a radio broadcast of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for a sophomore-year music appreciation class when he heard the news of the December 7,1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.


The military accepted him, but they did not yet have enough airfields, aircraft, or instructors to start training all the volunteers, so George McGovern stayed at Dakota Wesleyan.


Smart, handsome, and well liked, George McGovern was elected president of his sophomore class and voted "Glamour Boy" during his junior year.


Soon thereafter George McGovern was sworn in as a private at Fort Snelling in Minnesota.


George McGovern spent a month at Jefferson Barracks Military Post in Missouri and then five months at Southern Illinois Normal University in Carbondale, Illinois, for ground school training.


George McGovern later maintained that both the academic work and physical training were the toughest he ever experienced.


George McGovern married Eleanor Stegeberg on October 31,1943, during a three-day leave.


George McGovern's father presided over the ceremony at the Methodist church in Woonsocket.


Eleanor George McGovern followed him to these duty stations, and was present when he received his wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant.


In June 1944, George McGovern's crew received final training at Mountain Home Army Air Field in Idaho.


In September 1944 George McGovern joined the 741st Squadron of the 455th Bombardment Group of the Fifteenth Air Force, stationed at San Giovanni Airfield near Cerignola in the Apulia region of Italy.


Unable to return to Italy, George McGovern flew to a British airfield on Vis, a small island in the Adriatic Sea off the Yugoslav coast that was controlled by Josip Broz Tito's Partisans.


Bad weather prevented many missions from being carried out during the winter, and during such downtime George McGovern spent much time reading and discussing how the war had come about.


George McGovern resolved that if he survived it, he would become a history professor.


In May and June 1945, following the end of the European war, George McGovern continued with the 741st Bomb Squadron delivering surplus food and supplies near Trieste in Northeastern Italy; this was then trucked to the hungry in nearby locations, including to German prisoners of war.


George McGovern liked making these relief flights, as it gave a way to address the kinds of deprivations he had witnessed when first arriving in Italy.


George McGovern then flew back to the United States with his crew.


George McGovern was discharged from the Army Air Forces in July 1945, with the rank of first lieutenant.


George McGovern was awarded the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, one instance of which was for the safe landing on his final mission.


George McGovern continued with debate, again winning the state Peace Oratory Contest with a speech entitled "From Cave to Cave" that presented a Christian-influenced Wilsonian outlook.


George McGovern switched from Wesleyan Methodism to less fundamentalist regular Methodism.


George McGovern was influenced by the weekly sermons of a well-known local minister, Ernest Fremont Tittle, and the ideas of Boston personalism.


George McGovern preached as a Methodist student supply minister at Diamond Lake Church in Mundelein, Illinois, during 1946 and 1947, but became dissatisfied by the minutiae of his pastoral duties.


In late 1947 George McGovern left the ministry and enrolled in graduate studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, where he worked as a teaching assistant.


George McGovern then returned to his alma mater, Dakota Wesleyan, and became a professor of history and political science.


Eleanor George McGovern began to suffer from bouts of depression but continued to assume the large share of household and child-rearing duties.


George McGovern was influenced not only by Link and the "Consensus School" of American historians but by the previous generation of "progressive" historians.


Meanwhile, George McGovern had become a popular if politically outspoken teacher at Dakota Wesleyan, with students dedicating the college yearbook to him in 1952.


Nominally a Republican growing up, George McGovern began to admire Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II, even though he supported Roosevelt's opponent Thomas Dewey in the 1944 presidential election.


George McGovern wrote columns supporting Wallace in the Mitchell Daily Republic and attended the Wallace Progressive Party's first national convention as a delegate.


George McGovern was captivated by a radio broadcast of Governor Adlai Stevenson's speech accepting the presidential nomination at the 1952 Democratic National Convention.


George McGovern immediately dedicated himself to Stevenson's campaign, publishing seven articles in the Mitchell Daily Republic newspaper outlining the historical issues that separated the Democratic Party from the Republicans.


Friends and political figures had counseled George McGovern against making the move, but despite his mild, unassuming manner, George McGovern had an ambitious nature and was intent upon starting a political career of his own.


George McGovern spent the following years rebuilding and revitalizing the party, building up a large list of voter contacts via frequent travel around the state.


In 1956 George McGovern sought elective office himself, and ran for the House of Representatives from South Dakota's 1st congressional district, which consisted of the counties east of the Missouri River.


George McGovern faced four-term incumbent Republican Party representative Harold O Lovre.


George McGovern became a staunch supporter of higher commodity prices, farm price supports, grain storage programs, and beef import controls, believing that such stored commodities programs guarded against drought and similar emergencies.


George McGovern favored rural development, federal aid to small business and to education, and medical coverage for the aged under Social Security.


George McGovern prevailed with a slightly larger margin than two years before.


George McGovern was one of nine representatives from Congress to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly conferences of 1958 and 1959.


In 1960, George McGovern decided to run for the US Senate and challenge the Republican incumbent Karl Mundt, a formidable figure in South Dakota politics whom George McGovern loathed as an old-style McCarthyite.


George McGovern was picked to become a special assistant to the president and first director of Kennedy's high-priority Food for Peace program, which realized what George McGovern had been advocating in the House.


In June 1961 George McGovern became seriously ill with hepatitis, contracted from an infected White House dispensary needle used to give him inoculations for his South American trip; he was hospitalized and unable to come to his office for two months.


In February 1962, George McGovern visited India and oversaw an expanded school lunch program thanks to Food for Peace; subsequently one in five Indian schoolchildren would be fed from it, and by mid-1962,35 million children around the world.


George McGovern appealed to those worried about the outflux of young people from the state, and had the strong support of the Farmers Union.


Polls showed Bottum slightly ahead throughout the race, and George McGovern was hampered by a recurrence of his hepatitis problem in the final weeks of the campaign.


George McGovern had a fractious relationship with Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman, who was less sympathetic to farmers; George McGovern's 1966 resolution to informally scold Freeman made the senator popular back in his home state.


George McGovern was largely inactive on the Interior Committee until 1967, when he was given the chairmanship of the subcommittee on Indian affairs.


George McGovern would try to reduce defense appropriations or limit military expenditures in almost every year during the 1960s.


George McGovern voted against many weapons programs, especially missile and antimissile systems, and opposed military assistance to foreign nations.


In 1964 George McGovern published his first book, War Against Want: America's Food for Peace Program.


However, the speech was little noticed, and George McGovern backed away from saying anything publicly for over a year afterward, partly because of the November 1963 assassination of President Kennedy and partly to not appear strident.


In November 1965 George McGovern traveled to South Vietnam for three weeks.


George McGovern voted in favor of Vietnam military appropriations in 1966 through 1968, not wanting to deprive US forces of necessary equipment.


George McGovern spoke with Kennedy by phone minutes before Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles.


George McGovern delayed making a decision, making sure that Bobby's brother Ted Kennedy did not want to enter, and with his staff still concerned about the senator's own reelection prospects.


Indeed, George McGovern's voting had changed during 1968, with his ADA rating falling to 43 as he sought more middle-of-the-road stances.


George McGovern was convinced that the socially conservative voters of South Dakota would reject him owing to his daughter's arrest.


However, George McGovern conducted an energetic campaign that focused on his service to the state, while Gubbrud ran a lackluster effort.


George McGovern battled the Nixon administration and Southerners in Congress during much of the next year over an expanded Food Stamp Program; he had to compromise on a number of points, but legislation signed in 1970 established the principles of free food stamps and a nationwide standard for eligibility.


George McGovern generally lacked both interest and expertise in economics, but was outspoken in reaction to Nixon's imposition of wage and price controls in 1971.


In May 1970 George McGovern obtained a second mortgage on his Washington home in order to fund a half-hour televised panel discussion on the amendment on NBC.


George McGovern accused the vice president of South Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Ky, of running a heroin trafficking operation that was addicting American soldiers.


In polls, a large majority of the public now favored its intent, and George McGovern took his name off a final form of it, as some senators were just objecting to him.


George McGovern was now certain that the only way the war would come to a quick end was if there was a new president.


George McGovern announced his candidacy on January 18,1971, during a televised speech from the studios of KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


At the time of his announcement, George McGovern ranked fifth among Democrats in a presidential preference Gallup Poll.


Muskie fell victim to inferior organizing, an over-reliance on party endorsements, and Nixon's "dirty tricks" operatives, and in the March 7,1972, New Hampshire primary, did worse than expected with George McGovern coming in a close second.


However, Humphrey's attacks on George McGovern as being too radical began a downward slide in the latter's poll standing against Nixon.


George McGovern became tagged with the label "amnesty, abortion, and acid," supposedly reflecting his positions.


George McGovern capitalized on support from antiwar activists and reform liberals; thousands of students engaged in door-to-door campaigning for him.


George McGovern benefited by the eight primaries he won being those the press focused on the most; he showed electoral weakness in the South and industrial Midwest, and actually received fewer primary votes overall than Humphrey and had only a modest edge over Wallace.


George McGovern ran on a platform that advocated withdrawal from the Vietnam War in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war and amnesty for draft evaders who had left the country.


George McGovern's platform included an across-the-board 37-percent reduction in defense spending over three years.


An "Anybody But George McGovern" coalition, led by southern Democrats and organized labor, formed in the weeks following the final primaries.


George McGovern's nomination did not become ensured until the first night of the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, where, following intricate parliamentary maneuverings led by campaign staffer Rick Stearns, a Humphrey credentials challenge regarding the California winner-take-all rules was defeated.


On July 12,1972, George McGovern officially won the Democratic nomination.


Five prominent Democrats then publicly turned down George McGovern's offer of the vice presidential slot: in sequence, Kennedy again, Abraham Ribicoff, Humphrey, Reubin Askew, and Muskie.


George McGovern chose to not emphasize his own war record during the campaign.


George McGovern was publicly attacked by Nixon surrogates and was the target of various operations of the Nixon "dirty tricks" campaign.


The infamous Watergate break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in June 1972 was an alternate target after bugging George McGovern's headquarters was explored.


George McGovern's allies were replaced in positions of power within the Democratic Party leadership, and the McGoverns did not get publicly introduced at party affairs they attended.


On January 20,1973, a few hours after Richard Nixon was re-inaugurated, George McGovern gave a speech at the Oxford Union that talked about the abuses of Nixon's presidency; it brought criticism, including from some Democrats, for being ill-mannered.


George McGovern displayed the political resiliency he had shown in the past.


In 1974, George McGovern faced possible political peril because of his having neglected the state during his long presidential campaign, and by May 1973, he had already begun campaigning for re-election.


An Air Force pilot and Medal of Honor recipient, Leo K Thorsness, had just been repatriated after six years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam; he publicly accused McGovern of having given aid and comfort to the enemy and of having prolonged his time as a POW.


George McGovern replied that if there had been no war, there would have been no POWs, and that everything he had done had been toward the goal of ending the war sooner.


Unfamiliar and uncomfortable with Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter, George McGovern secretly voted for Ford instead.


In 1980, George McGovern was one of several liberal Democratic senators targeted for defeat by the National Conservative Political Action Committee, which put out a year's worth of negative portrayals of George McGovern.


George McGovern faced a Democratic primary challenge for the first time, from a pro-life candidate.


George McGovern made an issue of NCPAC's outside involvement, and that group eventually withdrew from the campaign after Abdnor denounced a letter it had sent out.


However, in November 1980 George McGovern was solidly defeated for re-election, getting only 39 percent of the vote to Abdnor's 58 percent.


George McGovern became one of many Democratic casualties of that year's Republican sweep, which became known as the "Reagan Revolution".


George McGovern shut the committee down when he decided to run again for president.


George McGovern began teaching and lecturing at a number of universities in the US and Europe, accepting one-year contracts or less.


From 1981 to 1982, George McGovern replaced historian Stephen Ambrose as a professor at the University of New Orleans.


George McGovern began making frequent speeches, earning several hundred thousand dollars a year.


George McGovern attempted another presidential run in the 1984 Democratic primaries.


Friends and political admirers of George McGovern initially feared the effort would prove an embarrassment, and George McGovern knew that his chances of winning were remote, but he felt compelled to try to influence the intraparty debate in a liberal direction.


George McGovern won a surprise third-place showing in the Iowa caucuses amidst a crowded field of candidates but finished fifth in the New Hampshire primary.


George McGovern announced he would drop out unless he finished first or second in the Massachusetts primary, and when he came in third behind his former campaign manager Gary Hart and former vice president Walter Mondale, he kept his word.


George McGovern addressed the party's platform committee, and his name was placed in nomination at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, where he delivered a speech that strongly criticized President Reagan and praised Democratic unity.


In January 1988, George McGovern said that he was considering entering the 1988 Democratic primaries in the event that a front-runner did not emerge in the race.


In 1992 George McGovern published his reflections on the experience in the Wall Street Journal and the Nation's Restaurant News.


George McGovern attributed part of the failure to the early 1990s recession, but part to the cost of dealing with federal, state, and local regulations that were passed with good intentions but made life difficult for small businesses, and to the cost of dealing with frivolous lawsuits.


George McGovern held this position until 1997, when he was replaced by Charles W Freeman Jr.


Heavy press attention followed, and George McGovern revealed his daughter had battled her alcoholism for years and had been in and out of many treatment programs while having had one extended period of sobriety.


George McGovern began working again with fellow former senator Bob Dole to persuade the Senate to support this effort, as well as expanded school lunch, food stamps, and nutritional help for pregnant women and poor children in the US.


In October 2001 George McGovern was appointed as the first UN global ambassador on world hunger by the World Food Programme, the agency he had helped found forty years earlier.


George McGovern was still active in this goodwill ambassador position as of 2011 and remained in it until his death.


George McGovern was an honorary life member of the board of Friends of the World Food Program.


George McGovern served as a senior policy advisor at Olsson Frank Weeda, a food and drug regulatory counseling law and lobbying firm in Washington, DC, where he specialized on issues of food, nutrition, and agriculture.


George McGovern continued to lecture and make public appearances, sometimes appearing with Dole on college campuses.


From around 2003 to 2005, George McGovern owned a bookstore in his summer home of Stevensville in Montana's Bitterroot Valley, until deciding to sell it because of lack of sufficient market.


George McGovern still sought to have his voice heard in the American political scene.


George McGovern became an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War, likening US involvement in that country to that of the failed Vietnam effort, and in 2006 co-wrote the book Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now.


In January 2004 George McGovern campaigned for Wesley Clark in his presidential bid, citing him as the candidate best suited to win in the general election.


George McGovern was treated for exhaustion during 2011 and then was hospitalized after a serious fall in December 2011 on his way to participate in a live C-SPAN program about his 1972 presidential campaign.


George McGovern was hospitalized again in April 2012 owing to fainting spells.


George McGovern continued giving speeches, writing and advising all the way up to and past his 90th birthday, which he celebrated this summer.


On July 26,2015, the Argus Leader, the daily newspaper in Sioux Falls, published an article detailing the extensive files on McGovern compiled through the years by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including letters and notations from FBI director J Edgar Hoover, revealing that Hoover had a direct interest in the FBI monitoring of McGovern.


The newspaper published the complete FBI file on George McGovern, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed shortly after George McGovern's death.


Hart both embraced and moved away from aspects of his past affiliation with George McGovern, while Clinton, and the Democratic Leadership Council movement of which he was a part, explicitly rejected George McGovern's ideology.