George McGovern (1922-2012)

George McGovern (1922-2012) Benedict Gombocz

Transcript of George McGovern (1922-2012)

Page 1: George McGovern (1922-2012)

George McGovern (1922-2012)

Benedict Gombocz

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o Born in Avon, South Dakota on July 19, 1922, George Stanley McGovern, who represented South Dakota in the U.S. Senate from 1963-1981, worked to end the Vietnam War and helped change the Democratic Party in order to achieve better representation for minority groups.

o He ran for the presidency on an anti-war campaign in 1972, but lost to incumbent Richard Nixon.

o McGovern died on October 21, 2012 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the age of 90.

o While he played an important role in reforming the Democratic Party, he stood no chance against Richard Nixon.

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Early Years

Early Years• George Stanley McGovern was born in the small town of Avon, South Dakota on

July 19, 1922.

• After he graduated from Mitchell High School (where he was involved with the track team) in 1940, McGovern served as a pilot in World War II; he was awarded a number of air medals for his service, along with the Distinguished Flying Cross, an honor that recognizes war heroes in the field of air travel.

• McGovern resumed his education at Dakota Wesleyan University after the war ended; he obtained his bachelor’s degree in 1946.

• He considered a profession as a minister, and briefly attended the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary before he enrolled at Northwestern University, where he acquired both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in American history.

• After he left Northwestern, McGovern won a teaching position in government and history at his alma mater, Dakota Wesleyan.

Mitchell Christian High School

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Dakota Wesleyan University

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Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminaryand view of Northwestern University

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary View of Northwestern University

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President John F. Kennedy with McGovern, then Director of Food for Peace, 1961

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Political Career

Political Career • McGovern took up a strong anti-war position after World War II.

• When the Vietnam War started in the late 1950s, he rapidly became a loyal opponent of that war; he also devoted his attention to civil rights and battling poverty.

• McGovern’s political involvement soon converted to running for public office.

• He ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives against Republican Harold Lovre in 1956, and won.

• McGovern, a Democrat, represented South Dakota’s 1st district.

• In 1958, he was re-elected to the House, defeating former Governor of South Dakota Joe Foss.

• Two years later, McGovern unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate, but he won the election in 1962; he represented South Dakota in the Senate for almost two decades, from 1963-1981.

Results of United States Senate elections, 1962

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Political Career – cont.

Political Career – cont. • In 1972, during his Senate tenure, McGovern challenged Richard Nixon for the

presidency, and campaigned on pulling out of Vietnam, decreasing spending at the Pentagon, and other issues.

• However, McGovern was disadvantaged because of his status as an opponent of the Vietnam War, little support from his own party, the view of many voters that he was a left-wing radical, and the scandal that was the result of dismissing his original vice-presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton.

• He lost the election by a large margin; he only carried one of 50 states, Massachusetts, and D.C.

• It would not be until the summer of 1974 when Nixon’s role in the Watergate scandal (which began in June 1972 when Nixon’s top advisors broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office compound) would be revealed.

• Twelve years later, McGovern made another attempt for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, only to suspend it when he failed to win recognition in the early primaries.

Results of 1972 presidential election

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George McGovern with Bill Clinton, 1972

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Political Career – cont.

Political Career – cont. • In the early 1990s, a decade after he lost his bid for a fourth term in the Senate,

George McGovern served as President of the Middle East Policy Council for seven years.

• He went on to work as an envoy to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization; he was also named the UN’s first global ambassador on hunger in 2001.

Food and Agriculture Organization logo

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Final Years and Death

Final Years and Death • Outside of his public service, McGovern published many books, such as a biography of

Abraham Lincoln titled Abraham Lincoln in 2009.

• President Bill Clinton awarded McGovern the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the country, in 2001 for his service in World War II.

• George McGovern died on October 21, 2012 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; he was 90.

• He was survived by daughters Ann, Susan, and Mary, and by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

• Eleanor Stegeberg McGovern, his wife of over six decades, died in early 2007; two of his children died of intoxication (Teresa and Steven in 1994 and 2012, respectively).

• President Barack Obama released a statement on October 21, 2012 after hearing the news of McGovern’s passing: "George McGovern dedicated his life to serving the country he loved. He signed up to fight in World War II, and became a decorated bomber pilot over the battlefields of Europe. When the people of South Dakota sent him to Washington, this hero of war became a champion for peace. And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger. George was a statesman of great conscience and conviction, and Michelle and I share our thoughts and prayers with his family."

President Clinton awards McGovern the Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a prayer service for McGovern, October 25, 2012

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Sources • Sources:


• Other links:


George McGovern quote