George McGovern

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George McGovern in June 1972
George McGovern in August 2009

George Stanley McGovern (born July 19, 1922 in Avon , Bon Homme County , South Dakota , † October 21, 2012 in Sioux Falls , South Dakota) was an American politician . He was a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in the 1972 election , a member of the House of Representatives from 1957 to 1961, and US Senator for South Dakota from 1963 to 1981.


George McGovern studied at Dakota Wesleyan University , was a B-24 bomber pilot during World War II , then received his PhD from Northwestern University and accepted a professorship in history at Dakota Wesleyan University. In 1956, McGovern was elected to the US House of Representatives, where he specialized in agriculture.

From 1960 he worked as a special advisor to President John F. Kennedy and from January 1961 headed the Food for Peace program, which included food deliveries to several countries with the aim of building better relationships. In July 1962, he resigned as head of the program in order to better promote his candidacy for the Senate. After his entry into the US Senate, he developed into one of the leading opponents of US involvement in the Vietnam War .

McGovern's reforms of the structures and statutes of the Democratic Party contributed to his party's 1972 nomination as a candidate for president. He narrowly beat George Wallace in the Democratic primary . During the election campaign, he represented a reform program that included cuts in armaments spending and the introduction of an unconditional basic income of $ 6,500 to replace other social benefits. His main demand was the end of the Vietnam War, in return for the US withdrawal North Vietnamese military should release the prisoners of war to the USA. Many conservative Democrats turned away from him precisely because of his reform ideas and gave their support to the Republican incumbent Richard Nixon . In Nixon's election campaign, McGovern was portrayed as a crazy radical, at the same time Nixon took over the demand for withdrawal and presented his strategy as a withdrawal driven by a strong leadership, without giving in to North Vietnam.

After his original candidate for the office of Vice President , Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri , had to resign because of a previously hidden depressive illness, McGovern chose Sargent Shriver , the former head of the Peace Corps , as his running mate . Both then had to admit defeat with a total of 37.5% of the votes in one of the clearest electoral defeats in US history against Nixon and Spiro Agnew . In addition to the federal district of Washington , the Democrats only achieved a majority in Massachusetts . However, it turned out that the process of this election was unlawfully influenced by Nixon and his team ( Watergate affair ).

McGovern was one of the few politicians who spoke out against the military involvement in the Mayaguez incident in 1975 . In 1974 McGovern was re-elected to the Senate, in 1980 he lost his seat to Republican James Abdnor . In 1984 he ran again for the Democratic presidential nomination, but withdrew from the race after only finishing third in the Massachusetts primary.

On August 9, 2000 US President gave Bill Clinton McGovern, the Medal of Freedom ( "The Presidential Medal of Freedom"), the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Together with Republican Bob Dole , McGovern received the 2008 World Food Prize .


Web links

Commons : George McGovern  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Senator George McGovern Dies  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  2. ^ Kennedy, John F .: Letter Accepting Resignation of George McGovern as Director of the Food for Peace Program . White house . July 18, 1962. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  3. ^ Howard Zinn: A People's History of the United States . Harper Perennial, New York 2005, ISBN 0-06-083865-5 , p. 553