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Eugene McCarthy Runs for President – on ‘This Date in Central Minnesota History’

4th of July at Watkins, MN - in front of Salzl Blacksmith Bldg, 1965 Eugene McCarthy shaking hands with Bev Bates of St. Boniface High School Marching Band (Cold Spring, MN). Others in photo include: Bab Harris (Cold Spring - Band Director); Marcie Schroeder-Dold (Richmond); Fred Backer (Watkins); Police Chief - George Loch (Watkins) Stearns History Museum

November 30th, 1967 – Eugene McCarthy declares he is running for president

McCarthy was born on March 29, 1916 in the small town of Watkins, Minnesota, to an Irish immigrant father, and a devout Catholic mother. He was a very bright man as described by others and left home at 15 to attend St John’s Preparatory school. He later graduated from St John’s University at the age of 19, with a level of highest honors. Before his entry into politics McCarthy was a teacher, and even contemplated becoming a monk.  He met his wife Abigail Quigley, while teaching in North Dakota, who greatly influenced his career in politics. He married Abigail in 1945, and they had four children together.

Stearns History Museum

McCarthy first entered into politics in 1949, with a successful bid for a Democratic seat in the House of Representatives, where he served for 10 years. In the 1958 elections McCarthy was elected into the United States senate, and after President Kennedy’s assassination he was even considered for the role of Vice President, a bid he ultimately lost to his future competitor, Hubert Humphrey. On November 30th, 1967 Eugene McCarthy declared he was running for president; he ran on a platform that consisted of an anti-Vietnam war platform. This was directly opposite current President Lyndon B. Johnson’s platform. The primary showed such success for McCarthy that President Johnson decided not to run for re-election. However, McCarthy lost the Democratic nomination to Hubert Humphrey, the current Vice President at the time. Ultimately the Republican Richard Nixon would win the campaign for presidency in the 1968 election. In 1971 McCarthy left the Senate and tried, unsuccessfully, for presidency two more times in 1972 and 1992, with an unsuccessful bid for the Senate as well in 1982.

Stearns History Museum

After his career in politics McCarthy spent much of his time publishing novels and teaching. McCarthy died in 2005 at the age of 89 due to Parkinsons disease. He will always be remembered, as said by Walter Mondale, a former vice president, as “one of the giants in Minnesota History, one of the most gifted and respected leaders over a long time.”

Thanks to the Stearns History Museum, and  SCSU Work Study Student Cassie Erickson, for their help with our series “This Date in Central Minnesota History” on WJON.

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