Eugene McCarthy

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1948 and to the Senate in 1958 from Minnesota, McCarthy became a blunt opponent of the Vietnam War. Born in Watkins, Minnesota, on March 29, 1916, he was a schoolteacher and college professor before being elected to Congress. He served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and after supporting the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and by and large refraining from criticism of Johnson administration policies in Vietnam, by 1967 he had become a principal critic of the war.

On November 30, 1967, McCarthy announced as a candidate for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination against President Johnson, emphasizing his support for a negotiated settlement of the war. He said the war was draining "the material and moral resources of the country from our really pressing problems." Viewed as more of a scholar than a politician, McCarthy astounded the experts. He demonstrated the political potential of the antiwar movement and was a rallying point for young opponents of the war. His strong showing against Johnson in the New Hampshire primary on March 12, 1968, was a key factor in Robert Kennedy's decision to become a candidate for the presidential nomination and in Johnson's decision not to seek reelection. McCarthy remained in the race for the nomination through the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where he was defeated by Vice President Hubert Humphrey. McCarthy left the Senate after completing his second term in 1970.