A SHORT HISTORY OF EUGENE McCARTHY, FROM THE FILM
He has written 21 books on American history, economics, and political animals. Born in Watkins, Minnesota in 1916, he lives in Woodville, Virginia at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
His political career was launched using the mimeograph machine at the College of
St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he was a professor of economics and sociology. In a tough and widely regarded as unwinnable race, he was elected to the House of Representatives and went to Washington in 1949.
Always a maverick, he was the first member of Congress willing to stand up and debate the anti-Communist Irish bully, Joe McCarthy.
It was in Gene’s office on Capitol Hill that an informal group of liberal Representatives began to meet and talk about changing things. They became known as “McCarthy’s Mavericks”, and their work crystallized as the Democratic Study Group. Still active, their thinking informed John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier, and then the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson.
Joking that the House is not a home, he ran for the Senate, and won in 1958.
As Senator until 1971, he sponsored bills for oversight of the intelligence services, and civil rights for migrant workers and the disabled.
It was McCarthy who entered Ike Eisenhower’s most famous speech--warning the nation about the out-of-control growth of the military-industrial complex--into the Congressional Record.
When he nominated Adlai Stevenson for President in 1960 at the Democratic Convention, he found his hat in the national political ring.
In 1964 Lyndon Johnson considered McCarthy to be his vice president, finally tapping the other Senator from Minnesota, Hubert Humphrey.
It was the Vietnam War which thrust McCarthy onto the main stage of American politics. Nobody would run against the war in the 1968 presidential primary, so Senator McCarthy felt called. Daughter Mary was instrumental in convincing him to run by arguing, “The calling of a Christian is not to judge the world, but to save it.”
McCarthy continues to write. He is working on a collection of essays about sports.