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Hubert H. Humphrey

For other people named Hubert Humphrey, see Hubert Humphrey (disambiguation).

Hubert Humphrey
38th Vice President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1965 – January 20, 1969
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Lyndon B. Johnson
Succeeded by Spiro Agnew
United States Senator
from Minnesota
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 13, 1978
Preceded by Eugene McCarthy
Succeeded by Muriel Humphrey
In office
January 3, 1949 – December 30, 1964
Preceded by Joseph H. Ball
Succeeded by Walter Mondale
1st Deputy President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 13, 1978
President James Eastland
Leader Robert Byrd
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by George J. Mitchell (1987)
14th United States Senate Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 1961 – December 30, 1964
Leader Mike Mansfield
Preceded by Mike Mansfield
Succeeded by Russell B. Long
35th Mayor of Minneapolis
In office
July 2, 1945 – November 30, 1948
Preceded by Marvin L. Kline
Succeeded by Eric G. Hoyer
Personal details
Born Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr.
(1911-05-27)May 27, 1911
Wallace, South Dakota
Died January 13, 1978(1978-01-13) (aged 66)
Waverly, Minnesota
Political party Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Spouse(s) Muriel Buck Humphrey
Children Nancy Faye Humphrey (1939–2003)
Hubert Humphrey III
Robert Humphrey
Douglas Humphrey
Residence Waverly, Minnesota
Alma mater University of Minnesota
Louisiana State University
The Capitol College of Pharmacy
Religion Congregationalism (United Church of Christ)/United Methodist

Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr. (May 27, 1911 – January 13, 1978) was an American politician who served as the 38th Vice President of the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson, from 1965 to 1969. Humphrey twice served in the United States Senate, representing Minnesota from 1949 to 1964 and 1971 to 1978. He was the nominee of the Democratic Party in the 1968 presidential election, losing to the Republican nominee, Richard Nixon.

Born in Wallace, South Dakota, Humphrey attended the University of Minnesota before earning his pharmacist license from the Capitol College of Pharmacy in 1931. He helped run his father's pharmacy until 1937 when he returned to academia, graduating with his masters from Louisiana State University in 1940, where he was a political science instructor. He returned to Minnesota during WWII and became a supervisor for the Works Progress Administration. He was then appointed state director of the Minnesota war service program before becoming the assistant director of the War Manpower Commission. In 1943, Humphrey became a Professor of political science at Macalester College and ran a failed campaign for Mayor of Minneapolis. Humphrey helped found the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) in 1944, and in 1945, became the DFL candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis for a second time, winning with 61% of the vote. Humphrey served as mayor from 1945 to 1948, he was reelected and became the co-founder of the liberal anti-communism group Americans for Democratic Action in 1947.

Humphrey was elected to the Senate in 1948, the year his proposal of ending racial segregation was included into the party platform at the Democratic National Convention, where he gave one of his most notable speeches on the convention floor, suggesting the Democratic Party "walk into the sunshine of human rights."[1] He served three terms in the Senate from 1949 to 1964 and was the Democratic Majority Whip from 1961 to 1964. During his tenure, Humphrey was the lead author of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, introduced the first initiative to create the Peace Corps, sponsored the clause of the McCarran Act to threaten concentration camps for 'subversives', proposed making Communist Party membership a felony and chaired the Select Committee on Disarmament.

Humphrey ran two failed campaigns in for President in the 1952 and 1960 Democratic primaries. When Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the role of the Presidency after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Humphrey was chosen by Johnson as his running mate to fill the vacancy during their landslide victory in the 1964 presidential election.

After Johnson made the surprise announcement that he would not seek reelection in March 1968, Humphrey launched his campaign for the presidency the following month. Humphrey's main Democratic challengers were anti-Vietnam War Senators Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy. Humphrey, who was loyal to the Johnson administration's policies on the Vietnam War as Vice President, saw opposition from many within his own party and avoided the primaries to focus on receiving the delegates of non-primary states at the Democratic Convention. Humphrey's delegate strategy succeeded in clinching the nomination, choosing Senator Edmund Muskie as his running mate. With the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Kennedy that year, and heightened opposition to the Vietnam War, the convention saw major protests which later proved costly to Humphrey's campaign. On November 5, 1968, Humphrey lost to former Vice President Richard Nixon in the general election.

Humphrey then returned to teaching in Minnesota before returning to the Senate in 1971. He became the first Deputy President pro tempore of the senate and served in his seat until his death in 1978. Humphrey died of bladder cancer at his home in Waverly, Minnesota and is buried at the Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. He was succeed by his wife of forty-one years Muriel Humphrey as the interim Senator for Minnesota.

Early years

Humphrey was born in a room over his father's drugstore in Wallace, South Dakota.[2] He was the son of Ragnild Kristine Sannes (1883–1973), a Norwegian immigrant,[3] and Hubert Humphrey, Sr. (1882–1949).[4] Humphrey spent most of his youth in Doland, South Dakota, on the Dakota prairie; the town's population was about 600 people when he lived there. His father was a licensed pharmacist who served as mayor and a town council member.[5] In the late 1920s a severe economic downturn hit Doland; both of the town's banks closed and Humphrey's father struggled to keep his drugstore open.[6]

After his son graduated from Doland's high school, Hubert Humphrey, Sr. left Doland and opened a new drugstore in the larger town of Huron, South Dakota (population 11,000), where he hoped to improve his fortunes.[7] Because of the family's financial struggles, Humphrey had to leave the University of Minnesota after just one year.[8] He earned a pharmacist's license from the Capitol College of Pharmacy in Denver, Colorado (completing a two-year licensure program in just six months),[9] and spent the years from 1931 to 1937 helping his father run the family drugstore.[10] Over time the Humphrey Drug Company became a profitable enterprise and the family again prospered.

Humphrey did not enjoy working as a pharmacist, and his dream remained to earn a doctorate in political science and become a college professor.[9] In 1937 he returned to the University of Minnesota and earned a bachelor of arts in 1939.[11] He was a member of Phi Delta Chi Fraternity.[12] He also earned a master's degree from Louisiana State University in 1940, serving as an assistant instructor of political science there.[13] One of his classmates was Russell B. Long, a future U.S. Senator from Louisiana.

He then became an instructor and doctoral student at the University of Minnesota from 1940 to 1941 (joining the American Federation of Teachers), and was a supervisor for the Works Progress Administration (WPA).[14] Humphrey soon became active in Minneapolis politics, and as a result he never finished his PhD.[15]

Marriage and early career

In 1934 Hubert began dating Muriel Buck, a bookkeeper and graduate of local Huron College.[16] They were married in 1936 and remained married until Humphrey's death nearly 42 years later.[17] They had four children: Hubert Humphrey III, Nancy, Robert, and Douglas.[18] Unlike many prominent politicians Humphrey never became wealthy, and through most of his years as a U.S. Senator and Vice President, he lived in a modest middle-class housing development in Chevy Chase, Maryland. In 1958, Hubert and Muriel used their savings to build a lakefront home in Waverly, Minnesota, about 40 miles west of Minneapolis.[19] During the Second World War Humphrey twice tried to join the armed forces, but he was rejected because of a hernia. He instead led various wartime government agencies and worked as a college instructor. In 1942 he was the state director of new production training and reemployment and chief of the Minnesota war service program.[20] In 1943 he was the assistant director of the War Manpower Commission.[11] From 1943 to 1944, Humphrey was a professor of political science at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he headed the university's recently created international debate department; a department focusing on the international politics of WWII and the creation of the United Nations.[21] After leaving Macalester in the spring of 1944, Humphrey worked as a news commentator for a Minneapolis radio station until 1945.[11]

In 1943, Humphrey made his first run for elective office, for mayor of Minneapolis.[22] Although he lost, his poorly funded campaign still captured over 47% of the vote.[14] In 1944, Humphrey was one of the key players in the merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties of Minnesota to form the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL).[22] The same year, he worked on incumbent President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's reelection campaign in the 1944 presidential election.[23] When in 1945 Minnesota Communists tried to seize control of the new party, Humphrey became an engaged anti-Communist and led the successful fight to oust the Communists from the DFL.[24]

Humphrey's political outlook began to change after the war:

Humphrey was a Willkie Republican in 1940, but during the postwar mop-up, when old American radicals were kicked out of a newly war-enamored Left, Humphrey busily extirpated Bryanism from the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party so that the populist FL might merge with the Trumanite hawks of the Democratic Party. “A Republican less than five years earlier,” [political scientist Jeff] Taylor notes of HHH in 1947, “he was now reading lifelong Farmer-Laborites out of the party.” The Humphrey fusionists vanquished “the traditional agrarian populists within the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party.”[25]

After the war, he again ran for mayor of Minneapolis and won the election with 61% of the vote.[14] He served as mayor from 1945 to 1948.[26] He was re-elected in 1947 by the largest margin in the city's history to that time. Humphrey gained national fame during these years by becoming one of the founders of the liberal anticommunist Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), where he served as chairman from 1949 to 1950,[27] and for reforming the Minneapolis police force.[28] The city had been named the "anti-Semitism capital" of the country,[29] and the small African-American population of the city also faced discrimination. Humphrey's tenure as mayor is noted for his efforts to fight all forms of bigotry.[30]

1948 Democratic National Convention

The Democratic Party of 1948 was split between liberals who thought the federal government should actively protect civil rights for racial minorities, and social conservatives (mostly Southern Democrats) who believed that states should be able to enforce traditional racial segregation within their borders.[31]

At the 1948 Democratic National Convention, the party platform reflected this division and contained only platitudes in favor of civil rights.[32] The incumbent president, Harry S Truman, had shelved most of the recommendations of his 1946 Commission on Civil Rights, for fear of angering Southern Democrats.[33] Humphrey, however, had written in The Progressive magazine that "The Democratic Party must lead the fight for every principle in the report. It is all or nothing."[31]

A diverse coalition opposed the convention's tepid civil rights platform, including anti-communist liberals like Humphrey, Paul Douglas and John Shelley, all of whom would later become known as leading progressives in the Democratic Party. These liberals proposed adding a "minority plank" to the party platform that would commit the Democratic Party to a more aggressive opposition to racial segregation.[34] The minority plank called for federal legislation against lynching, an end to legalized school segregation in the South, and ending job discrimination based on skin color.[13] Also strongly backing the liberal civil rights plank were Democratic urban bosses like Ed Flynn of the Bronx, who promised the votes of northeastern delegates to Humphrey's platform, Jacob Arvey of Chicago, and David Lawrence of Pittsburgh. Although viewed as being conservatives, these urban bosses believed that Northern Democrats could gain many black votes by supporting civil rights, and that losses among anti-civil rights Southern Democrats would be relatively small.[35] Though many scholars have suggested that labor unions were leading figures in this coalition, no significant labor leaders attended the convention, with the exception of the heads of the Congress of Industrial Organizations Political Action Committee (CIOPAC), Jack Kroll and A.F. Whitney.[36]

Despite aggressive pressure by Truman's aides to avoid forcing the issue on the Convention floor, Humphrey chose to speak on behalf of the minority plank.[13] In a renowned speech,[37] Humphrey passionately told the Convention, "To those who say, my friends, to those who say, that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years (too) late! To those who say, this civil rights program is an infringement on states' rights, I say this: the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights!"[38] Humphrey and his allies succeeded; the convention adopted the pro-civil-rights plank by a vote of 651½ to 582½.[39]

As a result of the Convention's vote, the Mississippi and one half of the Alabama delegation walked out of the hall.[1] Many Southern Democrats were so enraged at this affront to their "way of life" that they formed the Dixiecrat party[40] and nominated their own presidential candidate, Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.[41] The goal of the Dixiecrats was to take Southern states away from Truman and thus cause his defeat.[42] The Southern Democrats reasoned that after such a defeat the national Democratic Party would never again aggressively pursue a pro-civil rights agenda. However, the move backfired. Although the strong civil rights plank adopted at the Convention cost Truman the support of the Dixiecrats, it gained him many votes from blacks, especially in large northern cities. As a result Truman won a stunning upset victory over his Republican opponent, Thomas E. Dewey.[43] Truman's victory demonstrated that the Democratic Party could win presidential elections without the "Solid South", and thus weakened Southern Democrats instead of strengthening their position. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough has written that Humphrey probably did more to get Truman elected in 1948 than anyone other than Truman himself.[44]

United States Senate (1948–1964)

Minnesota elected Humphrey to the United States Senate in 1948 on the DFL ticket, defeating James. M Shields in the primary for the DFL nomination with 89% of the vote,[45] and unseating incumbent Republican Joseph H. Ball with 60% of the vote in the general election.[46] He took office on January 3, 1949, becoming the first Democrat elected senator from the state of Minnesota since before the Civil War.[47] Humphrey's father died that year, and Humphrey stopped using the "Jr." suffix on his name. He was re-elected in 1954 and 1960.[26] His colleagues selected him as majority whip in 1961, a position he held until he left the Senate on December 29, 1964 to assume the vice presidency.[48] During this period, he served in the 81st, 82nd, 83rd, 84th, 85th, 86th, 87th, and a portion of the 88th Congress.

Initially, Humphrey's support of civil rights led to his being ostracized by Southern Democrats, who dominated most of the Senate leadership positions and who wanted to punish Humphrey for proposing the successful civil rights platform at the 1948 Convention. Senator Richard Russell, Jr. of Georgia, a leader of Southern Democrats, once remarked to other Senators as Humphrey walked by, "Can you imagine the people of Minnesota sending that damn fool down here to represent them?"[49] However, Humphrey refused to be intimidated and stood his ground; his integrity, passion and eloquence eventually earned him the respect of even most of the Southerners.[50] His acceptance by the Southerners was also helped a great deal when Humphrey became a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas.[13] Humphrey became known for his advocacy of liberal causes (such as civil rights, arms control, a nuclear test ban, food stamps, and humanitarian foreign aid), and for his long and witty speeches.[51] During the period of McCarthyism (1950–1954), Humphrey was accused of being "soft on Communism", despite having been one of the founders of the anti-communist liberal organization Americans for Democratic Action, having been a staunch supporter of the Truman Administration's efforts to combat the growth of the Soviet Union, and having fought Communist political activities in Minnesota and elsewhere. In addition, Humphrey "was a sponsor of the clause in the McCarran Act of 1950 threatening concentration camps for 'subversives'",[52] and in 1954 proposed to make mere membership in the Communist Party a felony – a proposal that failed.[53] He was chairman of the Select Committee on Disarmament (84th and 85th Congresses).[54] Although "Humphrey was an enthusiastic supporter of every U.S. war from 1938 to 1978",[25] in February 1960, he introduced a bill to establish a National Peace Agency.[55] As Democratic whip in the Senate in 1964, Humphrey was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of that year. He was a lead author of the text of the civil rights act, alongside Republican Senate Republican Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois.[56] Humphrey's consistently cheerful and upbeat demeanor, and his forceful advocacy of liberal causes, led him to be nicknamed "The Happy Warrior" by many of his Senate colleagues and political journalists.[57]

While President John F. Kennedy is often credited for creating the Peace Corps, the first initiative came from Humphrey when he introduced the first bill to create the Peace Corps in 1957—three years prior to JFK and his University of Michigan speech.[58] In his autobiography, The Education of a Public Man, Humphrey wrote:[59]

"There were three bills of particular emotional importance to me: the Peace Corps, a disarmament agency, and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The President, knowing how I felt, asked me to introduce legislation for all three. I introduced the first Peace Corps bill in 1957. It did not meet with much enthusiasm. Some traditional diplomats quaked at the thought of thousands of young Americans scattered across their world. Many senators, including liberal ones, thought the idea was silly and unworkable. Now, with a young president urging its passage, it became possible and we pushed it rapidly through the Senate. It is fashionable now to suggest that Peace Corps Volunteers gained as much or more, from their experience as the countries they worked. That may be true, but it ought not demean their work. They touched many lives and made them better."

Presidential and Vice-Presidential ambitions (1952–1964)

Humphrey ran for the Democratic presidential nomination twice before his election to the Vice Presidency in 1964. The first time was as Minnesota's favorite son in 1952, where he received only 26 votes on the first ballot;[60] the second time was in 1960. In between these two presidential bids, Senator Humphrey was part of the free-for-all for the vice-presidential nomination at the 1956 Democratic National Convention, where he received 134 votes on the first ballot and 74 on the second.[61]

In 1960, Humphrey ran again for the Democratic presidential nomination against fellow Senator John F. Kennedy in the primaries. Their first meeting was in the Wisconsin Primary, where Kennedy's well-organized and well-funded campaign defeated Humphrey's energetic but poorly-funded effort.[62] Kennedy's attractive brothers, sisters, and wife combed the state looking for votes. At one point Humphrey memorably complained that he "felt like an independent merchant competing against a chain store."[63] Kennedy won the Wisconsin primary, but by a smaller margin than anticipated; some commentators argued that Kennedy's victory margin had come almost entirely from areas that were heavily Roman Catholic,[64] and that Protestants actually supported Humphrey. As a result, Humphrey refused to quit the race and decided to run against Kennedy again in the West Virginia primary. Humphrey calculated that his Midwestern populist roots and Protestant religion (he was a Congregationalist)[65] would appeal to the state's disenfranchised voters more than the Ivy League and Catholic millionaire's son, Kennedy. But Kennedy led comfortably until the issue turned to religion. When he asked an adviser why he was losing ground in the polls compared to his earlier performance, the adviser explained "no one knew you were a Catholic then."

Kennedy chose to meet the religion issue head-on. In radio broadcasts, he carefully repositioned the issue from one of Catholic versus Protestant to tolerance versus intolerance. Kennedy's appeal placed Humphrey, who had championed tolerance his entire career, on the defensive, and Kennedy attacked him with a vengeance. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., the son of the former President, stumped for Kennedy in West Virginia and raised the issue of Humphrey's failure to serve in the armed forces in World War II (though in fact Humphrey had tried to enlist). Roosevelt told audiences "I don't know where he [Humphrey] was in World War Two," and handed out flyers charging that Humphrey was a draft dodger.[66] After the West Virginia primary, Roosevelt would send Humphrey a written apology and retraction.[66] Humphrey, who was short on funds, could not match the well-financed Kennedy operation. Humphrey traveled around the state in a rented bus, while Kennedy and his staff flew around West Virginia in a large, family-owned airplane.[67] According to Carl Solberg, his biographer, Humphrey spent only $23,000 on the West Virginia primary, while Kennedy's campaign privately spent some $1.5 million, well over their official estimate of $100,000.[68] There were accusations that the Kennedys "bought" the West Virginia primary by paying bribes to county sheriffs and other local officials to give Kennedy the vote; however, these accusations were never proven.[69] Kennedy defeated Humphrey soundly, winning 60.8% of the vote in that state.[70] That evening, Humphrey announced that he was no longer a candidate for the presidency.[71] By winning the West Virginia primary, Kennedy was able to overcome the belief that Protestant voters would not elect a Catholic candidate to the Presidency and thus sewed up the Democratic nomination for President.[72]

Humphrey did win the South Dakota and District of Columbia primaries, which JFK did not enter.[73] At the 1960 Democratic National Convention he received 41 votes even though he was no longer an active presidential candidate.

Humphrey's defeat in 1960 had a profound influence on his thinking; after the primaries he told friends that, as a relatively poor man in politics, he was unlikely to ever become President unless he served as Vice-President first.[74] Humphrey believed that only in this way could he raise the funds and nationwide organization and visibility he would need to win the Democratic nomination. As such, as the 1964 presidential campaign began Humphrey made clear his interest in becoming President Lyndon Johnson's running mate. At the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Johnson kept the three likely vice presidential candidates, Connecticut Senator Thomas Dodd, fellow Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy, and Humphrey,[75] as well as the rest of the nation in suspense before announcing Humphrey as his running-mate with much fanfare, praising Humphrey's qualifications for a considerable amount of time before announcing his name.

The following day Humphrey's acceptance speech overshadowed Johnson's own acceptance address:

Hubert warmed up with a long tribute to the President, then hit his stride as he began a rhythmic jabbing and chopping at Barry Goldwater. "Most Democrats and Republicans in the Senate voted for an $11.5 billion tax cut for American citizens and American business," he cried, "but not Senator Goldwater. Most Democrats and Republicans in the Senate – in fact four-fifths of the members of his own party – voted for the Civil Rights Act, but not Senator Goldwater."

Time after time, he capped his indictments with the drumbeat cry: "But not Senator Goldwater!" The delegates caught the cadence and took up the chant. A quizzical smile spread across Humphrey's face, then turned to a laugh of triumph. Hubert was in fine form. He knew it. The delegates knew it. And no one could deny that Hubert Humphrey would be a formidable political antagonist in the weeks ahead.[76]

In 1964, the Johnson/Humphrey ticket won overwhelmingly, garnering 486 electoral votes out of 538.[77] Only five Southern states and Goldwater's home state of Arizona supported the Republican ticket.[78]

Vice Presidency (1965–1969)

Humphrey took office on January 20, 1965 after he was sworn in at 11:58 A.M. by Speaker of the House John McCormack;[79] ending the 14 month vacancy of the Office of the Vice President of the United States, vacated when then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the Presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.[80] He was an early skeptic of the-then growing conflict in Vietnam. Following a successful Viet Cong hit-and-run attack on the US military installations at Pleiku on February 7, 1965 (where 7 Americans were killed and 109 wounded), Humphrey returned from Georgia to Washington D.C., to attempt to prevent further escalation.[81] He told President Johnson that bombing North Vietnam was not a solution to the problems in South Vietnam, but that bombing would require the injection of US ground forces into South Vietnam to protect the airbases.[81] Presciently, he noted that a military solution in Vietnam would take years, well beyond the next election cycle. In response to his advice, President Johnson punished Humphrey with coldness and a restriction from his inner circle for a number of months, until Humphrey decided to "get back on the team" and fully support the war effort.[81]

As Vice President, Humphrey was controversial for his complete and vocal loyalty to Johnson and the policies of the Johnson Administration, even as many of Humphrey's liberal admirers opposed Johnson with increasing fervor with respect to Johnson's policies regarding the war in Vietnam.[11] Many of Humphrey's liberal friends and allies over the years abandoned him because of his refusal to publicly criticize Johnson's Vietnam War policies. Humphrey's critics later learned that Johnson had threatened Humphrey – Johnson told Humphrey that if he publicly opposed his Administration's Vietnam War policy, he would destroy Humphrey's chances to become President by opposing his nomination at the next Democratic Convention.[82] However, Humphrey's critics were vocal and persistent: his nickname, "the Happy Warrior", was used against him. The nickname referred not to his military hawkishness but rather to his crusading for social welfare and civil rights programs.[11] After his narrow defeat in the 1968 presidential election, Humphrey wrote that "After four years as Vice-President...I had lost some of my personal identity and personal forcefulness...I ought not to have let a man [Johnson] who was going to be a former President dictate my future."[83]

While he was Vice President, Hubert Humphrey was the subject of a satirical song by songwriter/musician Tom Lehrer entitled "Whatever Became of Hubert?" The song addressed how some liberals and progressives felt let down by Humphrey, who had become a much more mute figure as Vice President than he had been as a senator. The song goes "Whatever became of Hubert? Has anyone heard a thing? Once he shone on his own, now he sits home alone and waits for the phone to ring. Once a fiery liberal spirit, ah, but now when he speaks he must clear it. ..."

During these years Humphrey was a repeated and favorite guest of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.[84][85] He also struck up a friendship with Frank Sinatra, who supported his campaign for president in 1968 before his conversion to the Republican party in the early 1970s,[86] and was perhaps most on notice in the fall of 1977 when Sinatra was the star attraction and host of a tribute to a then-ailing Humphrey. He also appeared on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast in 1973.

1968 Presidential election

As 1968 began, it looked as if President Johnson, despite the rapidly decreasing approval rating of his Vietnam War policies, would easily win the Democratic nomination for a second time.[87] Humphrey was widely expected to remain Johnson's running mate for reelection in 1968.[88] Johnson was challenged by Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, who ran on an anti-Vietnam War platform.[89] With the backing of out of state anti-war college students and activists while campaigning in the New Hampshire primary, McCarthy, who was not expected to be a serious contender for the Democratic nomination, nearly defeated Johnson, finishing with a surprising 42% of the vote to Johnson's 49%.[90] A few days after the New Hampshire primary, after months of contemplation and originally intending to support Johnson's bid for reelection, Senator Robert Kennedy of New York also entered the race on an anti-war platform.[91] On March 31, 1968, a week before the Wisconsin primary, where polls showed a strong standing for McCarthy, President Lyndon B. Johnson stunned the nation by withdrawing from his race for a second full term.[92]

Following the announcement from Johnson, Humphrey announced his presidential candidacy on April 27, 1968.[93] Declaring his candidacy in a speech in Washington D.C. alongside Senators Fred Harris of Oklahoma and Walter Mondale of Minnesota (who both served as the co-chair's to his campaign), Humphrey stated:

"Here we are, just as we ought to be, here we are, the people, here we are the spirit of dedication, here we are the way politics ought to be in America, the politics of happiness, politics of purpose, politics of joy; and that's the way it's going to be, all the way, too, from here on out. We seek an America able to preserve and nurture all the basic rights of free expression, yet able to reach across the divisions that too often separate race from race, region from region, young from old, worker from scholar, rich from poor. We seek an America able to do this in the higher knowledge that our goals and ideals are worthy of conciliation and personal sacrifice."[94]

Also in his speech, Humphrey supported President Johnson's Vietnam initiative he proposed during his address to the nation four weeks earlier;[94] partially halting the bombings in North Vietnam, while sending an additional 13,500 troops and increasing the Department of Defense's budget by 4% over the next fiscal year.[95] Later in the campaign, Humphrey opposed a proposal by Senators McCarthy and George McGovern of South Dakota to the Democratic Convention's Policy Committee, calling for an immediate end to the bombings in Vietnam, an early withdrawal of troops and setting talks for a coalition government with the Viet Cong.[96]

Many people saw Humphrey as Johnson's stand-in; he won major backing from the nation's labor unions and other Democratic groups that were troubled by young antiwar protesters and the social unrest around the nation.[97] Humphrey entered the race too late to participate in the Democratic primaries[98] and concentrated on winning delegates in non-primary states by gaining the support from democratic officeholders who were elected delegates for the Democratic Convention.[97] By June, McCarthy won in Oregon and Pennsylvania, while Kennedy had won in Indiana and Nebraska, though Humphrey was the front runner as he lead the delegate count.[97][99] The California primary was crucial for Kennedy's campaign, as a McCarthy victory would've prevented Kennedy from reaching the amount of delegates required to secure the nomination.[99] On June 4, 1968, Kennedy defeated McCarthy by less than 4% in the California primary.[100] But the nation was shocked yet again when Senator Kennedy was assassinated after his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California.[101] After the assassination of Kennedy, Humphrey suspended his campaign for two weeks.[102]

Humphrey and his running mate, Ed Muskie, went on to easily win the Democratic nomination at the party convention in Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately for Humphrey and his campaign, outside the convention hall there were riots and protests by thousands of antiwar demonstrators, many of whom favored McCarthy, George McGovern, or other "anti-war" candidates. These protesters – most of them young college students – were attacked and beaten on live television by Chicago police, which merely amplified the growing feelings of unrest in the general public. Humphrey's inaction during the riots, as well as public backlash from securing the presidential nomination without entering a single primary, highlighted turmoil in the Democratic party's base that proved to be too much for Humphrey to overcome in time for the general election. The combination of the unpopularity of Johnson, the Chicago riots, and the discouragement of liberals and African-Americans when both Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated during the election year, were all contributing factors that caused him to eventually lose the election to former Vice President Nixon. Although he lost the election by less than 1% of the popular vote, (43.4% for Nixon (31,783,783 votes) to 42.7% (31,271,839 votes) for Humphrey, with 13.5% (9,901,118 votes) for George Wallace), Humphrey only carried 13 states with 191 electoral college votes. Richard Nixon carried 32 states and 301 electoral votes, and Wallace carried 5 states in the South and 46 electoral votes (270 were needed to win). In his concession speech, Humphrey said: "I have done my best. I have lost, Mr. Nixon has won. The democratic process has worked its will."[103]

Thirty percent of Humphrey’s campaign funding was raised from contributions of $500 or less, compared to 85 percent of George Wallace’s funding.[25]

Post-Vice Presidency (1969–1978)

Teaching and return to the Senate

After leaving the Vice Presidency, Humphrey taught at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota, and served as chairman of board of consultants at the Encyclopædia Britannica Educational Corporation.

Initially he had not planned to return to political life, but an unexpected opportunity changed his mind. McCarthy, who was up for re-election in 1970, realized that he had only a slim chance of winning even re-nomination (he had angered his party by opposing Johnson and Humphrey for the 1968 presidential nomination) and declined to run. Humphrey won the nomination, defeated Republican Congressman Clark MacGregor, and returned to the U.S. Senate on January 3, 1971. He was re-elected in 1976, and remained in office until his death. In a rarity in politics, Humphrey served as a Senator by holding both seats in his state (Class I and Class II, at different times). This time he served in the 92nd, 93rd, 94th, and a portion of the 95th Congress.

In 1972, Humphrey once again ran for the Democratic nomination for president. He drew upon continuing support from organized labor and the African-American and Jewish communities, but remained unpopular with college students because of his association with the Vietnam War, even though he had altered his position in the years since his 1968 defeat. Humphrey initially planned to skip the primaries, as he had in 1968. Even after he revised this strategy he still stayed out of New Hampshire, a decision that allowed McGovern to emerge as the leading challenger to Muskie in that state. Humphrey did win some primaries, including those in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, but was defeated by McGovern in several others, including the crucial California primary. Humphrey also was out-organized by McGovern in caucus states and was trailing in delegates at the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. His hopes rested on challenges to the credentials of some of the McGovern delegates. For example, the Humphrey forces argued that the winner-take-all rule for the California primary violated procedural reforms intended to produce a better reflection of the popular vote, the reason that the Illinois delegation was bounced. The effort failed, as several votes on delegate credentials went McGovern's way, guaranteeing his victory.

Humphrey also briefly considered mounting a campaign for the Democratic nomination from the Convention once again in 1976, when the primaries seemed likely to result in a deadlock, but ultimately decided against it. At the conclusion of the Democratic primary process that year, even with Jimmy Carter having the requisite number of delegates needed to secure his nomination, many still wanted Humphrey to announce his availability for a draft. However, he did not do so, and Carter easily secured the nomination on the first round of balloting. What wasn't known to the general public was that Humphrey already knew he had terminal cancer.

Deputy President pro tempore of the Senate (1976–1978)

In 1974, along with Rep. Augustus Hawkins of California, Humphrey authored the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, the first attempt at full employment legislation. The original bill proposed to guarantee full employment to all citizens over 16 and set up a permanent system of public jobs to meet that goal. A watered-down version called the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act passed the House and Senate in 1978. It set the goal of 4 percent unemployment and 3 percent inflation and instructed the Federal Reserve Board to try to produce those goals when making policy decisions.

Humphrey ran for Majority Leader after the 1976 election but lost to Robert Byrd of West Virginia. The Senate honored Humphrey by creating the post of Deputy President pro tempore of the Senate for him. On August 16, 1977, Humphrey revealed he was suffering from terminal bladder cancer. On October 25, 1977, he addressed the Senate, and on November 3, 1977, Humphrey became the first person other than a member of the House or the President of the United States to address the House of Representatives in session.[104] President Carter honored him by giving him command of Air Force One for his final trip to Washington on October 23. One of Humphrey's speeches contained the lines "It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped," which is sometimes described as the "liberals' mantra."

Death and funeral

Humphrey spent his last weeks calling old political acquaintances. One call was to Richard Nixon inviting him to his upcoming funeral which he accepted. Living in the hospital, Humphrey went from room to room, cheering up other patients by telling them jokes and listening to them.

He died on January 13, 1978 of bladder cancer at his home in Waverly, Minnesota. His body lay in state in the rotunda of both the United States Capitol and the Minnesota State Capitol, and was interred in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. Old friends and opponents of Humphrey, from Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon to President Carter and Vice-President Walter Mondale paid their final respects. "He taught us how to live, and finally he taught us how to die", said Mondale.[105]

His wife, Muriel Humphrey, was appointed by Minnesota's governor Rudy Perpich to serve in the US Senate until a special election to fill the term was held. She did not seek election to finish her husband's term in office.

Muriel Humphrey remarried in 1981 (to Max Brown) and took the name Muriel Humphrey Brown.[106] She died in 1998 at the age of 86 and is interred next to Hubert Humphrey.[18]


External images
HHH Statue, link from the panoramio web site.

On July 14, 1951, Humphrey and actor Richard Carlson were the guests on the CBS variety show, Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town, in which hostess Faye Emerson visited Minneapolis to accent the kinds of music popular in the city.[107]

In 1965, Humphrey was made an Honorary Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha, a historically African American fraternity.[108]

In 1978, Humphrey received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[109]

He was awarded posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal on June 13, 1979 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.

He was honored by the United States Postal Service with a 52¢ Great Americans series (1980–2000) postage stamp.[110]

There is a slightly under-sized[111] statue[112] of him in front of the Minneapolis City Hall.

Named for Humphrey


  • The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, which fosters an exchange of knowledge and mutual understanding throughout the world.

Buildings and institutions

In Popular Fiction

In the film Pump up the Volume, Christian Slater's character attends a fictional "Hubert Humphrey High" - which he uses as the basis for his pirate radio character - "Happy Harry Hardon".

Electoral history

The Hubert H. Humphrey Building - Washington,DC: The headquarters building of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

See also



  • Berman, Edgar [2]. Hubert: The Triumph And Tragedy Of The Humphrey I Knew. New York, N.Y. : G.P. Putnam's & Sons, 1979. A physician's personal account of his friendship with Humphrey from 1957 until his death in 1978.
  • Caro, Robert A. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate. New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.
  • Cohen, Dan. Undefeated: The Life of Hubert H. Humphrey. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1978.
  • Garrettson, Charles L. III. Hubert H. Humphrey: The Politics of Joy. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1993.
  • Humphrey, Hubert H. The Education of a Public Man: My Life and Politics. Garden City, N. Y. : Doubleday, 1976.
  • Mann, Robert. The Walls of Jericho: Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Russell and the Struggle for Civil Rights. New York, N.Y. : Harcourt Brace, 1996.
  • Ross, Irwin. The Loneliest Campaign: The Truman Victory of 1948. New York: New American Library. 1968.
  • Solberg, Carl. Hubert Humphrey: A Biography. New York : Norton, 1984.
  • Taylor, Jeff. Where Did the Party Go?: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006.
  • Thurber, Timothy N. The Politics of Equality: Hubert H. Humphrey and the African American Freedom Struggle. Columbia University Press, 1999. Pp. 352.

External links

  • University of Texas biography
  • Minnesota Historical Society.
  • Humphrey's complete speech texts have been digitzed by the Minnesota Historical Society under a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
  • Complete text and audio of Humphrey's 1948 speech at the Democratic National Convention - from
  • Complete text and audio of Humphrey's 1964 speech at the Democratic National Convention - from
  • Account of 1948 Presidential campaign - includes text of Humphrey's speech at the Democratic National Convention
  • Oral History Interviews with Hubert H. Humphrey, from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
  • Information on Humphrey's thought and influence, including quotations from his speeches and writings.
  • Hubert H. Humphrety at the Macedonian Baptist Church, San Francisco, May 23, 1972 Photographs by Bruce Jackson of Humphrey on his last campaign.
  • Radio airchecks/recordings of Hubert H. Humphrey from 1946-1978 including interviews, radio appearances, newscasts, 1968 election concession speech, etc.
  • A film clip ]
  • A film clip ]
  • The Contenders
Political offices
New title Deputy President pro tempore
of the United States Senate

January 5, 1977 – January 13, 1978
Succeeded by
George J. Mitchell
Preceded by
Lyndon B. Johnson
Vice President of the United States
January 20, 1965 – January 20, 1969
Succeeded by
Spiro Agnew
Preceded by
Marvin Kline
Mayor of Minneapolis
Succeeded by
Eric G. Hoyer
Preceded by
Eugene McCarthy
United States Senator (Class 1) from Minnesota
January 3, 1971 – January 13, 1978
Served alongside: Walter Mondale, Wendell Anderson
Succeeded by
Muriel Humphrey
Preceded by
Joseph H. Ball
United States Senator (Class 2) from Minnesota
January 3, 1949 – December 29, 1964
Served alongside: Edward Thye, Eugene McCarthy
Succeeded by
Walter Mondale
Preceded by
Mike Mansfield
Senate Majority Whip
Succeeded by
Russell B. Long
Party political offices
Preceded by
Eugene McCarthy
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nominee for United States Senator from Minnesota
(Class 1)

1970, 1976
Succeeded by
Bob Short
Preceded by
Lyndon B. Johnson
Democratic presidential nominee
Succeeded by
George McGovern
Democratic vice presidential nominee
Succeeded by
Edmund Muskie
Preceded by
Elmer Austin Benson
Ed Murphy
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nominee for United States Senator from Minnesota
(Class 2)

1948, 1954, 1960
Succeeded by
Walter Mondale
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lyndon B. Johnson
Persons who have lain in state or honor
in the United States Capitol rotunda

January 14, 1978 – January 15, 1978
Succeeded by
Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam Era
(Michael Joseph Blassie)

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