University Libraries

Andersen Library

September 3, 2015
8:30am - 7:00pm

Eugene J. McCarthy Papers

The Eugene J. McCarthy Papers include materials related to Senator McCarthy's campaigns for President of the United States in 1968, 1972, and 1976 along with other personal papers and literary manuscripts. The McCarthy papers contain office and national campaign files, audio-visual materials (tape recordings, 16mm and 35mm film, video tape, photographs) and campaign film footage, advertising, correspondence, press releases, speeches, oral history transcripts that were part of the McCarthy Historical Project, card files, news clippings, books, and other materials.

Senator McCarthy originally gave these materials to Georgetown University, where they were supplemented by other files and materials collected as part of the McCarthy Historical Project Archive. In 2002, at the wish of Senator McCarthy, the Georgetown collections were transferred to the University of Minnesota.

McCarthy, who received an M.A. in sociology from the University of Minnesota in 1938, served as U.S. congressman from Minnesota's Fourth District from 1949-1958 and U.S. senator from 1959-1970. He was a Democratic presidential candidate in 1968, 1972 and 1976. His views against the Vietnam War raised fundamental questions concerning U.S. intervention that became military, political, and moral issues. Following his political career McCarthy served the publishing field as a senior editor in New York City, and as a syndicated columnist.

A finding-aid to the collection is available here.

The Wikipedia entry for Senator McCarthy provides additional biographical information. Links to other research materials and sites of interest have been added.

"The son of a deeply religious mother of German descent and strong-willed father of Irish descent who was a postmaster and cattle buyer known for his earthy wit, McCarthy grew up in Watkins, Minnesota, as one of four children. A bright student who spent hours reading his aunt’s Harvard Classics, he was deeply influenced by the monks at nearby St. John’s Abbey and University. As part of the oldest religious order in the Western world, the St. John’s Benedictines have been among the most progressive forces in American Catholicism. McCarthy spent nine months as a novice before deciding he didn’t have a religious calling and left the monastery, causing a fellow novice to say, 'It was like losing a 20-game winner.'

"Senator McCarthy graduated from St. John's Preparatory School in 1931. He was a 1935 graduate of St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, McCarthy earned his master's degree from the University of Minnesota in 1939. He taught in various public schools in Minnesota and North Dakota from 1935 to 1940, when he became a professor of economics and education at St. John's, working there from 1940 to 1943.

"He was a civilian technical assistant in the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department in 1944 and an instructor in sociology and economics at the College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota from 1946 to 1949.

"McCarthy was a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Representing Minnesota's Fourth Congressional District, McCarthy served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1949 to 1959. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1958.

"He went on to serve in the U.S. Senate from 1959 to 1971, and was a member of (among other committees) the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A resident of the small community of Woodville, Virginia for about 20 years in later life, Eugene McCarthy died in a retirement home in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. on December 10, 2005, where he had lived for the previous few years.

The 1968 Campaign

"In 1968, McCarthy ran against incumbent President Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, with the intention of influencing the federal government—then controlled by Democrats—to curtail its involvement in the Vietnam War. A number of anti-war college students and other activists from around the county traveled to New Hampshire to support McCarthy's campaign. Some anti-war students who had the long-haired appearance of hippies chose to cut their long hair and shave off their beards, in order to campaign for McCarthy door-to-door, a phenomenon that led to the informal slogan "Get clean for Gene."

"When McCarthy scored 42% to Johnson's 49% on March 12, it was clear that deep division existed among Democrats on the war issue. By this time, Johnson had become inextricably defined by Vietnam, and this demonstration of divided support within his party meant his reelection (only four years after winning the highest percentage of the popular vote in modern history) was unlikely. On March 31, Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection.

"Despite strong showings in several primaries, McCarthy garnered only 23 percent of the delegates at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, largely due to the control of state party organizations over the delegate selection process. Other factors that contributed to the attrition of delegates for McCarthy included the entrance into the contest of Robert Kennedy as an (at least potentially) anti-war candidate a few days after McCarthy's strong showing in New Hampshire.

"Kennedy was shot after his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, a speech he had delivered after midnight on June 5, after learning of his victory in the June 4 California Democratic primary; he died earlier on the morning of June 6. After the assassination, many delegates for Kennedy chose to support George McGovern rather than McCarthy. Moreover, although the eventual nominee, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, was not a clearly anti-war candidate, there was hope among some anti-war Democrats that Humphrey as President might succeed where Johnson had failed—in extricating the United States from Vietnam.

"Although McCarthy did not win the Democratic nomination, the anti-war "New Party," which ran several candidates for President that year, listed him as their nominee on the ballot in Arizona, where he received 2,751 votes. He also received 20,721 votes as a write-in candidate in California.

"In the aftermath of their chaotic 1968 convention in Chicago, Democrats convened the McGovern-Fraser Commission to reexamine the manner in which delegates were chosen. The commission made a number of recommendations to reform the process, prompting widespread changes in Democratic state organizations and continual democratization of the nominating process for more than a decade. In response, the Republicans also formed a similar commission. Because of these changes, the practical role of national party conventions diminished dramatically. The most immediately visible effect of the reforms was the eventual nomination of national unknown Jimmy Carter by the Democrats in 1976. Some have argued that the increased significance of primaries has resulted in candidates who are more nationally palatable than those that might have been chosen in a "smoke-filled room."

Subsequent Campaigns and Career

"After leaving the Senate in 1971, McCarthy became a senior editor at Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich Publishing and a syndicated newspaper columnist.

"McCarthy would return to politics as a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1972, but he fared poorly in New Hampshire and Wisconsin and soon dropped out.

"After the 1972 campaign, he left the Democratic Party, and ran as an Independent candidate for President in 1976. During that campaign, he took a libertarian stance on civil liberties, promised to create full employment by shortening the work week, came out in favor of nuclear disarmament, and declared who he would nominate to various Cabinet postings if elected. Mainly, however, he battled ballot access laws that he deemed too restrictive and encouraged voters to reject the two-party system.

"His numerous legal battles during the course of the election, along with a strong grassroots effort in friendly states, allowed him to appear on the ballot in 30 states and eased ballot access for later third party candidates. His party affiliation was listed on ballots, variously, as "Independent," "McCarthy '76," "Non-Partisan," "Nom. Petition," "Nomination," "Not Designated," and "Court Order." Although he was not listed on the ballot in California and Wyoming, he was recognized as a write-in candidate in those states. In many states, he did not run with a vice presidential nominee, but he came to have a grand total of 15 running mates in states where he was required to have one. At least eight of his running mates were women.

"He opposed Watergate-era campaign finance laws, becoming a plaintiff in the landmark case of Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that certain provisions of federal campaign finance laws were unconstitutional.

"In 1988, his name appeared on the ballot as the Presidential candidate of a handful of left-wing state parties, such as the Consumer Party in Pennsylvania and the Minnesota Progressive Party in Minnesota. In his campaign he supported trade protectionism, Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (or "Star Wars") and the abolition of the two-party system. He received a grand total of 24,561 votes.

"In 1992, returning to the Democratic Party, he entered the New Hampshire primary and campaigned for the Democratic Presidential nomination, but was excluded from most debates by party officials. McCarthy, along with other candidates excluded from the 1992 Democratic debates (including actor Tom Laughlin, two-time New Alliance Party Presidential candidate Lenora Fulani, former Irvine, California mayor Larry Agran, and others) staged protests and unsuccessfully took legal action in an attempt to be included in the debates. In 2000, McCarthy was active in the movement to include Green candidate Ralph Nader in the Presidential debates. In 2005, he was listed as a member of the board of advisors of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a largely honorary post. He remained a prolific writer, and authored several books on a variety of subjects. He was also a published poet.

"McCarthy died at the age of 89 on December 10, 2005 at Georgetown Retirement Residence in Washington, DC of complications from Parkinson's disease. His eulogy was given by former President Bill Clinton."

Other Links of Interest

Minnesota Public Radio's Documentary, "The McCarthy Tapes"

Tim Pugmire's report on Minnesota Public Radio following the death of Senator McCarthy

Minnesota Historical Society materials on McCarthy

Remembering Eugene McCarthy, National Public Radio

Books by Eugene McCarthy

* Frontiers in American Democracy (1960)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Elmer Andersen) JK271 .M23 1960 Non-Circulating
Law Library JK271 .M23 Regular Loan
* Dictionary of American Politics (1962)
Wilson Library 320.3 M127 Regular Loan
Wilson Library JK9 .M2 Regular Loan
* A Liberal Answer to the Conservative Challenge (1964)
Wilson Library 973.922 M127 Regular Loan
Wilson Library 973.922 M127a Regular Loan
Law Library JK271 .M233 1965 Regular Loan
* The Limits of Power: America's Role in the World (1967)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Elmer Andersen) E744 .M15 1967 Non-Circulating
Wilson Library 341.973 M127 Regular Loan
* As Time Began (1968)
Wilson Library Rare Books Quarto 813M127 OA Non-Circulating
Wilson Library Quarto 813M1275 OA Regular Loan
* Dictionary of American Politics (1968)
Wilson Library Reference JK9 .M2x 1968 Non-Circulating
* First Things First: new priorities for America (1968)
MN Lib Access Ctr E846 .M32 Regular Loan
MN Lib Access Ctr E846 .M32 9ZAR02D49S09TAY Regular Loan
* Frankly McCarthy (1969)
Wilson Library 973.923 M127f Regular Loan
* The Year of the People (1969)
Wilson Library 973.923 M127 Regular Loan
* Other Things and the Aardvark (1970)
Wilson Library 813M1275 OO Regular Loan
* The Hard Years : A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions (1975)
Wilson Library JK271 .M235 1975 Regular Loan
* America revisited : 150 years after Tocqueville (1978)
Wilson Library 342.73 T56m Regular Loan
* A Political Bestiary, by Eugene J. McCarthy and James J. Kilpatrick (1979)
Wilson Library 973.92 M1275 Regular Loan
* The Ultimate Tyranny : The Majority over the Majority (1980)
Wilson Library 342.73 M1265 Regular Loan
Law Library JK271 .M32 Regular Loan
* Gene McCarthy's Minnesota: Memories of a Native Son (1982)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Elmer Andersen) PS3563.A259 G4 1982 Non-Circulating
Wilson Library 813M1275 OG Regular Loan
* Complexities and Contrarities (1982)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Elmer Andersen) E839.5 .M28 1962 Non-Circulating
Wilson Library 973.92 M1275co Regular Loan
* Up Til Now: A Memoir (1987)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Elmer Andersen) JK2316 .M3 1987 Non-Circulating
Wilson Library JK2316 .M3 1987 Regular Loan
* Required Reading: A Decade of Political Wit and Wisdom (1988)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Elmer Andersen) E876 .M39 1988 Non-Circulating
Wilson Library E876 .M39 1988 Regular Loan
* Nonfinancial Economics: The Case for Shorter Hours of Work, by Eugene McCarthy and William McGaughey (1989)
Wilson Library HD4975 .M38 1989 Regular Loan
* A Colony of the World: The United States Today (1992)
Wilson Library E881 .M36 1992 Regular Loan
Learning Resource Center PS3563.A259 Z6x 1988 VTR847 In Library Use
* And Time Began (1993)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Elmer Andersen) PS3563.A259 A8 1993 Non-Circulating
* Eugene J. McCarthy: Selected Poems by Eugene J. McCarthy, Ray Howe (1997)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Elmer Andersen) PS3525.A1432 A6 1997 Non-Circulating
Wilson Library PS3525.A1432 A6x 1997 Regular Loan
* No-Fault Politics (1998)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Elmer Andersen) E885 .M39 1998 Non-Circulating
Wilson Library E885 .M39 1998 Regular Loan
* 1968: War and Democracy (2000) (ISBN 1-883477-37-9)
* Hard Years: Antidotes to Authoritarians (2001) (ISBN 1-883477-38-7)
* I’m sorry I was Right [videorecording] (2001)
Andersen Library Rare Books (Reference) E840.8.M3 I5 2001 Non-Circulating
* Parting Shots from My Brittle Brow: Reflections on American Politics and Life (2005) (ISBN 1-55591-528-0)