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Herbert Humphrey (Herbert Horatio Humphrey)

Herbert Humphrey

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 M. Nixon. Born in Wallace, South Dakota in 1911, 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 a master’s degree from Louisiana State University in 1940, where he was a political science instructor. Herbert Humphrey returned to Minnesota during World War II 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-communist group Americans for Democratic Action in 1947.

Herbert Humphrey was elected to the Senate in 1948, the year his proposal of ending racial segregation was included in 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.” 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. Herbert Humphrey ran for two failed Presidential campaigns in the 1952 and 1960 Democratic primaries. After Lyndon B. Johnson inherited the presidency after John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, he chose Humphrey to be his running mate in 1964 against Republican Barry Goldwater and the Democratic ticket was elected in a landslide in 1964.

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 Martin Luther King Jr. and the assassination of Robert 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. Herbert Humphrey then returned to teaching in Minnesota before returning to the Senate in 1971. He became the first Deputy President pro tempore of the United States Senate and served 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 succeeded by his wife of forty-one years Muriel Humphrey as interim Senator for Minnesota.

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  • May, 27, 1911
  • USA
  • Wallace, South Dakota


  • January, 13, 1978
  • USA
  • Waverly, Minnesota

Cause of Death

  • bladder cancer


  • Lakewood Cemetery
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • USA

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