George McGovern was born on July 19, 1922, and grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota. He volunteered to serve during World War II and flew B-24 missions over German-occupied territory in Europe. Like many other veterans, he resumed his education after the war and eventually received a doctorate, becoming a professor of history.
McGovern ran successfully for the U.S. House in 1956 and 1958. His first attempt at the Senate in 1960 failed, but he was successful in 1962 and was re-elected in 1968. His positions represented core liberal beliefs. During the Vietnam War, his opposition became more and more outspoken, and after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, he made a brief run at the nomination as the inheritor of the Kennedy movement.
McGovern ran a grassroots campaign that won him the Democratic nomination in 1972, but his positions split the party ideologically and his choice of Thomas Eagleton as his vice-presidential candidate proved disastrous. After Eagleton`s withdrawal, he was replaced with Sargeant Shriver, but the Kennedy association did McGovern no good in the general election of 1972, which he lost by one of the greatest landslides in history.
McGovern was re-elected in 1974 but lost his bid for a fourth term in 1980. He remained active in liberal causes, with a particular interest in worldwide food and nutrition. He was the first director of Food for Peace in 1961 and oversaw the distribution of American agricultural surpluses to the needy around the globe. He was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture at the end of Bill Clinton`s administration and was a co-winner of the World Food Prize in 2008.