*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.
As Lyndon B. Johnson’s first complete term wrapped up, LBJ decided not to run for reelection in 1968. LBJ started out popular; however, by the end of his presidency, he was unpopular because of the Vietnam War. 1968 caused the Republicans and Democrats to scramble and find their nominees in order to control the Oval Office.
For the Democrats, four individuals submitted their names for the Democratic nomination: Senator Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota, Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, and then Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota. Suddenly on June 6, 1968, Robert Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan at the Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel. The Democratic race was narrowed down to McCarthy and Humphrey; moreover, Humphrey won the Democratic nomination in Chicago.
Hubert Humphrey was born on May 27, 1911 in Wallace, South Dakota. His father was a local pharmacist and he began to follow in his father’s footsteps. He attended and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1939; moreover, he attended graduate school at Louisiana State University. Humphrey returned to Minneapolis and was politically active: he unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Minneapolis in 1943 but served as mayor from 1945 to 1948, campaign manager for FDR in Minnesota in 1944, U.S. Senator for Minnesota from 1948 to 1964 and 1971 to 1978, vice-president to Lyndon Johnson from 1965 to 1969. Humphrey passed away on January 13, 1978, at 66 in Waverly, Minnesota.
As the Democrats and Republicans began the race to the White House, there was a new third-party on the scene: American Independent Party. Former Democrat governor of Alabama, George Wallace, was interested in running; however, the Democrats had Hubert Humphrey. The party decided to nominate George Wallace: he accepted.
George Wallace was born on August 25, 1919 in Cilo, Alabama. Born poor, Wallace excelled and attended law school at the University of Alabama. Wallace served multiple political positions: assistant state’s attorney in 1946, judge of the Third Judicial Circuit of Alabama in 1953 to 1959, and served as governor of Alabama from 1963 to 1967, 1971 to 1979, and 1983 to 1987 as a Democrat. During his tenure as governor, he was well-known for his pro-segregation views. He campaigned for a presidential nomination in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976. While he was campaigning in 1972, he was shot; however, he was paralyzed from the waist down permanently. In 1987, Wallace retired from politics due to his health. On September 13, 1998, Wallace passed away at 79 in Montgomery, Alabama.
The 1968 Presidential election featured Republican nominee, Richard Nixon of California, Democratic nominee, Hubert H. Humphrey, and American Independent Party nominee, George Wallace. Nixon won 301 electoral votes in comparison to Humphrey and Wallace’s votes, 191 and 46, respectfully. This was the most current election in which a third party candidates won states and their electoral votes. Wallace had won Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana and close to 10 million popular votes.