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Senator Thomas Eagleton Dies at 77

Former U.S. Senator Thomas Eagleton died Sunday at the age of 77.

Senator Thomas Eagleton Photo Former Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton fires-up the crowd before a rally for Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill in St. Louis in this Sunday, Nov. 5, 2006 file photo. Eagleton, who resigned as Sen. George McGovern's vice presidential nominee after it was revealed he had been hospitalized for depression, was in critical condition at a St. Louis hospital Saturday, March 3, 2007 the state Democratic Party chairman said. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) He was a leading advocate of environmental reforms and a vocal opponent of the war in Vietnam. Still, former three-term Sen. Thomas Eagleton had no illusions about how he would be best-remembered. “In my obituary, it will probably be, ‘Tom Eagleton, United States senator for Missouri, for a short time the vice presidential candidate on the McGovern ticket in 1972,’ so that will be in my first paragraph,” Eagleton told The Associated Press in a 2003 interview.

Eagleton, 77, who resigned as McGovern’s running mate after it was revealed that his depression had been treated with shock therapy, died Sunday of a combination of heart, respiratory and other problems, his family said.

His death brought an outpouring of praise from Democrats and Republicans alike, including from George McGovern, who made the difficult decision in 1972 to remove Eagleton from the Democratic ticket. “It’s a real loss to the country,” McGovern said in a telephone interview Sunday. “No. 1, people liked him personally. They liked his enthusiasm. They liked his stories. They liked his ribbing and kidding. Republicans seemed to like him as well as Democrats.”

Former Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., Eagleton’s longtime friend and fellow St. Louisan, called Eagleton’s death a great loss to Missouri and to him personally. “Tom Eagleton was an outstanding public servant throughout his career in elective politics and beyond,” Danforth said. “As a United States senator, he was highly respected on both sides of the aisle. He was a person of high principle and consistent good humor.”

It’s a shame when one incident, especially an unfavorable one, overshadows all the contributions of one’s life. It’s especially tragic in Eagleton’s case, because it was merely a health problem that people were not ready for psychologically.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. As A Dodo says:

    Thomas Eagleton 1929-2007 – Democratic Vice-Presidential nomineeRichard Joseph 1954-2007 – computer games composer, musician and sound specialist

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  2. MikeM says:

    It’s a shame when one incident, especially an unfavorable one, overshadows all the contributions of one’s life. It’s especially tragic in Eagleton’s case, because it was merely a health problem that people were not ready for psychologically.

    You make the same mistake that the Today Show made. It wasn’t just that he was treated for depression that got Eagleton dropped from the ticket. It was the fact that he underwent electro-shock therapy. As I remember it, there were concerns about long-term effects on the brain and personality that might be induced by the treatment.

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  3. It’s a shame the depression will be remembered, when there are much more legitimate criticisms to be levelled against his life’s work.

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  4. Former Senator Thomas Eagleton Dead At 77…

    Thomas F. Eagleton, a three-term Democratic senator from Missouri who resigned as George McGovern’s …

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