Politician and Democrat who was the Governor of Minnesota from 1955 to 1961. He served as the agriculture secretary under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, promoting food assistance to the poor.
He was a supporter of John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential elections, helping Kennedy carry the state, and earning an invitation to join his cabinet.
Although he had little experience in agriculture, he used his post to push for food stamps and school breakfast programs for the needy, as well as strong measures to ensure food safety.
He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, his family of Swedish and Norwegian background.
He was a close friend of Hubert Humphrey and originally supported him in the 1960 presidential election, switching to Kennedy only after Humphrey dropped out.