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Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith

Overview
Margaret Chase Smith was a Republican Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

, and one of the most successful politicians in Maine history. She was the first woman to be elected to both the U.S. House
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 and the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, and the first woman from Maine to serve in either. She was also the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the U.S. Presidency
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 at a major party
Major party
A major party is a political party that holds substantial influence in a country's politics, standing in contrast to a minor party. It should not be confused with majority party.According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:...

's convention (1964 Republican Convention, won by Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

). She was a moderate Republican, included with those known as Rockefeller Republican
Rockefeller Republican
Rockefeller Republican refers to a faction of the United States Republican Party who held moderate to liberal views similar to those of Nelson Rockefeller...

s.
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Quotations

I speak as briefly as possible because too much harm has already been done with irresponsible words of bitterness and selfish political opportunism. I speak as simply as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured by eloquence. I speak simply and briefly in the hope that my words will be taken to heart. I speak as a Republican. I speak as a woman. I speak as a United States Senator. I speak as an American.

The American people are sick and tired of being afraid to speak their minds lest they be politically smeared as "Communists" or "Fascists" by their opponents. Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others. The American people are sick and tired of seeing innocent people smeared and guilty people whitewashed.

Today our country is being psychologically divided by the confusion and the suspicions that are bred in the United States Senate to spread like cancerous tentacles of "know nothing, suspect everything" attitudes. Today we have a Democratic Administration that has developed a mania for loose spending and loose programs. History is repeating itself — and the Republican Party again has the opportunity to emerge as the champion of unity and prudence.

I don't believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest. Surely we Republicans aren't that desperate for victory. I don't want to see the Republican party win that way. While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people.

Encyclopedia
Margaret Chase Smith was a Republican Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

, and one of the most successful politicians in Maine history. She was the first woman to be elected to both the U.S. House
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 and the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, and the first woman from Maine to serve in either. She was also the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the U.S. Presidency
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 at a major party
Major party
A major party is a political party that holds substantial influence in a country's politics, standing in contrast to a minor party. It should not be confused with majority party.According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:...

's convention (1964 Republican Convention, won by Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

). She was a moderate Republican, included with those known as Rockefeller Republican
Rockefeller Republican
Rockefeller Republican refers to a faction of the United States Republican Party who held moderate to liberal views similar to those of Nelson Rockefeller...

s. When she left office, Smith had the record as the longest-serving female senator in United States history, ranking 11th in seniority among the members of the Senate, a distinction that was not surpassed until January 5, 2011, when Senator Barbara Mikulski
Barbara Mikulski
Barbara Ann Mikulski is the senior United States Senator from Maryland and a member of the Democratic Party. Mikulski, a former U.S. Representative, is the longest-serving female senator in U.S...

 was sworn in for a fifth term.

Early life


Margaret Chase was born in Skowhegan, Maine
Skowhegan, Maine
Skowhegan is the county seat of Somerset County, Maine, United States. As of the 2000 census, the town population was 8,824. Every August, Skowhegan hosts the annual Skowhegan State Fair, the oldest continuous state fair in the United States...

, on December 14, 1897, the daughter of Carrie Murray and George Emery Chase. As a young woman, she taught school at a one-room schoolhouse, worked as a telephone operator, managed circulation for the Skowhegan Independent Reporter, and served as an office worker with a local textile mill. She became involved with local women's organizations and helped found the Skowhegan Business and Professional Women's Club. She attended Colby College
Colby College
Colby College is a private liberal arts college located on Mayflower Hill in Waterville, Maine. Founded in 1813, it is the 12th-oldest independent liberal arts college in the United States...

 where she was a member of the founding chapter of Sigma Kappa
Sigma Kappa
Sigma Kappa is a sorority founded in 1874 at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Sigma Kappa was founded by five women: Mary Caffrey Low Carver, Elizabeth Gorham Hoag, Ida Mabel Fuller Pierce, Frances Elliott Mann Hall and Louise Helen Coburn...

 Sorority. In 1930, she married Clyde Smith
Clyde Smith
Clyde Harold Smith was a United States Representative from Maine.Born on a farm near Harmony, Maine, he moved with his parents to Hartland, Maine in 1891. He attended the rural schools and Hartland Academy, and taught school...

, a respected political leader in central Maine and served as his administrative assistant. Clyde Smith, a rival of Governor Ralph Owen Brewster, was elected to the US House of Representatives where he served on the Labor Committee and was a key supporter of the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

.

Political career


Smith first won a seat to the U.S. House of Representatives on June 3, 1940, to fill the vacancy caused by the untimely death of her husband who had called for her election after suffering a major heart attack. She served on the House Naval Affairs committee
United States Congressional committee
A congressional committee is a legislative sub-organization in the United States Congress that handles a specific duty . Committee membership enables members to develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. As co-chair of a subcommittee that investigated problems encountered by the War Department
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

 in rapidly establishing bases across the nation, she was instrumental in resolving conflicts between states, local jurisdictions and the military
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

.
Smith was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948 by easily defeating incumbent Governor Horace Hildreth, and a former Governor, Sumner Sewall. She served in the Senate from 1949 to 1973. In competition with her bid for a third term in 1960, the Democratic Party put up Lucia Cormier, the Democratic floor leader of the Maine House of Representatives
Maine House of Representatives
The Maine House of Representatives is the lower house of the Maine Legislature. The House consists of 151 members representing an equal amount of districts across the state. Each voting member of the House represents around 8,450 citizens of the state...

. It was the first time two women ran against each other for a Senate seat. In 1964
United States presidential election, 1964
The United States presidential election of 1964 was held on November 3, 1964. Incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson had come to office less than a year earlier following the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. Johnson, who had successfully associated himself with Kennedy's...

, she appeared in a campaign ad for conservative Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

, in which she defended Goldwater on the issue of Social Security
Social Security (United States)
In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program.The original Social Security Act and the current version of the Act, as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs...

.

She was defeated for re-election in 1972 by Democrat Bill Hathaway, the only election she ever lost in the state of Maine. In her last election, Smith had been plagued by rumors of poor health (she had been using a motor scooter around the Senate). A Republican primary challenger taunted her for being out of touch; she did not have a state office operating in Maine. Also, she alienated liberals with her support for the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, and alienated some conservatives by voting against Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

's Supreme Court nominees Clement Haynsworth
Clement Haynsworth
Clement Furman Haynsworth, Jr. was a United States judge and an unsuccessful nominee for the United States Supreme Court....

 and G. Harrold Carswell.

Recognition


Smith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

 by President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 in 1989. In addition, she received the U.S. Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

's top award, the American Spirit Award, in recognition of her contributions as a "great American patriot". She was also awarded a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from Rutgers University
Rutgers University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...

, in addition to 93 other honorary degrees, including two (her first and last) from Colby College
Colby College
Colby College is a private liberal arts college located on Mayflower Hill in Waterville, Maine. Founded in 1813, it is the 12th-oldest independent liberal arts college in the United States...

.

On June 13, 2007, the United States Postal Service issued a 58¢ postage stamp in its Distinguished Americans series
Distinguished Americans series
The Distinguished Americans series is a set of definitive stamps issued by the United States Postal Service which was started in 2000 with a 10¢ stamp depicting Joseph Stilwell...

 to honor her.

Republican Conference Chairman


Smith was the first (and as yet only) woman chair
Republican Conference Chairman of the United States Senate
The Republican conference of the United States Senate chooses a conference chairperson. The office was created in the mid-19th century with the founding of the Republican party...

 of the Senate Republican Conference, 1967–1972.

Opposition to Joseph McCarthy


Smith was an early opponent of Senator Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

. On June 1, 1950, she gave her Declaration of Conscience
Declaration of Conscience
The Declaration of Conscience was a speech made by Senator Margaret Chase Smith on June 1, 1950, less than four months after Senator Joe McCarthy's infamous "Wheeling Speech," on February 9, 1950. It also refers to the text of the speech itself, which was endorsed by six other moderate/liberal...

 speech on the floor of the Senate, earning McCarthy's permanent ire and the epithet "Moscow Maggie" from his staff. In 1954, when McCarthy attempted to challenge her seat by sponsoring a primary challenger, the Maine voters rejected the effort.

Popular culture


In 1958, Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

 released the album, An Interview with Margaret Chase Smith, in which she spoke of women in local and national politics, and addressed the youth of the nation.

Janis Benson portrayed Senator Smith in the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.

Patricia Neal
Patricia Neal
Patricia Neal was an American actress of stage and screen. She was best known for her film roles as World War II widow Helen Benson in The Day the Earth Stood Still , wealthy matron Emily Eustace Failenson in Breakfast at Tiffany's , middle-aged housekeeper Alma Brown in Hud , for which she won...

 dramatized Senator Smith's Declaration of Conscience speech in the 1978 television movie Tail Gunner Joe
Tail Gunner Joe
Tail Gunner Joe is a 1977 television movie dramatizing the life of U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican who claimed knowledge of communist infiltration of the U.S. government during the 1950s. The film was broadcast on NBC-TV...

.

External links