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Margaret Chase Smith

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Subject: United States Senate election in Maine, 1972, Republican Party presidential primaries, 1964, William Hathaway, United States presidential election, 1964, WikiProject U.S. Congress/Cleanup listing
Collection: 1897 Births, 1995 Deaths, American People of English Descent, American People of French-Canadian Descent, Colby College Alumni, Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Female Members of the United States House of Representatives, Female United States Presidential Candidates, Female United States Senators, Maine Republicans, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Maine, People from Skowhegan, Maine, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients, Republican Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Republican Party United States Senators, Spouses of Members of the United States House of Representatives, United States Air Force Officers, United States Air Force Reservists, United States Presidential Candidates, 1964, United States Senators from Maine, Women in Maine Politics, Women in the United States Air Force
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Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith
United States Senator
from Maine
In office
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1973
Preceded by Wallace H. White, Jr.
Succeeded by William Hathaway
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine's 2nd district
In office
June 3, 1940 – January 3, 1949
Preceded by Clyde Smith
Succeeded by Charles P. Nelson
Personal details
Born Margaret Madeline Chase
(1897-12-14)December 14, 1897
Skowhegan, Maine, U.S.
Died May 29, 1995(1995-05-29) (aged 97)
Skowhegan, Maine, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Clyde Smith
Alma mater Colby College (honorary degrees)

Margaret Madeline Chase Smith (December 14, 1897 – May 29, 1995)[1] was an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, she served as a U.S Representative (1940-1949) and a U.S. Senator (1949-1973) from Maine.[2] She was the first woman to serve in both houses of the United States Congress, and the first woman to represent Maine in either.[3] A moderate Republican, she is perhaps best remembered for her 1950 speech, "Declaration of Conscience," in which she criticized the tactics of McCarthyism.[4]

Smith was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination in the 1964 presidential election, but was the first woman to be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major party's convention.[2] Upon leaving office, she was the longest-serving female Senator in history, a distinction that was not surpassed until January 5, 2011, when Senator Barbara Mikulski was sworn in for a fifth term.[5] To date, Smith is ranked as the longest-serving Republican woman in the Senate.[6] (If Susan Collins, who holds Smith's former Senate seat, completes her current term, she will tie Smith for that title.)


  • Early life and education 1
  • Early career 2
  • U.S. House of Representatives 3
  • U.S. Senate 4
    • 1948 election 4.1
    • Early tenure 4.2
    • 1960 re-election 4.3
    • Later tenure 4.4
    • 1972 election 4.5
    • 1964 presidential election 4.6
    • Awards and Honors 4.7
  • Later life and death 5
  • Legacy 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life and education

Margaret Chase was born in

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Clyde H. Smith
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Charles Pembroke Nelson
United States Senate
Preceded by
Wallace H. White, Jr.
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Maine
Served alongside: Owen Brewster, Frederick G. Payne, Edmund Muskie
Succeeded by
William Hathaway
Party political offices
Preceded by
Leverett Saltonstall
Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Norris Cotton
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Milward L. Simpson
Oldest living U.S. Senator
June 10, 1993 – May 29, 1995
Succeeded by
Jennings Randolph
  • Brief biography at the US Senate
  • Margaret Chase Smith Library
  • "Declaration of Conscience" ~ Audio clip ~ (PDF)
  • An Interview with Margaret Chase Smith at Smithsonian Folkways
  • (2000)No Place for a Woman: A Life of Senator Margaret Chase SmithSherman, Janann.

External links

  • Gallant, Gregory P. Hope and Fear in Margaret Chase Smith's America: A Continuous Tangle (Lexington, 2014)
  • Sherman, Janann. No place for a woman: A life of Senator Margaret Chase Smith (Rutgers University Press, 2000)
  • Sherman, Janann. "'They Either Need These Women or They Do Not': Margaret Chase Smith and the Fight for Regular Status for Women in the Military." Journal of Military History 54#1 (1990): 47-78. in JSTOR

Further reading

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "SMITH, Margaret Chase, (1897 - 1995)".  
  3. ^ a b "Senator Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995)".  
  4. ^ a b "June 1, 1950: A Declaration of Conscience".  
  5. ^ a b "Margaret Chase Smith, Republican of Maine".  
  6. ^ "Women in the Senate - Interactive Graph". The New York Times. March 21, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i  
  8. ^ a b c d e f Gutgold, Nichola D. (2006). Paving the Way for Madam President. Lexington Books. 
  9. ^ a b c Wallace, Patricia Ward (1995). Politics of Conscience: A Biography of Margaret Chase Smith. Praegar Publishers. 
  10. ^ a b c d e  
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Margaret Chase Smith". Women in Congress. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Severo, Richard (1995-05-30). "Margaret Chase Smith Is Dead at 97; Maine Republican Made History Twice".  
  13. ^ a b Sleeper, Frank H. (1996). Margaret Chase Smith's Skowhegan.  
  14. ^ a b c d e "Margaret Chase Smith".  
  15. ^ a b "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 5, 1940" (PDF).  
  16. ^ a b "Margaret Chase Smith". Digital History. 
  17. ^ a b "Senator Margaret Chase Smith".  
  18. ^ Margaret Chase Smith Library - Frequently Asked Questions
  19. ^ a b "September 13, 1948: First Woman Elected to Both Houses of Congress".  
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Expanded Biography". Margaret Chase Smith Library. 
  21. ^ "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 2, 1948" (PDF).  
  22. ^ a b "Margaret Chase Smith: A Declaration of Conscience".  
  23. ^ a b Smith, Margaret Chase (1950-06-01). "Declaration of Conscience" (PDF). United States Senate. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  24. ^ Hope Stoddard, Famous American Women, 1970, page 394
  25. ^ Josephine Ripley, Christian Science Monitor, The Surprising Mrs. Smith, November 10, 1950
  26. ^ Chicago Tribune, Military Men Numerous on Capitol Hill, December 3, 1962
  27. ^ Hodgson, Godfrey (1995-06-03). "OBITUARIES: Margaret Chase Smith".  
  28. ^ a b "Margaret Chase Smith".  
  29. ^ "Senator Margaret Chase (Goldwater, 1964)". The Living Room Candidate. 
  30. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter S" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town". Classic Television Archives. Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Who's Who in the Kitchen - 1961". 
  33. ^ Wulf, Steve (2015-03-23). "Supersisters: Original Roster". Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  34. ^ "Maggie's List. Women's Political Action Committee. Who we are and what we do". Retrieved 2015-06-13. 
  35. ^ "Spotlight: Conservative Maggie's List aids candidates". 2015-03-27. Retrieved 2015-06-13. 


A large framed painting of Smith hangs in the Capitol Building in Augusta, Maine.

In 2010 the United States political action committee Maggie's List was founded, named after Smith; it works to "raise awareness and funds to increase the number of conservative women elected to federal public office."[35][36]

On June 13, 2007, the United States Postal Service issued a 58¢ postage stamp in its Distinguished Americans series to honor her.

In 1979, the Supersisters trading card set was produced and distributed; one of the cards featured Smith's name and picture.[34]

[33] In 1961 Smith published her favorite family recipe, Maine Clam Chowder, in support of the

In 1958, Folkways Records 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 dramatized Senator Smith's Declaration of Conscience speech in the 1978 television movie Tail Gunner Joe.

On February 2, 1952, Smith was the guest on the CBS variety show, Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town, in which hostess Faye Emerson visited Washington, D.C., to accent the kinds of music popular in the nation's capital.[32]


At age 97, Smith died in her native Skowhegan after suffering a stroke eight days earlier that had left her in a coma.[12] She was cremated, and her ashes were placed in the residential wing of the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan.[2]

[2] Following her departure from the Senate, Smith taught at several colleges and universities as a visiting professor for the

Later life and death

She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1952.[31] In 1995 Smith was awarded the Naval Heritage Award by the U S Navy Memorial Foundation for her support of the U S Navy, U S Navy WAVES, and the military during her congressional career.

Awards and Honors

On January 27, 1964, Smith announced her candidacy for President of the United States.[20] She declared, "I have few illusions and no money, but I'm staying for the finish. When people keep telling you, you can't do a thing, you kind of like to try."[11] She lost every single primary election, but did manage to win 25% of the vote in Illinois.[11] At the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, she became the first woman to have her name be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major political party's convention.[2] She placed fifth in the initial balloting, and denied unanimous consent for Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona after refusing to withdraw her name from the final ballot.[20] She nevertheless campaigned for Goldwater in the general election, appearing in a television ad in which she defended his position on Social Security.[30]

1964 presidential election

Senator Margaret Smith

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. Smith lost the election by 27,230 votes, a margin of 53%-47%.

1972 election

Smith was the first (and as yet only) woman to serve as chair of the Senate Republican Conference, serving from 1967 to 1972.[2] She voted against President Nixon's unsuccessful nominees to the Supreme Court, Clement Haynsworth in 1969 and G. Harrold Carswell in 1970.[20] She was a strong supporter of the space program and served as a charter member of the Senate Aeronautical and Space Committee.[20] NASA administrator James E. Webb once commented that the United States never would have placed a man on the Moon if it were not for Smith.[29] She supported increased educational funding, civil rights, and Medicare.[11] She held an all-time voting record in the Senate until 1981 with 2,941 consecutive roll call votes.[29]

During the administration of President John F. Kennedy, Smith argued that the United States should use nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union.[14] This led Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to call Smith "the devil in disguise of a woman" whose position exceeded "all records of savagery."[14] Smith later replied, "Mr. Khrushchev isn't really mad at me. I am not that important. He is angry because American officials have grown more firm since my speech."[12] The morning after President Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, she went into the Senate chamber before it convened and laid a rose on the desk Kennedy had occupied as a Senator.[12] A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she supported the Vietnam War but opposed the deployment of the Sentinel anti-ballistic missile.[28]

Later tenure

In her successful re-election campaign in 1960, she ran against Democrat Lucia Cormier, the minority leader of the Maine House of Representatives; it was the first time in American history that two women ran against each other for a Senate seat.[17]

1960 re-election

In the 1952 election, Smith was widely mentioned as a vice-presidential candidate under General Dwight D. Eisenhower.[7] When asked by a reporter what she would do if she woke up one morning and found herself in the White House, she replied: "I'd go straight to Mrs. Truman and apologize. Then I'd go home."[12] Exhibiting the same independent nature in the Senate as she had in the House, Smith opposed President Eisenhower's nomination of Lewis Strauss as Secretary of Commerce in 1959.[11]

On July 17, 1950, Smith was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, and she served until 1958.[25][26][27]

In response to her speech, McCarthy referred to Smith and the six other Senators as "Snow White and the Six Dwarfs."[12] He removed her as a member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, giving her seat to Senator Richard Nixon of California.[22] He also helped finance an unsuccessful primary challenger during Smith's re-election campaign in 1954.[11] Smith later observed, "If I am to be remembered in history, it will not be because of legislative accomplishments, but for an act I took as a legislator in the U.S. Senate when on June 1, 1950, I condemnation of McCarthyism, when the junior Senator from Wisconsin had the Senate paralyzed with fear that he would purge any Senator who disagreed with him."[20] She voted for McCarthy's censure in 1954.[8]

Smith was sworn into the Senate on January 3, 1949.[2] After a year in office, she gained national attention when she became the first member of Congress to condemn the anti-Communist witch hunt led by her fellow Republican Senator, Vermont, Edward Thye of Minnesota, Irving Ives of New York, Charles Tobey of New Hampshire, and Robert C. Hendrickson of New Jersey.[23]

Early tenure

In August 1947, after three-term incumbent Wallace H. White, Jr. decided to retire, Smith announced her candidacy for his seat in the U.S. Senate.[10] In the Republican primary, she faced incumbent Governor Horace A. Hildreth, former Governor Sumner Sewall, and Reverend Albion Beverage.[20] She ran a grassroots campaign with little money, using the slogan, "Don't change a record for a promise."[11] When the wife of one of her opponents questioned whether a woman would be a good Senator, Smith replied, "Women administer the home. They set the rules, enforce them, mete out justice for violations. Thus, like Congress, they legislate; like the Executive, they administer; like the courts, they interpret the rules. It is an ideal experience for politics."[19] On June 21, 1948, she won the primary election and received more votes than her three opponents combined.[12] In the general election on September 13, she defeated Democrat Adrian H. Scolten by a margin of 71%-29%.[21] She became the first woman to represent Maine in the Senate, and the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.[2]

Smith and Eleanor Roosevelt jointly appear as the first-ever women panelists on Face the Nation in 1956.

1948 election

U.S. Senate

As a member of the House, Smith began wearing a single red rose that became a daily fixture of her attire throughout her career in public office.[9] She waged a long campaign to have the rose declared the official flower of the United States, which Congress eventually approved in 1987.[5]

Smith also earned a reputation as moderate Republican who often broke ranks with her party.[19] She supported much of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legislation, as had her husband while he was in office.[14] She voted in favor of the Selective Service Act in 1940, and voted against the Smith–Connally Act in 1943.[14] In 1945, she voted against making the House Un-American Activities Committee a permanent body.[7]

A supporter of President Harry S. Truman's foreign policies, she was mentioned as a possible candidate for Under Secretary of the Navy in 1945 and for Assistant Secretary of State in 1947.[7] Smith became a member of the House Armed Services Committee in 1946, also serving as chair of its Subcommittee on Hospitalization and Medicine.[11] In this position, she sponsored and ensured the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, a bill to regularize the status of women in the armed forces that was signed into law by President Truman in June 1948.[11]

[18] Although Congresswoman Smith was a strong supporter of women in the armed services, she did not write the legislation that created the special female military units during World War II. She did, however, champion the legislation that gave women permanent status in the military following the war.[17] During her tenure in the House, Smith developed a strong interest in issues concerning the military and national security. After being appointed to the

In the spring of 1940, Clyde Smith fell seriously ill after suffering a heart attack, and asked his wife to run for his House seat in the general election the following September.[12] He prepared a press release in which he stated, "I know of no one else who has the full knowledge of my ideas and plans or is as well qualified as she is, to carry on these ideas and my unfinished work for my district."[10] He died on April 8 of that year, and a special election was scheduled on the following June 3 to complete his unexpired term.[2] Facing no Democratic challenger, Smith won the special election and became the first woman elected to Congress from Maine.[11] Three months after the special election, she was elected to a full two-year term in the House in her own right.[15] Smith defeated Edward J. Beauchamp, the Democratic mayor of Lewiston, by a margin of 65%-35%.[15] She was re-elected to three more terms over the course of the next eight years, never receiving less than 60% of the vote.[11]

Smith in 1943

U.S. House of Representatives

On May 14, 1930, Chase married Clyde Smith, who was 21 years her senior.[11] She soon became active in politics, and was elected to the Maine Republican State Committee, on which she served from 1930 to 1936.[7] When Clyde was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine's 2nd congressional district in 1937, Smith accompanied her husband to Washington, D.C. to serve as his secretary.[2] In this position, she managed his office, handled his correspondence, conducted research, and helped write his speeches.[10] She also served as treasurer of the Congressional Club, a group composed of the wives of congressmen and Cabinet members.[7]

[7] She became treasurer of the New England Waste Process Company in 1928, and was also employed as an office worker with the Daniel E. Cummings Woolen Company, a local textile mill.[14] Following her high school graduation, Chase briefly taught at the Pitts School, a

Early career

She received her early education at Lincoln and Garfield Elementary Schools.[8] At age 12, she went to work at a local five-and-dime store and even bought herself a life insurance policy.[10] She also shaved her father's customers when he was busy or away from the shop.[12] She attended Skowhegan High School, graduating in 1916.[11] During high school, she played on the girls' basketball team, of which she was captain in her senior year.[13] She also worked as a substitute operator with a telephone company during this time.[9] In that position she met Clyde Smith, a prominent local politician, who arranged a job for her as a part-time assistant to the tax assessor.[8]

[11], and her mother worked as a waitress, store clerk, and shoe factory worker.barber Her father was the town [10] prejudice.anti-Catholic in the middle of the 19th century; her grandfather, Lambert Morin, changed his name to John Murray to avoid anti-French Canadian and Quebec, having immigrated from French Canadian Her mother's family was [9].Civil War during the Union Army, and her grandfather served in the War of 1812 ancestry, a descendant of immigrants to the United States in the 17th century; her great-great grandfather commanded an artillery company during the English Her father was of [8] She was the oldest of six children, two of whom did not survive to adulthood.[7]

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