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 December 14, 1897(1897-12-14)
Skowhegan, Maine
Died May 29, 1995(1995-05-29) (aged 97)
Skowhegan, Maine
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Clyde Smith
Alma mater Colby College (honorary degrees)

Margaret Chase Smith (December 14, 1897 – May 29, 1995) was a Republican Senator from Maine, and one of the most successful politicians in Maine history.[1] She was the first woman to be elected to both the U.S. House and the Senate, and the first woman from Maine to serve in either.[2] She was also the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the U.S. Presidency at a major party's convention (1964 Republican Convention, won by Barry Goldwater).[3] She was a moderate[4] Republican, included with those known as Rockefeller Republicans. 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 was sworn in for a fifth term.


Early life

Margaret Chase was born in Skowhegan, Maine, 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 where she was a member of the founding chapter of Sigma Kappa Sorority. In 1930, she married Clyde Smith, 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.

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 during World War II. As co-chair of a subcommittee that investigated problems encountered by the War Department in rapidly establishing bases across the nation, she was instrumental in resolving conflicts between states, local jurisdictions and the military.

Smith in 1943

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. It was the first time two women ran against each other for a Senate seat. In 1964, she appeared in a campaign ad for conservative Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, in which she defended Goldwater on the issue of Social Security.[5]

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, and alienated some conservatives by voting against Nixon's Supreme Court nominees Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell.


Smith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush in 1989. In addition, she received the U.S. Air Force'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, in addition to 93 other honorary degrees, including two (her first and last) from Colby College.[6]

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

Republican Conference Chairman

Smith was the first (and as yet only) woman chair of the Senate Republican Conference, 1967–1972.

Opposition to Joseph McCarthy

Smith was an early opponent of Senator Joseph McCarthy. On June 1, 1950, she gave her Declaration of Conscience speech on the floor of the Senate, earning McCarthy's permanent ire and the epithet "Moscow Maggie" from his staff.[7] 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 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.


External links

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

1940 – 1949
Succeeded by
Charles Pembroke Nelson
United States Senate
Preceded by
Wallace H. White, Jr.
United States Senator (Class 2) from Maine
1949 – 1973
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
1967 – 1973
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

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Margaret Chase Smith — (* 14. Dezember 1897 in Skowhegan, Maine; † 29. Mai 1995 ebenda) war eine US amerikanische Politikerin, die den Bundesstaat Maine in beiden Kammern des Kongresses vertrat. Inhaltsverze …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Margaret Chase Smith — [Margaret Chase Smith] (1897–1995) the first US woman elected to both the US House of Representatives (1940–49) and the US Senate (1949–73). She was also, in 1964, the first woman to be named by a major political party as a possible candidate for …   Useful english dictionary

  • Margaret Chase Smith — ➡ Smith (XI) * * * …   Universalium

  • Margaret Chase — For the former Maine senator, see Margaret Chase Smith. Margaret Alma Chase Camajani (October 13, 1905 – October 4, 1997) was an American Red Cross recreation club worker during World War II.[1] From August 1942 to May 1945 she was assigned to… …   Wikipedia

  • Smith, Margaret Chase — orig. Margaret Madeline Chase (14 dic. 1897, Skowhegan, Maine, EE.UU.–29 may. 1995, Skowhegan). Política estadounidense. Fue secretaria de su marido, Clyde Smith, cuando este fue elegido para integrar la Cámara de Representantes, como republicano …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Smith,Margaret Chase — Smith, Margaret Chase. 1897 1995. American politician who served as U.S. representative (1940 1949) and senator (1949 1973) from Maine. * * * …   Universalium

  • Smith, Margaret Chase — orig. Margaret Madeline Chase born Dec. 14, 1897, Skowhegan, Maine, U.S. died May 29, 1995, Skowhegan U.S. politician. She served as secretary to her husband, Clyde Smith, after he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican… …   Universalium

  • Smith — /smith/, n. 1. Adam, 1723 90, Scottish economist. 2. Alfred E(manuel), 1873 1944, U.S. political leader. 3. Bessie, 1894? 1937, U.S. singer. 4. Charles Henry ( Bill Arp ), 1826 1903, U.S. humorist. 5 …   Universalium

  • Margaret Smith — may refer to: Margaret Smith Court, known as Margaret Court (born 1942), Australian tennis player Margaret Chase Smith (1897–1995), United States Senator from Maine Margaret Smith (politician) (born 1961), Liberal Democrat Member of the Scottish… …   Wikipedia

  • Margaret (Vorname) — Margaret oder Margareth ist ein weiblicher Vorname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft und Bedeutung 2 Bekannte Namensträger 2.1 Margaret 2.1.1 Zwischenname …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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