Historical records matching Margaret Chase Smith, U.S. Senator
About Margaret Chase Smith, U.S. Senator
Margaret Chase Smith was a U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative from Maine. She was the first woman elected to both the House and the Senate and was also the first woman to be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major party convention.
Early Life & Career
Margaret Madeline Chase was born on December 14, 1897 in Skowhegan, Somerset Co., Maine. Her parents were Carrie Murray and George Emery Chase. As a child, Margaret attended the local one-room public school, which she later taught in as a young adult.
After a brief career in education, Margaret became a business executive for country weekly newspaper and a woolen company. After marrying Clyde Harold Smith, who became a Congressman himself, she served as his secretary.
After her husband's death in 1940, she was elected as a Republican to fill the remainder of his term in Congress. She was reelected to the four succeeding Congresses and served from June 3, 1940, to January 3, 1949
In 1948, Margaret was elected to the United States Senate. She was reelected in 1954, 1960 and 1966, and served in total from January 3, 1949 until January 3, 1973. During her Congressional service, she served as chair of the Special Committee on Rates of Compensation and the Republican Conference.
Margaret was noted for her exceptional involvement in her community. She formed her local chapter of the Business and Professional Women’s Club in 1922. She was also a member of the Junior League and served as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve from 1950-1958.
In 1964, Margaret became the first woman to be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major party convention. From 1973-1976, she was a visiting professor for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 6, 1989.
Margaret received more than 90 honorary degrees. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1973 and the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990.
Death & Legacy
Margaret's died on Memorial Day in 1995, due to complications following a stroke. Her remains were cremated, and her ashes were placed in the residential wing of the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan.
A quotation from her 1950 "Declaration of Conscience" against the McCarthy hearings has served as inspiration for many movements:
"Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism—The right to criticize; The right to hold unpopular beliefs; The right to protest; The right of independent thought. The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know some one who holds unpopular beliefs."