Senator, Representative, American

Margaret Chase Smith was born in Skowhegan, Maine, on December 14, 1897. Her entry into politics came through the career of Clyde Smith, the man she married in 1930. Clyde was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1936. Margaret served as his secretary. When Clyde died in 1940, she succeeded her husband. After four terms in the House, she won election to the United States Senate in 1948. In so doing, she became the first woman elected to both houses of Congress.

Senator Smith came to national attention on June 1, 1950, when she became the first member of the Senate to denounce the tactics used by colleague Joseph McCarthy in his anti-communist crusade. Following her "Declaration of Conscience" speech, some pundits speculated that she might be the vice-presidential candidate on the 1952 Republican ticket. The opportunity, however, never materialized. In 1964, Senator Smith pursued her own political ambitions, running in several Republican presidential primaries. She took her candidacy all the way to the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, where she became the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the presidency by either of the two major parties. In the final balloting, Smith refused to withdraw and so came in second to the Republican nominee, Senator Barry Goldwater.

After four terms in both the House and Senate, and over thirty-two years in Congress all together, Senator Smith lost re-election in 1972. She retired to her home in Skowhegan and began planning for the establishment of a library. The Margaret Chase Smith Library opened in 1982 and for the next dozen years, she presided over the facility, meeting with admirers, former constituents, politicians, policymakers, researchers, and school children. Margaret Chase Smith died at her home on Memorial Day, May 29, 1995.

Awards and Honors

  • National Association of Secretaries of State
    Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award

  • League of Women Voters
    Carrie Chapman Catt Award

  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
    Elizabeth Blackwell Award

  • Presidential Medal of Freedom

  • U.S. Jaycee Women
    "Outstanding Women in Government"

  • Women of the Republican Party
    Pathfinders Award


  • United States Senate
    "Senate Service Award''

  • United Press International
    One of the Ten Most Influential Women in the World

  • Reserve Officers Association
    ''Minuteman Award"

  • National Federation of Business and Professional Women
    "Distinguished Service Award"

  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
    Medal for Americanism

  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow

  • Associated Press
    "Woman of the Year in Politics"
    1948-1950, 1957

  • Recipient of ninety-five Honorary Degrees