MARGARET CHASE SMITH LIBRARY

Owned by the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation and operated under its auspices by the University of Maine.

Biography






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, Margaret 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 anticommunist 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 wound up coming in second to the Republican nominee, Senator Barry Goldwater.

After four terms in the Senate and thirty-two years in Congress, 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.

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