MARGARET CHASE SMITH LIBRARY

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

Frequently Asked Questions


Campaign photo






Senator Smith arrives at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco







Clyde Smith


Major General
William C. Lewis, Jr.

1. Was Margaret Chase Smith the first female Senator?

No. She was the first woman elected to the United States Senate in her own right. The first woman to serve in the Senate was Rebecca Felton of Georgia who was appointed to the office in 1922 and served two days before resigning. The first woman to be elected to the Senate was Hattie Carraway of Arkansas in 1932. However, she had first been appointed to the Senate to succeed her deceased husband in 1931. When Margaret Chase Smith was elected to the Senate in 1948, it was without the benefit of first having been appointed to the office.

2. Was Margaret Chase Smith the "Mother of the
WAVES"?

No. 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.

3. Was she the first woman to run for President?

No. Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the presidency by either of the two major political parties. She came in second to Barry Goldwater in the balloting at the 1964 Republican National Convention.

Women had actually run for the presidency of the United States before women even had the legal right to vote in this country. Victoria Woodhull was the presidential candidate of the Equal Rights Party in 1872 and Belva Lockwood headed the National Equal Rights Party ticket twelve years later.

4. How many years did Margaret Chase Smith serve in
Washington?

Thirty-two. To be more precise, she served in Congress from June of 1940, when she succeeded her deceased husband in the House of Representatives, until January of 1973, when William Hathaway replaced her in the Senate.

5. What did Margaret Chase Smith do after she retired?

After retiring from political life, Senator Smith launched a second career in education. For more than three years, she toured the nation's colleges and universities as a Visiting Professor with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. She also helped plan for the creation of the Margaret Chase Smith Library. Once it opened in 1982, she played an active role in the library's programs and particularly enjoyed meeting with school groups.

6. Did Margaret Chase Smith have any children?

No. Margaret Chase and Clyde Smith married in 1930 at the ages of 33 and 54 respectively. Given the demands of their careers, they did not have any children before Clyde passed away in 1940. Senator Smith enjoyed young people a great deal, however. She was close to her nieces and nephews. She also loved meeting with students both while she was in Congress and after the library opened.

7. What was her relationship with Bill Lewis?

Major General William C. Lewis, Jr. was her Executive Assistant in the Senate. He joined her staff during the 1948 Senate campaign and remained her confidante and aide until his death in 1982.

8. Where is Margaret Chase Smith buried?

She is not. Senator Smith wished to be cremated rather than buried. Her remains are preserved in her Skowhegan residence.

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This page last modified: December 2013
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