Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Margaret Chase Smith


U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith was born on this day in 1897 in Skowhegan, Maine.

A schoolteacher by profession, in 1930 she married newspaper publisher Clyde Smith, who shortly thereafter was elected to Congress from Maine as a Republican. Just before he was about to run for his third term in Congress in 1940, Smith suddenly died, and Margaret decided to run in his place. She was successful, and served 4 terms in Congress before winning election to the U.S. Senate in 1948, earning an astounding 71% of the vote and becoming the first woman to be elected to both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.

She earned a reputation for articulateness, an occasional independence from Republican orthodoxy (she was among the first Republicans to criticize Joe McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings), and her astonishing attendance at 100% of all roll call votes during several terms, and was mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate to Dwight Eisenhower during the 1952 election.

When asked at that time what she would do if she woke up one morning to find herself in the White House, she cracked: "I’d go straight to Mrs. Truman and apologize. Then I’d go home."

In 1964, she announced her candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, but failed to make much of an impact in a poorly funded, understaffed bid. She lost her last try for re-election in 1972, characteristically relying on her record without advertising, engaging a professional campaign staff or making extensive campaign appearances. She passed away on May 29, 1995.

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