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The late U. S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith

Former Senator Margaret Chase Smith, Maine's First Lady, is perhaps best known for her contribution to the well being of the United States and its people with her consistent stand for the condemnation of bigotry and injustice wherever she found it. Her stand against "McCarthyism" in the early 1950's marked her outstanding courage and devotion to conscience and justice.

Margaret Chase Smith is the only woman elected to serve in both houses of Congress. She was first elected to the House of Representatives from the Second District of Maine in 1940. In 1948, Mrs. Smith was elected to the United States Senate by an overwhelming margin. She received the greatest total vote majority in Maine history.

In 1954, when Senator Smith was re-elected to a second term in the Senate, she received the most votes of all candidates for all offices. In the primary that year, she set a new record for the total number of votes received in a contested primary, a great illustration to all women that gender is not an obstacle if one is willing to work hard and be honest. In 1966, the Senator repeated her record.

Senator Smith put her name at the forefront of women's achievements that have significantly improved the lives of women when, at the Republican Convention in 1964, her name was placed in nomination for the President of the United States. This is the first time a woman had been so nominated by a major political party.

Senator Smith is the first woman elected to a leadership post in the United States Senate, serving as the leader of the Conference of all Republican Senators from 1967 until her retirement. In 1943, as a member of the House of Representatives, she secured a seat on the powerful Naval Affairs Committee enabling her to have influence over shipbuilding and other interests vital not only to Maine, but to the Nation as well.

Senator Smith is also recognized for her contribution of enduring value to women's rights when she pioneered in the area of reserve legislation and waged a successful battle for women in the armed services. She succeeded in achieving regular, rather than just reserve status, for women. She was nicknamed "Mother of the WAVES" after introducing legislation to create this organization.

Senator Smith is a charter member and past president of the Skowhegan Business and Professional Women's Club and also was president of the Maine Federation. On July 6, 1989, President George Bush presented Senator Margaret Chase Smith with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor "... for her commitment to truth and honesty in government and in America."

1960 Photograph

Inducted March, 1990