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UMaine Today Magazine

Lasting Impression

Margaret Chase Smith
Margaret Chase Smith, 1950.

Photo courtesy of
The Margaret Chase Smith Library, Skowhegan, Maine

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The University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy is named for the Skowhegan, Maine, native who became one of the country's greatest stateswomen.

Starting with a special election in 1940, Margaret Chase Smith's Congressional career spanned 33 years the remainder of her late husband's term in the U.S. House of Representatives, followed by four full House terms. In 1948, she won election to the first of four U.S. Senate terms, becoming the first woman in American history elected to both houses of Congress.

Perhaps the most memorable act in her political career was her 1950 "Declaration of Conscience" speech, when she became the first senator to publicly denounce Sen. Joseph McCarthy's tactics in his campaign against communism.

Her courageous stand, in a time of fear and suspicion, was a turning point in the nation's attitude toward "McCarthyism."

In 1964, Sen. Smith, a Republican, became the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the presidency by either of the two major parties. Sen. Barry Goldwater won the nomination.

The University of Maine recognized her lifelong commitment to public service when it created the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy in 1989. The nonpartisan, independent research and public service center has a mission to improve and promote the quality of public dialogue about state, regional and national policy issues.

Sen. Smith died in 1995 at age 97.

"Lasting Impression" features a memorable person or event in UMaine history.


UMaine Today Magazine
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