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Senator Margaret Chase Smith

Updated on October 18, 2012

Margaret Chase Smith - US Senator


argaret Chase Smith is a woman who helped pave the way for women to make their contributions possible in the political arena. It is with this lens that I hope to inform the unknown about this woman's accomplishments.

In 1930, Margaret focused her attention to public service and became a member of the Republican state committee. After losing her husband, Congresswoman Smith to a heart attack in 1940, Margaret won a special election to succeed him and remained in the House for four terms. She introduced legislation to give women permanent status in the military.

During her 24-year Senate career, she accomplished the following: Expert in military affairs and aeronautics; served as the ranking Republican on both the Armed Services Committee and the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee; she was commented for having a major role in assisting with the US landing on the Moon; first women elected to a leadership post in the Senate. Probably best known for her courageous role she took against politics of "fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear", which she attributed to Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. On June 1, 1950, she spoke to the Senate in condemnation of McCarthyism. Her "Declaration of Conscience" is well worth the read. (referenced below).


Margaret Chase Smith (December 14, 1897-May 29, 1995) was a Republican Senator from Maine, and one of the most successful politicians in Maine history. She was the first woman to be elected to both the U.S. House and the Senate, and the first woman from Maine to serve in either. She was also the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the U.S. Presidency at a major party's convention (1964 Republican Convention, won by Barry Goldwater). She was a moderate Republican, included with those known as Rockefeller Republicans. When she left office, Smith had the record as the longest-serving female senator in United States history, ranking 11th in seniority among the members of the Senate, a distinction that has not been surpassed.

by: Wikipedia

She Was a Lady of Firsts

She was the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

She was the first woman to be elected to both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

She was the first woman to face another woman in a U.S. Senate election campaign.

She was the first woman to become a ranking member of a congressional committee.

She was the first woman to serve on the Armed Services Committee.

She was the first woman to serve on the Appropriations Committee.

She was the first woman to be elected chair of the Republican Conference.

She was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the Presidency by either major political party in 1964.

She was the first civilian woman to sail on a U.S. destroyer in wartime.

Credit: C-Span Congressional Chronicle


By Margaret Chase Smith

Mr. President:

I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition. It is a national feeling of fear and frustration that could result in national suicide and the end of everything that we Americans hold dear. It is a condition that comes from the lack of effective leadership in either the Legislative Branch or the Executive Branch of our Government.

That leadership is so lacking that serious and responsible proposals are being made that national advisory commissions be appointed to provide such critically needed leadership.

I speak as briefly as possible because too much harm has already been done with irresponsible words of bitterness and selfish political opportunism. I speak as briefly as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured by eloquence. I speak simply and briefly in the hope that my words will be taken to heart.

I speak as a Republican. I speak as a woman. I speak as a United States Senator. I speak as an American.

continue Declaration of Conscience


She expressed in 1953, "My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned but not bought."

An Amazon of Great Reads

Smears are not only to be expected but fought. Honor is to be earned, not bought...Margaret C. Smith

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Mrs. Smith held 88 honorary degrees from colleges and universities in Maine and Canada. President George H. W. Bush awarded her the Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor

Smith spent only $85 on her campaign vs. multimillions for Clinton in 2008--each wanted to be known as a candidate, not a woman.

Quote by Margaret

"We should not permit tolerance to degenerate into indifference."

Guests - Please Sign In. - The Rose was Margaret's Favorite Flower - She Wore A Rose Each Day!

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      Sherry Venegas 8 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I like lady's who are first's. Someone who came a century earlier is Dorthea Dix. Her story is interesting. She researched and helped the mentally ill during the 19th century, including going before Congress. Unfortunately, her system became a sort of abuse and the government decided to throw the whole idea out. Too bad we did not correct it instead.

      Thanks for visiting Belle Starr.

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      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      A beautiful tribute to Senator Margaret Chase Smith. Well done. Lensrolling to my Senator Lindsey Graham lens

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      A good tribute to a remarkable woman. Living in the UK, I'd never heard of her before but she was certainly a woman ahead of her times.