Sept 18, 1948: Margaret Chase Smith Becomes First Woman Elected to Senate

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Margaret Chase Smith Becomes First Woman Elected to the Senate

She was the first woman to serve in both houses of the United States Congress, and the first woman to represent Maine in either.  A moderate Republican, she is perhaps best remembered for her 1950 speech, “Declaration of Conscience,” in which she criticized the tactics of McCarthyism.

I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the four horseman of calumny — fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear

I don’t believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest.

As an American, I want to see our nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought the enemy instead of ourselves.

Smith was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination in the 1964 presidential election, but was the first woman to be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major party’s convention (she came in second to Goldwater). Upon leaving office, she was the longest-serving female Senator in history, a distinction that was not surpassed until January 5, 2011, when Senator Barbara Mikulski was sworn in for a fifth term.

After retiring, Smith established the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan, Maine which is now part of the University of Maine.

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