Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith
Margaret Chase Smith.jpg
Chair of the Senate Republican Conference
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1973
LeaderEverett Dirksen
Hugh Scott
Preceded byLeverett Saltonstall
Succeeded byNorris Cotton
United States Senator
from Maine
In office
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1973
Preceded byWallace White
Succeeded byWilliam Hathaway
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine's 2nd district
In office
June 3, 1940 – January 3, 1949
Preceded byClyde Smith
Succeeded byCharles Nelson
Personal details
Margaret Madeline Chase

(1897-12-14)December 14, 1897
Skowhegan, Maine, U.S.
DiedMay 29, 1995(1995-05-29) (aged 97)
Skowhegan, Maine, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Clyde Smith

Margaret Madeline Chase Smith (December 14, 1897 – May 29, 1995)[1] was a United States politician. A member of the Republican Party, she served as a U.S Representative (1940–49) and a U.S. Senator (1949–73) from Maine.[2] She was the first woman to serve in both houses of the United States Congress, and the first woman to represent Maine in either.[3] A moderate Republican, she was among the first to criticize the tactics of McCarthyism in her 1950 speech, "Declaration of Conscience".[4]

Smith was a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 1964 presidential election; she was the first woman to be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major party's convention.[2] 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.[5] To date, Smith is ranked as the longest-serving Republican woman in the Senate.[6]

Early life and education

Margaret Chase was born in Skowhegan in central Maine, to George Emery and Carrie Matilda (née Murray) Chase.[7] She was the oldest of six children, two of whom did not survive to adulthood.[8] Her father was of English ancestry, a descendant of immigrants to the United States in the 17th century; her great-great grandfather commanded an artillery company during the War of 1812, and her grandfather served in the Union Army during the Civil War.[9] Her mother's family was French Canadian, having immigrated from Quebec in the middle of the 19th century; her grandfather Lambert Morin changed his name to John Murray to avoid anti-French Canadian and anti-Catholic prejudice.[10] Her father was the town barber, and her mother worked as a waitress, store clerk, and shoe factory worker.[11]

She received her early education at Lincoln and Garfield Elementary Schools.[8] At age 12, she went to work at a local five-and-dime store and even bought herself a life insurance policy.[10] She also shaved her father's customers when he was busy or away from the shop.[12] She attended Skowhegan High School, graduating in 1916.[11] During high school, she played on the girls' basketball team, of which she was captain in her senior year.[13] She also worked as a substitute operator with a telephone company during this time.[9] In that position she met Clyde Smith, a prominent local politician, who arranged a job for her as a part-time assistant to the tax assessor.[8]