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Margaret Chase Smith: A Featured Biography


On June 1, 1950, Margaret Chase Smith delivered in the Senate Chamber a "Declaration of Conscience" against McCarthyism, defending every American's "right to criticize...right to hold unpopular beliefs...right to protest." A Republican senator from Maine, Smith served 24 years in the U.S. Senate beginning in 1949, following more than four terms in the House of Representatives—the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. Often the only woman in the Senate, Smith chose not to limit herself to "women's issues," making her mark in foreign policy and military affairs. She established a reputation as a tough legislator on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Her 1960 reelection bid was the first Senate race where both major party candidates were women, and in 1964 she became the first woman to actively seek the presidential nomination of a major political party. In 1973 Smith retired to her home in Skowhegan, Maine, where she died in 1995 at the age of 97. In October of 2005, the Senate unveiled a new portrait of Smith.