See biography by J. Sherman (2000).
(born Dec. 14, 1897, Skowhegan, Maine, U.S.—died May 29, 1995, Skowhegan) U.S. politician. She served as secretary to her husband, Clyde Smith, after he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in 1936. When he suffered a heart attack in 1940, he urged voters to elect her to the office. She became the first woman to win election to both the House (1940–49) and the Senate (1949–73). Though a staunch anticommunist, she was the first Republican senator to condemn the tactics of Joseph McCarthy, delivering a memorable “Declaration of Conscience” speech on the Senate floor in 1950. Her opinion that Pres. John F. Kennedy should use nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union prompted Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to dub her “the devil in disguise of a woman.” She retired from politics after her defeat in 1972. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989.
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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 called Rockefeller Republicans. When she left office, Smith had the record as the longest-serving female senator in United States history.
Chase Smith was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948. She served in the Senate from 1949 to 1973. In competition with her bid for a third term in 1960, the Democratic Party put up Lucia Cormier, the Democratic floor leader of the Maine House of Representatives. It was the first time two women ran against each other for a Senate seat.
By the end of her fourth term, the charm Chase Smith had had for so many years seemed to evaporate. She was defeated for reelection in 1972 by Democrat Bill Hathaway, the only election she ever lost in the state of Maine. In her last election, Chase Smith had been plagued by rumors of poor health (she had been using a motor scooter around the Senate). A Republican primary challenger taunted her for being out of touch; she did not have a state office operating in Maine. Also, she alienated liberals with her support for the Vietnam War, and alienated some conservatives by voting against Nixon's Supreme Court nominees Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell.