Smith, Margaret Chase, 1897-1995

Alternative names
Birth 1897-12-14
Death 1995-05-29

Biographical notes:

Margaret Chase Smith (b. December 14, 1897, Skowhegan, ME–d. May 29, 1995, Skowhegan, ME) was the first woman to serve in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Before politics, she had several careers, including teaching, coaching high school basketball, and journalism. After her marriage to Clyde Smith in 1930, she became involved in local politics, first with her election to the Maine Republican State Committee (1930-1936). When her husband was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1936, Smith served as his secretary and also as treasurer of the Congressional Club, a group composed of the wives of congressmen and Cabinet members.

Her husband died in 1940 and Smith won special election during the middle of his term, 1940, becoming the first woman elected to Congress from Maine. Later that year she was elected to a full two-year term in the House in her own right and re-elected to three more terms over the course of the next eight years. While in House, Smith developed a strong interest in issues concerning the military and national security, became the first and only civilian woman to sail on a U.S. Navy ship during World War II and a member of the House Armed Services Committee in 1946. She is known for wearing a single red rose that became a daily fixture of her attire throughout her career in public office.

Smith won election for Senator from Maine, 1948, and became the first woman to represent Maine in the Senate, and the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. In 1964 she announced her candidacy for President of the United States and was the first woman to have her name be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major political party's convention. She was also the first woman to serve as chair of the Senate Republican Conference (1967-1972). She was defeated for re-election in 1972. After her congressional career, Smith taught at several colleges and universities as a visiting professor for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (1973–1976).


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  • Women legislators
  • Marriage
  • Women--Political activity
  • Women--Correspondence


  • Women legislators


  • Skowhegan, ME, US
  • Skowhegan, ME, US