Margaret Chase Smith Quotes

Margaret Chase Smith, 1897 – 1995

Born: 14 December 1897, Skowhegan, Maine
Died: 29 May 1995, Skowhegan, Maine

Margaret Chase was born at Skowhegan, Maine on this day in 1897, the eldest of six children of the local barber. At age twelve she worked in a five-and-dime store and shaved customers in her dad’s shop. At Skowhegan High School she was the captain of the girls basketball team, graduating in 1916, and went to work at the local phone company as an operator where she met Clyde Smith, a local politician who got her a job as an assistant to the tax assessor. From 1919 to 1928 she was circulation manager for Smith’s weekly paper and became active in local Republican politics. In 1930 she married him, then followed him to Washington City when he was elected to congress, managing the office and helping write speeches. Ten years later he had a heart attack and urged her to replace him. She won the election to fill out his term, making her the first woman from Maine in the House, she won reelection four times, then ran for the senate in 1948, making her the first Maine woman in the Senate and the first woman to ever be elected to both houses. In the house she served on the Armed Services Committee, made a 25,000-mile tour of South Pacific naval bases, was the only civilian woman to sail on a navy ship during the war, and was known as the “Mother of the WAVES” after she sponsored legislation to create the group. She is best known for a brilliant speech attacking Senator Joseph McCarthy’s unsupported charges of Communist activity. She lost only one election, ending her Senate career in 1972. In 1964 she was the first woman ever nominated by a major party for president, denying Barry Goldwater a unanimous victory when she refused to withdraw. After leaving the Senate she was a visiting professor at several colleges, then returned to Skowhegan where she died eight days after a stroke left her in a coma.

Margaret Chase Smith quotes:

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.
    Margaret Chase Smith – “Declaration of Conscience” speech (1 June 1950)

Every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration. Constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought.
    Margaret Chase Smith

Freedom unexercised may be freedom forfeited. The preservation of freedom is in the hands of the people themselves — not of the government.
    Margaret Chase Smith – NEA Journal Vol. 41, p300 (1952)

I am running against no one. I’d like to be President. I think my experience and my record are greater than any other candidate or any other of the unannounced candidates. It’s a real challenge, and that’s one of the paramount things. When people keep telling you that you can’t do a thing, you kind of like to try it.
    Margaret Chase Smith – “Nation: Madam Candidate” – TIME magazine (7 February 1964)

I believe that in our constant search for security we can never gain any peace of mind until we are secure in our own soul.
    Margaret Chase Smith

I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny: Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.
    Margaret Chase Smith

I have few illusions and no money, but I’m staying for the finish. When people keep telling you, you can’t do a thing, you kind of like to try.
    Margaret Chase Smith – announcing candidacy for President (27 January 1964)

I speak as briefly as possible because too much harm has already been done with irresponsible words of bitterness and selfish political opportunism. I speak as simply as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured by eloquence. I speak simply and briefly in the hope that my words will be taken to heart.
    Margaret Chase Smith – “Declaration of Conscience” speech (1 June 1950)

I think that it is high time that we remembered that we have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution. I think that it is high time that we remembered that the Constitution, as amended, speaks not only of the freedom of speech but also of trial by jury instead of trial by accusation.
    Margaret Chase Smith – “Declaration of Conscience” speech (1 June 1950)

If I am to be remembered in history, it will not be because of legislative accomplishments, but for an act I took as a legislator in the U.S. Senate when on June 1, 1950, I spoke…in condemnation of McCarthyism, when the junior Senator from Wisconsin had the Senate paralyzed with fear that he would purge any Senator who disagreed with him.
    Margaret Chase Smith

Leadership is not manifested by coercion, even against the resented. Greatness is not manifested by unlimited pragmatism, which places such a high premium on the end justifying any means and any measures.
    Margaret Chase Smith

Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.
    Margaret Chase Smith – NEA Journal Vol. 41, p300 (1952)

My basic rule is to speak slowly and simply so that my audience has an opportunity to follow and think about what I am saying.
    Margaret Chase Smith

My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned but not bought.
    Margaret Chase Smith – (11 November 1953)

One of the basic causes for all the trouble in the world today is that people talk too much and think too little. They act impulsively without thinking. I always try to think before I talk.
    Margaret Chase Smith

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