1948 September 13

Margaret Chase Smith First Woman Elected to Senate


Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican from Maine, became the first woman elected to the Senate to a full six-year term. Other women had previously served by appointment to finish a male senator’s term. A special election was held on this date due to the retirement of the incumbent senator. Smith also became the first woman to serve in both the House and Senate.

Senator Smith is most famous for her rebuke to Senator Joe McCarthy, on June 1, 1950, in which she condemned his reckless anti-Communist tactics. She was ignored and even punished by the Republican leaders in the Senate by being removed from some committee assignments. She was the only woman in the Senate in 1950; following the 2012 elections, there were 20 women in the Senate.

In 1964 she was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President (see below).

Read: Patricia Ward Wallace, Politics of Conscience: A Biography of Margaret Chase Smith (1995)

See the report on the number of women in Congress, for each session 1917–2014: http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-publish.cfm?pid=%270E%2C*PLS%3D%22%40%20%20%0A

Watch Margaret Chase Smith and Eleanor Roosevelt on Face the Nationhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-yuKotSxYw

Learn more about women who ran for President: https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/president/president.html

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