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Margaret Chase Smith: A Woman for President

Lynn Plourde

Illustrated by David McPhail

Non-Fiction Picture Book

Ages 8 to 11

Charlesbridge, 2008, 978-1-58089-235-3

  Margaret was born in Maine in 1897 where she lived with her parents and numerous siblings. Her family was poor and she soon became familiar with hardship. Two of her brothers died when they were still very young and when she graduated from high school her parents could not afford to send her to college. Instead she had a variety of jobs and she became an active member of various women’s organizations.

  Soon after graduating Margaret met Clyde Smith, a local politician. They got married in 1930 and Margaret became her husband’s right hand person, helping with his campaigns and other aspects of his work. In 1936 Clyde was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the couple went to Washington. Margaret thrived on the atmosphere of the city and she learned a great deal about Washington politics.

  Then Clyde died suddenly and Margaret’s life changed radically. As per her husband’s wish Margaret finished her husband’s term. She went on to serve in Congress for a total of eight years and after that she was a senator for twenty-four years. She was the first woman to serve in both houses and the first woman from Maine to serve in either house.

  As a senator Margaret worked hard to support legislation which would improve the country’s military. She was also fascinated by flight and space travel and the head of NASA was heard to say, “If it were not for a woman, Margaret Chase Smith, we would never have placed a man on the moon.”

  This was still not enough for the remarkable woman, and in 1950 she took the very dangerous and unpopular position of criticizing Senator Joseph McCarthy for his high handed, and in her view, undemocratic behavior. Even though this position made her lose some support, she decided to run for president anyway. Though Margaret lost the election she did not stop being active in the political arena until 1972, when she lost her bid for another term in the Senate.

  This excellent book not only tells the story of Margaret Chase Smith’s life in an engaging way, but it also supplies the reader with lots of additional information. At the bottom of every double page spread there are timeline tables which show readers how the U.S. life expectancy has changed over time, who were the first women congresswomen, who set records in Congress, what took place in the Cold War, and more. In addition there is a “More About Margaret Chase Smith” section at the book where readers can learn more about this exceptional woman.

Margaret Chase Smith a Woman for President


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