June 21, 1954: U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995), running for election to a second Senate term, defeats Robert L. Jones in a Republican primary election by a 5-to-1 margin, even though U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican noted for his accusations about communists infiltrating the federal government, surreptitiously backs Jones.

Smith aide William C. Lewis Jr., writing later about McCarthy’s failed effort to make a dent in Smith’s popular support, says, “Suddenly his paralytic power over the United States Senate was lifted and destroyed.”

Smith eventually serves four six-year Senate terms, leaving office in 1973 after losing a re-election bid to Democrat William Hathaway. She retires to her home in Skowhegan.

After Smith’s death, her house becomes the Margaret Chase Smith Library, which features both a library and museum exhibits about Smith’s life and political career.

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Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: jowen@mainetoday.com.

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