Historical Highlights

Representative Clyde Harold Smith of Maine

April 08, 1940
Representative Clyde Harold Smith of Maine Image, Pictorial Directory of the Victory Congress, 79th At the 1964 Republican Presidential Convention, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine became the first woman to have her name put in for nomination for the presidency by a major political party. Receiving the support of just 27 delegates and losing the nomination to Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, it was a symbolic achievement.
On this date, Representative Clyde Harold Smith of Maine died. An entrepreneur and local politician, Smith served in various local and state offices before winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1936. Smith soon fell ill and was unable to continue his congressional campaign for re-election to the 77th Congress (1941–1943). Clyde urged voters to support his wife (Margaret Chase Smith) to succeed him. Shortly before his death he told constituents, “I know of no one else who has the full knowledge of my ideas and plans or is as well qualified as she is, to carry on these ideas or my unfinished work for the district.” Smith died leaving his seat vacant in the 76th Congress (1939–1941). Margaret Chase Smith declared her candidacy for the special election to serve out his unexpired term. In the May 13, 1940, Republican special primary, Smith topped her challenger by a more-than 10-to-1 margin, virtually assuring her election to the House in the heavily Republican district. Without a Democratic challenger, she won the June 3 special election, becoming Maine’s first woman Member of Congress. On June 17, 1940, only a week after being seated in the House, Congresswoman Smith won the GOP primary for the full term in the 77th Congress, garnering more than 27,000 votes and amassing more than four times the total of her nearest competitor. After nearly a decade in the House, she made history as the first woman Representative to win election to the U.S. Senate in 1949.

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