Lynn Plourde

kids book author ~ teaching author

Margaret Chase Smith
A Woman for President
A Timeline Biography

by Lynn Plourde
Illustrated by David McPhail
Charlesbridge, 2008

She couldn’t become President of the United States. She was a she!
Only a man could be elected president . . . right?
Maybe not.

In 1964 Senator Margaret Chase Smith made an announcement.
She began her speech by explaining why she should not run for
president: she didn’t have enough money, most thought there was
no chance she could win, plus some people said a woman wouldn’t
have the energy for a national campaign.

She concluded, “Because of these very impelling reasons against
my running, I have decided that I shall. . . .”

What a President she would have been, a surprising one.

Margaret Chase Smith, born in a small Maine town before women in the U.S. could vote, lived a surprising life filled with innumerable accomplishments. She came from a poor family, only had a high school education, yet she went on to become one of the most influential women of the twentieth century. She was the first woman in U.S. history to be elected to both houses of Congress. She gave a history-making “Declaration of Conscience” speech against McCarthyism. Her work as a member of the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee led the head of NASA to say, “If it were not for a woman, Margaret Chase Smith, we would never have placed a man on the moon.” In 1964 she was the first woman from a major political party (a Republican) to run for President of the United States.  She set records with her 13-year Congressional roll-call votes and as the longest-serving female senator (1949-1973).  Smith was one of the first women inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. Hillary Clinton claims Smith as an inspiration and one of her heroes.

Margaret Chase Smith: A Woman for President details the Senator’s 97-year life including the lessons she learned as a child from her younger brothers’ deaths and from her grandfather’s frugality up to her death on Memorial Day in 1995. Numerous timelines (i.e. important dates in the right to vote, US women in Congress, women in the military, important flight and space exploration dates) are included throughout the book providing a historical perspective for Smith’s life.

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