EDMUND MUSKIE Biography - Polititians


Biography » polititians » edmund muskie


Name: Edmund Sixtus Muskie                                                                 
Born: 28 March 1914 Rumford, Maine                                                         
Died: 26 March 1996 Washington, D.C.                                                       
Edmund Sixtus "Ed" Muskie (March 28, 1914–March 26, 1996) was an American               
Democratic politician from Maine. He served as Governor of Maine, as U.S.                 
Senator, as U.S. Secretary of State, and ran as a candidate for President of the           
United States.                                                                             
Muskie held the highest office (Secretary of State) a Polish-American has held             
in the United States and the only Polish-American nominated by a major party for           
Vice President.                                                                           
Muskie was born in Rumford, Maine. His father, Stephen Marciszewski, was a                 
tailor who immigrated from Poland, and later changed the family name to "Muskie"           
because of the difficulty Americans had pronouncing his name. His mother,                 
Josephine Muskie, was born in Buffalo, New York to Polish immigrants. His                 
parents, Roman Catholics, had seven children, of whom six survived.                       
Muskie attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where he majored in history             
and government. While at Bates, Muskie was a successful member of the debate               
team, participated in several sports, and was elected to student government. He           
also worked during the school year as a waiter, and during the summers at a               
hotel in Kennebunk, Maine to supplement the scholarship that allowed him to               
attend the college. He graduated from Bates in 1936 and from Cornell University           
Law School in 1939.                                                                       
During World War II, Muskie served in the United States Navy, rising to                   
Lieutenant. After the war, he opened a private law practice in Waterville, Maine           
and married Jane Gray.                                                                     
After the war, he was instrumental in building up the United States Democratic             
Party in Maine. Maine had traditionally been a Republican state, notable for               
being one of the only two states that Alf Landon carried against Franklin Delano           
Roosevelt in 1936 (the other was Vermont). Muskie ran in the 1947 election to             
become mayor of Waterville, Maine, but was unsuccessful.                                   
He served in the Maine House of Representatives before being elected Governor in           
In 1958, Governor Muskie defeated incumbent Republican Senator Frederick G.               
Payne by 60% of the vote to 39%. Senator Muskie was reelected in 1964, 1970 and           
1976 by solid margins over 60%.                                                           
Muskie became one of the first environmentalists to enter the U.S. Senate and             
was a leading campaigner for new and stronger measures to curb pollution and               
provide a cleaner environment.                                                             
In 1968, Muskie was nominated for Vice President on the Democratic ticket with             
sitting Vice President Hubert Humphrey. The Humphrey-Muskie campaign lost the             
election to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew winning 42.72% of the vote, 13 states           
and 191 electoral votes to Nixon-Agnew's 43.42%, 32 states and 301 electoral               
votes. Third party candidates George Wallace and Curtis LeMay had taken 13.53%,           
won five states in the Deep South and carried their 46 votes in the electoral             
college. Because of G.O.P. Vice Presidential nominee Spiro Agnew's apparent               
weakness as a candidate relative to Muskie, Humphrey was heard to remark that             
voters' uncertainties about whom to choose between the top two Presidential               
candidates should be resolved by their attitudes toward the Vice-Presidential             
Continuing his career in the Senate, Muskie served as Chairman of the U.S.                 
Senate Committee on the Budget through the Ninety-third to the Ninety-sixth               
Congresses in 1973–80.                                                                   
In 1970, the Maine senator was chosen to articulate the Democratic party's                 
message to congressional voters before the midterm elections. Muskie's national           
stature was raised as a major candidate for the Democratic Presidential                   
Nomination in 1972.                                                                       
Before the 1972 election, Muskie was viewed as a frontrunner for the Democratic           
Presidential nomination. The nation was at war in Vietnam and President Richard           
Nixon's war policies (and foreign policy, more generally) promised to be a major           
issue in the campaign.                                                                     
The 1972 Iowa caucuses, however, significantly altered the race for the                   
Presidential nomination. Left-wing dark horse candidate, South Dakota Senator             
George McGovern, made a strong showing in the caucuses, giving his campaign               
national attention. Although Muskie won the Iowa caucuses, McGovern's campaign             
left Iowa with momentum. Muskie himself had never participated in a primary               
election campaign, and it is possible that this led to the downfall of his                 
campaign. Although Muskie went on to win the New Hampshire primary, the victory           
was only by a small margin, and his campaign faltered.                                     
The collapse of Muskie's momentum early in the 1972 campaign is also attributed           
to his response to campaign attacks. Prior to the New Hampshire primary, the so-called     
"Canuck Letter" was published in the Manchester Union-Leader. The letter claimed           
that Muskie had made disparaging remarks about French-Canadians—a remark likely         
to injure Muskie's support among the French-Canadian population in northern New           
England. Subsequently, the paper published an attack on the character of Muskie's         
wife Jane, reporting that she drank and used off-color language during the                 
campaign. Muskie made an emotional defense of his wife in a speech outside the             
newspaper's offices during a snowstorm. Though Muskie later stated that what had           
appeared to the press as tears were actually melted snowflakes, the press                 
reported that Muskie broke down and cried, shattering the candidate's image as             
calm and reasoned.                                                                         
Evidence later came to light during the Watergate scandal investigation that,             
during the 1972 presidential campaign the Nixon campaign committee maintained a           
"dirty tricks" unit focused on discrediting Nixon's strongest challengers (see             
Ratfucking). Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigators revealed that             
the Canuck Letter was a forged document as part of the dirty-tricks campaign               
against Democrats orchestrated by the Nixon campaign.                                     
Muskie returned to serve in the Senate. In 1980, he was tapped by President               
Jimmy Carter to serve as Secretary of State, following the resignation of Cyrus           
Vance. Vance had opposed a secret rescue mission as a means of bringing the Iran           
Hostage Crisis to an end, and after that mission failed with the loss of eight U.S.       
servicemen, Vance resigned. There was a brief "Draft Muskie" movement in the               
summer of 1980 as it appeared the Democratic Convention may have deadlocked               
between President Carter and Edward Kennedy.                                               
Muskie attempted to bring the hostages home by diplomatic means, appealing to             
the United Nations and Iran. Muskie left public office following Carter's loss             
of the 1980 presidential election to Ronald Reagan and was awarded the                     
Presidential Medal of Freedom by Carter on January 16, 1981.                               
Muskie retired to his home in Washington D.C. in 1981. He continued to work as a           
lawyer for some years. In 1987, as an elder statesman, Muskie was appointed a             
member of the President's Special Review Board known as the "Tower Commission"             
to investigate President Ronald Reagan's administration's funneling of money in           
the Iran-Contra Scandal.                                                                   
Muskie died in Washington, D.C., of congestive heart failure in 1996, two days             
shy of his 82nd birthday. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Muskie's           
papers are kept at the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library           
at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.