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Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith

More From Olympia

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Olympia Snowe shares what it was like meeting Senator Margaret Chase Smith in her office.

Olympia's Biography

Olympia Snowe was born Olympia Jean Bouchles on February 21, 1947 in Augusta, Maine. At a young age, she was faced to overcome the early deaths of her parents, her uncle, and her first husband. In the wake of tragedy, she built a strong political career.


Snowe graduated from the University of Maine at Orono with a degree in political science in 1969. In 1973, she was first elected to the Maine House of Representatives to fill the vacant seat left by her first husband, Peter Snowe. She was re-elected for a full two-year team in 1974. After her term was up, she was elected to the Maine Senate in 1976. At the age of 31, Snowe was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine's second congressional districted in 1978, where she was the youngest Republican and the first Greek American woman to serve in Congress. Snowe served eight terms in the U.S. House until she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994.

As a U.S. Senator representing Maine, Snowe was well known for her work on budget-deficit reduction, fiscal issues, health care, women's issues, and foreign affairs. In her 35 years as an elected official, she never lost an election.


She is the first woman to have served in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of the U.S. Congress. In 2012, Snowe announced that she would not seek reelection in November 2012, and retired when her third term ended in January 2013.


Snowe is married to former Maine governor John R. McKernan, Jr. and lives in Auburn, Maine.