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Edmund Sixtus ''Ed'' Muskie
58th United States Secretary of State
In office May 8, 1980 - January 20, 1981
President Jimmy Carter
Deputy Warren Christopher
Preceded by Cyrus Vance
Succeeded by Alexander Haig
United States Senator from Maine
In office January 4, 1959 - May 8, 1980
Preceded by Frederick Payne
Succeeded by George J. Mitchell
64th Governor of Maine
In office January 5, 1955 - January 2, 1959
Preceded by Burton M. Cross
Succeeded by Robert Haskell
Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on the Budget
In office January 3, 1975 - May 8, 1980
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Fritz Hollings
Born March 28, 1914 in Rumford, Maine
Died March 26, 1996 in Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic
Spouse Jane Muskie
Religion Roman Catholic
Edmund Sixtus ''Ed'' Muskie (March 28, 1914 - March 26, 1996) was an American Democratic politician from Maine. He served as Governor of Maine, a U.S. Senator, as U.S. Secretary of State, and ran as a candidate for Vice President of the United States.
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 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.
Career in Maine
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 1954.
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 & 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 & Curtis LeMay had taken 13.53%, won 5 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 candidates. 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.
U.S. presidential election, 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 reports that Muskie broke down and cried shattered 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. 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.
Secretary of State
Muskie was tapped by President Jimmy Carter to serve as Secretary of State, following the resignation of Cyrus Vance from that post in 1980. 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 US 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.
Retirement and death
Muskie retired to his home in Washington 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 funnelling of money in the Iran-Contra Scandal. Muskie died in Washington, D.C., of congestive heart failure in 1996, two days before 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.