Edmund Muskie | Wikipedia audio article
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Edmund Muskie | Wikipedia audio article


Edmund Sixtus Muskie (March 28, 1914 – March
26, 1996) was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 58th United States
Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter, a United States Senator from Maine from 1959
to 1980, the 64th Governor of Maine from 1955 to 1959, a member of the Maine House of Representatives
from 1946 to 1951, and the Democratic Party’s candidate for Vice President of the United
States in the 1968 election. Born in Rumford, Maine to Polish parents,
Muskie graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, and Cornell University in Ithaca. He worked
as a lawyer for two years before serving in the United States Naval Reserve from 1942
to 1945 during World War II. Upon his return, Muskie served in the Maine State Legislature
from 1946 to 1951 against heavy Republican opposition. Despite an unsuccessful bid for
the mayoralty of Waterville, he was elected the 64th Governor of Maine in an upset victory
as its first Roman Catholic in 1954. Although elected as a reform Governor, Muskie split
from his mandate; he amended its constitution multiple times to consolidate power, suspended
the “as Maine goes, so goes the nation” doctrine, pressed aggressive economic expansionism and
instated environmental provisions. Muskie’s actions severed a nearly 100-year Republican
stronghold, led to the political insurgency of the Maine Democrats, and pushed Maine into
the Golden Age of Capitalism. He used his increased public presence to gain a seat in
the United States Senate representing his home state.
His legislative accomplishments during his career as a Senator facilitated a vast expansion
of modern liberalism in the United States. He fathered the 1960s environmental movement
which culminated in the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and Clean Water Act of 1972—hallmarks
of international environmental policy. A supporter of the civil rights movement, Muskie rallied
support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
and tapered Richard Nixon’s “Imperial Presidency” by advancing New Federalism. Muskie ran alongside
Hubert Humphrey against Nixon in the 1968 presidential election, only to lose by 0.7
percentage points (42.72% vs. 43.42%), one of the narrowest margins in the history of
the United States. He would go on to run in the 1972 presidential election where he secured
1.84 million votes in the primaries coming in fourth out of 15 contesters. The release
of the controversial “Canuck letter” derailed his campaign. After the election, he returned to the Senate
where he gave the 1976 State of the Union Response. Muskie served as first chairman
of the new Senate Budget Committee from 1975 to 1980 where he established the United States
budget process. Upon his retirement from the Senate, Carter nominated him to serve as the
58th U.S. Secretary of State; he was confirmed to take office by a margin of 94-2. Assuming
the office in the middle of a series of violent international conflicts, his biggest success
as secretary came when his state department negotiated the release of 52 Americans concluding
the Iran hostage crisis. Historical evaluations place Muskie among the top three most important
political leaders in the history of Maine, usually coupled with James Blaine and Hannibal
Hamlin. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 and is honored with a public
holiday in Maine.==Early life and education==
Edmund Sixtus Muskie was born on Saturday, March 28, 1914 in Rumford, Maine. He was born
after their first child, Irene (b. 1912), and before his brother Eugene (b. 1918) and
three sisters, Lucy (b. 1916), Elizabeth (b. 1923), and Frances (b. 1921). His father,
Stephen Marciszewski, born and raised in Jasionowka, Russian Poland and worked as an estate manager
for minor Russian nobility. He immigrated to America in 1903 and changed his name to
Muskie from “Marciszewski” in 1914. He worked as a master tailor and Muskie’s mother, Josephine
(née Czarnecka) worked as a housewife. She was born to a Polish-American family in Buffalo,
New York. Muskie’s parents married in 1911, and Josephine moved to Rumford soon after.Muskie’s
first language was Polish; he spoke it as his only language until age 4. He began learning
English soon after and eventually lost fluency in his mother language. In his youth he was
an avid fisherman, hunter, and swimmer. He felt as though his given name was “odd” so
he went by Ed throughout his life. Muskie was shy and anxious in his early life but
maintained a sizable amount of friends. Muskie attended Stephens High School, where he played
baseball, participated in the performing arts, and was elected student body president in
his senior year. He would go on to graduate in 1932 at the top of his class as valedictorian.
A 1931 edition of the school’s newspaper noted him with the following: “when you see a head
and shoulders towering over you in the halls of Stephen’s, you should know that your eyes
are feasting on the future President of the United States.”Influenced by the political
excitement of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election to the White House, he attended Bates College
in Lewiston, Maine. While at college, Muskie was a successful member of the debating team,
participated in several sports, and was elected to student government. Although he received
a small scholarship and New Deal subsidies, he had to work during the summers as a dishwasher
and bellhop at a hotel in Kennebunk to finance his time at Bates. He would record in his
diaries occasional feelings of insecurity to his more wealthier Bates peers; Muskie
was fearful of being kicked out of the college as a consequence of his socioeconomic status.
His situation would gradually improve and he went on to graduate in 1936 as class president
and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Initially intending to major in mathematics he switched
to a double major in history and government.Upon his graduation, he was given a partial merit-based
scholarship to Cornell Law School. After his second semester there, his scholarship ran
out. As he was preparing to drop out, he heard of an “eccentric millionaire” named William
Bingham II who had a habit of randomly and sporadically paying the university costs,
mortgages, car loans, and other expenses of those who wrote to him. After Muskie wrote
to him about his immigrant origins he secured $900 from the man allowing him to finance
his final years at Cornell. While in law school he was elected to Phi Alpha Delta and went
on to graduate cum laude, in 1939. Upon graduating from Cornell, Muskie was admitted to the Massachusetts
Bar in 1939.He then worked as a high school substitute teacher while he was studying for
the Maine Bar examination; he passed in 1940. Muskie moved to Waterville and purchased a
small law practice–renamed “Muskie & Glover”–for $2,000 in March 1940.===Marriage and children===
Jane Frances Grey was born February 12, 1927 in Waterville to Myrtie and Millage Guy Gray.
Growing up she was voted “prettiest in school” in high school and at age 15, started her
first job in a dress shop earning $3.49 a week. At age 18, she was hired to be a bookkeeper
and saleswoman in an exclusive haute couture boutique in Waterville. While there a mutual
friend tried to introduce her to Muskie while he was working the city as a lawyer. She had
Grey model the dresses while he was walking to work. Muskie came into the shop one day
and invited her to a gala event. At the time she was 19 and he was 32; their difference
in age stirred controversy in the town. However, after eighteen months of courting Grey and
her family, she agreed to marry him in a private ceremony in 1948. Gray and Muskie had five
children: Stephen (b. 1949), Ellen (b. 1950), Melinda (b. 1956), Martha (b. 1958), and Edmund
Jr. (b. 1961). The Muskies lived in a yellow cottage at Kennebunk Beach while they lived
in Maine. The mayor of Waterville made May 20, 1957 “Jane Muskie Day” in honor of Jane
Muskie.==U.S. Navy Reserve, 1942–1945==
In June 1940, President Roosevelt created the V-12 Navy College Training Program to
prepare men under the age of 28 for the eventual outbreak of World War II. Muskie formally
registered for the draft in October 1940 and was formally called to deck officer training
on March 26, 1942. At 28, he was assigned to work as a diesel engineer in the Naval
Reserve Midshipmen’s School. On September 11, 1942 he was called to Annapolis, Maryland
to attended the United States Naval Academy. He left his law practice running so “his name
would continue to circulate in Waterville” while he was gone. He trained as an apprentice
seaman for six weeks before being assigned the rank of midshipman.In January 1943, he
attended diesel engineering school for sixteen weeks before being assigned to First Naval
District, Boston in May. Muskie worked on the USS YP-522 for a month. In June he was
assigned to the USS YP-566 at Fort Schuyler in New York where he worked as an indoctrinator.
In November 1943 he was prompted to Deck Officer. He trained for two weeks in Miami, Florida
at the Submarine Chaser Training Center. After that he was relocated to Columbus, Ohio to
study reconnaissance in February 1944. In March he was promoted to junior-level Lieutenant.
Muskie was stationed at California’s Mare Island in April temporarily before formally
engaging in active duty warfare.He began his active duty tour aboard the destroyer escort
USS Brackett. His vessel was in charge of protecting U.S. convoys traveling from the
Marshal and Gilbert Islands from Japanese submarines. The Brackett escorted ships to
and from the islands for the majority of summer 1944. In January 1945, the ship engaged and
eventually sunk a Japanese cargo ship headed for Taroa Island. After a few more months
of escorting ships to and from the two islands, the ship was decommissioned. He was discharged
from the Navy on December 18, 1945.==Maine House of Representatives==He returned to Maine in January 1946 and began
rebuilding his law practice. Convinced by others to run for political office as a way
of expanding his law practice, he formally entered politics. He ran against Republican
William A. Jones in an election for the Maine House of Representatives for the 110th District.
Muskie secured 2,635 votes and won the election to most people’s surprise on September 9,
1946. During this time the Maine Senate was stacked 30-to-3 and the House was stacked
127-to-24 Republicans against Democrats.He was assigned to the committees on federal
and military relations during his first year. Muskie advocated for bipartisanship which
won him over widespread support across political parties. On October 17, 1946, his law practice
sustained a large fire costing him an estimated $2,300 in damages. However a yearly stipend
of $800 and help from other business leaders who were affected by the fire quickly restarted
his practice.His work with city ordinances in Waterville prompted locals to ask him to
run in the 1947 election to become Mayor of Waterville against banker Russel W. Squire.
Due to incumbency advantage, Muskie lost the election with 2,853 votes, 434 votes behind
Squire. Some historians believe that his loss had to do with his inability to gain traction
with Franco-American voters.Muskie continued his political involvement locally by securing
a position on the Waterville Board of Zoning Adjustment in 1948 and stayed in this part-time
position until he became governor. He later returned to the House to start his second
term in 1948 as Minority Leader against heavy Republican opposition. Muskie was appointed
that chairman of the platform committee during the 1949 Maine Democratic Convention. During
the convention, he brought together a variety of the political elite of Maine — notably
Frank M. Coffin and Victor Hunt Harding — to plan a comeback for the party. On February
8, 1951, Muskie resigned from the Maine House of Representatives to become acting director
for the Maine Office of Price Stabilization. He moved to Portland soon after and was assigned
the inflation-control and price-ceiling divisions. His job required him to move across Maine
to spread word about economic incentives which he used to increase his name recognition.
He served as the regional director at the Office of Price Stabilization from 1951 to
1952. Upon leaving the Office he was asked to join the Democratic National Committee
as a member; he served on the committee from 1952 to 1956.In April 1953, while working
on renovations for his family home in Waterville, Muskie broke through a balcony railing falling
two flights of stairs. He landed on his back, knocking unconscious. He was rushed to the
hospital where he remained unconscious for two days. Doctors believed that he was in
a coma so they gave him comatose-speicifc medication which caused him to regain consciousness
but start to hallucinate. Muskie tried to jump out of the hospital window but was restrained
by staff members. After a couple of months, through physical rehabilitation and corrective
braces, he was able to walk once more.==Governor of Maine, 1955–1959=====Gubernatorial campaign===After establishing a prominent presence in
the Maine State Legislature and with the Office of Price Stabilization, he officially launched
his bid in the 1954 Maine gubernatorial race as a Democrat. Burton M. Cross, the Republican
incumbent governor was seeking reelection. Had he won, he would have been the fifth consecutive
Governor to be reelected. Throughout the election Muskie was viewed as the underdog because
of the Republican stronghold in Maine. Muskie acknowledged this himself by saying, “[this
is] more as a duty than an opportunity because there was no chance of a Democrat winning.”
A variety of personal reasons motivated his run. Muskie was deeply in debt owing five
thousand dollars in hospital bills and maintained a rising mortgage. At the time of his election,
the salary for the Governor of Maine was set at ten thousand dollars annually. While he
was campaigning he was offered a position involving full partnership at a prestigious
Rumford law firm that maintained “clients and income that [Muskie] had not achieved
in fourteen years of practice in Waterville.” His final choice reflected his ‘society over
self’ mentality and decided to pursue the election. He announced his candidacy for the
office on April 8, 1954.Muskie ran on a party platform of environmentalism and public investment.
His environmental platform argued for the establishment of the Maine Department of Conservation
to “have jurisdiction of forestry, inland fish and game, sea and shore fisheries, mineral,
water, and other natural resources” and the creation of anti-pollution legislation. He
stressed the need for “a two-party” approach to Maine politics with resonated with both
Democratic and Republican voters wishing to see change. Muskie’s central campaign slogan
was “Maine Needs A Change” referencing the multi-year Republican stronghold. He criticized
the Republican Party for neglecting the environment, failing to restart the economy, underutilizing
skilled labour forces, and ignoring public investment.He successively won the Democratic
gubernatorial nomination, and then the general election by a majority popular vote on September
13, 1954. The upset victory made Muskie the first Democrat to be elected chief executive
of Maine since Louis J. Brann in 1934. His election has been viewed as a causal link
to the end of Republican political dominance in Maine and the rise of the Democratic Party.
After his win, he was asked by other Democrats running in elections outside of Maine to make
a series of campaign stops.===First term===Muskie was inaugurated as the 64th Governor
of Maine on January 6, 1955. He was the state’s first Roman Catholic governor. Shortly after
his assumption of the office, the next election cycle stacked the legislature with a 4-to-1
Republican-Democrat ratio against Muskie. Through bipartisanship and his aggressive
personality he managed to pass the majority of his party platform. Constituents pressured
him to more aggressively pursue water control and anti-pollution legislation. In August,
the Maine State Legislature authorized him to take extraordinary action to control the
state’s pollution standards. He used this authority to sign the New England Interstate
Water Pollution Control Compact on August 31, 1955. This compact required member states
to pay for anti-pollution measures collectively. Conservative members of the Chamber of Commerce
fought back against Muskie in his attempt to allocate money to the compact and greatly
reduced the amount paid. One of the chief concerns of Muskie during this time was economic
development. Maine’s population was aging, putting pressure on welfare services. He expanded
certain programs and cut down on others in order rebalance state spending. Before leaving
office Muskie signed an executive order extending the gubernatorial term to four years.He expanded
the territory comprising Baxter State Park by 3,569 acres and purchased 40 acres (1.7
million ft2) of Cape Elizabeth from the federal government for $28,000. He also created the
Department of Development of Commerce and Industry and Maine Industrial Building Authority.
In February 1955, he was briefed on atomic energy power by the United States Atomic Energy
Commission leading him to limit the expansion of atomic-powered electrical facilities.===Second term===
On September 10, 1956, Muskie was re-elected Governor of Maine with 180,254 votes (59.14%
of the vote) against Republican Willis A. Trafton. He won 14 of the 16 counties. He
began his second term by aggressively enforcing environmental standards. In 1957, he sanctioned
a $29 million highway bond. This bond funded the largest road construction ever undertaken
by Maine. The highway included 91 bridges and was extended in 1960 and 1967 by Interstate
95.During his tenure as Governor he retained a reputation for increased spending in public
education, subsidized hospitals, modernized state facilities, and cumulatively raised
state sale taxes by 1%. He added $4 million to infrastructure development focusing on
roads and river maintenance. Muskie pushed aggressive economic expansionism. In 1957,
he founded the Maine Guarantee Authority which combated economic maturation-related job loss
making making capital more accessible for business owners. Muskie also sporadically
lowered sales tax, increased the minimum wage and furthered labor protections leading to
a marked increase in consumer spending. He amended the constitution of Maine in order
divert $20 million in public funds into private investment. His increased subsidies to expensive
institutions such as public primary and secondary schools as well as universities. Although
initially founded in 1836, the Maine State Museum was closed and reopened six time before
Muskie permanently endowed it in 1958.His governorship exploited multi-factionalism
in the Republican Party leading to a vast expansion of the Democratic Party in Maine.
From 1954 to 1974, the party doubled in size, while the Republican Party steadily decreased
from 262,367 to 227,828 registered members. Numerous state politicians mimicked his political
style to push their programs through various local governments and garnered electoral success.
His executive appointments of moderate politicians shifted the entire Republican establishment
in the state to the left. This shift garnered comparisons to Hubert Humphrey’s influence
in Minnesota and George McGovern’s impact in South Dakota. During his last months as
governor he changed his office’s term from two years to four years. Shortly before leaving
office he moved Maine’s general election date from September to November conclusively ending
the notion that “as Maine goes, so goes the nation”. This was attempted thirty-six times
before Muskie brought about a constitutional amendment that moved the date.Muskie resigned
on January 2, 1959 to take his seat in the United States Senate after the 1958 Senate
election. He was succeeded by Republican Robert Haskell in an interim capacity until the Governor-elect,
Democrat Clinton Clauson, was inaugurated. Muskie was officially succeeded by Clauson
on January 6, 1959.==United States Senate, 1959–1980=====Elections and campaigns===
Muskie’s first contestation for the Senate of the United States was in 1958. He ran in
the 1958 elections against incumbent Republican Senator Frederick G. Payne. Muskie won the
election with 60% of the vote against Payne’s 39%. He was one of the 12 Democrats who overtook
Republican incumbents and established the party as the party-of-house during the election
cycle. The New York Times reported that during this election that the absentee ballots requested
for Democrats increased considerable signaling voter-discontent with Republican ideology.
This election was considered the largest single-party gain in the Senate’s history.He ran for a
second term in 1964, running against Republican Clifford McIntire. Muskie won with 66.6% of
the vote. The election was called “The Senate Race That Couldn’t Be Lost” because of the
outpouring of Democratic support following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.====Election eve speech====
His third campaign and election to the Senate occurred in 1970. During the 1970 elections,
Muskie secured 61.9% of the vote against Republican Neil S. Bishop’s 38.3%. The elections were
seen as tumultuous due to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War and rising
unpopularity of incumbent president Richard Nixon. On the night of poll-opening Muskie
gave a nationwide, 14 minute speech to addressed American voters following a similar address
by Nixon. Dubbed the “election eve speech” it spoke to American exceptionalism and against
“torrents of falsehood and insinuation”. The speech was considered bipartisan and was well
received by both parties. Political analysts believed that the speech influenced voting
patterns during the election as there were thirty million listeners. Commentators received
the speech as “essentially evangelical” and possessive of “a volcanic private temper but
a soothing public manner”. The most famous passage from the speech was widely commented
on by the public for its biting nature and critique of “politics of fear”: I am speaking from Cape Elizabeth, Maine to
discuss with you the election campaign which is coming to a close. In the heat of our campaigns,
we have all become accustomed to a little anger and exaggeration. That is our system.
It has worked for almost two hundred years – longer than any other political system
in the world. But in these elections of 1970, something has gone wrong. There has been name-calling
and deception of almost unprecedented volume. Honorable men have been slandered. Faithful
servants of the country have had their motives questioned and their patriotism doubted. It
has been led . . . inspired . . . and guided . . . from the highest offices in the land.
… We cannot make America small. … Ordinarily that division is not between parties, but
between men and ideas. But this year the leaders of the Republican party have intentionally
made that line a party line. They have confronted you with exactly that choice. Thus – in
voting for the Democratic party tomorrow – you cast your vote for trust – not just in leaders
or policies – but for trusting your fellow citizens . . . in the ancient traditions of
this home for freedom . . . and most of all, for trust in yourself.
The Portland Press Herald on November 4, 1970 noted it akin to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fire-side
chats “with video”. The speech has been the subject of numerous studies regarding “the
dimensions of the televised public address as an emerging rhetorical genre of pervasive
influence in contemporary affairs”.In his fourth and final election, Muskie ran against
Republican Robert A. G. Monks in 1976; he won 60.2% of the vote compared to Monk’s 39.8%.
The elections coincided with the election of Jimmy Carter as president leading to a
large influx of Democratic support, though Carter lost Maine to incumbet President Gerald
Ford in the 1976 presidential election.===First and second term===
Edmund Muskie was sworn into office as U.S. Senator from Maine on January 3, 1959. His
first couple of months in the Senate earned a reputation for being combative and often
sparred with Majority Leader, Lyndon B. Johnson, who subsequently relegated him to outer seats
in the Senate. In the next five years, he gained significant power and influence and
was considered among the most effective legislators in the Senate. However, increased power and
influence prompted supporters in Maine to label him “an honorary Kennedy,” alluding
to the indifference John F. Kennedy had to Massachusetts when first gaining political
traction. Muskie used the influence gain in his first two terms to push a vast expansion
of environmentalism in the late 1950s and early 1960s. His specific goals were to curb
pollution and provide a cleaner environment. Occasional speeches on environmental preservation
earned him the nickname “Mr. Clean”.He served his entire career in the Senate as a member
of the Committee on Public Works, a committee he used to execute the majority of his environmental
legislation. He served on the Committee on Banking and Currency from 1959 to 1970; the
Committee on Government Operations until 1978. As a member of the Public Works Committee,
he traveled to the Soviet Union in 1959. He sponsored the Intergovernmental Relations
Act, later that year.In 1962, he co-founded the United States Capital Historical Society
along with other members of congress. The same year, member of Congress elected him
to serve as the first chair of the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution. In 1963, he was
the first to sponsor a new Act to regulate air pollution. The Clean Air Act of 1963 was
written and developed by Muskie and his aide Leon Billings. His first major accomplishment was the passage
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He assembled more than one hundred votes to the proposed
legislation eventually passing it. Also during 1964, he was critical of J. Edgar Hoover’s
management of the Federal Bureau of investigation. Muskie was upset by its “overzealous surveillance
and its director’s intemperance”. Muskie also sponsored the construction of the Roosevelt
Campobello International Park near Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Brunswick estate. Do
to its international nature, Muskie was asked to chair a join U.S.-Canada commission to
maintain the park. In 1965, he was again sponsored the Water Quality Act (later to be known as
the Clean Water Act). He was the floor manager for the discussion and led to its passage
in 1965 and its successful amendments in 1970.Alongside President Johnson’s Great Society and War
on Poverty programs, Muskie drafted the Model Cities Bill which eventually passed both houses
of Congress in 1966. Previously, combative with Johnson, Muskie began developing a more
cooperative relationship with him. During Johnson’s signing of the Intergovernmental
Cooperation Act he said: I am pleased that Senator Muskie could be with us this afternoon.
I believe that no man has done more to encourage cooperation among the National Government,
the States, and the cities.” Also in 1966, Muskie was elected assistant Democratic whip
and served as the floor manager for the Clean Water Restoration Act. During 1967 the popular sentiment in the U.S.
was anti-war, which prompted Muskie to visit Vietnam to inform his political stance in
1968. Prior to his visiting the country, he debated with a congressman on a pro-war platform.
After the trip, he became a leading voice for the movement and entered into the ongoing
debate by speaking at the year’s Democratic Convention. His speech was followed by “tens
of thousands of protestors surrounded the convention and violent clashes with police
carried on for five days.” He wrote to Johnson personally asserting his position on the Vietnam
War. He made the case that the U.S. ought to withdraw from Vietnam as quickly as possible.
Months later, he wrote to the president again urging him to end the bombing of North Vietnam.
During the same year, he traveled with other Senators to the Republic of South Vietnam
to validate their elections.Later, at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, he led
the debate for the administration plank on Vietnam, which sparked public outrage. On
October 15, 1969, he was welcomed to the green at Yale University to address the issues regarding
his vote but chose to decline the offer and speak that night at his alma mater, Bates
College, in Lewiston, Maine. His decision to do so was widely criticized by the Democratic
party and Yale University officials. From 1967 to 1969, he served as the chair of Democratic
Senatorial Campaign Committee. He successfully voted against the appointment of Clement Haynsworth
to the U.S. Supreme Court.===Third and fourth term===
His third term began in 1970 by co-sponsoring the McGovern-Hatfield resolution to limit
military intervention in the Vietnam War. During this time Harold Carswell was seeking
appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Muskie voted against him and Carswell failed the
confirmation process. Muskie also proposed a six-month ban on domestic and Soviet Union
development of nuclear technologies to taper the nuclear arms race.As chair of the congressional
environmental committee, he and fellow committee members including Howard Baker introduced
the Clean Air Act of 1970, which was co-written by the committee’s staff director Leon Billings
and minority staff director Tom Jorling. As part of the act, he told the automobile industry
it would need to reduce its tailpipe air pollution emissions by 90% by 1977. He also co-wrote
amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Act, more commonly known as the Clean Water
Act in order to mitigate the “disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental
effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority, low-income, and indigenous populations.”
The bill enjoyed bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress and was passed by the lower
house on November 29, 1971 and the upper house on March 29, 1972. While congressional support
was enough to enact it into law President Richard Nixon exercised his executive veto
on the bill and stopped it from becoming law. However, after further campaigning by Muskie,
the Senate and House of Representatives passed the bill 247-23 to override Nixon’s veto.
The bill was historic in that it established the regulation of pollutants in the federal
and state waters of the U.S., created extended authority for the Environmental Protection
Agency, and created water health standards. Also in 1971, Muskie was asked to join the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee; he traveled to Europe and the Middle East in this capacity.After
concluding his 1968 campaign for the White House he returned to the Senate. While in
Chattanooga, the shooting of two black students at Jackson State College in 1970 by the Mississippi
State Police, prompted Muskie to hire a jet airliner to take approximately one hundred
people to see the bullet holes and attend a funeral of one of the victims. The people
of Maine said this was “rash and self serving” but Muskie has stated his lack of regret for
his actions publicly. At an event in Los Angeles, he publicly stated his support for several
black empowerment movements in California, which garnered the attention of numerous media
outlets, and black city councilman Thomas Bradley. In 1970, Muskie was chosen to articulate
the Democratic party’s message to congressional voters before the midterm elections. His national
stature was raised as a major candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in
1972. In 1973, he gave the Democratic response to Nixon’s State of the Union address. During
this time, he was appointed the chair of the intergovernmental relations subcommittee.
Considered a “a backwater assignment”, Muskie used it to advocate for a widening of governmental
responsibilities, limiting the power of Richard Nixon’s “Imperial Presidency” and advancing
New Federalism ideals.He served as the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee through the
Ninety-third to the Ninety-sixth Congresses from 1973 to 1980. During this time, Congress
founded the Congressional Budget Office in order to challenge Nixon’s budget request.
Prior to 1974, there was no formal process for establishing a federal budget so Congress
founded the office under the auspices of the Senate Budget Committee. As chairman, Muskie
presided over, formulated, and approved of the creation of the United States budget process.In
1977, he amended Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 along with others, to pass the
Clean Water Act of 1977. These new additions incorporated “non-degradation” or “clean growth”
policies intended to limit negative externalities. In 1978, he made minor adjustments to the
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the “Superfund”.==Campaigns for the White House=====1968 presidential election=======
Campaign====In 1968, Muskie was nominated for vice president
on the Democratic ticket with sitting Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey asked
Muskie to be his running mate because he was a more reserved contrast personality-wise,
from a Catholic background and of Polish origin.The Humphrey-Muskie ticket narrowly lost the election
to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. Humphrey and Muskie received 42.72 percent of the popular
vote and carried 13 states and 191 electoral votes; Nixon and Agnew won 43.42 percent of
the popular vote and carried 32 states and 301 electoral votes, while the third party
ticket of George Wallace and Curtis LeMay, running as candidates of the American Independent
Party, took 13.53 percent of the popular vote and took five states in the Deep South and
their 46 votes in the electoral college. Because of Agnew’s apparent weakness as a candidate
relative to Muskie, Humphrey was heard to remark that voters’ uncertainties about whom
to choose between the two major presidential candidates should be resolved by their attitudes
toward the Vice-Presidential candidates. While on the vice-presidential campaign trail in
Chattanooga, Tennessee, he was quoted as saying: The truth is that Americans born in this great
tradition of humanism, still yield to prejudice and practice discrimination against other
Americans. The truth is, having developed patterns and ways of living which reflect
these shortcomings and weaknesses, we find it burdensome and difficult to and all too
often unacceptable to do the uncomfortable things that we all must do to right the wrongs
of our society.===1972 presidential election=======
Background and primaries====Before the 1972 election, Muskie was viewed
as a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Despite his political rise in
the polls he continued to engage in tiring day after day speeches in various part of
the country. During an August 17, 1969 appearance on Meet the Press, Muskie said his entry into
the presidential primary would depend on his being convinced that he could meet the challenges
as well as his comfort: “I don’t think I’ll answer either question for a year or two.”
On November 8, 1970, Muskie said he would only declare himself as a presidential candidate
in the event he became convinced he was best suited for unifying the country through the
presidency. In August 1971, Harris polling amid a growing
economic crisis, Muskie came out on top of incumbent Nixon if the election had been held
that day. In late 1971, Muskie gave an anti-war speech in Providence. The nation was at war
in Vietnam and President Richard Nixon’s foreign policy promised to be a major issue in the
campaign.The 1972 Iowa caucuses, however, significantly altered the race for the presidential
nomination. Senator George McGovern from South Dakota, initially a dark horse candidate,
made a strong showing in the caucuses which gave 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 a weakening
of his campaign. Muskie went on to win the New Hampshire primary, the victory was by
only a small margin, and his campaign took a hit after the release of the “Canuck letter”.====”Canuck letter”====On February 24, 1972, a staffer from the White
House forwarded a letter purporting to be written by Muskie to the Manchester Union-Leader.
The forged letter– reportedly the successful sabotage work of Donald Segretti and Ken W.
Clawson –asserted that Muskie had made disparaging remarks about French-Canadians which were
likely to injure his support among the French-American population in northern New England. The letter
contained reference to French-Canadians as “Canucks”– an affectionate term among Canadians
–leading to its sobriquet, “The Canuck letter”.A day later, the same paper released an article
that contained accusatory reference to his wife, Jane, as a drunkard and racially intolerant.
On the morning of February 26, Muskie gave a speech to supporters outside of the Manchester
Union-Leader offices in Manchester, New Hampshire. His speech was viewed as emotional and defensive;
he called the newspaper’s editor a “gutless coward”. Muskie gave the speech during a snowstorm
which created the appearance of him crying. 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. 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. Nixon was also reported to have ordered men
to follow Muskie around and gather information. He tried to connect Muskie’s acquaintance
with singer Frank Sinatra to an abuse of office. Muskie often flew on Sinatra’s private plane
while traveling around California.===1976 presidential election===
In early July 1976, Muskie spoke with Jimmy Carter in a “productive” and “harmonious”
discussion that was followed by Carter confirming that he considered Muskie qualified for the
vice-presidential nomination. Carter ultimately selected Walter Mondale as his running mate.==U.S. Secretary of State, 1980-81==In late April 1980, he was tapped by President
Jimmy Carter to serve as secretary of state, following the resignation of Cyrus Vance.
Vance had opposed Operation Eagle Claw, a secret rescue mission intended to rescue American
hostages held by Iran. After that mission failed with the loss of eight U.S. servicemen,
Vance resigned. Muskie was picked by Carter for his accomplishments with senatorial foreign
policy. He was appointed and soon after confirmed by the Senate on May 8, 1980 by a margin of
94-2.===Draft Muskie movement===
In June 1980, there was a “draft Muskie” movement among Democratic voters within the primaries
of the 1980 presidential election. President Carter was running against Senator Ted Kennedy,
and opinion polls ranked Muskie more favorably against Kennedy. One poll showed that Muskie
would be a more popular alternative to Carter than Ted Kennedy, implying that the attraction
was not so much to Kennedy as to the fact that he was not Carter. Moreover, Muskie was
polled against Republican challenger Ronald Reagan at the time showing Carter seven points
down. Due to a political allegiance with Carter, he backed out of the contention. Pressured
by the Carter Administration, Muskie released the following public statement to Democratic
voters: “I accepted the appointment as secretary of state to serve the country and to serve
the president. I continue to serve the president, and I will support him all the way! I have
a commitment to the president. I don’t make such commitments lightly, and I intend to
keep it.” An article by The New Yorker speculated that the move to back Muskie was a temporary
flex of political power by the Democratic voter base to unease Carter.===Afghanistan===
In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan which prompted NATO to trigger
its ally contract. Muskie began his tenure as secretary of state five months into the
invasion. He assigned Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher the tasks of managing the domestic
side of the department while he participated in international deliberations. Muskie met
with Soviet diplomat Andrei Gromyko who categorically rejected a compromise that would secure the
Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Gromyko wanted the state department to formally
recognize Kabul as a part of the Soviet Union.===Soviet Union===
Muskie was against the rapid accumulation of highly developed weaponry during the 1950s
and 1960s as he thought that would inevitably lead to a nuclear arms race that would erode
international trust and cooperation. He spoke frequently with the government executives
of Cold War allies and that of the Soviet Union urging them to suspend their programs
in pursuit of global security. Muskie’s inclinations were confirmed during the early 1970s when
Russia split from the U.S. and accumulated more warheads and anti-ballistic missile systems.
In November 1980, Muskie stated that Russia was interested in pursuing a “more stable,
less confrontational’ relationship with the United States.” He criticized the stances
undertaken by Ronald Reagan multiple times during his presidential campaign expressing
disdain for the calls to reject the SALT II treaty. Muskie, throughout his political career,
was deeply afraid of global nuclear war with the Soviet Union.===Iran hostage crisis===On November 4, 1979, fifty-two American diplomats
and citizens were held hostage by an Iranian student group in Tehran’s U.S. Embassy. After
the resignation of Cyrus Vance left a gap in the negotiations for the hostages, Muskie
appealed to the United Nations (U.N.) and the government of Iran to release the hostages
to little success. Already six-months into the hostage crisis, he was pressed to reach
a diplomatic solution. Before he assumed the position, the Delta Force rescue attempt resulted
in the death of multiple soldiers leaving military intervention a sensitive course of
action for the American public. He established diplomatic ties with the Iranian government
and attempted to have the hostages released yet was initially unsuccessful. On January
15, as Muskie was flying to address the Maine Senate in Augusta, President Carter called
him as his jet was touching down at Andrews Air Force Base. Carter alerted him there was
a possible break through in the negotiations conducted by his deputy secretary Warren Christopher.
After the negotiations were reached, Muskie instructed the state department to reach an
agreement for the hostage’s release. On January 20–the inauguration day of Ronald Reagan–the
fifty-two hostages were handed over to U.S. authorities.Muskie left office on January
18, 1981, two days before Carter’s last day as president and the inauguration of Ronald
Reagan.==Return to law and the commission==Muskie retired to his home in Bethesda, Maryland,
in 1981. He continued to work as a lawyer for some years. After leaving public office,
he was a partner with Chadbourne & Parke, a law firm in Washington. Muskie also served
as the chairman of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University as well
as the chairman Emeritus of the Center for National Policy.===Tower Commission===
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
role in the Iran-Contra affair. Muskie and the commission issued a highly detailed report
of more than 300 pages that was critical of the presidents actions and blamed the White
House chief of staff, Donald T. Regan, for unduly influencing the president’s activities.
The panel was notable as the findings of the report was directly critical of the president
who appointed the commission.Muskie was critical of the commission decrying the “over-obsession
with secrecy,” noting that “there are occasions when it’s necessary to hold closely information
about especially covert operations, but even possibly other operations of the Government.
But every time that you are over-concerned about secrecy, you tend to abandon process.”
While underfunded, the commission did find that the Reagan administration ran a parallel
policy directive at the same time they were publicly condemning negotiating for hostages.==Death and funeral==Muskie died at 4:06 AM EST on the morning
of March 26, 1996 at the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after
seeking treatment for bouts of congestive heart failure. He died two days shy of his
82nd birthday. Eight days prior he underwent a carotid endarterectomy in his right neck.
His assistant reported that he had suffered a myocardial infarction. Some historians believe
that his blood clots were brought on from frequent 8,421 mile (13,552 km) flights to
Cambodia; he was asked to assist in stabilizing its government on behalf of President Bill
Clinton.Due to his service in the United States Naval Reserve during World War II, he was
eligible to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia. His
ultimate rank of lieutenant had him placed in Section 25 of the cemetery. Although he
died on March 26, his grave stone initially noted that he died on the 25th. His wife,
Jane, died on December 25, 2004, due to health complications brought on by Alzheimer’s disease.
She was buried next to Muskie and his grave stone was corrected to read “March 26, 1996”.Muskie
was memorialized in Washington D.C., Lewiston, Maine, and Bethesda, Maryland. At his Washington
memorial, he was paid tribute to by a variety of U.S. senators and house representatives.
His alma mater–Bates College–held a memorial presided over by its president, Donald Harward.
On March 30, 1996, a publicly-broadcast, Roman Catholic funeral was held in Bethesda at the
Church of the Little Flower. He was eulogized by U.S. president Jimmy Carter; U.S. Senator,
George J. Mitchell; 20th United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright;
a political aide, Leon G. Billings; and one of Muskie’s sons, Stephen.==Legacy=====
Historical evaluations===Historical evaluations of Edmund Muskie focus
on the impact his actions and legislation had in the United States and the greater world.
His accomplishments in his home state have had him noted as one of the most influential
politicians in the history of Maine. Depending on the metric he is coupled with Hannibal
Hamlin and James Blaine as the three most important politicians from Maine. Muskie occupied
all offices available in the Maine political system excluding state senator and United
States representative. His political status in Maine is generally perceived favorably.
During his four-year term as Governor of Maine he initiated a constitutional amendment, invested
heavily in infrastructure, and institutionalized economic development– effectively bringing
Maine into the Golden Age of Capitalism. Muskie ended the “as Maine goes, so goes the nation”
political sentiment in the United States by moving Maine’s general election date to November
instead of September. He preserved the cultural integrity of the state by endowing the Maine
State Museum which was seen as critical to his public perception. Although economic expansionism
was historically seen negatively by the people of Maine, Muskie’s policies were seen favorably
as they were coupled with environmental provisions. His advocation for minimum wage increases,
increased labor protections, and sales tax exemptions boosted consumer spending. Muskie
has been widely characterized as the catalyst for the political renaissance of the Democratic
Party in Maine. His election to the governorship signaled a fracturing of the Republican Party
in the state and nearly tripled the amount of Democrats in Maine between 1954 and 1974.Since
Muskie left office as the U.S. Secretary of State, writers, historians, scholars, political
analysts and the general public have debated his legacy. Particular emphasis is placed
on his impact in the environmentalist and civil rights movement; bureaucratic advancement,
and diplomacy. Overall supporters of Muskie point to an expansion of environmental protection,
preservation, and security. Numerous historians have noted him as “the father of the 1960s
environmental movement in America”. His accomplishments in environmentalism established two of the
foremost measures in international environmental policy: the Clean Water Act of 1963 and Clean
Air Act of 1972. His contributions to the Clean Air Act were so great that the bill
was nicknamed the “Muskie Act”. These two laws have been credited as the first major
step to launching the wider environmentalism movement both in the U.S. and to some extent,
the rest of the Free World. Harvard University historian Richard Lazarus summarized Muskie’s
legislative legacy with the following: Senator Muskie’s environmental law legacy
is no less than stunning in terms of positive impact on the nation’s natural environment.
It takes little imagination to speculate what our national landscape would now look like
if the economic growth we witnessed in the past four decades had not been accompanied
by the environmental protections for air, land, and water provided by the laws that
Senator Muskie championed in the 1970s. Muskie’s influence on American diplomacy was
detailed by the Office of the Historian with the following: “In the nine months Muskie
served as Secretary of State, he conducted the first high-level meeting with the Soviet
government after its December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. During these negotiations,
Secretary Muskie unsuccessfully attempted to secure the withdrawal of Soviet forces
from Afghanistan. [He] also assisted President Carter in the implementation of the “Carter
Doctrine,” which aimed to limit Soviet expansion into the Middle East and Persian Gulf. Finally,
under Muskie’s leadership, the State Department negotiated the release of the remaining American
hostages held by Iran.” Many political commentators believed the bestowing of the Presidential
Medal of Freedom by Carter to be an affirmation of this assertion.The public perception of
his civil rights advancement has endured. A champion of the civil rights movement in
the United States, he publicly criticized J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation,
which was at the time considered political suicide as Hoover often spied and attempted
to smear his opponents. Muskie also was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and developed the reform of lobbying.
His time as the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee from 1975 to 1980 include the formation
of the United States budget process. Because of this, he is known as the “father of the
federal budget process”. David Broder of The Washington Post, noted that Muskie’s leadership
of the Senate’s intergovernmental relations subcommittee was, in part, responsible for
countering Richard Nixon’s “Imperial Presidency” and advancing “New Federalism”.===Public and political image===
Muskie’s early political career was helped by his physical appearance. Voters could relate
to his public persona in ways that translated to relatively high voter turnout. R. W. Apple
Jr. described Muskie as “long-jawed and craggy-faced” later noting that he “looked like the typical
New Englander [with] a classic Down East accent.” Muskie’s height has variously been recorded
as 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) to 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m). His height had him often compared to U.S.
President Abraham Lincoln and referred to by voters and media alike as “Lincolnesque”.
He was often seen as “towering over” political candidates creating symbolic superiority and
power.Known as a recluse, he disliked public attention and media speculation. Voters often
associated with his “trademark directness, homespun integrity, and apolitical candor”.
However, political aides have described him as having a “hot temper” and being demanding.
A notorious micro-manager, Muskie was often required his aides to have “every speech and
every position researched, analyzed and reported directly back to him.” While reserved and
polite in public, when roused, it was reported that Muskie “had the vocabulary of a sailor”.
His ability to command an argument was taken positively by voters as it signaled good leadership
ability. Political opponents noted his “cutting intellect” as in-conducive to lengthy debates
and voters noted it as a good quality to possess when negotiating with foreign leaders. An
official publication by Cornell University commented on his political image by saying:
“he will be remembered for the quality of his mind; the toughness, the rigor, the common
sense; and for another quality: the courage to take risks for what he saw as right”.Known
to be punctual, he was present 90% of Senate roll-call votes. Although he was portrayed
as socially rigid, he often broke from this mold and showed a personable side. While campaigning
in cities, he often let students from the crowd run up to the stage and present a case
for policy reform, unheard of at the time. Journalist R. W. Apple Jr noted in his obituary
that his constant tendency for probity (i.e. standing firm in moral beliefs), was ultimately
politically detrimental.===Honors and memorials===
He was awarded the Guardian of Berlin’s Freedom Award from the U.S. Army Berlin Command in
1961. In 1969, he was inducted in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences alongside Ted
Kennedy, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Shirley Chisholm, and Bella Abzug.At the conclusion
of his political career, he held the highest political office by a Polish American in U.S.
history, and also was the only Polish American ever nominated by a major party for vice president.
On the 100th birthday of Edmund Muskie, U.S. Senator Agnus King spoke on the floor of the
United States Senate in memoriam. King noted the following: “if you would see Ed Muskie’s
memorial, look around you. Take a deep breath. Experience our great rivers. Experience the
environment that we now have in the country that we treasure.” Muskie has received the
keys to all three major cities in Maine: Portland, Lewiston, and Augusta. He was given honorary
citizenship to the State of Texas in 1968. Numerous days have been named “Edmund S. Muskie
Day”: September 25, 1968 (Michigan), January 20, 1980 (New York), March 28, 1988 (Maine),
March 1928, 1994 (Maine), and March 20, 1995 (Maine). In 1987, the Maine State Legislature
enacted Statute §A7 enacting “Edmund S. Muskie Day” on March 28. The statute was amended
in 1989; Edmund S. Muskie Day is celebrated annually and is a public holiday in Maine.Muskie
was given honorary degrees from Portland University (1955), Suffolk University (1955), University
of Maine (1956), University of Buffalo (1960), Saint Francis College (1961), Nasson College
(1962), Hanover College (1967), Syracuse University (1969), Boston University (1969), John Carroll
University (1969), Notre Dame University (1969), Middlebury College (1969), Providence College
(1969), University of Maryland (1969), George Washington University (1969), Northeastern
University (1969), College of William and Mary (1970), Ricker College (1970), St. Joseph’s
College (1970), University of New Hampshire (1970), St. Anselms College (1970), Washington
and Jefferson College (1971), Rivier College (1971), Thomas College (1973), Husson College
(1974), Unity College (1975), Marquette University (1982), Rutgers University (1986), Bates College
(1986), Washington College (1987), and University of Southern Maine (1992).Muskie was awarded
the Presidential Medal of Freedom–the nation’s highest honor–by President Jimmy Carter
on January 16, 1981 for his work during the Iran hostage crisis, four days before stepping
down from the presidency. In 1984, the House of Representatives designated the Edmund S.
Muskie Federal Building in Augusta.The American Bar Association honors lawyers who under take
pro bono work with the annual Edmund S. Muskie Pro Bono Service Award. From 1993 to 2013,
the United State Department of State ran the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program
in an effort to increase international study abroad. In 1996, the Edmund S. Muskie Distinguished
Public Service Award was founded by the Truman National SecurityProject to honor current
or former elected officials.The Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service at the University
of Southern Maine was named in his honor in 1990. Muskie’s papers and personal effects
are kept at the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library at Bates College
in Lewiston, Maine.==See also==
List of people from Maine List of Bates College people
List of Cornell University people List of Governors of Maine
List of United States Senators from Maine List of Secretaries of State of the United
States List of United States presidential candidates
List of United States Democratic Party presidential tickets
Response to the State of the Union address==Notes

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