Bates Democrats honor Muskie '36
In an appearance sponsored by the Bates Democrats, the memory of Edmund S. Muskie ’36 — Maine governor, U.S. senator and secretary of state — will be honored in a talk by U.S. Rep. John Baldacci at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Avenue. The talk is open to the public at no charge.
Born in Rumford, Edmund Sixtus Muskie was the son and grandson of Polish immigrants. In 1936 he graduated cum laude from Bates College, where he was president of his class and a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the debate team. After Cornell University Law School, he began practicing law in Waterville. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.
Muskie began his political career with three terms of service in the Maine House of Representatives, to which he was first elected in 1946. A Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican state, he upset the established political order with his election as governor in 1954. Muskie served two terms as governor before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958.
During his 21 years in the Senate, Muskie served on the foreign relations, governmental affairs, and environmental and public works committees, and was the founder and first chair of the Senate Committee on the Budget. In 1968 he was the Democratic nominee for U.S. vice president and made a strong bid for the 1972 presidential nomination.
He was sworn in as the 58th U.S. secretary of state in May 1980, a position he held until January 1981. After leaving public office, he joined a law firm in Washington, D.C., and was active in a number of organizations dealing with foreign policy and the environment, including the President’s Special Review Board (which investigated the Iran-Contra controversy).
Muskie died in 1996, in Washington, D.C., and his memorial service was held at the Bates College Chapel.
Dedicated in 1985, the Edmund S. Muskie Archives at Bates documents Muskie’s career in public service from his election to the Maine House to his appointment as U.S. secretary of state, as well as his activities after leaving public office. The archives also holds a permanent collection of Muskie memorabilia and a substantial oral history collection.
A Bangor native, Baldacci was elected to the Bangor City Council at age 23 and has served as Maine’s 2nd District congressional representative since 1995. He is the Democratic candidate in this fall’s race for Maine governor.
Baldacci is a moderate Democrat known for supporting education, budgetary and political reform in Washington, and economic development, especially as it would benefit Maine and the sprawling, rural 2nd District. He is also known for a folksy style that includes returning to his home state virtually every weekend and hosting spaghetti suppers for the people of Maine.
“Ed Muskie was one of Maine’s greatest leaders when it came to environmental activism and legislation,” Baldacci says. “As a great American statesmen and politician, his advocacy for the environment should serve as a reminder to us all that we need to protect our environment. As governor of Maine, I will carry on with Ed Muskie’s legacy.”