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Edmund Muskie

American politician

Died when: 81 years 364 days (983 months)
Star Sign: Aries

 

Edmund Muskie

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, and a member of the Maine House of Representatives from 1946 to 1951.

He was the Democratic Party's candidate for Vice President of the United States in the 1968 presidential election, alongside Hubert Humphrey.

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 strict environmental provisions.

Muskie's actions severed a nearly 100-year Republican stronghold and led to the political insurgency of the Maine Democrats.He used his increased public presence to gain a seat in the United States Senate representing his home state.

His legislative work 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 with Humphrey against Nixon in the 1968 presidential election, only to lose by 0.7 percentage points—one of the narrowest margins in U.S. history.

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 and sullied his public image with Americans of French-Canadian descent.

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 most notable success as secretary came when his department negotiated the release of 52 Americans concluding the Iran hostage crisis.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Carter in 1981 and has been honored with a public holiday in Maine since 1987.


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