MF 036 Maine Leaders Oral History Project

Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History: MF 036 Maine Leaders Oral History Project

Number of accessions: 2
Dates when interviews were conducted: 1989
Time period covered: 20th century
Principal interviewers: various
Finding aides: transcripts
Access restrictions: NA2026
Description: Interviews with Senator Margaret Chase Smith (1990), James Russell Wiggins (1988) (Editor of the Ellsworth American).

The interviews were supported with funds from the University of Maine President’s Office– $2,000 for Chase Smith and $1,750 for the Wiggins interview.

NA2009 James Russell Wiggins, interviewed by Brooks W. Hamilton, January 22, 1988 – Feb. 6, 1989, Ellsworth, Maine. Wiggins discusses his career in journalism and the United Nations; Hubert Humphrey’s career and reputation; Chief Justice Warren Burger and his rulings on cases involving the press; the corrupting influence of power and its impact Franklin D. Roosevelt; Kennedy’s presidency; his career as an editor of the Washington Post; role of newspapers and the power they have; difficulty of reporting on speeches; differences between American and British newspapers; dangers of newspaper chains; AIDS crisis; why the United Nations failed to live up to expectations; serving as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1968-1969; interactions with Soviet diplomats; criteria for recognizing countries; his perspective on the CIA; limited individual initiative allowed to diplomats; diplomats he thought were particularly effective; Chinese admission to the UN; diminishing of public debates in the UN; conflict between Israel and the Arab world in the 1960s; his purchase of and involvement with the Ellsworth American; his views on newspaper conglomerates; newspapers in Maine and their operation; continuity in politics; the state of politics and the Democratic Party in the late 1980s; changes in the Soviet Union; and realities of a nuclear world. Text: 151 pp. transcript. Recording: C 0496, C 0498, C 0500, C 0503, C 0564 5 hours.

NA2026 Senator Margaret Chase Smith, interviewed by Pamela N. Warford, May 9, 1988 – March 9, 1989, Skowhegan, Maine. Smith discusses her career in Congress; her family and childhood in Skowhegan in the early 1900s; early job experience; her mother’s influence; jobs she held prior to her career in public service and what they taught her; involvement with founding the Skowhegan branch of Business and Professional Women and serving as State President in 1926; marriage to Clyde H. Smith; working on her husband’s staff when he was elected to Congress; taking over her husband’s campaign in 1940 due to his illness and death; her position on inadequate defenses on the eve of World War II; getting on the Naval Affairs Committee; her reasoning process and why she did not always follow Republican Party lines; support for the UN as a discussion forum; the Marshall Plan and touring Europe in 1947; her first run for the Senate; Women’s Armed Services Integration Act; her swearing in as the first elected female senator; her opposition to Sen. Joseph McCarthy and her Declaration of Conscience; attitudes of others toward McCarthy; McCarthy’s retaliation against her; successfully suing the authors of U.S.A. Confidential for libel; winning re-election in 1954 despite McCarthy’s attempts to unseat her in the primary; involvement in the space program; her re-election campaign of 1960; Kennedy as not standing up to the USSR; why she had no desire to be vice president; her candidacy for president in 1964; her policy of not missing Senate votes and refusing campaign contributions; her perspective on the Vietnam War and failure to use reserve troops; the 1964 Civil Rights Act; losing re-election in 1972 and why she was not bitter; traveling as a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship visiting professor and teaching young people about government; why she chose to take a personal, unofficial trip around Europe in 1954; stories from that European trip; her advisor’s arrest in East Berlin; her experiences in Moscow; voting to censure McCarthy; continuing her personal world tour in 1955; her favorable view of Taiwan; meeting U Nu of Burma; visiting India and meeting Nehru; Spain and meeting General Franco; the foreign policy and aid recommendations that came from her world tour; having the support of her constituents; remarks on colleagues from the Senate; progress of women in politics; remarks on Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford; thoughts on the beginning of George Bush’s presidency; and advice to young people considering a career in public service. RESTRICTED. Text: 169 pp. transcript. Recording: C 0504 – C 0506, C 0514, C 0517, C 0576 – C 0578.