Edmund S. Muskie
Edmund Sixtus Muskie (March 28, 1914 – March 26, 1996) was an American politician 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, 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, and unsuccessfully ran for the mayor of Waterville. Muskie was elected the 64th Governor of Maine in 1954 under a reform platform as the first Maine Democratic Party governor in almost 100 years. Muskie pressed for economic expansionism and instated environmental provisions.
Muskie was elected to the Senate in 1959. As an environmentalist, he helped pass the Clean Air Act of 1970, and introduced the Clean Water Act of 1972. Muskie also supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Muskie supported New Federalism in opposition to Richard Nixon. Muskie ran alongside Hubert Humphrey against Nixon in the 1968 presidential election, losing the popular vote by 0.7 percentage points (42.72% vs. 43.42%) and losing the electoral college vote by 301 to 191 (with 46 voting for a third-party candidate, George Wallace). As a candidate for the 1972 presidential election, the release of the “Canuck letter” derailed his campaign during the primary.
As Senator, 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, President Jimmy Carter nominated him as the 58th U.S. Secretary of State. While Secretary of State, Muskie unsuccessfully negotiated the release of 52 Americans. The hostages returned home after Ronald Reagan acceded to the presidency, concluding the Iran hostage crisis.