Edmund Muskie (Edmund Sixtus Muskie)

Edmund Muskie

Edmund Sixtus “Ed” Muskie (March 28, 1914 – March 26, 1996) was an American statesman, author, academic, and reformer, of Polish origin, who served as the 58th United States Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter. As head of the U.S. State Department, Muskie was influential in establishing diplomatic ties with foreign entities, developed numerous measures in U.S. foreign policy, and assisted Carter in the diplomatic resolution of the Iran hostage crisis, widely considered a pivotal episode in the history of Iran–United States relations. In the final days of the Carter presidency, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on January 16, 1981. He is widely considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of Maine. A native of Rumford, Maine, Edmund Muskie graduated from Bates College in 1936, where he was a member of and eventually the President of the Brooks Quimby Debate Council, participated in several sports, and was elected to student government. He went on to earn a law degree from Cornell Law School in 1939. After a short stint practicing law, he served in the United States Navy during World War II and rose to the rank of lieutenant. After the conclusion of his service, he returned to private law practice in Waterville, Maine. While practicing law in Waterville, he helped grow the presence of the Democratic Party in a Republican Maine. He successfully began his political career as a member of the Maine House of Representatives before deciding to run for Governor of Maine. His political influence in Maine continued to grow as he was elected as Governor in 1955 and served until 1959. After concluding his time as Governor, Edmund Muskie was elected to the United States Senate, and served from 1959 to 1980. Muskie was reelected in 1964, 1970 and 1976, each time with over 60 percent of the vote.

Edmund Muskie was the Democratic nominee for Vice President (with Hubert Humphrey as the nominee for President) in the 1968 presidential election, and lost with the margin of 42.72% to Richard Nixon’s 43.42%. He was also a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 1972. He returned to the Senate, where he served as the first chairman of the new Senate Budget Committee starting in 1974. In 1980, he was tapped by President Jimmy Carter to serve as Secretary of State. After serving as the secretary of state, 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 held the highest political office by a Polish American in U.S. history, and also is the only Polish American ever nominated by a major party for Vice President. Edmund Muskie died in Washington, D.C., of congestive heart failure in 1996, two days shy of his 82nd birthday. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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  • March, 28, 1914
  • USA
  • Rumford, Maine


  • March, 26, 1996
  • USA
  • Washington D.C.

Cause of Death

  • congestive heart failure


  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Arlington, Virginia
  • USA

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