On this day 70 years ago, Margaret Chase Smith became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. For more than three decades, she served as a role model for women aspiring to national politics; she was also the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first to have her name placed in nomination for the US Presidency of a major party.

Senator Smith bravely denounced the Communist witch hunt of McCarthyism at a time when others feared that speaking out would ruin their careers. On June 1, 1950, she delivered her courageous 15-minute “Declaration of Conscience” speech, defending every American’s “right to criticize…right to hold unpopular beliefs…right to protest.” READ a bit of her remarkable censure of her own party… (1948)

Breaking their paralysis of fear, six other moderate Senate Republicans signed onto her Declaration. She said McCarthyism had “debased“ the Senate to “the level of a forum of hate and character assassination… with the four horseman of… fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear,” and Republicans had hurled unproved charges with reckless abandon.

[From her speech] “I think that it is high time that we remembered that we have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution. I think that it is high time that we remembered that the Constitution, as amended, speaks not only of the freedom of speech but also of trial by jury instead of trial by accusation. Whether it be a criminal prosecution in court or a character prosecution in the Senate, there is little practical distinction when the life of a person has been ruined.

Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism: The right to criticize; The right to hold unpopular beliefs; The right to protest; The right of independent thought.

The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know someone who holds unpopular beliefs.”

MORE Good News on this Day in history:

  • George Washington laid the first cornerstone of the Capitol building (1793)
  • Tiffany & Co. was founded in New York City (1837)
  • The New York Times published its first edition leaving sensationalism to the tabloids (1851)
  • Daniel David Palmer administered the first chiropractic adjustment (1895)
  • The Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System made its broadcasting debut through its network of over 16 radio stations— later it took the name CBS (1927)
  • President Reagan announced the destruction of nuclear warheads by U.S. and USSR (1987)
  • Ted Turner, the innovative founder of the first cable news network (CNN), donated 1 billion dollars to the UN, to create the United Nations Foundation, a charity that works to help the world’s poor and preserve the environment (1997

Also on this day in 2010, 42 year-old Frenchman Philippe Croizon became the first quadruple amputee to swim across the English Channel.Philippe Croizon disabled swimmer

He trained for years, hoping to demonstrate the abilities of handicapped people, and finished the swim in under 14 hours. With the aid of paddle-like prosthetics attached to the stumps of his legs, the French swimmer completed his dream of swimming between five continents two years later.

And on this day in 1946, Tonka Trucks was founded as Mound Metalcraft in a metal manufacturing plant in Minnesota.tonka-truck-web

The three businessmen, Lynn Everett Baker, Avery Crounse, and Alvin Tesch changed their company’s name to Tonka Toys in 1955, using the Dakota Sioux word “Tanka” or Tonka, which means “great” or “big”. A Museum in Winifred, Montana has collected more than 3,000 of the metal dump trucks, bulldozers, cranes, and all variety of vehicles — all “Tonka tough, built to last,” and able to be handed down from one generation to the next.

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