Sept. 13, 1921: Future President Franklin D. Roosevelt, stricken with a paralytic illness believed to be polio while at his family’s vacation home on the New Brunswick island of Campobello, is taken across the water in excruciating pain by motor launch to Eastport, Maine. There he is loaded into a train from a special baggage cart, initially away from the prying eyes of news photographers.

The press is interested in him because, among other reasons, he was the unsuccessful Democratic vice presidential nominee the previous year and showed political promise for the future. Roosevelt and his minders take great care over the coming years, while he is learning to cope with leg braces that he uses for public speaking engagements, to make sure he never is photographed in a wheelchair or portrayed in any other compromising pose that might convey an image of weakness.

Although Roosevelt has spent summers at Campobello since 1885, he shuns the family’s summer home and the painful memory associated with it for the next 12 years.

Margaret Chase Smith, photographed in her office on Jan., 5, 1949, two days after she was sworn in as a U.S. senator. Associated Press

Sept. 13, 1948: Margaret Chase Smith, of Skowhegan wins election to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress and the second woman elected to the Senate.

Smith, running after eight and a half years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives, collects 76 percent of the vote on Election Day, defeating Democrat Adrian H. Scolten, a Portland dermatologist.

Smith eventually serves four consecutive six-year Senate terms before being defeated in a re-election bid in 1972.


Sept. 13, 1954: In an election undoubtedly affected by the ravages of Hurricane Edna the previous day, Democrat Edmund Muskie, 39, defeats Republican Gov. Burton M. Cross in the gubernatorial election, becoming the first Democrat elected to the Blaine House – the governor’s mansion – in 20 years.

Cross (1902-1998), meanwhile, becomes the first incumbent governor to lose a re-election bid since 1920.

Muskie (1914-1996), a Rumford native and Waterville lawyer, later serves 21 years in the U.S. Senate, is nominated for vice president in 1968, runs unsuccessfully for president in 1972 and is appointed secretary of state in 1980 during the administration of President Jimmy Carter.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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