Baylor History Professor Writes Biography on U.S. Senator

Nov. 17, 1995

WACO, Texas - Dr. Patricia Wallace, professor of history at Baylor University, has recently written Politics of Conscience: A Biography of Margaret Chase Smith, detailing the life of Sen. Margaret Chase Smith.

Wallace said she chose to write a book about Smith because she "was the most influential woman in the history of American politics."

Wallace was introduced to Smith when she visited Baylor in 1977. Wallace was so impressed by Smith that she arranged for her to return to Baylor in 1979 as a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer. During her visit, Smith spoke in several of Wallace's classes at Baylor, where, according to Wallace, she had a great influence on students.

"As a result of getting to know her, the idea of a biography came up," said Wallace.

Smith served as a U.S. Congressional member for 32 years, and she was well-known for her beliefs in the right to free speech and the right to hold unpopular beliefs. During her congressional career, she served on the armed services, appropriations, space, government operations and intelligence committees. Smith died last spring at the age of 97.

"Her goal was to be a United States senator, not a woman senator, and she succeeded by overcoming gender, not by championing it," said Wallace.

Wallace completed the biography after a nine-month sabbatical in 1991. She did most of her research in Maine, where Smith served as a senator, and she spent months reviewing more than 100 volumes of Smith's statements and speeches. Wallace also had access to Smith's official archives, which contained all of her correspondence and other records, as well as Baylor memorabilia from her various visits to Waco.

The Department of History will host a reception honoring Wallace on the publication of her book from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, in the Baines-Fentress Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center. Wallace will discuss her book, and a book signing will follow.

For more information, call 755-2667.

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