Franco-Americans and Politics
Albert J. Beliveau Sr.
- He was the first Federal Franco-American Judge (District Court)
appointed in Maine. His son is Severin Beliveau who was head of the
state Democratic party in the 1970s and a gubernatorial candidate
of Hallowell, is now a partner in the firm Preti Flaherty and is influential
in Franco-American international affairs. Another son, Albert J. Beliveau,
Jr., was Oxford County Judge of Probate and is a Member of Preti Flaherty.
Senator Susan Collins (US Senate - (R) Maine)
- Born December 7, 1952, Senator Collins was raised in Caribou, a
small city in northern Maine, of which both of her parents have at
one time served as mayor. Her family runs a fifth-generation lumber
business, founded by her ancestors in 1844 and operated today by two
of her brothers. She has Franco (Acadian) heritage from her father's
Senator Collins sponsored the federal legislation for the funding
of the Acadian Heritage Center in Calais and she supports cultural
programs to preserve the Franco-American/Acadian heritage in Maine.
Lucia Cormier (1909-1993)
- Lucia Cormier is featured on our new branch of the Portland Women's
History trail because she was the first and only to date woman district
collector of customs in Maine. President Kennedy appointed her in
1961 after she agreed to run against Margaret Chase Smith for the
U.S. Senate in 1960, the first time two women had run for the U.S.
Senate. She held the position until her retirement in 1974. She was
a former modern language teacher in Rumford, served six terms in the
Maine House and was the first woman minority floor leader in 1959.
She was on the front page of Time Magazine in 1960 and if you want
a copy of that, ask the Margaret Chase Smith Library.
Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995)
- Margaret Chase Smith was born in Skowhegan, Maine, on December 14,
1897. Her entry into politics came through the career of Clyde Smith,
the man she married in 1930. Clyde was elected to the United States
House of Representatives in 1936; Margaret served as his secretary.
When Clyde died in 1940, Margaret succeeded her husband. After four
terms in the House, she won election to the United States Senate in
1948. In so doing, she became the first woman elected to both houses
of Congress. Her mother was born Catherine Morin. See her Franco-American
heritage. You may also want to visit the Margaret
Chase Smith Library.
- John Martin is a 9th generation Franco-American who lives in the
Aroostook County town of Eagle Lake. Although his roots are in the
northern area of Maine known for the French Acadian heritage, Martins
ancestors came to the area from Quebec. Martin is well known for his
33-year record in Maine politics. His public service is dedicated
to serving constituents in the Aroostook County towns surrounding
Eagle Lake, as an elected Maine Legislator and as the longest serving
Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position he held for an
unprecedented 20 years. From an article
by Juliana L'Heureux.
Michael Michaud (US House of Representatives-
(D) Second District Maine)
- Almost without notice, Michael Michaud made
history on Nov. 5, 2002 when his election to Congress made him
the first candidate with a Franco-American name to win a major office
in Maine in at least a century - and perhaps ever. Michaud, 46, is
completing a 22-year career in both chambers of the state Legislature,
after rising to Senate president last year. He defeated Republican
Kevin Raye of Perry for the open 2nd District U.S. House seat.
Christian P. Potholm
is the DeAlva Stanwood Alexander professor of government at Bowdoin
College in Brunswick, Maine. He's a political pollster and consultant
as well as an academic. Dr. Potholm is known as "Chris"
to his friends. Those who admire his sharp insight, both as friends
and political opponents, simply call him "Potholm". Bowdoin
College students and alumni refer to him, of course, as Professor
Potholm. For Maine's Franco-Americans, Chris is a friend of 25 plus
years. He has followed the Franco-American culture and powerful voting
dynamics in winning and loosing elections. Sometimes, the outcome
of a Maine election or ballot initiative (referendum) is attributed
entirely to the way Franco communities vote.
He's the author of 13 books, in most of which he takes the time to
write with high praise and due credit about the Franco-American voter
in Maine. Although he's actually a Franco "wanna be" with
largely Northern European ancestry, his wife, Sandy, thankfully, has
a bona fide Franco-American heritage. Therefore, he's a Franco-American
emeritus in our book.
- From Van Buren, Maine. To this day, many in Maine consider the speech
the late Sen. Elmer Violette delivered in his native French on the
floor of the Maine Senate in the late 1960s as the key to the return
of French to the states public schools. Violette went on to
become a justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court,
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