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Historical Society program explores lives of Muskie, Nixon

At the next meeting of the Androscoggin Historical Society, the careers of two major political figures in 20th-century America will be explored in a talk by a scholar who has studied the lives of both.

Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine and President Richard M. Nixon were political opponents. In 1972, Muskie, a frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, was initially considered to be the most formidable potential candidate to challenge the incumbent Nixon. For that reason, Muskie was a primary target of actions by the Nixon reelection campaign that became part of the Watergate scandal.

Despite their clashing ambitions and different perspectives on politics and governance, however, their lives and careers reveal surprising similarities that are worth exploring.

On Tuesday, September 27 at 7 p.m., archivist and historian Chris Beam will discuss how the parallel narratives of Muskie and Nixon illuminate important developments in the political history of the United States in the three decades following World War II. He will review, not only the circumstances of their upbringings and the trajectories of their political lives, but also the local and national contexts in which they operated.

Beam has gained considerable insight into both politicians. While working at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., he spent over four years on the staff that processed the Nixon White House tapes. From 1988 to 2005, he oversaw the Edmund S. Muskie collection at Bates College.

A native of Brunswick, resident of Lewiston, and member of the Board of the Androscoggin Historical Society, he teaches history at Central Maine Community College, the University of Southern Maine, and the American Public University System.

The program is free, but donations are welcome. The historical society is located in the County Building at 2 Turner Street in Auburn. An elevator is available at the Court Street entrance.

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