Audio is available for this interview:
Interview with Severin Beliveau by Andrea L¡¯Hommedieu
Summary Sheet and Transcript

Interviewee
Beliveau, Severin

Interviewer
L¡¯Hommedieu, Andrea

Date
September 2, 1999

Place
Augusta, Maine

ID Number
MOH 149

Use Restrictions
? Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all
other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must
be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library,
Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.


Biographical Note

Severin M. Beliveau was born and raised in Rumford, Maine to Margaret (McCarthy) and Albert
Beliveau, Sr. He grew up in an activist Democrat family in the 1950s and 1960s, and witnessed
the rise of the Democratic Party in Maine. Mr. Beliveau attended Georgetown University, and
graduated from Georgetown Law School in 1963, and practiced for a brief time in Rumford with
his father and his brother, Albert Beliveau, Jr. His Maine political experience includes
chairmanship of the Maine Democratic Party in the late 1960s, Democratic National Committee
service, as well as state legislative experience. He also ran for governor in 1986, losing to Jim
Tierney in the Democratic primary. He is married to Cynthia Murray Beliveau and they have
four boys. He is currently a partner in the Maine law firm Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau, Pachios &
Haley, LLC and is an influential lobbyist. He has served in such capacities as the president of
the American Association of the Forum Francophone des Affaires, and the French Consular
Agent for the State of Maine.


Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: Muskie family in Rumford; The Beliveau family and
Rumford; Muskie¡¯s law practice; Albert Beliveau, Sr; Maine Supreme Court appointment; Bill
McCarthy; Louis Jalbert; Democratic Party organization in the 1950s-1960s; changing Maine

politics; impact of Independents on Maine political parties; Muskie¡¯s temper; Franco-American
ethnicity in Maine; 1986 gubernatorial election; Margaret Beliveau; and Muskie¡¯s legacy.


Indexed Names

Aldrich, Rupert
Beliveau, Albert, Jr.
Beliveau, Albert
Beliveau, Cynthia Murray
Beliveau, Margaret McCarthy
Beliveau, Severin
Brann, Louis
Chandler, Bruce
Chandler, Nancy
Cross, Burton
Curtis, Kenneth M., 1931-
Daley, Richard J., 1902-1976
Delahanty, Tom
Eagleton, Thomas F., 1929-2007
Hathaway, Bill
Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
Jalbert, Louis
King, Angus
Longley, James, Sr.
McCarthy, William "Bill"
McGovern, George S. (George Stanley), 1922-
McKernan, John
Mitchell, George J. (George John), 1933-
Monks, Bob
Murray, Frank
Murray, Robert, Jr. ¡°Buddy¡±
Murray, Robert Sr.
Muskie, Edmund S., 1914-1996
Smith, Margaret Chase, 1897-1995
Tierney, James
Williamson, Robert B.


Transcript


Andrea L¡¯Hommedieu: This is an interview on September 2nd, 1999 at 45 Memorial Circle in
Augusta, Maine with Mr. Severin Beliveau, this is Andrea L¡¯Hommedieu. Mr. Beliveau, would
you start by giving me your full name?

Severin Beliveau: I¡¯m Severin Beliveau. I reside in Hallowell, born and raised in Rumford.

Married to Cynthia Murray Beliveau, four boys ages, what are their ages? Twelve, seventeen,
nineteen, twenty-two. Why don¡¯t I just go and, let me just go through a narrative, that¡¯s
probably the easiest thing.

AL: Sure.

SB: Of course, we all know Muskie was a native of Rumford, and born there and attended high
school. From there he went to Bates College. His father was a tailor on Exchange Street. My
parents were both Rumford natives, knew the Muskies quite well. They lived in the Virginia
section of Rumford, and my father did a lot of business with them over the years. Then after,
also during that time my uncle William McCarthy, who was a practicing lawyer in Rumford, was
friendly with Muskie.

Following WWII, which I think was probably after Muskie graduated from law school, and the
Navy, they, Muskie became chairman of the Office of Price Stabilization for Maine. And [he]
hired, among others, my uncle Bill McCarthy to work with him, for him. At the time, I think,
Tom Delahanty and other lawyers were also working with him. Following that, Muskie opened
an office and practiced law in Waterville. And, but during the war the office was, he had opened
his office in Waterville prior to the war. But during the war he asked Rupert Aldrich to, who
was then a lawyer and clerk of courts in South Paris, to manage the office for him, at least to
keep it open. And Rupert used to drive from South Paris to Waterville a couple times a week to
maintain the office.

So after the war, as I said, he was appointed director of the OPS office. And then Bill McCarthy
returned to Rumford.

At the time, my father [Albert Beliveau Sr.], in 1954, in 1935 I should say, my father was
appointed by Governor Brann to the superior court, where he remained ¡®35 until 1954, when he
was appointed to the state supreme court by Governor Cross. We all know in ¡®54 Muskie
defeated Cross in his, yeah, for his second term. And then, in 1955, there was an opening on the
state supreme court. The then chief justice retired, and Muskie appointed Robert Williamson of
Augusta to that position, ignoring my father who was a senior judge. Fearful, from my
perspective, that his appointment would have been somewhat controversial because he was
French-Catholic. And to suggest that this was not well received by the family, would be an
understatement. And to suggest that father was embittered over this would also be an
understatement.

So that created real conflict between our family and Muskie. And years later, when he was in
the Senate, he attempted to redeem himself. He was nice to me and my brother, we were
practicing law at the time in Rumford, he said nice things about us when I was elected district
attorney. And I was a state legislator in the house and the senate, and he was supportive. Then,
when I ran for party chair in the late ¡®60s, he assisted me in achieving, being elected state
chairman. So, I think he probably, I think he also appointed my uncle to the municipal court,
municipal court judge in Rumford for a short term. So the McCarthys, Bill McCarthy, my uncle
on my mother¡¯s side of the family, was close to Muskie. And I was really relatively close to
him, although I still harbored that feeling toward him in the way, the manner in which he treated

my father at the time. And that pretty much reflected what, I mean, he wasn¡¯t a profile in
courage, and to some extent that can be understood politically, that he didn¡¯t want people to
know that he was a Polish Catholic. He didn¡¯t, certainly didn¡¯t utilize, didn¡¯t define himself and
describe it as such during his campaign, again recognizing that this was a state that had been
historically Republican, dominated by Yankees, and ethnics didn¡¯t play much of a role, whether
you were Polish, French, Irish, it didn¡¯t make any difference.

So, then after Muskie retired, [and] became junior partner at Chadbourne & Parke, he referred
several cases to me, a couple of major clients that the firm now has here because of Muskie.
And again, I view that as his attempt to redeem himself for the way he behaved back in the ¡®50s.
So that¡¯s my statement.

AL: Your brother, you said, is also a lawyer? And what is his name?

SB: Albert, Jr.

AL: And does he practice in Maine?

SB: He practices in Rumford, has done for many years. He retired a few years ago. Just
another point: when he was, when Muskie was running for president in ¡®72, I worked with him.
I worked with Mitchell at the time, and I was with Muskie when he appeared in front of the, in
Manchester, at the Manchester Union Leader. After I¡¯ll show you a photograph I have, someone
sent it, I had it framed. But I¡¯m standing right behind him. It appeared in Life Magazine, I was
there; Mitchell and I and Louis Jalbert and a few people. I was involved in his campaign; we
worked for him in New Hampshire, did a few things for him.

AL: What were your impressions of Louis Jalbert, did you ever work with him at the state
level? You must have in the ¡®60s.

SB: Did I ever. I knew Jalbert, I represented, I was his lawyer for twenty years. I knew him
better than any person in the state of Maine. Louis was a great, colorful guy. Devious,
unsupportive of his own people, did whatever he could to subvert Franco-politicians, fearful that
they would be a threat to him. And as a consequence Louis was a very pleasant, engaging,
outgoing individual, but unprincipled.

AL: When you were a party chair in the ¡®60s, what. . . .?

SB: Late ¡®60s, early ¡®70s, yeah.

AL: Late ¡®60s, early 70s. Who were the people that you worked closely with in that position?

SB: A number of people. Ken Curtis, he was very helpful, we were very close. Pease was the
vice-chair, became the chairperson. The Chandlers, Nancy and Bruce, you¡¯ve talked to them
have you? Bruce was a very active lawyer from Waterville, knew Muskie. He retired, became,
he was appointed to the superior court, retired. And [he] lives in Arizona with Nancy Chandler,
who was Democratic National Committeewoman for a number of years. And also worked very

closely with Muskie on that project to raise money for the law foundation that Muskie chaired in
Maine, trying to raise money for indigent. . . .

AL: Legal Aid?

SB: Legal Aid, yeah, it was a form of legal aid. Nancy was the one who persuaded Muskie to
become publicly identified and to chair that effort in the, I guess it was late ¡®80s, early ¡®90s.
And, as I said, they live in Arizona.

AL: How long have you been involved in politics?

SB: Since 1964. I was district attorney, member of the house, member of the senate, party
chairman, national committeeman.

AL: When you were part of the senate and the house, were you representing the Augusta area?

SB: No, no, no, Rumford.

AL: Rumford.

SB: Yeah, Oxford County, yeah.

AL: How have you seen politics change in the state over the years?

SB: It¡¯s become more professional. By that I mean that the cost of running for office today
compared to what it was twenty, twenty-five years ago, is enormous. We¡¯ve seen a dramatic
decline of party loyalty, the relevance of a party organization; campaigns are personalized, each
individual has his own organization that doesn¡¯t depend upon the party as an institution to assist
it. Although with most recent campaign financing reform, I think the party, the role of the party
will become stronger, because it will be a fund-raising vehicle. It¡¯ll have the capacity and the
legal ability to raise money for individual candidates. There- A dependence will develop upon
the party as an institution, I think, beginning in 19-, in the year 2000, which has not been the
case. Through the advent of Jim Longley and Angus King, two strong independents, and the fact
that so many Democrats. . . . We don¡¯t have strong Democratic leaders. . . .

(telephone interruption)

SB: . . . . the fact that he didn¡¯t have the depth of strength and support, but again, this is ¡¯72,
when people expected candidates to be, you know, very strong unemotional individuals. Any
evidence, any expression of emotion whatsoever was treated or considered a sign of weakness.
[Thomas] Ed Eagleton, remember, who withdrew as a vice-presidential candidate because it
came out that he was being, he had seen a psychiatrist. And he had to withdraw as a, he had
been in fact nominated as a vice presidential candidate for McGovern in ¡®72, right after this, so.

AL: How do you think it would be viewed today, in light of. . . .?


SB: Oh, today I don¡¯t think it, I don¡¯t think it would be the liability that it was then. But the
problem with Muskie was that he was, while he was a very talented fellow, but he didn¡¯t
generate the personal loyalty that¡¯s generally expected and required on the part of a candidate at
that level, because of his explosive personality. I mean, he mellowed in time, as everybody does,
but in the ¡®70s, at the height of his career, he was a very difficult man to deal with, work with.

AL: Did you interact with him at that point at all?

SB: Not very much, not very much.

AL: You never, did you ever see his temper?

SB: Oh sure, oh yeah, oh, I was the beneficiary of that.

AL: Can you give me an example?

SB: Yeah: during the campaign I¡¯d sat in a number of meetings, and I remember at the
convention particularly, in, Miami convention ¡®72, when he, actually I have, go further back. In
1968 at the Democratic convention in Chicago I had just been elected chairman, and I was, and I
drove him to Mayor Daley¡¯s office when he, when Daley told him that he was recommending to
Humphrey for insisting that Muskie be the VP candidate, in order to attract the Polish vote in
Chicago, in order to assure that they carry Illinois. Then we had a big event for him, we had a
major reception for him, cocktail party for him at the Lakeside, Lakeshore Holiday Inn in
Chicago. I¡¯ve seen him blow, I mean he, at a number of events, party events, conventions, fund-
raising events, you know. When things just didn¡¯t suit him or didn¡¯t go according to how he
thought they should, he wasn¡¯t at all reluctant to express himself.

AL: When living in Rumford, did your parents interact with Muskie¡¯s parents?

SB: Not very much, no, no.

AL: Did they know of the Muskies¡¯ reputation, did they have a reputation . . .?

SB: Muskie senior, his parents? Oh yeah, my father, my mother, both of them, and my
grandfather McCarthy, they all knew the, all knew the Muskies. As I said, he was a tailor of the
shop on Exchange Street, and they had a, they had. . . . As a matter of fact, my grandfather
McCarthy, my mother would tell you this, was very close to Muskie senior, and I think may have
been, I¡¯m not certain about this, may have assisted him, because my grandfather was a lawyer, in
obtaining his citizenship. I¡¯m not certain, my mother knows more about that.

AL: Tell me a little bit about the Rumford community, what it looked like when you were
growing up, and how it¡¯s. . . .?

SB: In the ¡®50s?

AL: . . . . how it¡¯s changed over the years?


SB: Well, it was a traditional, to the extent there is, a company town, paper mill town controlled
by the Chisholm family. It had, a town in that region was solely, totally dependent upon the then
Oxford Paper Company for the strong economy. The paper mill provided all the services, it was
the largest shareholder, provided a number of social programs including supporting the local
hospital. It¡¯s present, it permeated the whole community, affected every aspect of the
community. And there was a strong sense of, there was a strong community spirit because of the
relationship between, the attitude between, the attitude of the company with respect to its, the
manner in which it treated its employees in the community. Had a population in the ¡®50s of a
little over ten thousand people, and that¡¯s declined to sixty-five hundred. The number of
employees at the mill, the mill has changed ownership three or four times, it¡¯s now followed the
route of all the paper, of the paper industry in Maine being owned and controlled by out of state,
multi-state, national interests. So the sense of community and commitment to the town has left.
Everything¡¯s measured solely in economic terms and quarterly earnings and what they can
extract.

We see that happening all over the state today. You see that at Great Northern Paper Company;
Bowater abandoned the state, had no sense of responsibility. And back in those days they could,
Rumford was a small town, Rumford and Mexico was a small town, but between the two around
sixteen thousand. Strong sense of community, everybody knew each other, lots of support. It
was a great place to live and to raise a family.

AL: Was the area ethnically diverse, and if so, what was the make-up?

SB: Where are you from?

AL: Where am I from? Farmington.

SB: You are? Ha. Rumford, it was diverse to the extent that the, it was primarily French
Catholic, secondly Irish Catholic, thirdly Yankee, fourthly Polish-Lithuanian. Yeah, the, a
strong ethnic presence. Unlike other areas of the state, particularly Lewiston, the ethnics were
not truly discriminated against. I mean, there was a sense of pride. I mean, I never, my father
spoke French to me when I was, until well, I went away to prep school. We spoke French at
home; my mother was Irish. And I, there wasn¡¯t a sense of alienation and discrimination that
many of the Francos experienced in Lewiston, for instance, where it was dominated by the
Yankees until the ¡®50s and ¡®60s. Where, if you were bilingual, or if you had a French accent, it
wasn¡¯t considered a liability. You weren¡¯t criticized or looked down upon because the French
community, the French community really dominated the municipality in many ways. And
people like my father, who was a judge in the superior court and the Supreme Court that added a
lot of credibility to it (unintelligible phrase). So I never, I never sensed that we were second-rate
citizens, as a matter of fact it was just the converse.

AL: Did the different ethnic groups interact, or did they live in separate areas?

SB: Initially they did, initially they did. My parents were married in 1935, and that was
considered a mixed marriage. I think it was the first, one of the first instances where an Irish

Catholic and French Catholic married. And because of the high profile of, my grandfather
McCarthy was a lawyer and a judge, and my father was then a judge in superior court, it was
more accepted. But both, there was still resistance from both families to the marriage, on both
sides. My father¡¯s sisters resented the fact that he went out and married an Irish person, and the
same was true for the McCarthys. And that existed for many years, many years.

AL: I know also your wife¡¯s brother is Reverend Frank Murray. Has he also been politically
involved over the years?

SB: Oh sure, yeah, the Murray side of the family has been deeply involved. Cynthia¡¯s father
[Robert Murray, Sr.] was actively involved in Penobscot Democratic politics in the ¡®50s, ¡®60s,
¡®70s and ¡®80s. Frank was a state rep, representative for a couple of terms. Her other brother,
younger brother, is a lawyer in Bangor, Robert Murray, Jr., III. And he¡¯s a state senator
representing Penobscot County. Cynthia¡¯s been active as well.

AL: In what capacity has she been active?

SB: Well, just as, she¡¯s been very helpful to me. I mean, I ran for governor once and she was
very helpful. And she¡¯s been a delegate to the convention. But very, generally a very active
Democrat supporting Democratic candidates and Democratic causes.

AL: Now what motivated you to run for governor in 1986?

SB: To save the state from, to improve the quality of life in the state of Maine.

AL: Was there anybody in particular running on the other side that. . . .?

SB: That caused me; that motivated me? Yes, yeah, there was as a matter of fact. Jim Tierney,
who was then attorney general, indicated that he was going to run. And a group of us thought
that if he ran he would lose the general election, which he did, to Jack McKernan. We thought
that a more moderate Democrat, i.e., myself, would have a better chance of success in
November. I lost. There was a five way primary, it turned out, and I came in second. Jim then
went on to lose. So I got rid of my gubernatorial virus, a virus that seems to affect us all, or
many of us.

AL: Who were some of the people during your run that supported you?

SB: What do you mean?

AL: When you ran. . . .

SB: High profile types? Oh, no one in particular. I had a group of legislators, a lot of county
chair people with whom I¡¯d had relationships, had developed relationships with when I was
active. But there¡¯d been such a long period of time between my service with the legislature that
much, the younger people, the more liberal Democrats, supported Tierney, and they¡¯re
historically the most active.


AL: The party, we were talking about the party structure earlier, and how it¡¯s hard to know
whether it plays much of a role because people individually have their own groups when they
run for offices now. Did the party structure, was it there to help you and support you during
your. . . .?

SB: No, no, the party level was there in the late, this is in ¡®86. It was after Longley, so it had
been, it had deteriorated some. It had been weakened somewhat because of the, Longley¡¯s
candidacy, and the fact that he succeeded. And it suggested that party organizations were not as
important as they had been historically. That was due in great part, too, to the change of the
ballot. Because at one time, you know, we had the big box, straight party voting. And that was
eliminated in the, 1970, as the result of a lawsuit brought against the Democratic Party by Bob
Monks, who brought it thinking he would run against, he wanted to defeat Bill Hathaway at the
time. Bill was seeking reelection, no, he was running against Margaret Chase Smith, defeated
Smith; whenever that was [1972]. So the question is, are there, was there, yeah, I had, yeah. I
got, I forget what it was, I got, I came within four or five points of Tierney. And if you think
about it, he had obviously been, he was attorney general, and he had his own statewide network,
and it was a clear asset to him. And I had to create my own organization. And I had, I was
controversial because of a number of clients I had, and that¡¯s the way it went.

AL: Throughout your schooling, your educational background, where did you go to college and
law school?

SB: Georgetown. Yeah, I was at Georgetown. I was a graduate from Georgetown Law Center.
Actually, I went to Georgetown at Columbia, then I transferred back to Georgetown. I became a
cop with the United States Capitol police. Matter of fact Muskie was my patron that got me a
job there for a year, my first year in law school.

AL: Throughout all those teachers that you came in contact with over the years, were there any
that stick out in your mind as having influenced you in any way, or shaped your beliefs or
attitudes?

SB: No, I think I was more influenced by my parents than by anybody else. My mother, on the
educational side, she was a true academic scholar, very bright woman, very articulate, well read,
good writer. And my father the ethnic, political side.

AL: So did your mother have books at home for you, around?

SB: Oh, did she have books. She¡¯s ninety-two years of age, still reads a book a week. She has,
she subscribes to a service at the Library of Congress, large print books, she gets a bag full of
books every two weeks. She was the Rumford library¡¯s busiest, most active customer. Also, she
was a good writer, too. When she was in college she maintained a diary in Latin. She was a
pretty classic scholar. I mean, she used to, that¡¯s how I did so well in Latin because my mother
taught me Latin, you know.

AL: We¡¯ve talked a little bit about some of Muskie¡¯s weaknesses, in terms of his temper. What

do you think will be the lasting thought about Muskie for the state of Maine?

SB: What will be his legacy in my mind? That he changed the political direction of the state in
1954. That he and, he and others, but he was viewed, and was in fact the leader of that effort to
change the Republican domination of the state for several generations. I think that¡¯s, and that,
because that¡¯s first, that¡¯s how I would view him. Secondly, as a United States Senator, he was
very active on environmental issues. Those are the two areas. I don¡¯t think his short tenure as
secretary of state carries any weight with anybody, you know. I don¡¯t think they, I mean, people
have forgotten about it because he wasn¡¯t there long enough to have an impact, make an impact,
do anything that was really dramatic. He played a role in the hostages, the negotiation for
hostages, but he, certainly you have to give him credit for that.

AL: Is there anything I haven¡¯t asked for that you would like to add, that, any sort of connection
that you had with Muskie or that time period that¡¯s important to tell?

SB: No, other than the fact, as I said, when I was chairman and I was active in the ¡®70s
particularly, I used to see him occasionally. But he was not the type of person who would seek
you out. I mean, he felt that he was placed on this earth and people had to serve him. I mean,
the contrast with Mitchell is what you¡¯ve heard so often. When you visited with him in
Washington, he felt burdened, like he was doing you a favor by listening to a constituent. And
that impression, that message was conveyed practically every time you met with him. Although
once you were with him and engaged him in discussion or debate on an issue, then it was
obviously quite enjoyable. But he had that initial resistance, demeanor of his. And why? I
don¡¯t know. But that was his make-up, and you had to deal with it.

AL: Thank you so much for your time.

SB: Glad to do it; glad you came.

End of Interview