Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection


Stuart O'Brien

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 056


Emilien Levesque was born in Grand Isle, Maine, in 1922. He grew up in Van Buren, graduating from the Van Buren Boy’s High School. His mother was a dressmaker, and his father was stricken with tuberculosis when Emilien was eleven. His mother was left to care for her seven children, Emilien the second oldest. He went to school in Hartford, Conneticut, in 1941 to learn the tool and die trade. In 1943, he enlisted in the Army. He was active in Europe. He began in North Africa, and then moved his way through Italy, finally fighting in Northern France. In France, he was shot three times, and subsequently taken prisoner by the Germans. He returned home in 1945. He began working for Frazier Papers when he returned to the St. John Valley. He became actively involved in the Madawaska paper union, Local 365. When Ed Muskie ran for governor in 1954, Levesque became an active Democrat, helping to deliver the Saint John Valley of Maine to Ed Muskie on election day.

In 1960, Levesque began his political career by running for Maine State Legislature. He served for five terms from 1960 to 1970. In the Legislature, he was floor leader for the Democrats. He became an authority within the Maine Democratic Party, and became a mentor to John Martin, who assumed Levesque’s seat in 1970.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussion of: Van Buren, Maine; the US Army in Europe during World War II, including beach Landings, heavy machine guns, Levesque’s capture by the Germans, and German war hospitals and the care for Allied fighters; Frazier Paper Mill; becoming the Union President of Local 365; organizing voters in the St. John Valley for Ed Muskie in 1954; becoming Democratic Chair of Madawaska; Muskie’s interaction with the Valley; Don Nicoll; the rise of Democrats in Maine; Levesque’s involvement with the Maine State Legislature; Levesque as a legislator; Loring Air Force Base; Floyd Harding; Elmer Violette; John Martin; and Muskie as a leader.

Use Restrictions

Copyright 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.