Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection


Don Nicoll

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 359


George John Mitchell, Jr. was born in Waterville, Maine on August 20, 1933 to George J. Sr. and Mary Saad Mitchell. His mother was a factory worker, and his father a laborer. He graduated from Waterville High School at the age of sixteen and attended Bowdoin College, graduating in 1954 with a degree in European History. He then served as an officer in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps until 1956. In 1960 he received a law degree from Georgetown University, and worked for two years in the Justice Department. Mitchell's political career began in 1962, when he joined Edmund Muskie's Senate staff as an executive assistant. In 1965 he returned to Maine to practice law. He was the state chairman of the Maine Democratic Party from 1966 to 1968, and was National Committeeman from 1969 to 1977. He was staff to Senator Muskie's 1968 vice-presidential and 1972 presidential campaign bids. In 1974, he made an unsuccessful run for Governor in Maine, losing to James Longley. Mitchell served as U.S. Attorney in Maine from 1977 to 1979 before being appointed to fill the remainder of the Senate term vacated by Ed Muskie's appointment to Secretary of State. He went on to win the 1982 and 1988 elections for Senate. He was chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 1984, and served as Senate Majority Leader until retirement in 1994. In that year, Mitchell was offered a seat on the Supreme Court by Bill Clinton. However, he declined. Since that time Mitchell has been active in international affairs, most notably for his role in the Northern Ireland Peace Accords. He has also been involved in Israeli peace negotiations, served as Chairman of the Walt Disney Company and has been active in the investigation of past steroid use of major league baseball players.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: Mitchell’s role as a young staffer in Senator Muskie’s office; impressions of Muskie; Dick Dubord and Dick McMahon; close political friends of Edmund Muskie; the Baldacci family; speech writing; 1964 Senate campaign; getting a job out of law school; working at Jensen & Baird; 1966 campaigns of Ken Curtis and Elmer Violette; Muskie’s 1968 vice presidential campaign; relationship between Ed Muskie and Hubert Humphrey; and being elected to the Democratic National Committee.

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.