Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection


Don Nicoll

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 418


John O’Leary was born on January 16, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Chevrus High School in Portland, Maine, and then Yale, graduating in 1969. He studied as a Mellon Fellow at Cambridge University and received a master’s degree in 1971. O’Leary returned to Yale for law school, earning his J.D. in 1974 and joining the Pierce Atwood law firm in Portland. O’Leary became interested in politics in college and was a campaign volunteer, along with Peter Kyros, Jr., for Ed Muskie. A Democrat, O’Leary served on the Portland City Council from 1975 to 1982, and lost his bid for Congress in 1982. O’Leary also had a friendship with Bill Clinton, a classmate of his at Yale, and was appointed by Clinton as the U.S. Ambassador to Chile in 1998.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: family and educational background; David Flanagan; volunteering on Muskie’s campaign; importance of John F. Kennedy; meeting Bill Clinton at Yale; meeting Ed Muskie; 1968 Democratic convention; 1972 Muskie campaign; working for Pierce Atwood law firm; serving on the Portland, Maine City Council; running for Congress in 1982; working as Ambassador of Chile; last memory of Muskie; and Muskie’s picture at the White House.

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.