As a student at Bates College, ‘Eddie’ Muskie—as he was then known—was remarkably active in extracurricular activities, including student government and debate. Professor Brooks Quimby, who led the Bates debate team to national prominence, helped recruit Muskie to Bates and served as an early mentor. As Muskie biographer David Nevin wrote:
The footing that Quimby gave Muskie in debate … had many effects on him, but one of the clearest was that it gave him a structured form in which to escape shyness … The rules of debate forced him into channels with the rest of the contestants, and once he was moving, his quick mind and his developing ability to cut to the heart of an argument were free to rove across the problem and bring up his capacities.
Muskie began college at one of the lowest points of the Great Depression, a fact that nearly ended his Bates education after the first year. In April 1933, Muskie’s father wrote to him and instructed him to bring his possessions home at the end of the semester, as it was unlikely that he would be able to return in the fall.
Bates increased Muskie’s scholarship by $25. In addition to his earnings from on-campus employment as a waiter in Commons and summer employment at the Narragansett-by-the-Sea resort in Kennebunk, this seemingly small amount enabled him to continue his college studies.
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