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 William Russell Smith

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William Russell Smith

Birth
Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky, USA
Death 26 Feb 1896 (aged 80)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Memorial ID 13252558 View Source
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US Congressman. He was born one of two children (he also had a sister) to Ezekiel Smith and his wife Elizabeth Hampton Smith in Russellville, Logan County, Alabama, on March 27, 1815. The family later moved to Huntsville, Alabama, when he was fifteen years old. He was educated locally and pursued classical studies while growing up. He later attended the prestigious University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar and commenced his practice of law in Greensboro, Alabama, beginning in 1835. Following his education, he became Captain of the Alabama State Troops in the government's campaign against the Creek Indians starting in 1836. He moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, shortly thereafter and resumed his practice of law. He also became involved in the newspaper business and founded the publication Mirror and was editor of The Independent Monitor Newspaper. He was also the author of several books and plays. He then entered politics and served a term as the Mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1839. He also served as a Member of the Whig Party in the Alabama State House of Representatives from 1841 to 1842 (some sources say 1843). He married Jane Elizabeth Binion in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in November of 1843, and the couple had one child together, a son named Sidney born in 1844. He also served as an elected Brigadier General of the Alabama State Militia in 1845. His wife Jane passed away in 1845, and he married for the second time to Mary Jane Murray in Fayette, Alabama, on January 3, 1847, and they had three children together. He then served as a State Court Judge in Alabama from 1850 to 1851. His wife Mary Jane passed away in Fayette, Alabama, on October 29, 1853, at the age of 33, and he married for a third time to Wilhelmine Marie Easby in Washington, D.C. on June 14, 1854, and they had nine children together. He then decided to run for a seat in the United States Congress and was elected. A Member of the Democratic Party, he then served Alabama's 4th District (Thirty-Fourth Congress) in the United States House of Representatives from March 4, 1851, to March 3, 1857. He was an unsuccessful Candidate for reelection to the Thirty-Fifth Congress in 1856. After his term in the United States Congress expired he was succeeded in office by United States Representative Sydenham Moore on March 4, 1857. After leaving the United States Congress he served as a Delegate to the Alabama Secession Convention which met in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 7, 1861. During the convention he voted against the Ordinance of Secession, which passed 61 to 39, and he refused to sign it. During the Civil War, he served with the Confederate Army and raised the 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment and was elected to the rank of Colonel. He later stepped down from that position to represent the State of Alabama in the First Confederate Congress and the Second Confederate Congress from 1862 to 1865. He was also a Candidate for Governor of Alabama in 1865. Following his military service and the Civil War, he resumed his practice of law in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He lastly served as the President of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, from 1869 to 1871. Following his term as the President of the University of Alabama, he once again resumed his practice of law. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 1879, and continued with his historical and literary pursuits. His many works include, "College Musings" or, "Twigs From Parnassus" (1833), "The Bridal Eve" (1833), "As It Is" (1860), "The History And Debates of the Convention Of The People Of Alabama, Begun And Held In the City of Montgomery, On The Seventh Day Of January 1861, In Which Is Preserved The Speeches Of The Secret Sessions And Many Valuable State Papers" (1861), and his autobiography, "Reminiscences Of A Long Life" (1889). He also wrote a tragedy play about politician and lawyer Aaron Burr entitled, "Aaron Burr" or "The Emperor Of Mexico" which was performed by the Ludlow-Smith dramatic company in Mobile, Alabama, featuring actor Sol Smith as the title character. He passed away at his home in Washington, D.C., on February 26, 1896, at the age of 80. He was originally interred in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but was reburied in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C., in 1916. His wife Wilhelmine survived him passing away in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 1918, at the age of 83. She was interred with her husband at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Bio by: Kris 'Peterborough K' Peterson


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