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John Gregory Smith

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Subject: Brainerd, Minnesota, St. Albans (town), Vermont, George Washington Cass, Edward Curtis Smith, John Smith (Vermont)
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John Gregory Smith

This article is about the Governor of Vermont. For the actor, see Gregory Smith (disambiguation).
For other people named John Smith, see John Smith (disambiguation).

J. Gregory Smith
J. Gregory Smith, Governor of Vermont, 1863 to 1865
28th Governor of Vermont
In office
Lieutenant Paul Dillingham
Preceded by Frederick Holbrook
Succeeded by Paul Dillingham
Personal details
Born (1818-07-22)July 22, 1818
St. Albans, Vermont
Died November 6, 1891(1891-11-06) (aged 73)
St. Albans, Vermont
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Anne Eliza Smith
Profession businessman / politician

John Gregory Smith (July 22, 1818 – November 6, 1891), railroad tycoon, politician, and the last Governor of Vermont during the Civil War.[1]


Smith was born in St. Albans, Vermont, son of Congressman John and Maria (Curtis) Smith. His father was a pioneer railroad builder in Vermont, and a leading lawyer and public man of his generation. Smith's brother Worthington served in the US House from 1867 to 1871, and his son Edward served as Governor from 1898 to 1900.[2] Smith graduated from the University of Vermont in 1841, and subsequently Yale Law School. In 1842, he married Anne Eliza,daughter of U.S. Senator Lawrence Brainerd, who was prominent in her own right as the author of several novels and other books. After the death of her father, sometime around 1870, he named the town of Brainerd, Minnesota after his wife's maiden name.[3][4]


Smith became associated with his father in his law practice and railroad management. After his father's death in 1858, he succeeded to the position of trustee under the lease of the Vermont and Canada Railroad. Simultaneously he entered politics, and for many years the career in each line was involved with the other. He was also one of the originators of the Northern Pacific Railway enterprise and was the president of the corporation from 1866 to 1872. Under his lead five hundred and fifty-five miles of the road were built. The family holdings included the St. Albans Foundry, the National Car Company, and the Vermont Iron and Car Company.[2]

Smith entered the Legislature as St. Albans' representative in 1860, and in 1861 and 1862 was speaker of the House, winning such popularity that he was unanimously nominated for Governor in 1863, succeeding Frederick Holbrook, and re-elected in 1864. He was particularly solicitous in securing medical care for the Vermont soldiers at the front during the American Civil War. He authored legislation which recognized the right of soldiers in the field to vote in elections.

Having served as Governor of Vermont from 1863 to 1865, Smith afterwards returned to his business interests, including serving as President of the Northern Pacific Railroad from 1866 to 1872. He was chairman of the state delegation to the Republican National Conventions in 1872, 1880, and 1884.[1] After his retirement as governor he held no public office, though for about twenty years he was the master of Vermont politics, frequently he was spoken of for a seat in the United States Senate, particularly in 1886, and again in 1891, but in both cases he withdrew his name.


Smith died in St. Albans and is interred at Greenwood Cemetery, St. Albans, Franklin County, Vermont.[5]His many deeds of kindness won him many enthusiastic and lifelong admirers.


Further reading

  • Ullery, Jacob G., Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of chocolate , Brattleboro, VT: Transcript Publishing Company, 1894, Part I, p. 96.

External links

  • Inventory of the Smith Family Papers, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library
  • Inventory of the J. Gregory Smith Papers, Leahy Library, Vermont Historical Society
  • National Governors Association
  • The Political Graveyard
  • Find A Grave

Business positions
Preceded by
Josiah Perham
President of Northern Pacific Railway
Succeeded by
George Washington Cass

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