Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Smith, John (Ohio senator)

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SMITH, John, senator, b. in Hamilton county, Ohio, in 1735; d. there, 10 June, 1816. He had few early advantages, but by persistent effort acquired a respectable education, and, possessing much natural ability, was one of the most conspicuous of the early politicians in Ohio. He was also a popular Baptist preacher, and in 1790 organized at Columbia the first church of that denomination in the state. He was a member of the first territorial legislature in 1798, and in 1803-'08 was a U.S. senator from Ohio, having been chosen as a Jeffersonian Democrat. During the early part of his service he enjoyed the close friendship of President Jefferson, who in 1804 sent him on a confidential mission to Louisiana and Florida to discover the attitude toward the United States of the Spanish officers that were stationed in these states, that he might learn how far their friendship was to be depended on in the event of a war between this country and France. Smith's intimacy with Jefferson was interrupted by the charge of his implication in the Aaron Burr treason. Smith and Burr were personal friends, and appearances were so much against him that a motion was made in the U.S. senate to expel him; but it failed by one vote. Smith denied all connection with the affair, and was believed to be innocent by his constituents. See “Notes on the Northwest Territory,” by Jacob Burnet (New York, 1847).