Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Smith, William Henry

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SMITH, William Henry, journalist, b. in Austerlitz, N.Y., 1 Dec., 1833; d. in Lake Forest, Ill., 27 July, 1896. In 1836 his parents emigrated to Ohio, where he received an English education. He was tutor in a western college, and then assistant editor of a weekly paper in Cincinnati, of which, at the age of twenty-two, he became editor, doing also editorial work on the “Literary Review.” At the opening of the civil war he was on the editorial staff of the Cincinnati “Gazette,” and during the war he took an active part in raising troops and forwarding sanitary supplies, and in political work for strengthening the government. He was largely instrumental in bringing Gov. John Brough to the front as a candidate of the united Republicans and War Democrats; and at Brough's election, in 1863, he became the latter's private secretary. The next year he was elected secretary of state of Ohio, and he was re-elected in 1866. He retired from public office to establish the “Evening Chronicle” at Cincinnati, but, his health giving way, he was forced to withdraw from all active work. In 1870 he took charge of the affairs of the Western associated press, with headquarters at Chicago. In 1877 he was appointed by President Hayes collector of the port at that city, and was instrumental in bringing about important reforms in customs methods in harmony with the civil-service policy of the administration. In January, 1883, he effected the union of the New York associated press with the Western associated press, and became general manager of the consolidated association. Mr. Smith was a student of historical subjects. He was author of the “St. Clair Papers” (2 vols., Cincinnati, 1882), a biography of Charles Hammond, and many contributions to American periodicals. He was also the author of a “Political History of the United States.” By his investigations in the British museum he brought to light many unpublished letters of Washington to Col. Henry Bouquet and, had shown that those that were published by Jared Sparks were not given correctly.