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SMITH, William Russell

1815–1896

Biography

SMITH, William Russell, a Representative from Alabama; born in Russellville, Ky., March 27, 1815; moved at an early age to Huntsville, Ala.; pursued classical studies and attended the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Greensboro, Ala., in 1835; served as captain of Alabama State troops in the campaign against the Creek Indians in 1836; moved to Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he continued the practice of law and also engaged in newspaper work; founded and edited the Mirror; mayor of Tuscaloosa in 1839; author of several books and plays; member of the state house of representatives 1841-1843; elected brigadier general of militia in 1845; judge of the seventh judicial circuit in 1850 and 1851; elected as a Unionist to the Thirty-second Congress, reelected as a Democrat to the Thirty-third Congress, and elected as an American Party candidate to the Thirty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1851-March 3, 1857); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1856 to the Thirty-fifth Congress; member of the state constitutional convention in 1861 and voted against secession; during the Civil War served in the Confederate Army as colonel of the Twenty-sixth Alabama Regiment; Representative in the First and Second Confederate Congresses; president of the University of Alabama 1869-1871; resumed the practice of his profession and engaged in historical and literary pursuits; died in Washington, D.C., on February 26, 1896; interment in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; reinterment in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Brown University
John Hay Library

Providence, RI
Papers: In the William Russell Smith papers, ca. 1859-1892, approximately 50 items. The papers of William Russell Smith include autograph manuscripts; typescripts; drafts of poems; notes; two notebooks of sonnets and essays with manuscript notes and revisions, and with enclosures.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: In Easby-Smith family papers, 1837-1871. 1 container. Correspondence relating to secession of Alabama and the Confederate Congress.

University of North Carolina
Southern Historical Collection

Chapel Hill, NC
Papers: 1860-1903, 30 items. The letters written by William Russell Smith to his family during and after the Civil War, including eight letters to his daughter Mary, 1862-1870, about her education, his feelings for her, and family affairs; a few letters received from friends and political figures; manuscript poems; and five letters, 1898-1903, from Gen. Joseph Wheeler to Smith's wife, Wilhelmine M. Easby Smith.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Easby-Smith, Anne. William Russell Smith of Alabama: His Life and Works. Foreword by George H. Denny. Philadelphia: The Dolphin Press, 1931.

Smith, William Russell. The American Party, and Its Mission. [Washington: Printed at the American Organ Office, 1855].

------. As It Is. Albany: Munsell and Rowland, 1860.

------. Assassination and Insanity: Guiteau's Case Examined and Compared with Analogous Cases from the Earlier to the Present Times. Washington: William R. Smith, 1881.

------. The Chief. [Washington]: N.p., 1881.

------. 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. Reprint, Spartanburg, S.C.: The Reprint Company, Publishers, 1975.

------. The Jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace in Civil and Criminal Cases. Montgomery, Ala.: White, Pfister and Company, 1859.

------. The Justice of the Peace; Containing a brief treatise upon all the duties and powers of that officer. New York: Published under the supervision of J. E. Handley, 1841.

------. Kossuth and his Mission: A Speech [!] Mr Smith. Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe Office, 1851.

------. Letter of Mr. Smith, Alabama, on the occurrences which have prevented an organization of the House of Representatives of the Thirty-fourth Congress. [Washington: N.p., 1856].

------. Reminiscences of A Long Life; Historical, Political, Personal and Literary. Washington: Published by William R. Smith, Sr., 1889.

------. The Royal Ape [Abraham Lincoln]: A Dramatic Poem. Richmond: West and Johnston, 1863.

------. The Uses of Solitude. Tuscaloosa: Printed for the Alabama Alpha of the Phi Beta Kappa Society of the University, 1860.

------. Was It A Pistol?: A Nut for Lawyers. Washington: Rufus H. Darby, 1890.

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