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S, Smith, William

Edited By: Kermit L. Hall, James W. Ely Jr., Joel B. Grossman

From: The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Kermit L. Hall

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved. Subscriber: null; date: 07 June 2023

Smith, William

(b. North Carolina, ca. 1762; d. 26 June 1840, at family estate near Huntsville, Ala.), lawyer and jurist. Reared and educated in York County, South Carolina, William Smith knew Andrew *Jackson and William H. Crawford as boyhood friends. He became a successful lawyer in York County and served in the state senate from 1802 until 1808, when he was elected to the state court of appeals. He resigned from the bench in 1816 when he was elected by the legislature to the United States Senate. Smith served in the Senate until 1823 and again from 1826 to 1831. As a senator he defended states’ rights and opposed banks, internal improvements, the tariff, and John C. Calhoun. In 1832 Smith moved to Louisiana and then to Huntsville, Alabama, where he prospered through shrewd investments in land and served in the lower house of the legislature.

President Jackson offered twice to nominate Smith to the Supreme Court, once in 1829 and again in 1837. Smith declined each time, declaring on the latter occasion that he desired to maintain the right to comment freely on public affairs. Had Smith served on the Court and adhered to his oftexpressed political creed, he would have espoused an extreme states’ rights position and one of strict construction that severely limited the powers of the federal government.

Robert M. Ireland