Biography of William H. Smith
Cook County, Il Biographies

SMITH, WILLIAM HENRY. - Born in Columbia county, N. Y., Dec. 1, 1833. Mr. Smith is descended from a mixture of English, Scotch and Dutch. His father, William DeForest Smith, was of English origin; his ancestors emigrated to America and located in the Connecticut valley about 1640. His mother came of a Dutch-Scotch family, who also settled in Connecticut in the seventeenth century. Her ancestry is traced back to Daniel Gott. Her name was Almira Gott, daughter of Story Gott, of Columbia county, N. Y. Story Gott was a lieutenant in the army of the Revolution, and in later years was for several terms a member of the assembly of the state of New York. Mr. Smith's parents moved to Ohio, where he had the best educational advantages the state afforded. He took up teaching and was a tutor in a western college, and later became the assistant editor of a weekly newspaper in Cincinnati. At the age of 22 Mr. Smith had risen to the position of editor, and he also did work on the Litararty Review. At the beginning of the civil war he was engaged on the Cincinnati Gazette, and took an active part in raising troops and forwarding supplies, and, through the medium of the press, did much Political work in strengthening the government. William Henry Smith was mainly instruniental in making John Bough governor of the state of Ohio. He afterward became Gov. Brough's secretary, and later was elected secretary of state, and re-elected in 1866. Mr. Smith retired from office and became the managing editor of the Evening Chronicle. He was obliged however, to desist from such exacting work on account of ill health. In 1870 he became manager of the Western Associated Press, having his headquarters in this city. Several years later, upon the personal request of President Hayes, he accepted the office of collector of customs for this port. During his term of office he was instrumental in bringing about many needed reforms in that governmental department. The year 1883 again found him actively engaged in Associated Press Work, and in January of that year he effected a consolidation of the New York Associated Press and the Western Associated Press, and became manager of the united systems. This association, in its united form, covered the entire continent and became much more influential than had been the two organizations operating separately. During the term of ten years for which the combination was formed and while Mr. Smith was the manager, he revolutionized the methods employed in the news business. The service was imnproved in character, efficiency and reliability. For the first time since the laying of the Atlantic cable, the papers all over the country were supplied with complete European reports and at a moderate rate. Mr. Smith is a student of historical subjects, and is the author of "The St. Clair Papers" (two vols., Cincinnati, 1882). He is also the author of the "Biography of Charles Hammond," has written several pamphlets and has contributed frequently to American perioAcals. While secretaryof state he founded a department of archives, a matter which had been wholly overlooked since the admission of the state, and he succeeded in recovering many valuable papers which are now on file in the state house of Ohio. By his investigations in the British museum he brought to light many unpublished letters of Washington to Col, Henry Bouquet, and has shown that those which were published by Jared Sparks were not given correctly. Mr. Smith has partly completed a "Political History of the United States" and as the literary executor of the late President Haves will write a history of his administration.


FROM:
The Handbook of Chicago Biography
Edited by John J Flinn.
The Standard Guide Company
Chicago 1893

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