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Encyclopedia > Gerrit Smith
Gerrit Smith
Gerrit Smith

Gerrit Smith (March 6, 1797December 28, 1874) was a leading United States social reformer, abolitionist, politician, and philanthropist. He was an unsuccessful candidate for President of the United States in 1848, 1852, and 1856 Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (3048x4072, 1424 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Gerrit Smith ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (3048x4072, 1424 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Gerrit Smith ... March 6 is the 65th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (66th in leap years). ... 1797 (MDCCXCVII) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Wednesday of the 11-day-slower Julian calendar). ... December 28 is the 362nd day of the year (363rd in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 3 days remaining. ... Year 1874 (MDCCCLXXIV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link with display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... This article is about the abolition of slavery. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A politician is an individual who is a formally recognized and active member of a government, or a person who influences the way a society is governed through an understanding of political power and group dynamics. ... A philanthropist is someone who engages in philanthropy; that is, someone who donates his or her time, money, or reputation to a charitable cause. ... The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. ...

Smith spent significant time and money during his life working towards social progress in the nineteenth century United States. Besides making significant donations of both land and money to the African American community in North Elba, New York, he was involved in the Temperance Movement, the colonization movement, and abolitionism. He was also a significant financial contributor to the Liberty Party and the Republican Party throughout his life. North Elba is a town located in Essex County, New York. ...


Early life

Smith was born in Utica, Oneida County, New York, to Peter Gerrit Smith (1768–1837) and Elizabeth Livingston (1773–1818), daughter of Col. James Livingston (1747–1832) of Schuylerville, Saratoga County, New York, and Elizabeth Simpson (1750–1800). His grandfather, James Livingston, fought at the battles of Quebec and Saratoga during the American Revolution and is credited with thwarting Benedict Arnold's attempted treason by firing on the Vulture, the boat intended to carry Arnold and his British contact, Maj. John André, to safety. [1] Smith's maternal aunt, Margaret Livingston, married Daniel Cady of Johnstown, New York. Their daughter, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a founder and leader of the women's suffrage movement, was Smith's first cousin. In fact, Elizabeth Cady met her future husband, Henry Stanton, himself an active abolitionist, at the Smith family home in Peterboro, New York.[2] Established in 1795, the town had been founded by and named for Gerrit Smith's father, Peter Smith, who built the family homestead there in 1804.[3] Utica, New York is a city in the State of New York and the county seat of Oneida County. ... Oneida County is a county located in the state of New York. ... NY redirects here. ... Colonel (IPA: or ) is a military rank of a commissioned officer, with the corresponding ranks existing in nearly every country in the world. ... Schuylerville is a village in Saratoga County, New York, USA. The population was 1,197 at the 2000 census. ... Saratoga County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. ... NY redirects here. ... Combatants United States Britain Commanders Richard Montgomery † Benedict Arnold Guy Carleton Strength 900 regulars and militia 300 regulars 1,500 sailors, marines, and militia Casualties 60 dead or wounded 426 captured 6 dead 19 wounded The Battle of Quebec was an attempt on December 31, 1775 by American revolutionaries to... Combatants British 9th/Hill, 20th/Lynd, 21st/ Hamilton, 62nd/Ansthruter, Simon Fraser Brunswick Major Generals V. Riedesel, 1st Brigade (Brunswickers) Brig. ... John Trumbulls Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress The American Revolution refers to the period during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen Colonies that... Benedict Arnold Benedict Arnold (January 14, 1741 – June 14, 1801) was a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. ... Major is a military rank the use of which varies according to country. ... Major John André John André (May 2, 1750 - October 2, 1780) was a British officer hanged as a spy during the American Revolutionary War for an incident in which he assisted Benedict Arnolds attempted surrender of the fort at West Point, New York to the British. ... Daniel Cady (1773-1859) was a prominent lawyer and judge in upstate New York. ... Johnstown is a city located in Fulton County, New York. ... Elizabeth Cady Stanton (November 12, 1815 – October 26, 1902) was an American social activist and leading figure of the early womens rights movement. ... Peterboro is a historic village located in the Town of Smithfield, Madison County in the U.S. state of New York. ...

After graduating from Hamilton College in 1818, Smith took on the management of the vast estate of his father, a long-standing partner of John Jacob Astor, and greatly increased the family fortune. Hamilton College is a private, independent, highly selective and prestigious liberal arts college located in Clinton, New York. ... John Jacob Astor, detail of an oil painting by Gilbert Stuart, 1794 John Jacob (originally either Johann Jakob or Johann Jacob) Astor (July 17, 1763 - March 29, 1848) was the first of the Astor family dynasty and the first millionaire in the United States, the creator of the first Trust...

About 1828 Smith became an active temperance campaigner, and in his hometown of Peterboro, he built one of the first temperance hotels in the country. He became an abolitionist in 1835, after attending an anti-slavery meeting in Utica, New York, which had been broken up by a mob. A cartoon from Australia ca. ... Slave redirects here. ... Utica, New York is a city in the State of New York and the county seat of Oneida County. ...

Political career

Gerrit Smith
Gerrit Smith

In 1840 Smith played a leading part in the organization of the Liberty Party, and in 1848 and 1852 he was nominated for the Presidency by the remnant of this organization that had not been absorbed by the Free Soil Party. An "Industrial Congress" at Philadelphia also nominated him for the presidency in 1848, and the "Land Reformers" in 1856. In 1840 and again in 1858, he ran for the governorship of New York on an anti-slavery platform. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Liberty Party was a political party in the United States during the mid-19th century. ... The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. ... The Free Soil Party was a short-lived political party in the United States active in the 1848 and 1852 presidential elections, and in some state elections. ... Nickname: Motto: Philadelphia maneto - Let brotherly love continue Location in Pennsylvania Coordinates: Country United States Commonwealth Pennsylvania County Philadelphia Founded October 27, 1682 Incorporated October 25, 1701 Government  - Mayor John F. Street (D) Area  - City 369. ... NY redirects here. ...

Smith, along with his friend and ally Lysander Spooner, was one of the leading advocates of the United States Constitution as an antislavery document, as opposed to William Lloyd Garrison who believed it was proslavery. In 1853 Smith was elected to the United States House of Representatives as an independent, and in his address he declared that all men have an equal right to the soil; that wars are brutal and unnecessary; that slavery could be sanctioned by no constitution, state or federal; that free trade is essential to human brotherhood; that women should have full political rights; that the Federal government and the states should prohibit the liquor traffic within their respective jurisdictions; and that government officers, so far as practicable, should be elected by direct vote of the people. At the end of the first session he resigned his seat. Lysander Spooner (January 19, 1808 – May 14, 1887) was an American individualist anarchist political philosopher, abolitionist, and legal theorist of the 19th century. ... Wikisource has original text related to this article: Constitution of the United States of America Page one of the original copy of the Constitution. ... William Lloyd Garrison William Lloyd Garrison (December 12, 1805–May 24, 1879) was a prominent United States abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer. ... Seal of the House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives (or simply the House) is one of the two chambers of the United States Congress, the other being the Senate. ...

Social activism

After becoming an opponent of land monopoly, he gave numerous farms of 50 acres (200,000 m²) each to indigent families. In 1846, hoping to help black families become self-sufficient and to provide them with the property ownership needed to vote in New York, Smith attempted to colonize approximately 120,000 acres of land in North Elba, New York, near Lake Placid in Essex County with free blacks. The difficulty of farming in the Adirondack region, coupled with the settlers lack of experience in homebuilding and the bigotry of white neighbors, caused the experiment to fail.[4] In economics, a monopoly (from the Latin word monopolium - Greek language monos, one + polein, to sell) is defined as a persistent market situation where there is only one provider of a product or service. ... Lake Placid is a village of 2,638 in the Adirondack Mountains in Essex County, New York, near the center of the Town of North Elba and named after an adjacent lake. ... Essex County is a county located in the state of New York. ... The Adirondack mountain range is located in the northeastern part of New York that runs through Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. ...

Peterboro became a station on the Underground Railroad, and, after 1850, Smith furnished money for the legal expenses of persons charged with infractions of the Fugitive Slave Law. He became closely acquainted with John Brown, to whom he sold a farm in North Elba, and from time to time supplied him with funds. He was a member of the Secret Six, a group of wealthy northern abolitionists, who supported Brown in his efforts to arm the slaves. After the failed raid on Harpers Ferry, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis unsuccessfully attempted to have Smith accused, tried, and hung along with Brown.[5] Upset by the raid and its outcome, Smith suffered a mental breakdown, and for several weeks was confined to the state asylum in Utica. This does not cite any references or sources. ... An April 24, 1851 poster warning colored people in Boston about policemen acting as slave catchers. ... John Brown John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was the first white American abolitionist to advocate and practice insurrection as a means to the abolition of slavery. ... This article is about the historical Secret Six. ... Harpers Ferry, West Virginia 1865. ... The Secretary of War was a member of the United States Presidents Cabinet, beginning with George Washingtons administration. ... Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American politician who served as President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history from 1861 to 1865 during the American Civil War. ... A psychiatric hospital (also called a mental hospital or asylum) is a hospital specializing in the treatment of persons with mental illness. ...

When the Chicago Tribune later claimed Smith had full knowledge of Brown's plan at Harper's Ferry, Smith sued the paper for libel, claiming that he lacked any such knowledge and thought only that Brown wanted guns so that slaves who ran away to join him might defend themselves against attackers. Smith's claim was countered by the Tribune, which produced an affidavit, signed by Brown's son, swearing that Smith had full knowledge of all the particulars of the plan, including the plan to instigate a slave uprising. In writing later of these events, Smith said, "That affair excited and shocked me, and a few weeks after I was taken to a lunatic asylum. From that day to this I have had but a hazy view of dear John Brown's great work. Indeed, some of my impressions of it have, as others have told me, been quite erroneous and even wild."[6] In English and American law, and systems based on them, libel and slander are two forms of defamation (or defamation of character), which is the tort or delict of making a false statement of fact that injures someones reputation. ...

Smith was in favor of the Civil War, but at its close he advocated a mild policy toward the late Confederate states, declaring that part of the guilt of slavery lay upon the North. Smith, together with Horace Greeley and Cornelius Vanderbilt, was prepared to underwrite the $1,000,000 bond needed to free Jefferson Davis, who had, at that time, been imprisoned for nearly two years without being charged with any crime. [7] In doing this, Smith incurred the resentment of Northern Radical Republican leaders. This article is becoming very long. ... Motto Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God, Our Vindicator) Anthem God Save the South (unofficial) Dixie (traditional) The Bonnie Blue Flag (popular) Capital Montgomery, Alabama (until May 29, 1861) Richmond, Virginia (May 29, 1861–April 2, 1865) Danville, Virginia (from April 3, 1865) Language(s) English (de facto) Government Republic President... Horace Greeley (February 3, 1811 – November 29, 1872) was an American editor of a leading newspaper, a founder of the Republican party, reformer and politician. ... Cornelius Vanderbilt Cornelius Vanderbilt I (May 27, 1794 – January 4, 1877), also known by the sobriquets The Commodore [1] [2] or Commodore Vanderbilt [3], was an American entrepreneur who built his wealth in shipping and railroads and was the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family. ... The Radical Republicans were an influential faction of American politicians in the Republican party during the American Civil War and Reconstruction eras, 1860-1876. ...

Smith's passions extended to religion as well as politics. Believing that sectarianism was sinful, he separated from the Presbyterian Church in 1843, and was one of the founders of the Church at Peterboro, a non-sectarian institution open to all Christians of whatever denomination. Sectarianism refers (usually pejoratively) to a rigid adherence to a particular sect or party or religious denomination. ... Presbyterianism is part of the Reformed churches family of denominations of Christian Protestantism based on the teachings of John Calvin which traces its institutional roots to the Scottish Reformation, especially as led by John Knox. ...

His private benefactions were boundless; of his gifts he kept no record, but their value is said to have exceeded $8,000,000. Though a man of great wealth, his life was one of marked simplicity. He died in 1874 while visiting relatives in New York City. New York, NY redirects here. ...


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Frothingham, OB, Gerrit Smith: a Biography (New York, 879). ISBN 0-7812-2907-3.
  • Griffith, Elizabeth, In Her Own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Oxford University Press; New York. 1984. ISBN 0-195-03729-4. (pp. 3-26)
  • Historic Petersboro on NYHistory.com
  • Renehan, Edward J., The Secret Six: The True Tale of the Men Who Conspired wtih John Brown. New York. Crown Publishers, Inc.; 1995. ISBN 0-517-59028-X.

Encyclopædia Britannica, the 11th edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... Octavius Brooks Frothingham (November 26, 1822 - November 27, 1895), was an American clergyman and author. ...


  1. ^ Griffith, p.4
  2. ^ Griffith, p.26
  3. ^ Renehan, p.16; Historic Petersboro
  4. ^ Renehan, pp 17-18
  5. ^ Renehan, p.12
  6. ^ Renehan, pp.13-14
  7. ^ Renehan, p.11

  Results from FactBites:
Gerrit Smith (571 words)
Gerrit Smith was a widely known philanthropist and social reformer who ran for President in 1848.
Gerrit Smith was a financial supporter of John Brown, and was implicated in the raid on Harper's Ferry.
Gerrit Smith was a candidate for President in 1848, 1856 and 1860.
Gerrit Smith - LoveToKnow 1911 (523 words)
GERRIT SMITH (1797-1874), American reformer and philanthropist, was born in Utica, New York, on the 6th of March 1 797.
In religion as in politics Gerrit Smith was a radical.
Believing that sectarianism was sinful, he separated from the Presbyterian Church in 1843, and was one of the founders of the Church at Peterboro, a non-sectarian institution open to all Christians of whatever shade of belief.
  More results at FactBites »



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