Evolution of a Federalist: William Loughton Smith of Charleston (1758-1812)

By George C. Rogers | Go to book overview

I
THE SCHENCKINGH-SMITHS

A NNE ASHBY MANIGAULT, wife of the great merchant-banker, Gabriel Manigault, who was reputed to be the wealthiest man in colonial Carolina, kept a journal in which she recorded the activities of her family and friends: births and deaths, sailings and landings, plantation visits, social calls. For almost thirty years she noted entrances and exits from the Carolina stage. Among the entries, which were always brief, was the following for the year 1758: "Oct. 2. Mrs. Ben: Smith l[ay in] a son."1William Smith, the son of Benjamin and Anne Loughton Smith, was born.

Birthdates are difficult to document for the eighteenth century, and without the jottings of a Mrs. Manigault many of the vital statistics of South Carolina's early leaders would have been lost. Benjamin Smith, the father, however, did verify the fact of his son's birth in the postscript to a letter written in May 1766 to his Boston cousin, the Reverend William Smith: "Your namesake my son William is a very fine boy takes his learning very well and will be eight years old next October."2 Additional proof of the birthdate came in an unusual fashion. After the birth of William's second son on October 2, 1808, another Mrs. Manigault, Margaret, the wife of Gabriel Manigault, II, wrote her mother Mrs. Ralph Izard that the boy had been born fifty years to the day after his father's birth.3

William Smith was a very commonplace name with which to live. Its owner, however, bore it honorably and long as a sufficient designation of his individuality until a politician of the same name -- but opposite political persuasion-appeared in the backcountry.4

It was on his return to Carolina after an absence of six years in Europe that William Smith decided to add as a middle name his

____________________
1
Extracts from the Journal of Mrs. Ann Manigault, 1754-1781, ed. Mabel L. Webber, SCHGM, XX ( 1919), 131. Mrs. Manigault's name is spelled "Anne" in letters to her from her grandson Gabriel. See letters for 1775 and 1776 in Manigault Papers, SCL.
2
Benjamin Smith to Reverend William Smith, May 16, 1766, Smith-Carter Papers, MHS.
3
Margaret Manigault to Alice Izard, November 29, 1808, Izard Papers, LC.
4
The subject of this biography has often been confused with William Smith, a representative from Pinckney and Washington District 1799, in Congress, 1797- 1799, and a senator from South Carolina, 1816-1823, 1826-1831. J. G. deR. Hamilton , "William Smith, 1762-1840," DAB. Also see John Belton O˒Neall, Biographical Sketches of the Bench and Bar of South Carolina, Charleston, 1859, I, 106-120.

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