Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

David A. Smith: Abolitionist, Patron of Learning, Prairie Lawyer

Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

David A. Smith: Abolitionist, Patron of Learning, Prairie Lawyer

Article excerpt

David A. Smith: Abolitionist, Patron of Learning, Prairie Lawyer. By Doris Broehl Hopper (Jacksonville: Printed by Branstiter Printing Company, 2003. Pp. ii 148, Illus., notes.).

Doris Broehl Hopper's book, David A. Smith: Abolitionist, Patron of Learning, Prairie Lawyer, is obviously a labor of love. Her interest in David A. Smith and the Smith family house began when she was an undergraduate at Illinois College. Later, Hopper's fascination with both the man and the house he built continued when she became a member of the college's faculty and an active participant on the Smith House's Board of Directors.

The work is divided into three sections; the first is a brief biography of Smith. David Alien Smith was born on 18 July 1804 outside of Richmond, Virginia. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Pulaski, Tennessee and later, to Courtland, Alabama. There, Smith's father acquired the ownership of a hotel, plantations, and at least twenty-one slaves. In 1824, after completing his studies and admission to the Tennessee Bar, Smith joined his family and married his cousin, Jane Smith, who died within a few months. Following his father's death in 1834, Smith renounced the institution of slavery and, three years later, he emancipated his bondsmen and moved with his second wife, Eliza, and their children to Illinois. Living initially in Carlinville, and then in Jacksonville, David Smith, together with his growing family, become a pillar of his new community's social, religious, educational, and cultural life. Unsurprisingly, given Smith's attitude toward slavery and his occupation as a lawyer, he and Abraham Lincoln became warm professional friends and participated in sixty-eight cases either as co-counsels or adversaries. Smith died in Anoka, Minnesota on 13 July 1865, and was survived by his second wife and ten of his eleven children. …

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